God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this

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Please don't undermine the broken hearted

Posted by God Loves Women on November 21, 2012 at 5:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday was a heartbreaking one for many. Although I am not in an Anglican Church, I deeply feel the pain of women being yet again declared lesser. Throughout the discussions both before the vote and afterwards, one of the things I have found most sad was people saying, “never mind Women Bishops, what about the killing and atrocities in Gaza?” and “chill out everyone, it’s only the legislation that didn’t go through”.


And in those words, in those statements broken hearted people are undermined and the fight to see equality in all places is ignored. I am passionate about seeing women and men able to fulfil their calling, not as an isolated cause, not because I don’t see the full reality of suffering out there, not because I’m some poncy white person who doesn’t have anything better to do (I mean I am a white person, but I like to imagine I’m not poncy... ) I am passionate about seeing equality because the more unequal a society is, the more violence against women there is.


There is a direct correlation between there not being an equal number of men and women in positions of authority and the amount of violence against women in society.


“What?!” I hear you cry, “This cannot be so, clearly Mrs GLW, you are being overly dramatic.”


I am not being over dramatic. The foundations of violence against women are that of the ownership of women by men, and the entitlement of men over women. Wherever we see this dynamic worked out, we see violence against women in many forms. Whether it be FGM, rape, domestic abuse, bride burning, forced marriage, female infanticide, or the many other forms of abuse and oppression, it is primarily about ownership of women and entitlement over women.


Hear me correctly; I’m not saying all those against Women Bishops are directly abusive. I’m not saying they are all sexist people. But by apposing the full equality, in opportunity as well as in value of women and men, is to contribute to a patriarchal power structure, to contribute to the ownership of women and entitlement over women. I do not say this with any malice, or to be offensive, but as the reality that it is.


Then I hear people saying “there are much more important things than whether women get to be bishops” or see tweets that suggest we should “chill out” it breaks my heart. I constantly meet women from the Church who have been raped, abused and degraded, I met a woman this weekend who had looked down the barrel of her husband’s gun as he told her that she was about to die. This vote was about women like her, women like me, women across the world and throughout the UK who have or are experiencing abuse.


I’m not saying that having Women Bishops in and of itself will stop violence against women singlehandedly, but it will contribute. Just as the “Say no to page 3” campaign will and the legal system working well will and the charities working to support women continuing to be funded will, it takes all of us to do all we can if we are to see it ended.


Please don’t undermine people’s pain by saying there are more important battles, or that we should chill out, because this is part of a much bigger battle and every loss means there will continue to be women staring down the barrel of guns, being told they are about to die by the person who is supposed to love them the most.

Abuse, faith and secular culture: Friend or Foe?

Posted by God Loves Women on October 25, 2012 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I was speaking at this conference today and thought it would be good to make my talk available to everybody!!!


You can read it here.

Response to a pastor

Posted by God Loves Women on September 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my friends Faye has responded to the email written by a pastor to a woman who has experienced abuse:


There are many more points I could make I'm sure but these are just a few off the top of my head:


    Pastor is blaming Hannah:

'looking for a way out of the marriage'

'decide whether or not your are commited to this marriage'

'try to make things work, rather than always running away'

'I have witnessed just as much verbal abuse coming from your lips'

'your mistake or lack of commitment'

'looking for a way out...your heart is hard'

    Key phrase - 'I don't know everything that has gone on between the two of you'

 

Yet continues with 'I also know he (Saul) is not an aggressive or violent person'. How does the pastor know this? Because Saul hasn't displayed it in public?

And 'Saul is not physically abusive to you'. How does this pastor know?!!! And even if there is no physical abuse, there are many types of other abuse that are equally damaging (some would argue they are even more damaging than physical).

 

    Outrageous statement - (Hannah is) 'stubborn and pigheaded'. This is also blaming her and making her feel she is the same as Saul.

 

 

    Pastor says there are 'some other things he (Saul) can't change' and that Hannah needs to 'accept, forgive and try and forget these things'. What are these 'things that Saul can't change' pastor? I would like him/her to clarify these 'things'. Do these 'things' include Saul's belief that it is OK to be abusive to his wife?

