Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Response to 'A Woman's Place in Christianity' #2

If you're just tuning in for the first time, check out my previous posts about 'A Woman's Place in Christianity' and then read my response to Cline's post with us:
Response #2
In Austin Cline's post, 'A Woman's Place in Christianity', he used 10 quotes from historic "Christian" figures and authorities to prove that Christianity promotes a negative view of womanhood. In his post, Cline uses a quote from Tertullian as the 2nd of 10 to 'prove' this point:

Tertullian (160?-220?)
: "Woman is a temple built over a sewer, the gateway to the devil. Woman, you are the devil's doorway. You led astray one whom the devil would not dare attack directly. It was your fault that the Son of God had to die; you should always go in mourning and rags."

I, however, believe that this quote from Tertullian only paints a portion of the picture here (whether that was his intent or not ... we'd have to see the original text in full context). Some of you may be surprised that I'm even giving the quote this credit, but I believe that Proverbs is very clear about the power that women have to lead people astray when we pursue folly over wisdom, and in those instances it's probably appropriate to paint such vivid images as "a temple built over a sewer" and "the gateway to the devil." Proverbs 5:3-6 says this (this is one of many examples I could use):
For the lips of an adultress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.
Now, when we first read this, it can be very easy to skip right over these verses because we would never consider ourselves an adultress, and for the most part, I hope that's true. But, if we read past the label that this woman is given and into her actions, I don't believe that we're too far off at times. How many times have we used crafty, coy words to get our way ... to talk our way around something ... to ultimately lead someone astray without even realizing it. We're sinful beings, I don't doubt that we haven't done this! If it's for our own gain, for our best interest, I'm sure that it's happened. But we know deep down that the life of folly is not the path to true life. There is hope and a woman's only fate is not destined to that of "a temple over a sewer." Jesus offers us new life and that's the part that is left out of Cline's argument! He forgot to read Romans! Romans 6: 22-23 says this:
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is true for both men and women, and this is far from life of folly ... and from a life as a fake temple over a sewer, but the real deal, thanks to the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16)! If Jesus lives in us, we have his Holy Spirit shining through us to resonate the beauty of Christ, not the rankness of sewage. But we have to be cautious not to give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) and to not lose sight of the grace we have in Christ Jesus.

And to touch on the last part of this quote, "It was your fault [Eve/woman] that the Son of God had to die; you should always go in mourning and rags." This part is untrue. No where in scripture does it say that "woman caused the Fall."But I think that we can infer that it was a 3-tiered problem: 1) The serpent, 2) Eve, and 3) Adam. God reprimands all three in Genesis 3. The serpent was deceptive. Eve stepped out of her bounds, left Adam, took control and was 'convinced' to eat the forbidden fruit. And Adam, in his apathy, just sat back, didn't ask any questions or speak the truth that he knew and ate the fruit that Eve gave to him. Adam failed too because he did not carry out the role God created for him, to "rule over ... every living creature that moves on the ground," including Eve. He just sat back, twiddled his thumbs and allowed her to succumb to her desire to control.

Thus, although it would be easy for me to say, "this statement is not true because I just simply don't want to be blamed for the Fall" and stuck in mourning and in rags my entire life, I know that I can confidently say that this is not true because scripture says that it is not true in Genesis.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Living Out Titus 2

I had the unexpected opportunity to catch up with a friend over the phone yesterday, and what I think was intended to only be a few-minute phone call to ask me a question, turned into a 30-minute conversation about godly womanhood and scriptures mandate for older women to 'disciple' younger women in Titus 2. (This is not that unusual though because this friend and I have a long track record of carrying on like this ... but now that we both have kids and don't see each other as often, I tend to forget about these fun conversations that we've always tended to have.)

I'm not really going to get into our conversation, but my point in posting about this is that our chat made me think about how women really need to be in relationship with other godly women so that they can learn from one another -- life experiences and from scripture -- and figure out how it relates to God's call to us as women. (This has been the main purpose of this blog, actually, as I'm learning this stuff, but it can't be solely dependent on reading material like a blog or a book. We must be in relationship with one another!) And to come to find out, women all over our church are organically seeking out and entering into these relationships that we see mapped out for us in Titus 2, and I think it's so beautiful! When there's a need, even if there's no cut-and-dry ministry to fulfill that need, God still finds a way to care for his daughters! (Duh, I know ... but when it's played out before your eyes, it's still very awe inspiring.)

