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The Varying Faces of Complimentarianism (Week One)

The Gospel Coalition has made Complimentarianism part of its core because of the belief that our view of men and women and how God has called us to work together in marriage and in the church is an issue that matters to every believer, married or single, male or female — for it affects the whole body.

Let me begin with a very basic definition of complimentarianism upon which I think most complimentarians would agree.

Men and women are of equal value in God’s sight and co-heirs together in the grace of God. Men and women are created differently to compliment one another.

In marriage,  God has called man to be the loving and sacrificial leader, as Christ was for the Church, and God has called woman to respect and submit to him, as the Church submits to Christ.

In the mystery of the Trinity, in which three are one, and yet there is an order, so it is with men and women in marriage and in the church.

This is a very basic definition and complimentarians have a great range in how they actually live this out in the home and in the church. For example, in some churches women are allowed to teach only women and children and are not in any other leadership positions. This would be true of Bethlehem Baptist (where Piper once was Senior Pastor). Other complimentarian churches would  give much more freedom to women, but would still reserve ordination for men. At Redeemer Presbyterian, where Tim Keller is the Senior Pastor, non-ordained women can do anything non-ordained men can do — including teaching men, heading committees, and leading in worship.

I had to smile to see Tim and Kathy Keller and John Piper seated next to each other on the panel at the Women’s Gospel Coalition conference, for they live out complimentarianism very differently in their respective marriages and churches, yet they showed one another respect. How that glorified God!  We will listen to this panel this week and comment. I think they did a beautiful job of expressing complimentarianism and agreeing on the basics, even though their actual life practices in their marriages and churches are as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Let me begin with a metaphor that I have heard used by both, for example, John Piper and also, Tim and Kathy Keller. Just as the Trinity has been in a dance from all of eternity, so it is with men and women.

THE DANCE

There is a beauty in the complimentarian dance that is lacking in marriages and in churches where each is listening only to his own music and each is vying to lead.

As believers, we have the music of His Spirit and His Word, and, if both are listening and responding, great beauty is possible. I liken this to a scene in The Scent of a Woman.

  • tango-al-pacino-scent-of-the-woman

 

Al Pacino plays a blind gentleman who leads the lovely Gabrielle Anwar in a tango of breathtaking beauty. It reminds me of:

There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
         Four which I do not understand:

The way of an eagle in the sky,
         The way of a serpent on a rock,
         The way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
         And the way of a man with a maid.

                                            Proverbs 30:18-19

 

Let’s see this scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2zTd_YwTvo

Here is the symbolism I love — you may see more.

  • He is gentle, not forcing her into the dance, in the manner of servant leadership. He cares about her feelings, listens to her, and they dialogue. They come to one mind and he leads her to the dance floor.
  • He is blind, as we all are in truth, without the help of God’s Spirit and the body of Christ. He consults his friend for the “perimeters” of the dance floor.

 

They both listen to the music, he leads, she responds — and together, make magic.

THE CHALLENGING PASSAGES

Complimentarians agree that there is an order in creation that should be reflected in the home and in the church. The three passages that address this are extremely challenging. As Kathleen Nielson put it, and no one on the panel spoke up to disagree: “Nobody knows what covering our heads because of the angels means!” (1 Corin 11:10) These are such challenging passages, and one contributing factor for a variety of interpretations is that some (and I am one) believe that God gives cultural examples to illustrate eternal principles. Therefore, as in the case of head coverings, the eternal principle is submission to authority, which must always be obeyed, but the cultural example is head coverings, which does not need to be obeyed today. Others believe that these are not cultural examples, but must also always be obeyed. So what do we do?

 Romans 14:10-12 makes it very clear that each of us should not judge the other, but judge ourselves, for we will each stand before God. I saw that there were women at that conference wearing hats, and I absolutely know that they do so to glorify God and I respect them for it. So though we may interpret these challenging passages differently, it is important to give each other freedom and respect, for each of us will stand before God alone, and will give an account to Him.

 There is something as Tim Keller said, that must be different about the roles of men and women from the three passages which are often quoted to support not having women in leadership positions. Not only are these three passages challenging to interpret, but we must resolve the “apparent” conflict. How can it be that God blessed women like Deborah, Priscilla, and prophetesses who were teaching men, yet 1 Timothy says, I do not permit women to teach or have authority over men? And why does Paul give instructions to women who are prophesying to the body (which is a form of teaching) if they are not supposed to be teaching the body?

The most helpful commentary I have read on this  is Inter-Varsity’s commentary on 1 Timothy by John Stott. John Stott has the respect of the evangelical world. Tim Keller says he is the one who gave us a choice between fundamentalism and liberalism, between legalism and anti-nominism. Truly, Stott’s commentary made the pieces of this very hard puzzle fall together for me. I am truly excited to share that with you. You may disagree, and I encourage you to share your views, if you express them in love and support them with Scripture. For me, it resolved the apparent conflict, and gave me the freedom, when invited to teach groups of men and women, to do so unless I sense a check from the Spirit or sense I will not be well received. In reality, I rarely teach men, and am very thankful for my ministry to women. But when I am invited by the authority of a church, and I feel a peace, and that I will be well received, I accept. Just this week I taught to a mixed audience at the end of this dock, where we have what someone has cleverly called the summer “docks-ology” services. The sunset and the music woo the tourists to come and sit down and listen to a message from Scripture that they might never have heard before. I was invited by the community to speak, I felt a peace before God, and I sensed I would be received by the tourists and believers who opted to come — and I seemed to be. One woman who came is a woman with whom I play “pickleball.” This was all new to her, but her heart was stirred that night, and she is now signed up to try Bible study! But I would not have spoken had I not been convinced, scripturally, through the help of John Stott, that I am, at times, free to teach both men and women.

Andersondock
The Setting for our summer “Docks-ology” Services

Sunday Icebreaker

1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?

2. What stands out to you from the above?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

3. Read 1 Timothy 2:8-15.

John Stott said there are three eternal principles and three cultural examples. The first eternal principle is that men ought always to pray. The cultural example is that they are to lift up their hands while praying. Must they always lift up their hands? Stott said no, for that was a cultural example.

lifting-up-holy-hands-1-728

In verse 10, Stott said the eternal priniciple is that women should adorn themselves modestly and with self control. The cultural example is that they were not to braid their hair or wear pearls or gold. (The hairstyles of that time were very elaborate, and wealthy women often employed a maid just to do their hair). Must women today never braid their hair and never wear gold or pearls? Stott said no, for that was a cultural example.

Matronalivia2
hair styles of wealthy women in Peter’s day

The third eternal principle in verses 11-12 is that women are to be submissive to authority. The cultural example, Stott said, is that they are not to teach men. May a woman teach men today? Yes, Stott said.

Having said that, we also have to realize this is a “gray issue” that falls within the exhortations of Romans 14. If it is going to be an offense, causing discord, then it might be best to refuse. Sometimes our manner can help to smooth the way. This last Mother’s Day I gave the sermon in a large church in Milwaukee. I began by explaining that I was under the authority of the Senior Pastor who had read what I was going to say. I saw some men visibly relax. I understand — and I believe I would feel the same way if I were in the congregation.

The unifying element in these three challenging passages are that women in the church should be under the authority of the male leadership of the church. It is sensitive for women to teach men, and I want to approach such opportunities with humility and gentleness. I have also felt led to opt more for a testimonial kind of speaking than straight didactic when I speak to mixed audiences for it seems to be more easily received. I do believe women are free to teach men, but that does not always mean it is always what we should do.

4. What are your comments on the above? (Please be thoughtful, loving, and type responses in Word and then cut and paste your comments.)

5. Read 1 Timothy 2:13-15.

A. Again, these are challenging verses. In the panel, both Kathy Keller and Kathleen Nielson respond to them. In either my comments or ensuing weeks, I will share what I believe them to mean, but first I’d love your comments and your interpretation of this passage. What do you believe is being taught here? (Study it yourself — don’t quote your study Bible!)

B. Comments?

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Do you see an eternal principle and a cultural example in this? If so, what?

 


    7. Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-35.

        A. What is the subject matter in verses 26-33?

        B.  What else does Paul say about this in verses 34-35? Do you think this includes an eternal and a 

             cultural principle? If so, what are they? If not, what is your interpretation and why?

     8. Do you see any unifying eternal principle concerning women in all of the above passages? If so, what?

 

Thursday-Friday: Listen to the panel and share your notes and comments here.

Link – Listen Here

9. Comments and notes

Saturday:

10. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

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338 comments

  1. Dee, this is going to be incredible!  I didn’t see this coming.  About five years ago, the church I had been a part of for about 15 years dropped the “bombshell” that women were going to be a part of the preaching team going forward….as well as being elders in the church.  There had been NO inkling of this decision, which had been in process for a couple of years “behind closed doors”.  This church is a non-denominational “mega church”.  Independent obviously from denominational allegiance.  Long story short, MANY people left the church.  I tried to stay for 2 years and understand and accept the leadership’s decision.  Ultimately I left – and am now delighted with the small church I am a part of.  I did NOT leave because of the “issue” of women teaching, etc……but I DID come to the conviction that the elders handling of the issue had been grievious and extremely harmful to the body.  Eventually (long down the road) the elders asked for forgiveness from the body for the way the issue had been handled.  I have many dear friends who left the church and many dear friends who are still there…..including some who are in key leadership positions there.  I love them all dearly.  I could never in my wildest dreams have anticipated the PAIN that this issue would cause so many……in marraiges, in small groups….all across the board there was just so much turmoil.  This is too much information……but I feel like this week will be a fresh breeze of healing in my heart as we look at this in God’s Word.  THANK YOU Dee….for following the Spirit in leading us through this tough topic! 

    1. Jackie–you brought up so many important pieces! You reminded me too of a Church we did leave a long while back, and more for the way things were handled than specifically for the decisions being made–this “elders handling of the issue had been grievous and extremely harmful to the body” struck a cord with me. We still have great relationships even now with their leadership, but I’m sad at how it was all handled. So often it may not be the “issue” that is so hurtful as the way it is handled–great reminder of living out Romans 14 as Dee mentioned above. It is so encouraging to hear their hearts were pricked to apologize, and yet the pain from words leaves scars–but I love your heart towards the situation. 

    2. Jackie, thanks for sharing this story. I do think issues in the church are sometimes handled wrongly, and I was glad the elders apologized later. 
       
      I only left a church one time; it was a few years (not because of this topic). I was raised in to Methodist church and women were allowed to be ordained. I never realized (baby Christian) that the gospel says that’s not appropriate. Throughout the bible there are women who have influence though…. My favorite, Esther, and Deborah come to mind. I think we as humans try to make everything “equal,” so everyone feels good, when God wants us to do otherwise. He knows best, right? I think Dee did a wonderful job explaining complementarianism (whew! Tough word!); how God wants us to live and help each other through our lives. I can’t wait to study this week and learn more!!
       
      Regarding the statement I made about God knowing what’s best for us…..I am praying about a life change that is quite scary for me. I think God will bless me if I pursue this change. I usually spend the weekends during school, grading papers and lesson planning; I never seem to have time during the week to get it all done. I’m thinking about actually using the Sabbath as it was intended, as a day of rest. That is a hard decision, but as I said I think I will benefit if I make the commitment to Him. Scary…..pray sisters, if you see fit 🙂

      1. Laura-wow. So moved by your mold-able, teachable heart “I’m thinking about actually using the Sabbath as it was intended, as a day of rest.” Will pray for His blessings to overflow on you, for your faithful obedience of wanting to honor Him in this way–wow. 