 

 

    Soul destoying statement - 'I don't believe you (are afraid of Saul)'. Words cannot express how devasting this sentence is.

 

Alongside this statement is the 'Saul is not physically abusive to you' (as mentioned above - how does this pastor know? S/he is making Hannah feel like a liar, or possible that she is going mad, by saying this)

 

    Patronising comment - 'did I mention grace and patience' (pastor may as well have just said 'stupid Hannah, don't you know you need to be patient and graceful')

 

    Strange statement - 'Nothing worth saving is easy'. What does this mean?! In my opinion, a marriage is easy if the two people in it show each other love and respect, care, freedom etc etc. What a disheartening comment this pastor is making, s/he is not painting a joyful image of marriage/life in general. Surely God gave us His son to have a joyful, abundant life..not a life where everything is difficult. As a loving parent, do you want your children to have a joyful life or a difficult one? God wants the same for His children. In my opinion, this pastor has some issues his/herself!

 

    Conceited statement - 'I know that God's will is that your marriage commitment be honoured..'. How does the pastor know this? Has s/he fasted and prayed about it? (The following statement would show that s/he hasn't, and I'm sure that there would be a different answer if s/he had). This is also making Hannah feel guilty, that she is going against God's will, using her faith as a reason to keep her in this abusive marriage. Would this pastor say the same to his/her daughter in the same situation (assuming that the pastor themself is a non abive/controlling person). I could go on for hours on this....!

 

 

    Sackable comment (in my opinion)! - 'The last thing I want to do is get in the middle of this very dysfunctional marriage again'. Grrr, I am steaming! This is his/her job to 'get in the middle' of this situation! This pastor has been supposedly appointed by God for the role of 'caring for the flock'. Again, laying the blame at Hannah's door, making her feel that she is a nuisance. It is also infused with anger towards Hannah, and will no doubt make her feel guilty, and will ultimately make her feel that she cannot even go to talk to her pastor about her situation. Whether we like it or not, many people feel that their pastor represents God on this earth (rightly or wrongly) - and this may make Hannah feel that even God is sick of her problem, and is angry at her too. She would very likely stop talking to her pastor, or anyone, about this situation. She will be isolated. This is a dominator tactic (Jailor).

 

 

    Contradictory statement - 'I hope that you know that the tone of this letter is one of love and wanting to help a sister in the Lord'..??! This completely contradicts the previous sentence. Even as an outsider & a stranger to the people involved, I can clearly see that this letter is not one of love or wanting to help Hannah. The pastor has just said s/he doesn't want to get involved in the previous sentence! The content of the letter clearly shows the pastor true feelings about abuse, as well as anger towards Hannah, and this sentence is just to 'cover their back'. It is completely meaningless. It is also likely to make Hannah confused - she will most likely be feeling guilty whilst reading the letter and then be thinking that she should be feeling grateful to her pastor for his/her 'love and help'. This is also a dominator tactic (Liar).

 

 

    The additional 'PS' sentence about Saul enfuriates me. Again, even I can see as an outsider, that this is completely undermining Hannah's whole issue. It's almost as if the pastor is saying 'yeah, yeah, I've said my piece about your silly little issue, now back to the more important stuff of Saul's operation'! It also implys the pastor has a close relationship with Saul, or even takes Saul's 'side' in this. Again, it seeks to make Hannah feel guilty, as if the pastor is saying 'while you're badmouthing Saul, the poor man is going in for a big operation...you should be doing your wifely duties and praying and caring for him, what a terrible wife you are'!

 

I would even  go as far to say, that in my opinion, the pastor him/herself is displaying 'Dominator' tactics, and is possibly a controlling/abusive person themself. Hannah, please get some advice from Christians who specialise in domestic abuse instead of this pastor. Pastor, please get some domestic abuse education, or better still get a compassionate person/people within your church to be trained up instead, as I feel the task would be too great for you yourself, as you would need to change your whole belief system first.

