A solid place to stand…

More random ramblings about men and women and church and all that stuff…

One: My greatest frustration with this whole Complementarian discussion is that the vast majority of what I read is focused on telling women what to do and what we can’t do. Precious little of what I have observed takes time to exhort men to be men worthy to lead.

Two: The major freak-outs that happen (especially on Twitter) are focused in on a woman stepping out of her prescribed lane and doing something the Comp crowd has forbidden. But there is no equal freak-out when men are found to be less than worthy to lead, or have blatantly abused their position of authority and harmed women. Why is that so?

Three: I am still on the fence and have so many questions. I have, however, come to an important conclusion that I personally am not “called” to be ordained, or lead in a church setting. But what about women who do have that calling, and are clearly gifted to do so?

My quest has led me to revisit the first three chapters of the Bible. This is what I have observed so far:

  • I can’t help but notice that the man was called upon to answer for their misdeeds, even though it was the woman who was deceived.
  • It’s also noteworthy that in the first chapter of Genesis, God commands both the male and the female to be fruitful, multiple, “have dominion” over creation and subdue it. He said this to them not to him. Later in Genesis 2, where a more detailed account of the creation of humanity is given, the command given to the man only has to do with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The command to “have dominion” is not discussed in that context. That’s interesting to me, although I have yet to really dig into what that might mean. But it’s worth noting.
  • It is also notable to me that the man was there as his bride was being led astray and did nothing to intervene; and that he did not take ownership of that when he was called to account. At that point, it was the woman *God* gave him that was to blame for all his troubles. Sound familiar? Ultimately, the consequences for disobedience fell upon both. It’s interesting to me that God called out to the man to answer first, perhaps because He was given the command about the tree in the first place.
  • The man “ruling” over the woman was a consequence of the Fall, not a result of creation. Even if man is called to a “role” of leadership, “ruling over women” is not what it should look like (see Eph. 5:22-30). Note also that this is spoken of in the context of a marital relationship. Woman’s desire shall be for her husband; man’s desire will be to rule over his wife. Read in context, that cannot possibly be seen as a positive outcome for either the man or the woman.

My next task will be to take a look at how New Testament authors spoke about men and women, and how they interpreted Genesis 1-3 in their treatment of the subject. But that is for a later day.

All of this leads to a whole host of secondary questions. For one, how does this translate to men and women who are not in a marital context? I’ll use myself as an example. I am single. I have no husband to “submit” to. So what does this look like for me? Am I to submit to any man? Even Paul doesn’t say that – he calls upon women to submit to their own husbands (Eph. 5:22). So how am I to understand that command as a single woman?

And that’s just one set of questions! Here’s another thought: If it is true that the Holy Spirit gives His gifts as He wills, and a woman is clearly given gifts of leadership, teaching or shepherding, did the Holy Spirit make a mistake? How is that woman to exercise those gifts? One could argue that is her function with her children – but what if she has no children? Or, as is my case, cannot have children? Even if we grant that men are called to be the pastors and elders in the local church context, how is a woman so gifted to use those gifts? And are the elders really doing something wrong if they call upon that woman to share her gifts with the local body?

A final observation: All of this looks and feels so much like our current political climate in the US. There is no such thing as middle ground or compromise anymore. Neither side is willing to give an inch, or concede anything. If you walk into the fray from the right and even suggest someone on the left has a valid point, you are branded a traitor and banished. The left has a similar sifting system. No room for nuance, for possible correction, for learning anything from folks to the right. This is, admittedly a generalization, but one that I think holds true in so many situations.

This is hard for me. Most days I’m too conservative for my liberal friends and too liberal for my conservative friends. I see the black and white issue – but I also see the many shades of grey in between. Sometimes a lot of truth lives in that grey. But when ideological purity is the promised land you’re seeking, the grey is your enemy. I’ve witnessed this same phenomena in theological debates. This makes finding a solid place to stand on this subject all the more difficult.

That’s all I have for now…thankfully. And of course, I have more questions than answers, as per usual. More to come…

Grace and peace…

m.

Random thoughts on “Thoughts and Prayers”…

Another tragedy is unfolding in a high school in America, this time in Santa Fe, Texas, where a gunman opened fire on an art class. At least 8 people are dead and 6 wounded, including the Resource Officer on duty at the time.

I just watched an interview with a student who was in the building at the time of the shooting. The reporter asked her if there was any point during the ordeal where she questioned whether it was really happening; she emphatically shook her head “no”. He asked, “Why not”. Her response cut my heart to pieces: “It’s happening everywhere. I always knew it would eventually happen here.”