      2. Oh, I will pray Laura — and it’s a good reminder for me to do that, too.  For part of last school year, I did seek to experience regular Sabbath times (Sundays, as well as other breaks).  Thank you for the reminder, and praying for you will keep me accountable to do that, too 😉

        I’ve also been convicted about the importance of seeking Him in the morning before I check email, texts, or FB (sleeping with my cell phone makes it worse!).  I remember reading about some of those Christian dead guys from way back who, because they were so busy, were committed to getting up very early to spend time in prayer.  I need to go to bed before midnight to do that though. My life is more likely to point to Him when I pay attention to Him.  I have seen how he calms me, and how constantly seeking him prepares me to face what used to derail me.  I may go back to a paper Bible because turning on my computer sends me in 100 directions.  Maybe it’s good that we are not continuing in Psalms here because I can  continue that without my computer!

      3. Well….laura….I do see fit to pray for you !!  Consider it done! !

        You too Renee!!!

  2. 1.Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
     
    While part of me wants to just say “I agree with Keller and now can we move on to Psalm 42?!” I so appreciate Dee’s willingness to go into the gray, sticky messy areas and challenge me in areas I otherwise avoid. I need this! 🙂
     
    It is an important topic to me, though I have never been in a church that I disagreed with their view of women in the Church, so I can’t say I’ve personally been challenged in this area much. I believe it is important because I believe God created male and female in His image, each with different strengths and responsibilities to represent different facets of His character.
     
    I do believe that in marriage, His beauty is best reflected when there is a gentle leadership of the husband and a submission from the wife. But when I submit, I personally do not think of it as much about submitting to my husband as I do about submitting to my Lord and being faithful to what He has called me. I think a beautiful (however flawed) marriage can reflect the relationship of Christ to the Church. I enjoy my role as “Helper”. I didn’t always. And I can’t say I grew up with an appreciation for it, but I have found great joy in seeing God shape it in me over the years—a peace, a rest. 
     
    Stopping here. I think this is a challenging topic and I am leary of offending. 
     
    2. What stood out?
     
    I love the dance scene-and what Dee said here “There is a beauty in the complimentarian dance that is lacking in marriages and in churches where each is listening only to his own music and each is vying to lead.”

      1. Dee – I love your encouragement to Elizabeth to let her voice be heard…..and to that I say, AMEN!  Elizabeth – you are ALWAYS so gentle in the Spirit of Christ on this blog….we need you to continue to share freely!   And Dee, yes, I’m committed to praying for you daily now…..being a part of the fellowship and study here is something I have no words for.  Timely wouldn’t cover it!  I did want to put it “out there” that my marraige is in a very precarious place (over many years actually) and even so, I feel like I need to look long and hard at the marraige piece of this week’s study.  I’m about one day away from possibly going into Leslie Vernick’s coaching program…..and without you just “happening” to mention her, who knows when I would have heard of her work?  Amazing.  God’s timing.  Now I’ll be quiet awhile and let others speak!

        1. Jackie, praying for you, your marriage, your decision to pursue coaching.  I’ve had a couple different Christian life coaches — such a blessing and over time, helped me to get “unstuck.”

        2. I want to reassure you, Jackie, about Leslie Vernick’s coaching. She has been a help to me as I have tried to understand and deal with our daughter’s emotional abuse from her ex. I have followed her teaching online for a couple of years at least. She is gentle and sensitive and I pray she will help you.

        3. oh Jackie–as I just said to Laura too, such a mold-able and teachable heart you have–wow. Ministers so much to me. Praying for your marriage and your decision to be in Leslie’s program. I think I first learned of her from Dee too, years ago, and have been so blessed by her wisdom. I appreciate your courage and vulnerability. Praying for you sister~

  3. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
    I’ve been looking forward to this topic (sort of!) because I usually am intimidated by it.  Actually, if the whole topic didn’t intimidate me, I would have posted over 2 hours ago.  Others have already expressed some of my thoughts.  The congregations I’ve belonged to have fallen in the same “camp” on paper — and even the way that complementarianism is played out is not that much different.  But sometimes, legalism about it has seemed arbitrary and non-sensical, even bizarre.

    When I see/hear scorn and disrespect toward women in ministry or churches which have “lady preachers” (phrase I recently heard!), I want to put my hands over my ears and become a NON-complementarian.  Recently, I learned that a congregation I attended in one place I lived is now part of a larger body that treats women’s role in the pastorate as a “gray area” — and churches in that group can go either way.  I like that because it gets rid of the disrespect (or has the potential to do so), but I know that is not the basis for making a decision about beliefs 🙂

    Something I haven’t explored in Scripture is the role of ordination.  e.g., From a complementarian perspective, would it be okay for a woman to be ordained and then be in charge of women’s ministries?  Chaplaincies, etc.?  In reality, I’ve heard, known, and/or known of some women who are pastors that I LIKE much better than some men… again, not a good foundation for beliefs.  And another one– I remember hearing Billy Graham cited as saying that the best preacher of all his children is Ann Graham Lotz.

    Another question is how this carries over into the workplace???  I certainly wouldn’t marry some of the people from conservative religious groups who have been my colleagues (and they would have been even less likely to consider me!!).  But there definitely is carry-over between one’s attitudes toward women in general, in the church, and attitudes in the workplace.  One of the reasons this whole topic is challenging to me is that I don’t like sexism (!) and the two get muddled together.   The topic is challenging to me primarily at an emotional level, though I do have some “brain” questions.  I’m looking forward to the panel — would also like to hear a respectful discussion between people with a variety of complementation and more egalitarian (or whatever term is used in church circles) beliefs.  It does seem easier to fly under the radar on this topic and ignore it altogether — i.e., not even pin down my own beliefs!

      1. Trying again? (message said that certain words or phrases could trigger security so edited out changed abbrev to a word??)

        Previous post that didn’t post:Thanks, Dee.  I ordered the book.   I’ve heard her speak (online) about women’s roles — and I smile when I listen to her.  She doesn’t seem afraid to address issues. 🙂   And the first time I heard a woman read Scripture prior to the sermon, I realized Redeemer was different than many evangelical churches.  I don’t know much about ordination, though I maybe know what I believe about women’s roles in church.

        After reading some other posts, I know that my discomfort with the issue is related to the spirit in which the topic is handled (when the issue is handled disrespectfully or in a way that violates the church’s own form of government or constitution, I squirm).   I’ve always wondered if my awkwardness in Sunday Services in churches with a woman as senior pastor (preacher) is related to beliefs, the people around me,  or if it’s from not being used to it.  This will be good to explore.

        However, I do wonder how much of the way in which women’s roles sometimes are discussed (scorn, disrespect) is related to societal polarization??? ? Is it possible for organizations, congregations, groups to have  control idols ???  Example of anecdote that is making me wonder:  I grew up in a conservative church; I’m guessing that before the evangelical label became more common, they would have described themselves as fundamentalists. Years ago, one woman made a huge impact; she was a Bible teacher in the 1950s(?); I don’t remember her.  She taught the adult men’s Bible class 🙂    for years.  I doubt that anyone questioned it; church leaders would have been in the class.  Other women taught Sunday School — through high school during this time; in this conservative church body, women were/are not ordained.  They didn’t “preach.”  But they definitely taught, including adult men, with full permission and knowledge of male church leaders.  In society, sex roles were more differentiated than  today.  In some churches today, the dance feels right; but in others, it feels like a structured effort (by men and women) to get control — and that’s when I want to run away. 

          I want to ask “What explains this?” I know part of it is related to the extent to which people in the congregations seek the Spirit’s leading and submit to Him.  But I also wonder how much of it is related to contemporary (evangelical?) church culture and norms about how to “do church.”  (also thinking of some black churches in the U.S.  and powerful women preachers who have spoken at Urbana). 

        Most of all, I want to preserve fellowship and maintain dialogue with those who disagree with me.   I’d way rather be open, flexible, avoidant, noncommittal, etc. than to imply that women who are ordained pastors are not in God’s will (or than to get in trouble!).  Yet there are so many potential areas of disagreement that I can’t stick my head in the sand for everything; the conversations sound SO similar on many different topics; on the other hand, it is so common to determine what is “right” based on personal experience.   One approach is to humbly say what I believe and why, indicating that the person may have Biblical reasons for disagreeing.  But I don’t want to win a debate; nor do I want to succumb to a postmodernist “true for you but not for me.”  Anyhow, I hope my confusion will be decreased by the end of the week, but most of my confusion is about how disagreement can be handled gracefully — so I’ll try to avoid being a real creep:)

  4. 2. What stands out to you from the above?  The dance and the docks-ology 🙂    So good to hear that one woman signed up for Bible Study.
     
     I love the dance analogy.  When I think about church conflict over women’s roles, I remember a church trying to develop specific policy — how old the Sunday School classes could be (i.e., boys), etc.  Then, when someone really wanted a woman to teach a topic to adults, the elders tried to generate additional criteria or rules to allow it to happen.  “Dance” fits better than prescription or formula.

  5. oh my, this is a hot potato subject! this is one that I have struggled with all my married life! I have a very outgoing strong personality and my husband is the most phlagmatic person I have ever met!
    I am also a woman in ministry and I am often called to teach young men as well as young women even though my focus is on college women.
    one thing I will say is that our marriage became much more compatible and peaceful when I learned how to submit to  my husband!

  6. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
    Yes,  it’s important to me.  I’ve been in a church that has made a few changes over the years, which I mostly support.  But I also feel a lot of push back on the topic from family members in the church where I grew up.  (not that this should tangibly affect me….but still emotionally, it can) Some of my best friends are in churches that have policies and practices with which I am not completely at peace.  SO…..yes. It is both important and challenging.  I would love to learn more…..and seek the Word on this.  I remember you saying that we’d cover this sometime, but gotta say, I was ready for Psalm 42!  Read it first thing this morning.  I also remember (I think this is right) Dee, that you said it is your very favorite…..so I know you must have such good teaching and experience in it’s message.  But that’s okay.  I am loving the psalms so much, I hope to keep going through them.  The first book has been an exceptional blessing to me.   
    2. What stands out to you from the above?  ‘Docks-ology’ is a great name!  Will be sharing that with others 🙂  Also the whole concept of ‘complementarianism’.   I realize that this is an umbrella teaching and I suppose I’ve heard teachings that reflect this title…..but have not heard the title itself.  I have much respect for John Stott (heard him speak once) and have read a couple of his books.  But, it’s been a long time.  I really look forward to switching gears and looking at the NT this week (though, in additon, it will be a good week to practice what Bonhoeffer, Luther and so many others have taught….to begin the day with the Psalter.) 
     
    I may be more of a reader and a thinker and less of a writer this week.  My 19 month old grandson is on his way (with his parents of course!) to visit, as we speak.  I only see him every few months…..so I will allow myself to be totally distracted by him for the next 3 days 🙂  And after that, we pack up our youngest and drive her back to college for her sophomore year AND spend a night visiting with my husband’s family who just moved to Minnesota from Washington. We have never had anyone from his family live near by.  So lots happening this week!

