|Posted by God Loves Women on September 5, 2012 at 1:15 PM||comments (6)|
The following email was sent by a pastor to a woman who is being abused by her husband. Her husband has been extremely abusive to her and she is seeking to escape from him. All names and identifying details have been removed, but the recipient of the email has said she would like people to see the reality of how Church Leaders are unequipped to respond appropriately in cases of abuse. As you read this email, you may think that some of the pastor's comments or thoughts are correct. I would suggest that for a couple struggling with relationship difficulties they might be, but where there is abuse, it is not the relationship that needs dealing with, but rather the abuser.
I hope you are doing well, despite going through these difficulties in your marriage. I thought about responding to your last email; the one you sent after another incident with Saul where you called 911, and where afterwards someone gave you some information about not staying with an abusive partner.
But to be honest, to me it looked like you had made up your mind and that you yourself are looking for a way out of the marriage. I don't know everything that has gone on between the two of you, but I do feel as though I know both of you fairly well in some degree. I know Saul well enough to know that he is a believer who loves the Lord, and has changed in many ways from the way he was. However, I also know that he is a work in progress as we all are. He tries to look at many Scriptures with his Saul's Way glasses on. He is certainly not perfect, and he does have his quirks, and inappropriateness, but I also know he is not an aggressive or violent person. He is stubborn and often pig headed, and doesn't like to lose an argument, but I can say the exact same thing of many people, including yourself. I do not believe you are afraid of Saul physically, rather frustrated and tired of how he often goes about things.
I also know that you are a believer who loves the Lord, and has had many great experiences in ministry. However, you too are a work in progress. You also, like Saul, like to try to look at certain Scriptures, and interpret them to fit what you want.
You two are very different people--different cultures, different families, different ways of looking at the Bible, different ideas of what is appropriate. So many different things. But something brought you two together. If you don't remember, it was your love and passion for our Lord Jesus. I think you often forget that and focus instead on all the negative things in Saul--his past, his quirks, his inappropriateness. (Some of these things he can change, and needs to work on changing, but others, like his past, he can't change, and you simply need to accept, forgive and try to forget.)
Hannah, I believe that you need to be honest, and decide whether or not you are committed to this marriage--"in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live". If you are, then you will try to make things work, rather than always running away (often months at a time) and pointing out the negative, you will need to start working on the strengths and focusing on the positive. What is going on now cannot help this goal. Saul is not physical abusive to you. He can be incredibly frustrating and mentally annoying, but not physically abusive. And in regards to verbal abuse, in our counselling together, I have witnessed just as much verbal abuse coming from your lips, as I have from his.
If you don't want to be married to Saul anymore, then just be honest and tell him you made a mistake--that you don't want to be with him. Don't try and find loop holes in the Bible for your mistake or lack of commitment.
The fact is, Jesus said that the only reason Moses made a concession to allow for divorce, in the case of physical adultery, was because the people's hearts were hard. This is not what God intends. If you are looking for a way out of your marriage, then your heart is not in the right place--it is hard.
Now, I know that if you decide to honour your marriage commitment, it will not be easy--nothing worth saving is easy. It will demand a lot of love, grace, patience, work and sacrifice on both parts. Did I mention grace and patience. But I believe anything is possible with God. And I know that God's will is that you marriage commitment be honoured, worked on, and be something that brings love and joy to both of you.
The last thing I want to do is get in the middle of this very dysfunctional marriage again. But if I can help the both of you, I would consider it an honour, especially if it will bring peace, joy and love to both your lives. I hope you know that the tone of this letter is one of love and wanting to help a sister and brother in the Lord.
Blessings and prayers,
(P.S. I don't know whether or not you know, but Saul is going in for his major knee surgery on September 13th. I thought you would want to know so you could be praying for him and his recovery. Please feel free to reply or call me anytime.
What would you say to this pastor to challenge him?
What words of encouragement do you have for the woman seeking safety?
