Not-So-Silent Women

Not-So-Silent Women

I don’t want to be a pastor or lead a church. But I would like the freedom to share my story and the message that God has laid on my heart with both men and women.

I’m not looking for power or authority; I just want a voice.

I’m not a radical feminist. But I’d like to publish a book that doesn’t have flowers on the cover.

This shouldn’t be too much to ask. 

Growing up in my conservative, patriarchal community, none of those ideas ever entered my mind. Women were created to be help-meets which meant they stayed home, cooked, cleaned, and produced copious amounts of children. Male leadership used verses like 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15 to keep us females in our place.

Strangely, even after I got out of my cultic-subgroup of Christianity, mainstream Christians still didn’t seem to understand how to interpret these passages of Scripture. People either declared them outdated and worth ignoring, or they continued to use the passages to limit women within the church.

Honestly, none of it really mattered to me until more recently. As my online following has grown and as God has zeroed in on the passions of my heart, I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated. More than anything, I want to honor the Real God of the Real Bible. But if you’ve read any of my posts, you will know that I don’t believe all religious tradition is actually Real.

About eighteen months ago, I took a little journey through the Old Testament and one of the surprising things I discovered was that God didn’t seem to have a problem with Deborah being a prophetess. Taking that into account along with the way God specifically includes women in the genealogy of Jesus, makes sure to tell stories of women interacting with Jesus, and lets women be the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection…well, I started to wonder how much of this limiting of women in the church was just religious tradition and not truth.

A friend of mine passed the video below on to me this summer. It’s produced by a group that is affiliated with Asbury Theological Seminary. As I watched Dr. Gary Hoag explain 1 Timothy 2:9-15, my mind was blown. Of course there was background knowledge that we don’t understand. 1 Timothy is a letter written by a real person (the apostle Paul) to a real person (Timothy) at a real place (Ephesus).

My next step, thanks to a wonderful mentor, was to research the Hebrew words ezer kenegdo. These are the words that the LORD uses to describe Eve before He makes her. They get translated as suitable helper or help-meet, which is honestly nowhere near what the Hebrew means. I’m linking my favorite article here, but do yourself a favor and look these words up. It’s well worth it!

This brings me to yesterday. This fall my church decided to offer free Bible Institute classes on Sunday nights. I’m taking a Bible Study Methods class taught by a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary. The point of the class on Sunday night was to use structure to understand meaning, that is how to take apart verses clause by clause. But I think our professor may have heard about the John MacArthur and Beth Moore mess that happened the day before, because he decided to demonstrate using 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. (Side note, the most accurate translation to practice this with is the NASB because it keeps the clauses in the same structure as the Greek.)

After organizing the independent (clauses that could be a sentence by themselves) and dependent clauses (ones that can’t), the verses looked like this.

The women are to keep silent in the churches;
          for they are not permitted to speak,
          but are to subject themselves,
               just as the Law also says.
     If they desire to learn anything
let them ask their own husbands at home;
          for it is improper
          for a woman to speak in church.

Our professor asked what we noticed. We responded that it looked like the women were asking questions in the middle of the service. He reminded us that culturally Greek (and Jewish) women were not educated, so they would have been missing some of the information readily available to men.

Next our professor had us back up and look at the whole of Chapter 14. We quickly noticed that the entire chapter was about having an orderly worship service. Other types of people were also told to “keep silent.” If there is no interpreter, then the person who speaks in tongue must keep silent (vs 28). Prophets needed to take turns and when someone else had a revelation, the first one must keep silent (vs 30).

The professor asked if these people had to stay silent forever. The obvious answer was no. He reminded us that the Corinthian church was a mess and most of Paul’s letter was addressing all of their many issues. And this particular chapter was about having a more orderly service. That’s it.

I left class feeling so excited and validated as a Christian women. 

I didn’t even know about the things John MacArthur said about Beth Moore yet. But the next morning I posted to my writer Facebook page and the post exploded.

The best quote from my Bible Study Methods class last night.

“People who think they can understand the text using just the English translation are…let me think of an inoffensive word…simple.”

Then the professor proceeded to tear apart 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 where it says women should be silent in the church. He TORE IT UP! And laid it out again just by looking at the structure of the clauses. And in the process he validated all Christian women and boldly handed me my voice.

This incredibly smart professor is my new hero. 😁

Everyone wanted to know what my professor had said. Hence this blog post.

As in so many other areas, I’m personally looking for truth in tension. I am okay holding onto two seemingly opposite truths. I still believe in male headship and female submission, two concepts which are totally Biblical. But they don’t look the same as they used to in my mind. Empowered Christian women can still choose to come under male leadership, similarly to the way a basketball team follows their captain. But…

Submission is not the same as oppression.

And leadership does not mean lordship.

John MacArthur was quoted during the conference this past weekend as declaring “When you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority,”

I’m just not sure those “teachings” are actually biblical which means that the authority wouldn’t be biblical either.

People who are reading this, we have never had easier access to study tools and information. Let’s question, and learn, and dig into Scripture for ourselves. Don’t just accept religious tradition at face value, but don’t mindless throw things out because you don’t like them. Let’s find out what the Bible actually says and let’s be willing to live in the Awkward Middle Way, in the tension of truth. I’m linking a few of my favorite study tools below. Happy digging!

Name

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE SEARCH AND RECEIVE RANDOM NEWSLETTERS WITH EXCLUSIVE CONTENT. 😁

Favorite Study Links:

Bible.org and within that NetBible.org

Blue Letter Bible

There’s Rebellion in My Heart…

sunset-401541_1920 (1)

I’m pretty good at being a rebel.

Not the kind where you rebel against anything and everything for no reason. The kind where you think something is stupid and refuse to do it. This is where I get tripped up with the whole writing/speaking thing every time. Every. Time.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started the journey of writing a book. I didn’t know what the industry was like.

  • That it is often more about who you are than the message you are trying to share…
  • That if you don’t have a “platform,” i.e. a large following, you don’t stand a chance at getting published…
  • That there is a constant pressure to be awesome, and perfect, and “Instagram worthy”…
  • That you are supposed to “build your brand”…
  • That there are a million other women also trying to be noticed and gain a following (who easily turn from sisters-in-Christ to competitors)…

It’s so ridiculous.

I don’t want to spend all my time trying to find followers who will like me. I don’t want to schedule Facebook or Twitter posts to get attention. I don’t want to fake awesome or try to be perfect. I don’t want a “brand”.

I just want to be normal-ish, maybe slightly weird, broken, and real. I want to talk about Jesus, ask hard questions, and get people to think. I want to take lama selfies, play with my kids, and drink coffee with my friends.

IMG_6289

I was trying to take an selfie with this lama, but she moved in for a kiss!

I don’t care if I never get noticed or ever write a book. I want to do this like Jesus.

Jesus would have been an agent’s worst nightmare.

Every time He gathered a following, Jesus said something crazy that made them all leave. He wasn’t into fame and didn’t use Instagram. In fact, we don’t even know what He looked like. Jesus never wrote a book, let alone a blog post. He didn’t hang out with popular people, but instead spent His life serving the poor and needy. He didn’t care about His reputation, just His Father’s will.

And He changed the world.

I might not change the world, but I would like to point it to Jesus. 

dandelion-99394_1920

I found an old article from Christianity Today talking about women in ministry, specifically women in blogging/writing/speaking ministry. Along with the article, there was a link to an old Twitter conversation. Apparently I’m not the only rebel out there.

If I have seemed quieter or continue to be quiet, just know that I am trying to figure all of this out. How to follow Jesus, and speak the truth He’s put on my heart, and be a rebel at the same time. 😉