    1. Wanda…we will miss you…but give lots of loves and hugs to your grandson and his parents…..also thinking of you as its so hard to send your youngest back to college.  Enjoy your husband’s family too!!   Prayers always!

  7. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
     
    I’ve never heard of this topic before; in fact I need to look up some of the words in the dialog! So, I guess it is challenging to me. Also, I do think it’s important, but I have grown up in a church where women were ordained so I am confused about the whole thing! Can’t wait to learn more….
     
    2. What stands out to you from the above?
     
    Dee! You posted my all time favorite scene from ANY movie!!! I love that scene so  much and wish it were me getting to experience  Pachino’s stealthy moves! Thank you! And yes, all you said about his guidance throughout the dance is how I want my man to be with me! Uh-oh….did I just say that out loud ????  

    1. Laura…..You’re not alone!  I also had not heard the word ‘Complementarianism’……set me aback when I first clicked on the blog this morning.  I think I understand some of what it entitles…..but as a specific teaching, it will be new to me too.    I also hadn’t heard the word ‘Eucharisteo’ and had only heard of Anne Voskamp on this blog.  I feel like I read and study Christian books all the time and then these new words/teachings come into my experience and I think…..’have I been living under a rock?’   Ha!  (there ARE a lot of different teachers, backgrounds and frames of reference in the Christian life…..I think I get stuck on the same authors and themes a lot.  Good for me to be stretched.)  

      1. hmmm… Wanda, I hadn’t heard of Eucharisteo before either.  But I am trying to figure out how I have been so exposed to the term  complementarianism and discussion of women’s roles.  I probably haven’t read THAT much but it seems that it’s been in front of my face for a couple of decades, maybe through InterVarsity or IVP, possibly even from work discussions?

  8. I have read the first part of the study and a few comments here by Jackie and Elizabeth. Dee, I will be in prayer for you and all the blog group as you carefully consider this issue this week. 
     
    Jackie, your vulnerability about your precarious marriage brings me to tears. I will also commit myself to pray for you. (Difficult marriages are now a tender spot for me because my daughter left a difficult marriage two years ago. I would have said prior to her leaving that divorce was wrong except in cases of adultery, but now I know that there are other instances where God allows it, though He prefers to heal it.)
     
    I don’t know how much I will be able to participate this week as we still have 3 young boys (grandsons) filling our time and energy and my husband will be away all week as well. I will try to read and respond prayerfully as I can.

    1. Praying for you Diane this week as Aubrey is gone.  I know you said on Fb… that  he entertains the boys so well….he will be missed so much.  How is u our dizzyness…hopefully better!

  9. Just wanted to offer this–Wendy Alsup (“Practical Theology for Women”) has a great (in my opinion!) blog where she often discusses this topic. I think she does it very well. Here’s one of her older articles: http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2013/04/a-new-wave-of-complementarianism.html

      1. Dee–after I posted her link, I wished I had checked with you first–sorry about that. She’s just helped me start to get some things I normally wouldn’t even look at and I think her site has some possibly useful info. But,after 3 re-readings with a bit of a foggy-head (first day of school for my kids!)…I don’t agree with her take on Gen 3:16 either, though it’s interesting what she says “this new wave embraces Genesis 3:16 as reflecting an inordinate longing by the woman for the man, an idolatrous longing that is often the root of very bad choices on the woman’s part.  The answer to which is greater dependence on God, not the man..”
        It’s hard for me to imagine an “idolatrous longing” NOT including a desire to control! Especially as a recovering controller myself! 

  10. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
    I haven’t really thought all too much about this topic in the faith community sense in a while. 
    I grew up in the Catholic denomination where male leadership was unequivocally in charge and not to be questioned; I found my perception of women being completely subservient to men, put into roles that amounted to being “worker bees”, distasteful.
    As an adult, I became a member of a Lutheran denomination; this denomination allowed women to be pastors and in church leadership roles…I liked for women to be serving in leadership roles and found it refreshing. 
    About five years ago, I participated in Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project” bible study…one of the sessions was about about authority, submission and oneness.  I recall that this session spoke of how “submission” was seen in a negative manner, often misconstrued.  Using the context of the Trinity, submission in relationships is something of beauty…what Dee said, “They both listen to the music, he leads, she responds — and together, make magic”expresses this well.  I wonder if the negative connotation isn’t something born and fed by the evil one for disunity. 
    As you can probably see, I am rather indecisive on the topic.  I look forward to self study, reading others’ thoughts and ideas, and the panel discussion of John Piper and Tim & Kathy Keller on this topic.

    1. Nanci, I like your post so much and am reacting to almost every point but I won’t do it all here 😉 .  

      Totally get the “worker bees” thing — and that varies so much from congregation to congregation within denominations.  Many churches need worker bees for activities/programs that may not even be necessary.  Again, the whole picture is large. How does having worker bees to maintain church programs fit into submission?

      Ok, this reminds me of and is related to another topic — using spiritual gifts in the church.  Or (somewhat facetious question but also somewhat serious), how does that apply to women?  What if my spiritual gift is not bringing food?  I enjoy helping (hiding) in the kitchen at church, but I don’t always have time to bake & deliver (and I don’t even keep ingredients on hand).  And why don’t men (in some churches) bring food?  Some churches don’t serve food at events; some “serve” food at everything — others are in between.  Hmmm… wasn’t it men who were appointed to be in charge of food distribution in the early church? 🙂
       

      Hey Dee, can we discuss spiritual gifts sometime on the blog?  I’m not overly fond of the topic because of all the inventories out there — and I don’t see how they distinguish between natural talents (even before people are believers) and spiritual gifts.  And what if my spiritual gift involves a role that churches typically assign to men?    (hypothetical here; I probably don’t have that excuse)

        1. Thanks, Dee!  

  11. Did we cover Psalm 42 before, maybe in the God of All Comfort, or elsewhere?  I just decided that I need to saturate myself in praying the Psalms, either continue with “new” Psalms or review “old” ones.  Some of the verses in Psalm 42 are bringing back memories of earlier discussions:  e.g., “Why are you cast down, O my soul … hope in God,”  “deep calls to deep”
     
    Perfect verses for this time of the (school) year, when I am getting in too deep!!

      1. Dee, I was excited when I arrived home today to discover that my dear husband had ordered “God of All Comfort” for me and it had arrived in the mail. I have wanted to read it ever since I first heard of it on this blog a few years ago. Now I have one more reason to read it. Psalm 42 is my favorite too. It is definitely on my “to read soon” list. Yay!

        1. Diane–my favorite book! SO excited for you to finally get to red it–oh how it will bless you! But get the kleenex ready! 🙂

  12. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
     
    This morning I took a little peek at the blog posting for the week before I went to church, but I didn’t have time to respond.    I am another person who was all psyched up for Psalm 42.   I have to admit that when I saw the topic, I drew a deep breath and murmured, “Oh, Deanna, you may want to ‘sit in the back row’ for this one!”     Frankly, I can’t say that this topic has been an important one for me thus far in my life (perhaps you will change my mind…although I don’t expect that).   This is where I get into trouble being from the (more liberal) Disciples of Christ denomination amidst the majority of the participants in this blog being evangelical Presyterians.   My congregation has a female pastor, six out of ten elders are female, and my daughter just became president of the congregation.     So you can tell where I am coming from!     In our marriage, leadership has not been an issue for my husband and myself  — there are some areas in which my husband takes the lead, but there are other areas in which I do; and we both prefer it that way.  It has worked so far for 48 years, so we are not likely to make a major change now 🙂  
     
    Like Elizabeth,  I have a great fear of offending.    

    2. What stands out to you from the above?
     
    I enjoyed the movie clip with the tango scene from Scent of a Woman.   It has been a few years since I saw the movie at the theater.     I liked what Dee posted concerning that scene:  “They both listen to the music, he leads, she responds — and together, make magic.”    Sometimes marriage is  like this!

      1. I once had a pastor who used to say (with reference to leadership of a church) “God will use a Godly woman when there is no Godly man willing or available.”  and he would site the judge, Deborah as an example of that.  Now of course this is just one pastor’s opinion and not Scripture but in thinking of Deborah it does seem reasonable that God would (and has) done that (used women in spiritual leadership positions, when no Godly man was willing or available.)

        1. MARY, How are you?  We’ve been praying for you.  Elizabeth was “looking” for you (last week? — days are running together).  So good to see you here.

    1. Deanna, SO looking forward to reading your interpretation of the passages of Scripture.

  13. Im not sure how this applies to single women but I think one of the most important “litmus” tests for whether a woman should be in any type of leadership is DOES SHE KNOW HOW TO GRACIOUSLY AND JOYFULLY SUBMIT TO HER HUSBAND. I have witnessed some very prideful, hard women who thought that they were smarter then men and therefor should lead them…..DANGER DANGER DANGER WILL ROBINSON (insert waving robot arms)! Honestly, If a husband thinks that his wife is a good teacher (like it is very clear that Steve thought of you Dee) then most of the time they are. I think of Elizabeth Eliot, one of the most traditional woman I have read, and thousands of young men have read her books and heard her speak. 
    I think the important question here is ARE YOU HOLY SPIRIT LED. any man or woman who is not filled with HIS SPIRIT is a danger in leadership. I will take a Holy Spirit filled woman over a self driven, non holy spirit led man any day of the week.
    Many of you are new and do not know my testimony in my marriage. I shared it years ago on here. so if you don’t know it and would like to I am writing it again below. God is SO good and I want to give HIM all the glory.
    I have a VERY strong personality and I am VERY pride filled. I mean really, really, really, pride driven….I used to think I was NEVER wrong! especially in  my marriage! many counselers, friends and even my children tended to back me up on that thought. Everyone thought it was him that was the problem in our marriage…..EVERYONE. of course that was because I am a much better comunicator.  Paul is not able to express many emotions other then anger, which he often saved just for me, NO ONE outside of our family would have believed he could get so angry.
    Well for 17 years I set out to prove that I was perfect and he was not. of course i had no idea that is what I was doing, I thought I was just doing what a “good wife” did. I babysat to bring in extra income, i homeschooled our children, we had sex at least twice a week, I did all the cooking, cleaning, shopping laundry ect. I even did all the paperwork and fundraising to bring  our 2 adopted girls home…AND HE STILL WAS NOT HAPPY WITH ME!
    What I never gave him was my heart. You see after the first few angry outbursts and the many times of him being unable to meet my emotional needs I shut down, I DID all the right things, I SAID all the right things but I could not let him in, it hurt way to much. So I locked my heart up and gave it to God and told HIM that HE could have it but Paul could not. and it almost led to a divorce.
    About 6 years ago we had it out and I was done. I told him he had to leave after he pinned me to the couch in anger (he did not hurt me so don’t freak out!) the next morning I went to MOPS to work with the kids and saw a book, Im not going to say its name because its a little nutso but it was what my thick skull needed at the time, I read it all in a day and it brought to my knees! I SAW my pride for the first time! I was also convicted that the one thing Paul wanted was the one thing I would not give him….my heart. OH how God and I had it out that day! I argued with HIM for hours telling HIM that there was NO WAY I could let Paul have access to my heart! IT HURT TO MUCH! but very clearly he said back to me….”how do you think it feels to love you? but I do.” He told me that if paul broke my heart…and he has….that HE would put it back together. BUT that HE would not let me put it back into a box. It belonged to Paul and that is where it was going to stay.
    SOOOO  I  told Paul how sorry I was and that I was giving him back my heart. HE CRIED FOR THE FIRST AND ONLY TIME IN OUR MARRIAGE. It was what he wanted most but I would not give. He has never gotten violent since abut I have had to give a very brused and battered heart to Jesus to fix up more then once…… we still have our moments! it is not a perfect marriage and 5 kids (4 with some kind of special need)  makes it even more challenging. But He now feels SAFE in my love, and that has made all the difference.
    I know that was long but I feel like it really relates to this subject. SUBMITTING IN ITS PUREST FORM IS TRUSTING SOMEONE WITH OUR HEART. We can “fake” submit with our actions but what God wants is our hearts.
     