How do we change Church culture so emails like this no longer get sent?
|Posted by God Loves Women on February 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM||comments (2)|
I’m a woman is all, a woman I say
Does that make me not good enough,
To be given the time of day?
"No", say You, “You’re a child of God.”
"Great!" say I, "thank you Lord!"
So I grow in that knowledge
That I’m loved by God on high
Told that I’m good enough
For Him to come and die
And I start to notice
That everywhere I go
I’m taking the lead
Helping run the show
And I hear the voice of the One who loves me
Saying I want you to lead My people
“No!” says I, “I can’t do that”
“Yes!” says He, “I’ll help you out”
“You see” says He,
“It’s not you, but Me.”
“In you and through You, I’ll bring forth the Kingdom”
“Just like Mary, who said ‘may it be done’”
“Alright" says I, "that sounds not too bad,
But only if it’s You in me and through me.”
So I start doing this leading,
Obedient to the calling of the Almighty
I get so far, then suddenly I’m told
I don’t qualify
“What?!” Says I, “Have I done something wrong?”
“No!” They say, “But you’re not a man.”
But God told me I’m actually worth loving
And God called me to lead His people
God said He would work in me and through me
Just like He did with Mary,
and those daughters of Zelophehad
So I’ll still lead and follow God’s call
No matter whether you tell me I fail the man test
But I’ll cry and hurt that some fellow believers
Tell me I’m just not good enough
|Posted by God Loves Women on January 8, 2012 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
I had a twitter conversation with someone recently about whether God’s model for humanity involves hierarchy and whether his model for marriage involves headship. My view was that hierarchy and headship are not from God, his was that they are God’s constructs. This is how it ended
Them: “Yes, it's clear from both of you that men have abused their position. However, just because they have does not make almost all of the arguments you're offering. If you are saved, then you simply cannot ignore scripture, or reduce it to fit your needs or argument. I say this not because I'm a bloke, but because it's God's word!”
Me: “But perhaps in part you can say that because you haven’t been abused by those Scriptures.”
Them: “..and THATS the issue.”
The person I was conversing with then left Twitter and I was left trying to deduce what he meant by his statement. Although afterwards I said I didn’t understand what he meant, he has not clarified his meaning and so I am left wondering.
The conclusion I have come to about his comment was that he somehow thinks that my having been abused through the use of headship and hierarchy puts me in a less capable position to be able to see how God views these things. That somehow his privilege at not knowing first hand the damage hierarchy and patriarchy does means he is in a better position to understand the Scriptures. Perhaps that I am too emotionally involved with this issue to really “get” what God is saying.
[Of course, this may not be what he was saying, and if I’ve misinterpreted his view, I apologise, but I shall continue with this blog as I believe even if this man doesn’t believe this stuff, there are plenty of people who do.]
Firstly I would like address the idea that being emotionally involved with an issue means we are less able to have a suitable perspective on it. God came to earth as a human baby, how much more emotionally involved does it get than that? Jesus lived, died and was resurrected in a state of complete vulnerability. Throughout the Bible we see God relating to Israel as an emotionally involved Father. Jesus calls us to love sacrificially; he calls us blessed when we mourn and when we are merciful. Being emotionally involved is not only an asset when making theological decisions, it is essential.
It is only as we see the true consequences of the theology we hold, that we can make decisions as to whether it is God’s heart or mans understanding. Just as the Pharisees spent their lives running around trying to obey rules that they had missed the heart of, so many of us Christians are busy trying to stay true to teachings that we don’t understand, blaming God’s sovereignty on perpetuating teaching that abuse, damage or undermine people’s humanity.
I understand people’s reluctance at picking and choosing Scripture, but have we learnt nothing from Jesus’ response to the religious leaders? Blaming it on the rules isn’t good enough! Jesus came into the place and time He did and blasted apart the religious views of the time. He advocated a radical third way, in which the heart is more significant than the letter could ever be; in which the least became the greatest and the most sinful more capable of redemption.