Asking our government officials to pass laws that help curb the number and power of guns on the street is not the same thing as advocating for a complete reversal of the Second Amendment. This is a false flag, a distraction from having a truly honest, gut-checking conversation about guns in our country. I personally wouldn’t own a gun, but I would not tell my neighbor he or she cannot. But there are things that we can do to help stem this tide that land in between a free-for-all and an all-out ban. This is a false choice and should be rejected for the nonsense that it is.

Lamenting the violence that is occurring on a regular basis in our school and communities is not the same thing as believing that it is completely on the government to fix everything and parents and teachers and fellow neighbors have no role to play. Again – false flag. What’s up with the zero-sum game we’re playing here? Why does it have to be either/or of two extreme choices? Where did the wisdom of the middle road go? Can’t this be a “both/and” situation where the law and the people come together and form a collective solution?

To add to this: advocating for stricter laws, even something as limited as universal background checks do not make you a Pollyanna that thinks laws will stop all gun violence. Laws against theft and murder don’t stop all crimes – so we should dispense with these laws as well?

Thoughts and prayers…thoughts and prayers. Yes, I think; and I most definitely pray. But John stated in his first epistle the following:  “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer[i] in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him?” (1 John 3:17). And James reminds us: Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. (James 2:18b). Neither author is advocating for works-righteousness; they are affirming what Jesus speaks about when He refers to the “least of these”.

I am a private citizen with little real political power. I speak my mind; I vote; I write my elected officials; I try to love the children in my sphere as best I can. I do what is within my limitations and abilities to do. And yes, I pray. I pray all the time. I ask God to move. But we are required to do something too. We are required to MOVE too, not just think and pray. Constantly listening to men and women who are in positions where they could make a difference simply say they are “thinking and praying” when each new tragedy happens is frustrating. Eventually, those words are meaningless. And then they get the point of inciting anger and rage in people who just don’t get what all the thinking is praying is about if it is not about helping your fellow citizens find a solution to a very real problem.

You may not agree with me; that’s fine. But why do our children bear the brunt of this insanity? Why does it seem that we care more about our guns than our children?

I don’t understand. I just don’t. Lord, have mercy on us, I pray.

More later; until then, grace and peace…

Quick note…Aha!

Here’s a quick thought, which I’m sure I’ve said before, but think is so very important, if for no other reason than to remind myself of what I already know…

If you are a Christian, you have a new identity. The old has gone the new has come. You are a child of God, a co-heir with Christ, a member of Christ’s body, a living stone in the temple He is building, a temple for the Holy Spirit and a citizen of heaven. You are a new creation. 
Your identity is in Christ. You are hidden in Him; the life you live now is through Him. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, awaiting the appearing of your Blessed Hope, Jesus. And when He appears, you will be like Him, for you will see Him as He really is. 
I might start shouting in a minute. This stuff is just too good…
But…and this is the “but” I have been working through and continue to do so…
In Christ, I do not cease being who I am. I don’t stop being a Black 40something single woman living in the Midwestern United States in the year 2015. These other identities don’t change – my relationship to them do. 
This is an aha moment, where things being to click and make a little bit of sense. I cannot erase my experiences, my identity or those things that make me who I am. I am these things because God determined the time, location and circumstances of my existence. In other words, none of these things are an accident. And God desires that I be them for His glory. 
So, the struggle in navigating how I live faithfully to God in the context of these things is a good thing, a healthy thing – as long as I keep my focus and foundation on the fact that my identity, worth and purpose are found in Christ, and nowhere else. This is where I stumble as I journey through. But I don’t know that I should expect to walk through this perfectly. As long as I keep walking, with my eyes fixed on Jesus, He catches me when I fall. 
Eureka!
I’m going to marinate on that for a bit…I’ll be back…

Gratefully…

I am not defined or assigned worth by the theological camp I belong to; what Bible translation I read; what denomination my church belongs to; how many big theology words I know; my marital status; my ethnicity; my gender; my spiritual gifts; my natural abilities; my job description; how much money I make; how much I weigh; what kind of car I drive; what kind of house I live in; what my wardrobe looks like; or how many books I’ve read.

I am not saved or reconciled to God by any of these things. Neither am I saved by my ability to keep the law perfectly in thought, word, deed, or desire.
Grace – it is all I have and makes me all I am. God’s grace through Christ Jesus. He does not forsake me because I am hidden in Christ. 
I cannot boast; I cannot be puffed up with pride. For grace is not grace if it can be earned. I can only live thankfully. Trustingly. Gratefully…