    1. Cyndi, thanks for your honest sharing about your marriage struggles, and the personal struggle you went through to unlock your heart. It was brave of you to share and we can all learn from you.

    2. Cyndi,
      Oh, thank you so much for sharing this.  I really needed the reminder of trusting God with my heart, not trusting a box with my heart.  He has been teaching me in this regards and your words are from Him.  Thank you. And bless you in your marriage!

    3. Cyndi – I agree wholeheartedly with Dee that your testimony is golden.  Pride is a terrible enemy of our souls and I see it often in my day to day interactions with my own husband.  You have given me invaluable food for thought with your powerful testimony.  I referenced Dee’s friend Leslie Vernick earlier (a counselor/author/coach) and in her book “The Emotionally Destructive Marraige” she states that, if you are going to stay in this marraige, you need to be able to “STAY WELL”.  Clearly, in your marraige you have “stayed well” and followed Jesus as he called you to repent.  Thanks for sharing.  You were far more transparent than I’m able to be!

    4. Thanks for sharing your testimony concerning your marriage, cyndi. Though I have been with Dee’s blog I had never heard this part of your story and I appreciate knowing. I appreciate your words concerning the meaning of submission and the importance of trusting. We have to trust and submit to God first.

  14. PRAYER REQUEST  – my dad was admitted to the hospital late today with a bladder infection that has spread into his kidney. He only has one kidney, so this is serious and he is on intravenous antibiotics. Please keep him in your prayers, as you think of it. I skimmed over this week…I have my mom staying here with me and I will be here as am able! Thank you!

    1. Praying, Susan

    2. praying Susan!
       

    3. Susan, I am praying! 

    4. Oh, Susan…I prayed for your Mom just a bit ago before reading this; I will be praying for your dad and the medical professionals caring for him.  Please keep us updated when you are able.

    5. Dear Father, we lift up Susan’s sweet Dad to Your hands. Thank You for his soft heart towards You. We ask for You to give the doctors wisdom and to lead their hands and minds in caring for him. Pleas bring healing, Lord. We pray too for You to surround Virginia in this, bring her comfort–and we ask that You might use this to draw her to You Lord. Please strengthen Susan and bring peace,  Amen. 

    6. Praying this morning, Susan.

    7. I will keep your family in my prayers.

    8. Susan – joining others in praying for your father and you and all of your family today.

    9. Susan,   It sounds like you have your hands very full with both of your parents.   I am praying for you and your family, especially for your father.  I always want to warn someone who has an elderly relative with a urinary tract infection that they can do some strange things — sometimes it causes hallucinations and delusions in the elderly.   

    10. I am just seeing this news about your father now, Susan. Praying. Amen to Elizabeth’s prayer.

    11. Just saw this today and prayed, Susan.

    12. Oh Susan I ‘m so sorry!!    I’m in prayer already.  Dear Heavenly Father I lift up Susan and her father and mother at this  very difficult time.  Please help him to get better and better  each passing day to back to normal and give Susan and her mother the strength and  love and patience to bear up under this stressful time.  Give them all peace and let them rest and trust in you!  In Jesus name I pray….Amen.
      I’m going to be praying all the time Susan….love you sister.

  15. I’m not familiar with The Gospel Coalition or Complementarianism. After googling, I’ve found that the opposite is egalitarianism, and that’s a more appropriate description of the church I attend. Roles are given according to gifts, abilities, availability, etc and gender doesn’t really com into it. Locally, the denomination stopped ordaining anyone, men or women, about 10 years ago. They did not find scriptural justification for ordination – we are all involved in ministry. There is an accreditation process, and both men and women can be accredited for ministry after study and if recognised by their local congregation.
    As a widow, in some cultures I would come under the authority of my eldest son, as he is an adult. I glad that I don’t live in such a culture. I have prepared legal documents assigning authority to my daughter if I lose capacity, as she is the only one of my children walking with God. I think that culture has a big influence on authority structures, so I’m sure we’ll be looking at how the culture of the day influenced Paul’s instructions.

  16. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
    It is a topic that has caused some awkward moments over the years. As a woman in ministry (aged care chaplaincy), including ministry with and to men, there have been people who have rejected my care. Currently, we have residents from a Brethren background who will only attend services lead by males. At one time I was pastor for seniors in a church, and one member thought I needed to know he didn’t vote for me. “It’s not personal. It’s just that you’re a woman.” When I first attended ministry conferences, there were times when we broke into groups… pastors in one group, pastors’ wives in another. We had to ask where we belonged… I belonged in both groups, my husband in neither. With time, these have become amusing anecdotes, but there’s also been overt rejection…  On the other hand, I have also been called to a few situations where a female chaplain was specifically requested.
    It would be very challenging if I came to believe that God is saying that women cannot be involved in ministry to men. That is my paid work, so I would need to find alternative employment.

      1. I don’t currently see a problem either. But it would be challenging if by looking into this topic, I came to a different understanding. This is not a church based ministry, so yes, the company has a CEO, a board of management, various levels of management and structurally, I am under their authority. Practically though, not sure that anyone really checks up on what I do. They just trust that I’m doing what’s needed.

  17. What stands out to you from the above?
    Other complimentarian churches would  give much more freedom to women… I fear there are some people who would restrict freedom that Christ has given, not allowing the exercise of God-given gifts. At times it appears to be a form of legalism, with little regard for what God is doing. It’s somewhat ironic that Christ has already set us free (from legalism – Gal 5:1), yet churches can allow or restrict that freedom.
    I appreciate Dee’s comments regarding respect for other views and not causing offense.  You must be careful with this freedom of yours. Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:9) 

  18. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
    I think this is a very important topic because it is important to God. He made us in His image.
     
    I struggled with this when I was asked by a teacher i highly respect to teach at a mission camp for the homeless. It would be a mixed group. I asked him if he was sure it was okay for me to teach men and if so could he give me the scripture to back it up. I was taught the past 20 years that it wasn’t okay for women to teach over men yet I saw women leaders in scripture so I was confused and wanted to know what God really says about it.

    This also effects those of us who are searching for a local church to connect to. It kills me to think that we could pass up, or leave a solid, Gospel centered church because of this one issue.

      1. Dee, Sure! I will look for it and post the link. 

  19. 2. What stands out to you from the above?
    This is key: As believers, we have the music of His Spirit and His Word, and, if both are listening and responding, great beauty is possible.
     
    This is true in Marriage and in the church. We are His Bride…If He is center and we are yielding to Him, His outflow in us can be so so so amazingly beautiful in our marriages and in whatever role we have in the church..Even in how we love one another when we disagree on topics such as this.

  20. mary e.–you’re still heavy on my heart, praying for you–

    1. Mary E. – Amen to Elizabeth’s words……as I went to bed last night you were really much on my heart …..and I prayed for you.  Last week you were very quiet.  You are missed and prayed for.

    2. Thinking of you as well Mary. hope you are well.

    3. Thank you so much ladies.  Not participating as much this week but still reading along.  Have had a few emotionally hard days but ultimately I know God’s love and comfort and that is what I am falling back on.  Wanda, if you see this, I was wondering if there would be anyway I could connect with your sister via email or something.  I feel like I so desperately need to connect with someone who has gone down this road.  Is she a Believer?
       

      1. Mary, Wanda might not be on as much this week.  Her sister is a believer.  I’ll message Wanda on FB and have her contact you.  If you email me at reneeo at brookings dot net, I will give her your email address.

      2. Mary……why don’t you email me at wspading at gmail. com   (only in the usual email address format)…… and we can figure it out.  Yes, my sister is a believer.

        Oh….that’s amazing…..Renee and I were both on a minute apart answering this!

        1. Thanks Wanda, and Renee, and everyone!  I just shot you an email, Wanda.  I do have good news…I had been having headaches and nausea and even a couple visual disturbances (opthalmic migraines) and I did an MRI of my brain last Wed and all is good there!  Praise God.  Breast cancer tends to spread to liver, lungs, bones, and brain, so it’s good to know that the brain shows no signs of it.  I’ve been praising God for that.

        2. Mary, SO thankful that the cancer hasn’t spread to your brain.  Continuing to pray for you.

      3. Thanks SO much for posting, Mary e….we love and care for you.  I continue to pray for you…hoping that you find the connection with Wanda’s sister that gives you some peace. 

        1. replying here…..as I couldn’t reply to Mary above.   Mary….SO happy to hear the news of the brain scan.   And it’s so important, for peace of mind to have those things ruled out.  (after my mom had brain cancer…..though she never had breast cancer…..I was convinced that I must be having symptoms of brain cancer myself and my doctor didn’t even blink but said, ‘if you’re worried, you should have it checked out’……and it was a huge relief to have it come back negative.  Even though my bc was non-invasive and I had much less reason to wonder…..it is impossible not to wonder once you’ve been dx with any kind of cancer.)  So, I am rejoicing with you for that good result!      My sister is all ready for your email.  She welcomes the correspondence.  🙂

      4. Mary-just saw this after I responded to Elizabeth’s post about you. We miss you and are praying. 

        1. Praying also Mary!

      5. oh Mary!–you have REALLY been on my heart–even last night before bed, we prayed for “mary e. from ohio” 🙂 So thankful to see you pop up…will continue to pray for His encouragement and for support around you

    4. Elizabeth-me too..:( I hope she is doing okay. 

  21. 4. What are your comments on the above? (Please be thoughtful, loving, and type responses in Word and then cut and paste your comments.)
     
    I understand the first two examples of eternal versus cultural. I don’t understand the third. How is the submission to authority not the same as submission to men? Weren’t men the authority back then?
     
    Dee, I think you are a wise woman to speak using the testimony approach when in mixed company! If it were me, and since I don’t know much about this topic, if I were asked to speak, I would just do so! I wouldn’t preface it by saying I was under anyone’s authority at all due to my ignorance. I’m SO glad we are learning this; I had NO idea. I think I have always trusted my leaders to guide me here. I think some have failed me and I didn’t even know it.
     
     
    I wonder if some people think the bible is an “old document” (like I’ve heard some say of our US Constitution), that you can’t take literally? I have heard some people say, “I don’t live by the OT, but rather by the NT.” But, then, we have just learned that Jesus is in the OT. Doesn’t that mean we should live by both? I’m a pretty black and white person. (I guess there is some of me after all in Sarah!) I would have read the “head covering” thing as I shouldn’t wear a hat! I think you referenced that in the opening statement, Dee.
     