Letter from a Pastor; How not to respond to a woman experiencing abuse.

Posted by God Loves Women on September 5, 2012 at 1:15 PM Comments 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.


Hi Hannah,

 

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,

 

Pastor Phillip


(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?


Why Sentamu was wrong to write for the Sunday Sun

Posted by God Loves Women on February 26, 2012 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (8)

I wrote this as a comment in a blog by @revarun which you can read here.  (You can read Archbishop Sentamu's full text for The Sun on Sunday on his website here)  Unfortunately my comment was too long and so I thought rather than shorten it, I would turn it into a blog of my own!  So here are my thoughts:


The Sun promotes pornography.  Would Archibishop Sentamu be happy to write a regular column on a pornography site?  I would hope not!  Jesus' response to women in the Bible was to give them equal value, to tell them they mattered.

 

If Christians are so desperate to get people to hear their words that they need to write for The Sun, Jesus' message has got to a pretty desperate place.  Jesus called us to make discplies, to build deep relationships and live in community with one another.  He said it is by our love for one another that people will see Him.

 

Rupert Murdoch's empire is not justified because a brave journalist has died.  Her choice to work for the Murdoch empire may not have been a good one, but that doesn't invalidate every area of her character, as it doesn't with Archbishop Sentamu.  But while women are abused by their husband's in part due to the false messages they are fed by media like The Sun, suggesting that women are there to be sexual objects, and while The Sun continues to be a news outlet that perpetuates prejudice, misrepresentation and sensationalim of real people's lives, as Christians we should be speaking out.

 

Jesus did not go into business with the tax collectors, he did not provide space for prostitution in His lodgings.  He condemned the injustice, while making the most excluded, the most broken, the most hurting feel welcomed and loved.  We do that not by writing a column in a newspaper, but by doing life with the very people who are hurting, broken and outcast and loving them so deeply they feel the very love of Jesus.

I'm a woman

Posted by God Loves Women on February 8, 2012 at 10:10 AM Comments 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 Mary

and Martha

and Junia

and Deborah

and Priscilla

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

The Miracle Man Preacher

Posted by God Loves Women on January 30, 2012 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (0)

My heart was broken afresh by Jesus today as I read Luke 6 and the account of Jesus, the Pharisees and the man with the withered hand.  As I walked home from dropping the kids off at school I was reading this passage and suddenly my heart broke again.  Thankfully I didn’t see anyone as I wandered along crying as the reality hit me.  This is what I saw:


 

The Pharisees are sat in the places of importance, looking on and judging this miracle man preacher.

 

He preaches and preaches and challenges their comfort, until He sees one that all know is tainted.

 

His hand is all withered, all know because of sin.

 

The sinner's eyes focus downwards: “don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, lest they sneer at my pain…”

 

The important ones focus their attention more closely, what would the preacher man want…

 

…with a sinner so useless?

 

And He reaches out His hand to the sinner, the man so tainted, his hand all withered.

 

The important ones look on, shocked at the possibility; He wasn’t going to heal him, was he?!

 

On a Sabbath no less?!

 

How disgusting, how despicable, to break the laws of the Sabbath, He deserves to be stoned, doing such evil in the Synagogue.

 

And as they look on with hearts made of stone, the preacher man’s heart is breaking once more…

 

…as the pain of the outcast, the judged and the sinner, means nothing to the important, just reminds them they are purer.

 

As the preacher man’s heart cries for the pain of the broken man, and His anger grows against those who would judge.

 

He speaks to this outcast, this sinner, this failure…

 

…the man looks up, shocked that anyone would bother.

 

The preacher man’s eyes glisten with tears and with anger and broken hearted passion he shouts,

 

“I ask you is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or to do evil….

 

…to SAVE a life, OR TO DESTROY IT?”

 

The important ones look on, completely disgusted, his words not even hitting their hearts…

 

…as the preacher man heals the sinner’s hand, and with it He also restores His whole being.