I resist anybody who tries to tell me that the fact I have experienced abuse at the hands of my ex-husband, or having listened to the horrific stories of many Christian women, who have been abused by their “Christian” husbands makes me less able to understand what God is saying. God has truly healed me from the abuse and trauma caused to me, and yet my heart is broken for the abuse and hurt in this beautiful world. It is broken for the women and children that suffer, for the men who destroy lives, for a society that accepts abuse and for a Church that perpetuates it with teaching of hierarchy and headship. This does not make me less able to understand theology. This is theology.
|Posted by God Loves Women on January 8, 2012 at 12:05 PM||comments (2)|
I’ve been having a few conversations with people recently about the inerrancy of the Bible; that it is God’s Word and therefore cannot be wrong. Anything that we do not understand is down to the Sovereignty of God and we must therefore accept it. Their views are widely informed by 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
I understand this view and having grown up in the Church and with a Christian family; I have to some extent held the view myself. I would say though that more recently my view on this has changed. Rather than focussing on why my view has changed, I would rather examine the idea of inerrancy and why I don’t agree with it.
Firstly let us clarify that the original Greek wording of “God breathed” or “God inspired” is the word theopneustos which literally does mean “God-breathed.”
From this many Christians say that as Scripture is God-breathed this means it cannot be wrong. However, no matter how much we are convinced of this view, the reality is that “God-breathed” in no language translates as infallible/unable to be argued with/inerrant.
God breathed into Adam and Eve in order that they would have life, this did not make either of them infallible or inerrant, in fact as we all very well know; they failed quite miserably…
When Paul wrote this to Timothy, had he considered his letters as “Scripture”? Probably not, so how can we be sure that the New Testament is relevant to these verses anyway.
If we believe in free will, as many of those who believe Scripture is inerrant do, how do we reconcile this free will with the idea that the authors of the Bible books are supposed to have written with complete inerrancy? They were not robot people who wrote letters/poetry/historical records etc. with glazed over eyes while God took hold of their hands and wrote the words He wanted to be written. Truly, that is not our God! One of the glorious things about our God is that is not what He does. He meets us in our own place and time and uses us, with our flaws, failings and the gifts He has given us.
Jesus did not say that He would leave us with the Scriptures; or with writings from His disciples and others to enable us to know how to follow Him and what do to. He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
Where does this leave us in relation to the Bible? As someone I was talking about this with on Twitter said, “So should we just get rid of the bits we don’t like?” I don’t believe this is about picking and choosing what is and isn’t inerrant in Scripture, but rather recognise that the Bible is written by men (and potentially one woman, if those rumours about Hebrews are true…) with the breath of God throughout it. Rather than being legalistic about it being “all or nothing”, perhaps we should be guided by the Holy Spirit, and look to the only human being who has ever lived an inerrant life, and let that inform the way we live and the theology we hold.
I found a very interesting article to follow on from my thoughts which you can read here
What do you think? Am I wrong to question the inerrancy of Scripture?
Is it possible to uphold Scripture as God breathed and yet accept it can be wrong?
|Posted by God Loves Women on November 12, 2011 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
So many of us have been part of churches where there has been a Dennis Waterman style leader. They “lead the service, lead the worship, lead the prayers, write the sermon, preach the sermon…” Although I know that sometimes this happens because there are not enough people in the church who are willing to lead, in my experience it is more likely happening because the leader needs to be in control.
Perhaps this was partly why Paul said, “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” (1 Corinthians 12:18-21)
Surely the Dennis Waterman’s of the Church are trying to be a leg, arm, liver and mouth all at once. This not only stops them focusing on the purposes God is calling them to, but often stops other people fulfilling their calling too.
I met a woman that has been part of a church for nearly 20 years and has felt called to preach and so far has not been allowed to by the leader. He has given the following reasons (some said, some unsaid):
1. She is a woman (unsaid)
2. She is single (unsaid)
3. He will not allow her to have authority over a man (said)
4. She isn’t serious enough about it (said)
Obviously it is not only women who are squashed by Dennis Waterman style leaders, both men and women miss out. So also do the controlling leaders themselves. While we are working to control others and the way our services and ministries are going, we are less open to what God is calling us to, we are likely to end up ill from the stress of doing too much and not asking for help.