    I find it very interesting that Stott came up with the 2 parts: the eternal vs the cultural. I would have never thought of that! I sometimes really don’t get Jesus’ parables either; I think it must be because of the cultural part of them. This discussion also reminds me of something my mom used to say. I asked her once, how she knew the bible was true after translation and translation, and more translation. She said, “Because God would have made sure it was translated the way He wanted it to be translated.” Wow. Such authority makes me feel good inside! I feel protected.
     
    BTW, I don’t believe the bible is an “old document” that we can’t take literally (feel the same about the Constitution – which is a brilliant document that, I believe, was gifted from God). However, I like how Stott interprets the verses. 
     
    Regarding men vs women, and keeping in the complementarianism theme, when we keep it the way God wants us to, maybe we benefit more and understand better how we should live in the “dance.” So men pray, women adorn with modesty and good deeds, and women are submissive in their learning. I don’t see why women couldn’t also pray and men be humble in their learning either?

    1. Laura – your post was refreshing to my spirit this morning…

      1. 🙂

  22. 1. Is this an important topic to you? Why or why not? Is it challenging to you? Why or why not?
    I think it is a fairly important topic. The real danger I see not the what but the why. There is a big movement in our culture of women saying “Anything men can do I can do better.” They miss the beauty in God’s design.  It is not wrong or right, not better or worse but different. The helper bee that facilitates an event is not lesser than the senior pastor who initiated the event. Same in marriage, I think.  I only learned of healthy Biblical submission to my husband less than 3 years ago. I do think that submission has a negative connotation that is exacerbated in/by our culture. But it is God’s design, which always has purpose, and is always beautiful. 
     
    Kathy Keller once said something that stuck with me (paraphrase): ‘Some of you women are sitting wondering why it had to be women that have to submit. But if God had made it so that men had to submit to women then the men would be wondering why it had to be them! The point is God had to make it one way or the other and He made it so that women submit and we have to trust Him in that. ”
     
    I will admit to being uncomfortable with woman in a position of authority over men (but I do not think that this applies to ministering to men in a small setting because this is not authority but ministering). I also agree with Dee than when a woman “shares” from a pulpit it is more comfortable – whereas to “teach” from a pulpit tends to assert authority and makes me uncomfortable (but its not all about me!). Though I do not think that I could articulate why very well. I would not want to have this attitude just based off of “tradition.” So this will, while uncomfortable, will be good. Yes it is challenging because of the clash between all that others and Dee have already offered.
     
    2. What stands out to you from the above? The dance.  I do think that when we follow God’s design it turns into a beautiful dance.  What struck me about the dance is that she appears beautiful when she is following his lead.  He is the center of attention in the dance but she is the glorious finish, the extra beauty, the flourish, the amazement in teamwork. But he does have to lead for this to happen. When she trusts and follows it is fluid and graceful, if she were to resist and mistrust then not only would her toes get stepped on but it would turn ugly….

  23. 3. Read 1 Timothy 2:8-15    Oops!  I hadn’t read these verses for awhile.  These verses seem odd in the contexts of today’s society and of the whole chapter.  I would like to understand them better, keeping the whole gospel in mind.I’m wondering about the structure of the last half of I Tim 8 — just not making sense to me, starting with phrase “in every place.”
    Men are to pray; women are to wear clothes & not be too fancy and to submit.
    Adam came first; Eve came second.  (Huh?  Many important people/principles came “second.”  e.g., Adam came before Paul; the Law came before the Gospel)
    Adam wasn’t deceived; Eve was deceived and became a transgressor — and shall be saved through childbearing “if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” Who is the “they?” The verse talks about Eve; does “they” refer to her children? Or is “Eve” plural? And Adam became a transgressor, too. If he wasn’t deceived, he was willfully disobedient. That’s better?

    I’m feeling very confused for this time of day. Today I could wear “not costly” clothes from Goodwill (that’s what I laid out last night, not because of this passage 😉 ); wait at least another day before contacting a man whom I hired to give myself more time to understand this — this one is challenging to me because I will be his supervisor. Oh my??; AND I don’t even have the parts for surrogate child-bearing, so being saved by child-bearing isn’t an option.This passage does help me better understand why males from some religious traditions are so overtly sexist.

    4. What are your comments on the above?  Sounds good 😉   Really curious about the bigger picture & other verses though.  I need to understand the history and culture better because I might be getting my time periods mixed up.  I’m wondering if this was a time period when some men dressed very flamboyantly, too?  I do like the distinction between general principles and what is culture-bound, but I don’t get the rationale behind it (e.g., Adam came first; Eve sinned). Still more questions than answers.
     

    1. Clarification:  It’s not the submission part that I am wrestling with because submission is discussed in various contexts in the Bible (also slave to master, mutual submission, etc).  I’m struggling with the rationale and potential interpretations that may be part of cultural stereotypes.  “Eve sinned and came second” sounds as out of place, or more so, than avoiding costly clothing and fancy hair.  

    2. Love this Renee! I thought about who “they” was also…is it referring to Adam and Eve, or women in general? 

  24. 5. Read 1 Timothy 2:13-15.
    A. Again, these are challenging verses. In the panel, both Kathy Keller and Kathleen Nielson respond to them. In either my comments or ensuing weeks, I will share what I believe them to mean, but first I’d love your comments and your interpretation of this passage. What do you believe is being taught here? (Study it yourself — don’t quote your study Bible!)
     
    I think women are generally more emotional than men; men more “logical.” I know we shouldn’t stereotype, but really, it’s my experience that it is this way. Since God created Adam first, he was genuinely the “leader;” the one who protects and makes logical decisions. Eve came next, to complement and support him (the emotional one). The snake played on her emotions and lured her through a lie, to commit sin. She thought she was doing something that would help them. There are consequences when we sin. Her saving grace is Jesus, who was birthed by Mary (and who might be the “women” God spoke of in verse 15?). I guess what I am getting at is that there was one particular childbirth that would save Eve….Jesus.
     
    Thanks Dee! I see Jesus in everything now!! I guess that’s not a bad thing, right?

    1. Good observation about childbirth 🙂

    2. Yes!  love that explanation of being saved through….. Mary’s childbirth……JESUS!  

  25. Whoa, the implications of this topic are huge — not as great for me as they are for Kerryn, but they certainly do have implications for my employment, denominational affiliation, and my life.   I’m always up for a good challenge, though I avoid church conflicts.  I am sorry for the length. I don’t know where to start in integrating the “parts” of my life.   The 1 Timothy passage brought up so much that I don’t know, and I would like to start from scratch.  How would my cultural and other presuppositions be the same if I hadn’t spent my entire life in conservative or evangelical churches?  I need some help here because in church differences, I generally gravitate to reading authors who are reasonably close to what I believe; in contrast, when reading research, I consider all the evidence, including the soundness of the research methods.   Kind of hypocritical for me not to consider more interpretations of Scripture.

    Last night when I was googling to double check if  egalitarian was the “other” term, I read something that helped me understand some of my discomfort with many discussions in the church. I don’t agree with everything Rachel Held Evans writes; yet she is smart, funny, and articulate — and she presents some material well.  In a series of articles (which I haven’t read) about egalitarianism and complementarianism (she is egalitarian), she wrote:

    We need to get to a point in this debate where we can start with the presupposition that 1) both Christian complementarians and Christian egalitarians respect the authority of Scripture, and 2) both complementarians and egalitarians are selective in their application of Scripture.
    We don’t disagree on the value of Scripture; we disagree on exactly how to apply it. 

    This struck me as getting to the core of (in)sane discussions across different “streams” of Christianity.  The choices of so many Protestant denominations and church styles fit well in our culture of individualism, but now I am wondering if all the choices lead to inaccurate assumptions about “the other” and create disunity in the Church.  I realize that I may have false assumptions about categories of people and their views of Scripture.
     
     I have participated in a few academic (research) groups of religious people, primarily Christians, but others as well.  Over time, my conservative, evangelical views of the in/out groups have been blown right out of the water.  I have met amazing, kind scholars, scientists, and theologians from very liberal traditions who dig deeply, have a high view of Scripture, and seek to apply it.  In campus Christian ministries, I have met leaders with the whole gamut of Christian beliefs about women’s roles.  I want to better understand different perspectives not only so that I am faithful to Scripture but so that I don’t contribute to barriers and stereotypes within the Body of Christ.  That fellowship of open, seeking believers (and some who are on the way) is so sweet.

    In addition, I’ve heard presentations by Muslim and Jewish clerics explaining how they are seeking God and applying their sacred texts in the world around them.  And during follow-up conversations, I know that I am just as far removed from the world of a female Jewish rabbi from Philly as she is from mine.  At another conference, I talked with a Muslim graduate student who talked about the difficulty of finding a place to pray on her campus and how things were changing.  I love my church, and from what I know about a few churches in the community, I easily could grow to love them, too.  But it also is painful to come back to my own little isolated evangelical world (examples omitted!).   Some people in conservative, evangelical churches do disrespect or feel threatened by women, and I don’t want to carry that view into my other worlds.  
     
     
    One of my concerns with clarifying my beliefs on this topic is that I am concerned about mislabeling people within the body of Christ with whom I disagree (i.e., that they don’t have a high a view of Scripture — because I might have said that before I read Evans’ quote) and further alienating unbelievers.  In other words, I am afraid of becoming more conservative than I already am!  During most of my church years (exception was Presbyterian years), I’ve gotten the strong message that “women who are pastors/leaders” equals “not good.”  The message was so loud and clear that women who were pastors would not have felt welcome in the fellowship (dislike!!).  Though part of me wants to understand the topic better, I don’t want to do that at the expense of destroying fellowship with Christian believers in “non-church” parts of my life.  There is something “protective” or bridge-building about saying “I don’t know.”  THIS TIME, my questions aren’t as much associated with an approval idol but more with how to survive with my four feet in 3 or 4 different worlds.  It seems that specific views of women’s roles in the church are as associated with church or even political affiliations than with consideration of the whole of the Bible.

      How do my beliefs about roles in a congregation intersect with my relationships in the larger body of Christ and in the (professional) world?  I’m used to navigating in all these areas and one of the reasons I can navigate is because I really don’t know.  And there is almost as much that is unpalatable to me about conservative, evangelical culture(s) as there is about academic culture(s).  What are non-negotiable central truths?  The role of women in the pastorate is non-negotiable in the churches I’ve attended during all but 5 years of my life.  I have NO desire to be a pastor, but I do desire to see unity in the body of Christ.  And I am not sure that “all my problems would be solved” in mainline church bodies either (I do know of a church bodies “in the middle” but no congregations around here).  “Those people” labels and implications seem to exist everywhere.

  26. When I saw the topic, I immediately thought, Oh, Oh how is this going to go?
    Complimentarianism (not sure about spelling) is a new word, but I am acquainted with the issues and find it very
    important. I was in a liberal church for much of my youth, and had known a couple of women pastors who were very
    godly women.
    My problem is that I am still very much in a learning curve with submission, as my husband was very willing to allow me
    to do much leading to our disadvantage. I later discovered how unhealthy our relationship was. I am working on submission, and he is working on leadership although we are seniors and have been married over 40 years. Only by the grace of God have we continued to  do this!
    So I have much respect for couples who have always practiced this leadership/submission principle.
    The movie clip was a great visual of a leadership role that was beautiful. I need to listen a lot to this topic.
    I am so glad to read Cyndi’s testimony and I relate a lot to the anger issue she experienced. I am working on the letting go
    of my fear and trusting. Still much in the protective mode as old hurts haunt me.