 

As the important ones seethe and whisper their murder plans, while the no longer an outcast man hugs this preacher man hard.

 

And the preacher man cries as He looks at His creation and knows it’s going to take something more…

 

…more than healing to break hearts of stone, more than words to pierce minds blockaded.  

 

He weeps inside with love for them all.

 

 

 

 

 

I cried all the way home from Church today

Posted by God Loves Women on January 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (2)

I left church after the service today and cried all the way home.  That’s right, cried all the way home.  

 

Nobody was particularly unkind to me, nobody said anything particularly wrong, but I felt so insignificant in the midst of all these “brothers and sisters” in Jesus that I couldn’t hold in my sadness.

 

To put it in context we have been going to the church about six months.  It’s a Baptist church and has really good kids work.  We had been out of church for about 9 months previous to this, you can read about why we left church here.  Our main reason for returning was that we wanted to ensure our children grew up with Christian friends their own age and to ensure they felt they’re important enough to get good teaching aimed at them.

 

We visited a few local churches and finally decided this Baptist church had really good kids work and seemed like a good place.  So we started attended every week.  We found that although about four people shook our hands on the way in and those same people would shake our hands on the way out, nobody actual spoke to us.

 

And basically in six months that is how church has continued.  I have joined a discipleship group, helped out with the Messy Christmas activities, met with the Minister and his wife and chatted occasionally to people.  But there is no depth of relationship.

 

So today I left church crying, I felt so alone, so irrelevant and so insignificant!  Here I am, pondering what to do next.  Do we keep going, knowing that the kids work will enhance our kid’s lives?  Do we stop going?  If we do, where else can we go?  We’d would love to grow with some others in developing a missional community, a place of growing and loving and being together, and yet God has not placed any other around our area with a similar passion…and anyway, how will the kids get their needs met while we’re off doing wacky, out of the box church?

 

I don’t have any answers, but any thoughts you have would be much appreciated!  

 

 

 

The Inerrancy of Scripture?

Posted by God Loves Women on January 8, 2012 at 12:05 PM Comments 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?

 

 

15 Million Merits: Will the Church wake up?

Posted by God Loves Women on December 13, 2011 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday I wrote about the personal challenge I felt after watching 15 Million Merits on Sunday.  To find out more about the programme and the impact it had on me, please read my blog from yesterday.

 

Today I hope to share my thoughts on the wider, less personal, response I felt having watched the programme.  My immediate feeling, after the conviction of my own culpability at watching programmes like X Factor, was a feeling of frustration at the fact Charlie Brooker, an atheist writer and comedian, could get the horror of reality TV in a way most of us Christians cannot.

 

Why is Charlie Brooker’s understanding of the powers and principalities of the world so much clearer than that of us Christians?  He is making a prophetic statement to this generation while many of us Christians are busy arguing amongst ourselves and being religious.  

 

At a recent discipleship group I attended the leader started to describe the horrific fallen-ness of the world and the polluting nature of evil that has saturated so much of our society.  I was horrified as she explained this was exemplified most clearly by the marriage of gay people.  She did not mention the soul destroying reality that there are more people trapped in slavery than there ever have been; that sex, money and power rule our world; or that the true beauty of individuals is destroyed be a media machine that sucks out our self value, in order to sell it back to us in the form of beauty products and plastic surgery.  No, not one mention of any of those things, just the “evil” of gay marriage.

 

Throughout the Bible the prophets spoke clearly to the people of God, Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the religious leaders, and right now it would seem, God is using Charlie Brooker – an atheist – to bring about His truth.

 

Will the Church wake up?  Will those of us who are Jesus followers, called to emulate Jesus, see God’s truth in these programmes and instead of trying to be relevant to the world, will we become radical to the world?  Will we speak out against the great evils in this world?  Will we collectively call for the end of programmes which pornographicate young people and the culture which seeks to perpetuate violence against women?  Will we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us on what really matters?  Or will Jesus need to say to us:

 

"Woe to you, [Christians], you hypocrites!  ...you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matt. 23:23)