It impacts those around them massively. The leader is making choices to behave in a ways that squashes others, devalues them and stops them moving forward with the calling God has for them.
We as leaders must be conscious of any control issues we have. It is Jesus’ model of leadership we should look to. He recognised His disciple’s gifts and gave them the freedom to work them out. We must be releasing people into their gifting and calling. This is the key to humility, knowing we are capable of doing the job, but being glad when other people do it instead.
Let us pray for those who are the Dennis Waterman’s of the Church, that they would hear God’s truth of freedom and that the call of Jesus is to give up power and not control others. Let us also pray for the many many people who have been squashed under controlling people. Let them find the freedom God and calling has for them, and that the brokenness and hurt others have caused them will be healed.
|Posted by God Loves Women on October 27, 2011 at 2:45 PM||comments (2)|
You can download my open letter to Stormie Omartian author of the Power of the Praying Wife here
|Posted by God Loves Women on October 27, 2011 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
So the other day I was having a conversation with a Christian man and sharing my views on males and females and the fact that most of our difference are down to socialisation, not biology.
I was explaining how my son’s favourite game, before going to school, was playing cooking with every single pan and utensil in the kitchen. Within a month of starting school, his favourite game had become killing, shooting and fighting. I was telling this Christian man that my husband and I have been very careful to ensure both our son and daughter do not feel pressure to behave in a particular way because of their gender, hence the cooking by my son.
I was hoping to continue by sharing the dangers of assuming behaviours are linked to gender, from women being squashed into the ‘housewife’ box and men being squashed into the ‘provider’ box to women being murdered and mutilated and raped and imprisoned., however at this point the man explained that he saw a real danger with seeing men and women as the same, because it can lead to ‘identity confusion’.
What I would have liked to have shouted at him, in a calm way, was “IDENTITY CONFUSION…?!?! What do you mean, identity confusion?!” But instead I nodded and smiled as he went on to explain how his daughter had cuddled her soft toy as a baby, while his son had thrown his across the room, without anyone telling them that’s what they should do, clearly men and women are as distinct as that and what dangers await anyone who dared to interfere with this God ordained way.
I left the conversation quite convinced that this is the attitude and belief of many committed Christians, both male and female. The idea that in understanding men and women outside of the boxes we have been encouraged to see them in, will lead to identity confusion. Although I am not yet clear as to what the identity confusion this man was referring to, I would hazard a guess it may include the following:
1. Gay and lesbian “tendencies”
2. Transvestite “tendencies”
3. Transsexual and transgender “tendencies”
4. Women staying single, when they should be looking for a husband
5. Men not taking their responsibility as head seriously enough
6. And other such evil things…
I am completely appalled by this view, which is completely formed by society, and completely nothing to do with God, the Bible or anything else that is holy.
My suggestion would be in fact that squashing men and women into socially defined roles is without a doubt one of the most dangerous world wide accepted views there is. Without a doubt it leads to all of the following:
1. Women squashing themselves to further their husbands lives, in the belief this is what God would want for them, God’s beautiful creations
2. Men abusing women, in the name of Christianity, saying the woman must learn to submit and suffer to be redeemed
3. Teenage girls starving themselves, covering themselves in make up and having sex to try to make themselves worth something
4. Teenage boys trying to act like “men”, putting girls down, turning them into sex objects and squashing all “feminine” emotion
5. Little boys, being told to stop crying, man up and stop being a girl
These are not just possible outcomes, they are today’s reality. Maybe seeing men and women as equal, not putting them in a box, doesn’t cause identity confusion, maybe it causes people to truly begin to know who they are in God, outside the roles and boxes society - and I might add, the devil - wants to squash us into. Maybe identity confusion is really identity discovery and what is so dangerous to people like the man I was speaking to is not the truth of this, but the fear that it might mean having to step out of the box.