  27. I grew up in a church that taught that only men could lead, teach, etc.  But, I received a call from God, early on, to be a leader in ministry for Him.  God led me to marry my husband  and we eventually ended up in pastoral ministry.  He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  At the time of his attending seminary, we had two small kids, so, even though I was called to ministry, I could not attend seminary and move toward ordination as he did.  However, Gary and I have always looked upon our pastoral ministry as a team, much the same way we did when we married and were a part of Campus Crusade for Christ.  With my husband’s blessings and with denominational approval, I have been teaching and preaching through our Lay Servant ministry for over 20 years.  In my retirement from teaching high schoolers for 30 years, I am waiting on God to open the door for more opportunities to teach and preach, as these are my spiritual gifts.
    What makes it necessary for some denominations to allow the ordination of women?  My husband feels very strongly about this – many men have abdicated their authority, much the same way that Adam failed to teach Eve with conviction about obedience to the Lord.  Thus, cultural issues have necessitated some denominations to authorize the ordination of women.  Rather than allow unbelieving or non-submissive male pastors to lead congregations, they have opted to open the doors to believing and submissive women, willing to do the work of ministry under the authority of the governing boards.  
    In our home, submission is first to God and then to one another, as it talks about in Ephesians 5: 21-31.  I did a study on submission once.  Submissiveness cannot be required.  Submission is voluntary.  It must come from a submissive heart.  Submission to one another is the physical representation of our submissive nature (voluntarily putting ourselves under the authority of God) as Christians.  If I am following the scriptures properly, then, whether male or female, I must submit to heavenly authority, to earthly governing authority, to denominational authority (if I choose to belong to a particular denomination), to employer authority, and just as importantly, to one another.  My submissive nature is my gift to others as a mature believer in Christ.   (By the way, submissiveness does not mean weak.  Too many associate that word with weakness.)
    Now, to add one more dimension to this issue:  I thank God that there are many diverse people involved in the family of God.  This leads to wonderful discussions about topics such as this.  Discussion, covered by prayer and guiding by the Holy Spirit,  about difficult topics is what is needed to enable the “mind of Christ” to be realized.  Too often, I believe, Christians are reluctant to offer differing views on topics, fearing they might hurt someone else, but how do we grow if we are not open to hear and consider new ideas?  Even Christ reminded people in His time, that they must be willing to hear.
     

    1. Thanks, Sherryl.  I appreciate your post and your perspective.  I’m realizing that I am very much a newbie in deeply exploring women’s roles in the church. 

    2. Sherryl–this convicts me “how do we grow if we are not open to hear and consider new ideas?” Really good points 

  28. 4. What are your comments on the above?
    At first read, this text ruffled some feathers (so to speak 🙂 ), but upon further pondering, I came to the realization that this is about relationship.  The Lord created us man and woman.  I believe there are differences between the genders, but those differences don’t make us “more” or “less”…for me this is key.  When this text is wielded as a weapon to put a woman in “her place” or to “jack up” a man, I think that is where the text becomes very difficult and extremely challenging.  In pondering the aversion to male authority in the Catholic church, I think it largely had/has to do with the sense of superiority that some of those men wielded over women; treating them as “less than”.  To my thinking, the relationship in this text is one similar to “a hand and glove” or “gas and an engine”; one compliments and helps the other to function to their optimal…one isn’t the other; each has unique characteristics that add to the whole; one doesn’t  “lord authority” over the other.  I am blessed with a husband who is sensitive to my needs because he loves me; he would not and does not “lord” over me because he is stronger, more knowledgeable in some areas, makes more money, etc…he is my support and I am his; we compliment each other. 
    I agree with the differentiation of “eternal” and “cultural” principles in the text.  I think that importance of inner beauty is what is being conveyed in the text, rather than the literal “don’t wear pearls”.  I believe at the time of Paul and Timothy, it probably served as a literal guideline.  
     
    Thank you for sharing your story, Cyndi. 

  29. I read a list of names on a blog post regarding egalitarianism/complementariansism; probably won’t dig that deep (I mostly want to know how Scripture is handled by differing perspectives).  Conservative evangelicals who are (were) egalitarians: Scot McKnight, Richard Bauckham, David Scholer, Robert Jewett, Ben Witherington, Gordon Fee, Roger Nicole.   

    Anyone know of good discussions between complementarians and egalitarians?  Seems that there is much variation within both camps, so much that within-group differences might be greater than between group differences.

    1. Renee–this might be helpful–haven’t read it, just was on their site looking :http://cbmw.org/uncategorized/summaries-of-the-egalitarian-and-complementarian-positions/

      1. Thank you!  Will check it out 🙂 (but not tonight!)

  30. I am so impressed by the overall tone of this discussion.   I was raised in a  biblically conservative home, go to a mostly conservative church (but it does have women as “co-pastors” but not lead pastors), have conservative friends, many of whom I would not dare confess how I wrestle between the egalitarian and complementarian viewpoints.  I so appreciate how you are all freely sharing struggles and viewpoints without judging one another.    
    I don’t know if anyone can approach this topic without acknowledging at least a little prejudice from our own family and church background.   My parents had the tradition male-dominated marriage of their era.  My mother would never have dreamed of disagreeing with my father in front of anyone else, even graciously and politely.    If you asked my mother her opinion, she would quote my dad.    He was not physically or verbally abusive, but she was swallowed up in him.   I took that model, with some modifications, into my marriage.   With that view of submission, and a husband who had spent his life working for and trying to please a father who daily verbally abused him and dominated our lives, I “submitted” myself into a clinical depression lasting over a period of years.   Can you see why egalitarianism would be more appealing with my background?   And Cyndi, I can so relate to what you said: I did everything that looked “biblical,” “conservative,” and “submissive” on the outside while I was boiling over with anger and resentment and rejecting my husband on the inside!    Still working through that stuff!    I don’t know where I will end up on the issue, but I don’t want my thinking to be merely a result of my messed up history.  (By the way, I think you can come to an egalitarian viewpoint without the emotional baggage I carry!)
    Still,   I think it is important here to recognize that traditionally the church frequently interpreted scripture to legitimize male domination.   American society may have supported this idea 75 years ago, but certainly does not now.   Legally and socially women have many options.   If even a taint of male-domination is the role model, not loving leadership, I do believe we will lose future generations.    I have 5 siblings, and every one but me has rejected biblical authority in this area because of the model that we had in our home as children.      
    Lots to think about here!   I am learning so much from all of you.

  31. A. Again, these are challenging verses. In the panel, both Kathy Keller and Kathleen Nielson respond to them. In either my comments or ensuing weeks, I will share what I believe them to mean, but first I’d love your comments and your interpretation of this passage. What do you believe is being taught here? (Study it yourself — don’t quote your study Bible!)
    B. Comments?

  32. B. Comments?
    I haven’t read any comments yet so if this is a repeat of what someone else has written, sorry.
    I think the point of all three verses is:
    God made women to be a man’s helper not his leader.
    Eve was first deceived and was a sinner; Adam’s big mistake was following Eve’s leading.
    The role of child bearer and nurturer is what keeps the female gender from being unnecessary.
     
     

  33. 4. What are your comments on the above? (Please be thoughtful, loving, and type responses in Word and then cut and paste your comments.)
     
    I feel like I should start every answer this week with “in my very humble opinion and my personal convictions…!” I do not think these are  “essentials” of the faith, and that we each must go before the Lord and hear His conviction to us personally. But, I’m enjoying stretching my thoughts beyond my pre-set view to grow 🙂
     
    That said, I appreciate that in Stott focuses not on the details (which I agree are cultural) but he doesn’t dismiss the heart issue. 
    Yes, we are to pray—and in a manner that shows our humility before the Lord—but that is a heart position, not physical to me. As for women’s dress and hair—I don’t think it is literal, but I do agree that we should aim to not distract from the message with what we wear. I have heard different pastors address women’s attire in the Church and its always with a heart of that we should not want to cause others to sin, or distract from the message. And my personal conviction is that women can teach men—and do anything non-ordained me can do. I do not consider “teaching” as “exercising authority over”. 
     
    Personally, none of this threatens me as a woman. I do not feel “less than” or dismissed. I deeply believe we are equal but different, and that being equal does not require that we do the same things. I really think the beauty of the “dance” depends on this distinctness. That’s what makes me sad about the culture leaning towards non-gender specific “everything”. There is beauty in the distinct ways we reflect God as male and female. I don’t feel a need to have things defined identically or to compete with men. I don’t think about what women have to offer that men don’t or vice-versa, but more—how has God uniquely crafted women to reflect Himself. I think we have just seen so many poor examples of male leadership and disregard for women, that I can understand the pain and hurt we see in so many church bodies.  Still, I do believe there is an order set by God of male leadership that is hard for me to ignore—and I have to trust that while we cannot always understand His ways, they are best.
     

    1. Good post, Elizabeth.  I’m confused because I have read that many/most egalitarians also believe men and women are equal but different.  It doesn’t appear that belief in the distinctness is limited to complementarians.  So far, from what I can tell — based on descriptions that each ‘camp’ gives of themselves — the main distinction appears to be the interpretation of “headship.”  When I (quickly) reviewed the egalitarian position of a conservative evangelical, it was “better” than I expected.  I have to dig in much deeper to understand what he was saying, but I have realized that my understanding of each position has to come from those from within the position rather than from others’ characterizations of them.  
       
      Haven’t dug deep enough to find a respectful discussion (or any discussion) between them, but I have read enough to be convinced that there are those in both camps who strongly believe in the authority of Scripture.  I didn’t expect to have my own assumptions so challenged by other interpretations of Scripture, and I haven’t even scratched the surface.  I listened to a youTube video of Phillip Payne at speaking at Trinity — it was LONG, and I was working so I barely listened, but at least listening helped narrow my focus, took away a misconception or two about egalitarian beliefs..  

    2. Elizabeth, so many excellent points, e.g., “none of this threatens me as a woman,” “equal but different,” “beauty of the dance depends on distinctness,” “culture leaning…”

  34. After reading through most of the comments……not everything completely…….I think this is a good week for me to be a behind the scenes participant.  This topic hasn’t been much of a struggle for me really…..as I ‘kinda’ know what I seem comfortable with…..and I ‘kinda’ think it’s scriptural….but I’ve always been very open to other’s views on this because it’s never seemed to me to be a ‘game changer’ like so many other issues in the church are for me.  Now I’m seeing how little I really have thought about it……and I’m not sure I really want to get in over my head!  I think I’ll just read along when I can  (not really a week I’m able to be on the blog much anyway).  I do have one question that actually does bother me though.  In my church, men who are not ordained but on staff (man in charge of youth ministry, man in charge of worship ministry) are given the title ‘pastor’……Youth Pastor, Worship Pastor……while women who are not ordained but serving on staff (woman in charge of children, woman in charge of caregiving) are not given the title.  I don’t have a problem with the women not having the title.  I have a problem with automatically considering the non ordained men as pastors because they are male.   The female ‘children’s director’ and the male ‘youth pastor’ have basically the same education.  I just find that disingenuous.   In fact, for a very long time, I thought the previous ‘youth pastor’ we had was ordained because of the title given him.  I felt I had been very deceived when I found out he wasn’t.  I have no problem with laity in positions of authority….but I see no need to give honorary titles based on gender.   My problem with this is that there seems to be more concern about an ‘image’ rather than in being honest.   To his credit, the current ‘worship director’ (who is not an ordained pastor) has chosen not to use the title of ‘pastor’.

    1. Good point about the non-ordained male having title of pastor, but not non-ordained female.  (Kinda reminds me of the 19 or 20 y.o. Mormon missionaries called “Elder” because I’ve seen part-time youth pastors that are college students)  Same as what happens at work.  As far as the “image” part goes, that is internal culture; the “image” part isn’t likely to impress outsiders, especially the non-churched  — as university hierarchies only are meaningful to those within them (and we get all excited by promotions and making $10 more per year).  I wonder if people who don’t go to church are puzzled by church politics or if they just see reflections of other workplaces or if they don’t pay any attention whatsoever?  It is confusing across denominations, because “everyone” seems to be pastor in some denominations — took me awhile to figure out, too, that some “pastors” (females)  I knew of were what I would call “worship leaders.”

      1. “I wonder if people who don’t go to church are puzzled by church politics”
        Renee, I’m guessing not only “puzzled,” but extremely turned off.
         

    2. “My problem with this is that there seems to be more concern about an ‘image’ rather than in being honest.”
      This would be my problem as well, Wanda…seems pretentious and superficial.

    3. You bring up a question that now has me questioning. In our church, we have “deacons” and “deaconesses.” I don’t really know what those titles mean, but they are people who are not (necessarily) ordained, that lead in many different ways. I haven’t been a member of this congregation For very long, so I don’t know all the details of the doctrine yet.
      Incidently, a young woman and I are starting a ministry of dance at our church. I have always had a dance group there of women, but this is more “official.” Unfortunately our Christian school closed down and now there are many available rooms that need people using them! We both went to a church authority at the same time unbeknownst to the other and inquired about space for dance (God thing). The church authority put us together and voila! We have a liturgical dance studio! Rare to find in the NE. Should be fun! My point in telling this story is that it is going to be a church ministry. I wonder if we will receive some sort of  title? Not that titles impress me much; I don’t need them to do my job well. Just curious after your points above. What makes one person a deaconess, and someone else not?

      1. “voila!…a liturgical dance studio!”
        So happy for you, your liturgical dance partner, and all those who will be so deeply and positively affected by your liturgical dance…good for you, Laura! 

      2. Laura, this is great news about the dance studio. I hope others will dare to join you. Wish I had you here to teach me!
         
        As to the deacons and deaconesses, in our Baptist tradition here in eastern Canada, generally the church chooses the deacons (sometimes on the pastor’s recommendation) to assist the pastor in things like visitation, communion, and to advise the pastor in church issues. Their role does vary greatly depending on the needs and the church and the pastor.

      3. SO COOL ABOUT THE DANCE STUDIO :)FYI:  Deacons and deaconesses don’t mean the same across the churches I have attended.  And, I also have learned that a deaconess has not simply been the female name for a deacon.  I think that might be part of the complementation influence.  Also, some churches with a congregational form of gov’t don’t have elders.  Deacons sometimes serve a similar function, but they aren’t supposed to make rules (though I think they can make recommendations to the congregation).  Something I have noticed is that there are differences between churches in more remote areas in which the population doesn’t change as much vs congregations that have more turnover.  The turnover congregations or newer churches seem to be more influenced by “what we did in our previous church.”

    4. Wanda – as always, you share stimulating thoughts….even when you are trying to stay “behind the scenes”, to use your words!  After reading this, I’m filled with questions (that I really hadn’t thought about much at ALL) about the whole subject of “ordination”……on the one hand, I’m thinking that I probably haven’t given extra “respect” to one who is ordained vs. one who is not in leadership!  I’ve always thought that being ordained isn’t so much “biblical” as “churchy” (not exactly a word I know!).  In no way am I saying it’s AGAINST Scripture to be “ordained”, but I’m just wondering if perhaps we’ve elevated something that Scripture hasn’t!   I guess I’ll be trying to research the history of ordination in the church today! 

    5. Wow!  Out of curiosity, I followed up my last post about ordination by quickly googling “when and why did the church begin ordaining pastors” and EVERY article listed was primarily about the ordination of women pastors!  Though the word “women” was NOT in my search, that is obviously where the  interest in this subject lies!

      1. Quick clarification to what I stated earlier:  My church denomination does not ordain women.  So there are no ordained women on our staff.  The part that bothers me is that when you are not ordained and a man, you are automatically called ‘pastor’.  The title does denote a higher level of education and/or ministry experience….yet that is not in reality, necessarily true.  It seems to be just a gender respect thing.  When I was Children’s Director, and someone outside of church introduced me as a Children’s Pastor, I quickly corrected them.  I did not want that title….for that is not what I was.  I did not have pastoral training.    I wanted to be called the ‘director’ not ‘pastor’.  But…..at the same time, the male ministry staff members were automatically called ‘pastor’.   As a woman on staff (and the first woman on ministry staff) there were definitely times when I felt ‘less than’ because of logistics.  (ie:  prayer teams were set up to support the ‘pastors’ but this was not offered for me….until I initiated it.)  I think maybe, that as more women staff have been hired,  women on staff now, may not feel those differences as much as I did, being the only woman at the time.  

  35. 5. Read 1 Timothy 2:13-15.
    SOOO confusing.  I’m not sure how “who came first” (or even that Eve was deceived) logically is related to related to leadership/headship.  But even if it is, the following verse seems to “level” the order part of the verse:

    Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV)

    If the order of Adam and Eve’s creation is important in determining leadership, why isn’t order a reason for leadership in other passages (I know we have rights of the firstborn in the OT)? What other “orders” do we need to consider in Scripture? e.g., calling of disciples, first one to the tomb? Probably more than any other verses we will study (hope so, anyway), these verses give me a headache! They just don’t seem to make sense in the light of other Scripture, both the 1 Corinthians passage, as well as well as Romans 3:23. So, I’m wishing I knew Greek and wondering what I am missing culturally. Haven’t looked at any commentaries yet, though 🙂 I feel like I’m trapped in a “which came first, chicken or egg” discussion with myself.

    I am gonna pray more about this and go to bed!

    1. Renee, what good points, i.e., 1 Cor 11:11-12 and the question of the importance of order in leadership in this instance, but not held so in other instances…much to ponder…   

  36. Cyndi, Thank you for bearing your soul… here.  That took alot of guts!  I would do well to follow in your footsteps, but I am still guarding my heart from my husband after 24 years.  Past problems have made my heart harden with him to a point of building a wall around my heart!  God is the only one who can help me bring down the wall. 

    Maybe I should do the study that Jackie has found ……. ” I referenced Dee’s friend Leslie Vernick earlier (a counselor/author/coach) and in her book “The Emotionally Destructive Marraige”

    About the subject of this study ….I really don’t have anything to offer for wisdom or experience about Women Pastors, as I’ve never had one.  But I do know they are looked down on here in the midwest from other people I’ve listened too.  I think it’s pretty sad, as women have so much to offer.  It truly is a man’s world and I have surcomed to that….except in my marriage!! 

    I can be just as stubborn and need to be right…just as much as he is.  We are butting heads constantly. He is the only one that gets to me.  He’s a wonderful daddy to Kendra and is good to me also and has never laid a hand on me, but his emotional abuse is painful and he doesn’t even see it!    But others do…so I’m not crazy….as he says I am!    But I know I drive him to it….so I need help and I’m praying for the Lord to change me.   

    Two failed marriages before this one….for 10 years each, have scared and hurt me to the core.  They both ended in divorced…first one from physical abuse to the point of almost killing me many times  and the second one leaving me with three small children…Kendra a newborn…..for another women.  Being raped as a child didn’t help either. 

    I’ve carried a hate for men all my life…except for  my family and friends.   But these trials made me the person I am.  I will love the Lord until my dying breath.  He is the only one who has NEVER hurt me or EVER will and he is my only HOPE . 

      I have a deep down anger and I just ordered a small book called “Anger”  Escaping the Maze, by Davie Powlison.   Anyone ever read it?  

       I know your all shocked at your sweet JOYce, but that’s my story and God is working on me. Women are my loveline….I run  to them for help in friendships, bible studies, family, mentors, councelors, Doctor’s…everywhere!!    I never want to be a doormat again by another man!   So you see I have alot for God  to change in me.        I can feel him changing me slowly…very slowly tho!   Praise God!!

    Praying your your dad Susan!

    1. JOYCE–I am not “shocked at your sweet JOYce,”…but my heart just aches every timeI read and remember more of your story. I feel anger towards those who have hurt you so deeply, so wrongfully. It makes my stomach sick, honestly. I am so sorry. Still, you model for me such BEAUTY. And not just because you are SO thoughtful, and other-centered, selfless to your core–but because through it all, and you have been through MUCH, you still cling to Him and to the Truth. I love you Joyce. 

    2. Joyce, I am so thankful for you here. You have had a tough life. You really have guts too. We all have parts of us that God is working on. Thanks for daring to tell yours. Hugs to you.  I will pray for God to help you in your battle against anger and deep seated pain, and I know He is since you already are recognizing your need.

    3. Joyce – what a rich and tender post.  Thank you for sharing that.  I don’t want to get in the way of how God is changing you – and how I love that you testify that He is!! – or to justify “turning a blind eye” to our own sin…….but you surely don’t have to carry the weight of guilt for feeling hurt and betrayed by what you have been through in your life.  I read and feel the tears in my eyes….it is TOO MUCH to bear.  Rape and abuse are horrors of this world.  Absolute horrors.  BUT…..I LOVE your love for the Lord and determination to follow Him all of your days……”I will love the Lord until my dying breath”.  This is who I see you to be…..and indeed, you ARE “our sweet Joyce”!

    4. I love you, Joyce!

    5. Joyce….after reading more of your story here, it makes me love you more!  You could be bitter and angry toward God and yet you run to Him and cling to Him. And love Him above all.  You have overcome so very much and you offer unconditional love to your children……and dedication above and beyond to Kendra who is so blessed to have you as her mom.  I am deeply sorry for all the pain in your life.  And….as Diane said, we all have so much that needs to be worked on.  I have almost always been kind and gentle to my children and yet saved the ugly, beastly side of me (and there is one!) for my husband.  I have hurt him many, many times, with harsh words and coldness.  We butt heads also.  Oh….how we all stand in need of grace daily.  Hourly.  Minute by minute.
       
      “If I stand, let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through.   And if I fall, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You.    If I sing, let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs.   And if I weep, let it be as a man who is longing for his home.”    Rich Mullins
       
      I’ve been singing this song in my mind almost constantly the past day or so.  Finally had to post the entire lyrics as my facebook status, because it was forever going through my mind.  So good to fall on that grace.    (and you could substitute ‘woman’ in the last line 🙂  Just happened to be written by a man!)  😉  smile.

      1. Love that Wanda….what song is it of Rich’s?    Thanks for being so understanding of the Anger that God is working on me about.  My mother was abused and beaten as she had to grow up in a mean aunt’s home, after her mother died when she was 2.  But she was never…ever mean to us kids…..just the opposite….wonderful and loving.     She broke the cycle!I am the same way with my kids!  I’m never mean to them…love and spoil  them to pieces!   So I feel like I’m  a strong women…. like my mom was….God is  breaking the cycle of anger…through me!!!

  37. 4. What are your comments on the above? (Please be thoughtful, loving, and type responses in Word and then cut and paste your comments.) 
    From what I recall there were some issues in that culture in the church of false teaching and this passage is to help resolve and avoid that. In verse 15 it says she will be saved through child bearing so my question naturally is: What about women who are unable to conceive? SO..that tells me there is more going on here culturally and that we might not be able to apply this literally to us yet as Dee said there are eternal implications here indeed. I like that Dee said if it is going to be an offense causing discord then it is wise to refuse. 
     
     

    1. Rebecca, I actually had a brilliant thought for once. I wondered if there was a specific childbirth that was being addressed there; by Mary birthing Jesus, and He would save Eve (and others…..maybe those who can’t conceive are also covered by Jesus?). See my comment above for longer explanation.

  38.     6. Read 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Do you see an eternal principle and a cultural example in this? If so, what?
     
    wow! This is really tough…..I guess all the covering verses are cultural? Is the eternal principle to pray; to pray together? I’m sweating on this one! There is another part I thought was good here too……to reflect Christ for the man (shouldn’t women reflect Him as well?) not real sure of me reflecting my husband though. That one’s kind of weird to me. Is this reflection also part of the eternal principle?

    1. And good grief, what about single women like me who have never married NOR had kids?! (1Tim 2:15)  

      1. then add that to some of what Paul wrote about it being good to remain single.  He didn’t mean get pregnant first 🙂   Wish he just would have stuck to plain English 🙂

        1. plain English?  ha!  makes me smile.  A little tongue in cheek there.  🙂

  39. When I see difficult to understand Scriptures like this I tend to also look to other Scripture that seems to provide balance like Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  That is reassuring to me!

    1. Mary – so thankful you are able to post again – and for your good news from last week’s testing!  I’m really praying that the Lord will bring you at least one kindred spirit….someone who loves Him, most of all, but who has walked the road you are on.  I think your post was really on target to caution us …..so much unneccesary pain has been caused when teachers or churches take a verse out of context, and without regard for the WHOLE of Scripture. establish “principles” or “rules” that are unduly burdensome.  Searching the Scriptures is being a Berean – and you showed us a great practical example right here!    🙂

    2. I’m curious how you find other, related scriptures Mary? The bible is a big book and I get lost sometimes! When I do searches (online bible) it often doesn’t find what I am looking for so I get frustrated. I suppose my study bible has related scripture, but I am into the digital more than the paper these days. Any advice? I wish I could just quite scripture from off the top of my head, but I’m just not that good! And then there is the time issue….

    3. I’m curious how you find other, related scriptures Mary? The bible is a big book and I get lost sometimes! When I do searches (online bible) it often doesn’t find what I am looking for so I get frustrated. I suppose my study bible has related scripture, but I am into the digital more than the paper these days. Any advice? I wish I could just quite scripture from off the top of my head, but I’m just not that good! And then there is

    4. Good verse, Mary.  I do appreciate the balance also.

  40. Susan said to let you all know her Dad is coming home today with antibiotics and she appreciates continued prayers for his recovery!

    1. Thanks for update, Elizabeth!  Praying for her dad.

    2. Oh that’s wonderful news Elizabeth!  I’ve been thinking and praying for him all day….and will continue for his recovery!

  41. My quick comment for today – the eternal principle for I Corinthians 2-16 should be “Do not approach any task with a contentious spirit?”  Dee, I really liked your take via guidance by the Holy Spirit.  I, too, take great pains to make sure that the Holy Spirit is actually guiding me when I teach or preach.  For me, it is important to remember that it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to use me to reach others for Christ.  Am I walking closely enough to Christ, have I bathed the issue in prayer enough to recognize the Spirit’s leading?  I also like to remember, that when I speak with the assurance of the Spirit, that just as Christ said, the Spirit will give you the words you need for your defense.  Ultimately, I preach and teach, or sing, or dance, or keep a website functioning, etc. by the Spirit’s guidance, so that the Word of Christ can be shared, for the purpose of bringing glory to God.

  42. One more short comment:  As I have studied the Scriptures over the years, I have been amazed that God, in both the Old and New Testaments, has chosen to use the non-conventional people of creation to teach his principles.  What I mean by non-conventional – the youngest son (David) when primogeniture  was the normal practice, a woman (Deborah or Esther) when patriarchalism ruled, children (the fish and the loaves), fishermen rather than scholars, a virgin and a woman past her ability to conceive, Mary and Sarah, to usher in the kingdom of God, a prostitute to protect an army, etc.  Perhaps we can put this extraordinary use of God’s people into our discussion and see that perhaps God’s way is to use the unconventional to lead and teach biblical principles.  What did these people, and other like them, have in common?  Could it be a heart that yearned to follow God’s direction?

    1. LOVE this post, Sherryl.  How good to see God’s ‘unconventional’ approach to so much!  

  43. 4. What are your comments on the above?
    I’m confused about how Stott has separated the cultural from the eternal. It’s a great distinction to make, so perhaps I need to get his commentary to follow his argument.
    One possibility that comes to mind is to look at other scripture. So, for example, 1 Timothy 2:12 & 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 state that women must be silent in church. Yet, 1 Corinthians 11:5 says that women should have their head covered when they prophesy or pray – that is they are permitted to speak. So the passages instructing silence must be cultural or addressing a particular situation. It’s not an instruction for all times and all places.
    So, I’m not understanding how Stott has determined that women submitting to authority is an eternal principle, rather than cultural. 

    1. Kerryn- oh boy, I’m laughing now because you and I were posting much of the same at the very same time!!  Yes, SO interesting and appealing, but raises so MANY more questions!! 

    2. Oh boy, from me, too.  The more I dig into Scripture (as well a little snooping about those who ascribe to each perspective), the more questions I have — and the LESS I like the terms complementation and egalitarian.  BOTH perspectives are based on complementary roles!  The difference is who plays which roles and/or when.  

  44. 4.  John Stott’s explanation of this passage in terms of eternal principles and cultural principles makes sense to me and even appeals….it still leaves me with unanswered questions though, as I would like to know HOW Stott arrived at that explanation and what his foundation is for it.  I’m intrigued enough that I ordered his commentary on 1 Tim and Titus to try to parse that out a bit for myself.  Like Renee, one thing I kind of stumble over is v.8 referring to “in every place”, not specifically the church in Ephesus (where I guess Timothy was at that time?).  My Bible cross references this to John 4, where Jesus and the Samaritan woman are speaking…..she seems to be diverting the conversation by speaking of where the Samaritans worship as opposed to where the Jews worship (cultural)…….Jesus tells her that the hour is coming when worship will not be limited to either place (eternal)…..which, I think is referring to the Holy Spirit indwelling all believers and indeed, our bodies themselves are His temple.  (1 Cor 3:16).  But I guess the “every place” that believers dwell and are the temple of the Holy Spirit could be different from the “every place” that Paul is referring to here in 1 Timothy.   ??  

  45. As a woman pastor, I have had many years of dealing with this issue.  The bottom line for me was God’s call, confirmed in many ways and by various means over 29 years.  It’s a joy to know when God places us where we ought to be.  I am blessed with men and women who accept my ministry.  I am not offended by those who do not accept my ministry and have sent them off, with blessings to find a place where they can be fed.    I do believe that those of us who have been liberated to preach and teach, need to be respectful of other sensibilities and interpretation of scripture.  Thank you, Dee, for that perspective.

    1. Dawn – Thank you so much for chiming in and lending your valuable perspective on this issue.  I’m SO impressed with your gracious heart toward those who are not comfortable with your position!  As I just posted in a reply to Renee, I’ve been “comfortably complimentarian” for all of my 26 years of walking with the Lord…..of course, I didn’t know that label, but that was certainly my read of the difficult passages of Scripture referring to women’s roles in the church and home.  I just in these past few days began reading Marg Mowcsko’s blog – she has really intrigued me with her calm, scholarly and reflective words on the egalitarian position – you can be sure that I’ve been stirred up to read more and more!  Even if we continue to “agree to disagree” I feel like further study of the Scriptures , done in humility and a teachable spirit , will bring great PEACE to the body of Christ! 

  46. My thoughts are that the female leaders and prophetesses are an exception not the rule. There are a lot of people that have been used of God in exceptional and unusual ways.
    Women and men differ hormonally. It influences the way with think we about things. I am not saying that it makes women less intelligent or inadequate, but it does give men and women different strengths and weaknesses. What is needed to be a true leader is found more in the male hormones than the female hormones. Women lose a bit of their femininity when they are “ruling” over men.
    Of course this is coming from a person who isn’t comfortable speaking in front of anyone.

  47. testing

  48. I am reading through all the comments…so interesting and varied! I admit I haven’t given too much thought to these kinds of topics. Both non-denominational churches I have attended had only male pastors; women taught Bible studies to women, were counselors, etc… I’m not sure if I have the mental energy right now to dive into this. I’ve been feeling a deep down desire to just turn off my brain and rest in Him.
     
    Thanks for all your prayers for my dad. He finally came home late this afternoon and we have him and my mom settled back in their place. Mom enjoyed staying at my home but was anxious to get back to familiar surroundings and her own routine. Now I kind of miss her! I used to watch the Waltons when I was young and think wouldn’t that be nice, having three generations all under one roof? They all got along so nicely:))
     
    Mary, glad to see you on here and that your MRI was negative. I’m so sorry you’ve been having a rough time emotionally but I think it understandable. How wonderful you will get in touch with Wanda’s sister…keeping you in my prayers.
     
    Laura, the liturgical dance studio – how neat! It truly sounds one of a kind!
     
    Joyce, I remember much of all you’ve shared about your past – the abusive marriage, the childhood abuse. I too see you as the one “who will love the Lord until her dying breath”. I admire you so much; the Lord has made you a strong woman with a huge heart for the hurting. I love you too, Joyce.

    1. Susan, such a good point about the mental energy.  This is taking more brain power than I anticipated.  It doesn’t take much brain power to find support for the way I’ve always been taught, but when I dug more deeply, my assumptions have been challenged — and I realize I need a lot more information to come to any conclusion.  Takes both time and energy. The good news, though, is that it isn’t urgent.  This won’t impact my life in church any time soon.

    2. Dear Susan…how happy I am to hear of your dad’s return to home and will be recovering!!  You are such a wonderful blessing to your parents and also an shining example of God’s love.   I can see you as the mother hen in the Walton’s!Praying for you to get  peace  and  rest and for your dad to get better and your mom to see they joy of the Lord.

      1. Oh YA……forgot to comment on The Waltons…..Susan.  That was/is my all time favorite TV drama.  How I wished I had a family just like that!  

    3. Susan.….I am with you on the lack of ‘mental energy’ this week…..for different reasons, but so much family stuff going on here….I only have snippets of time to come on the blog……but I sure am appreciative of everyone putting in the time and energy to discuss this!
       
      So glad your dad is back home and your mom back to her residence too.  I am hoping/praying that you, now will have some good rest in Him as is your heart’s desire.