So, as I sit in awe of how God is working in our midst, I am taken back to chapter 11 of Biblical Womanhood in the Home to see how a formal Titus 2 ministry could be shaped. I'm not saying that this is something that has to be in place formally, but it does provide helpful insight into the 'underground' development of the organic relationships that are already forming, and that could potential form within our community groups. This could be a great prayer point to keep on your prayer list, so that women, regardless of age or life experience, could have the opportunity to enter into a Titus 2 relationship that will help them continue pursuing godly womanhood.

Check out chapter 11 of Biblical Womanhood in the Home for yourself and feel free to share any comments that you have.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Response to 'A Woman's Place in Christianity' #1

A few weeks ago, (sorry, life's been busy), I posted a link and my reactions to an atheist's view of Christian womanhood, based on Christian history. And while I don't believe that all of these quotes are wrong -- when they are not taken out of context and used to communicate a false image of godly womanhood -- some of them do represent a misunderstanding of scripture and God's call for women (at least in this context ... I'm not sure where these quotes were taken from ... if you have any background knowledge about this information please feel free to share). I know that this happens all the time, and when people use information out of context or information other than scripture and God-honoring references that point back to scripture to summarize 'Christianity's view of women,' you're always going to find a negative and untrue picture. So, in effort to point this argument back to scripture and "redeem" this negative view of Christianity, I am going to attempt to communicate the biblical truth that these quotes miss, even though the author and original commentators of this article will never read it. (The article was written back in 2005.)

(The quotes that were referenced in A Woman's Place in Christianity are italicized.)

Here's 1 of 10 (this may take some time):

Clement of Alexandria (150?-215?): "Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman." This is NOT true!
  1. Women were created by God and in His image: Genesis 1:27 says, "... God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Thus, regardless of cultural influence, no woman should feel ashamed for being what God created her to be because 1) God created her, and 2) He created her in His own image, so there is NOTHING for her to be ashamed about! As I've mentioned in previous posts, since God created male and female in his image, each being represents the male and female qualities of God, and without woman, we wouldn't be able to experience that side of God!
  2. God said that ALL that He created was GOOD: In Genesis 1:31, on the evening of the sixth day, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." This refers to 'woman' too and thus God sees woman as something good, not something of shame.
  3. God praises women: Proverbs 31:29-30 says, "'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." This account is far from shameful, the psalmist says that there are many noble women, but the woman in this passage surpasses them all -- not because of her outward beauty but because of her fear of the Lord -- and for that she is to be praised NOT put to shame!
  4. Women are of great worth to God: You may remember from 1 Peter 3:4 that we should have "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" and it is through that demeanor and heart that Peter says women are of "great worth in God's sight." This is by no means a conditional sort of love, but if we obey God and do as He calls us to do, God can use us in incredible ways and that's of great worth for Him and His kingdom.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A True View of Womanhood?

I was browsing through for an unrelated topic to godly womanhood and discovered this interesting article: A Woman's Place in Christianity, written by an atheist. I feel like I reference a counterrevolution to feminism/societal views of womanhood periodically but I rarely have cut and dry examples of what we're up against. This article is a prime example ... take a look at the comments at the end of it as well.

I can see how the quotes that are mentioned could tick people off and portray a negative view of Christianity and how it depicts womanhood (regardless if these quotes were wrong or just taken out of context) ... it definitely fires me up, heck even the best of us do that though at times, but that's why we can't put our hope in man but in God, the holy creator of the universe! Because of our sinful nature (believers or not), unfortunately we will always have the capacity to lead people astray because we can get caught up projecting our own "righteousness" and not the work of Jesus' grace and renewal in our hearts. We can only lead people to the Lord and trust that he's going to redeem their view of creation.

I would love to hear your comments about this and hopefully put together a 'counter' (on this blog since the article that I reference was written in 2005) to this article referencing where scripture does call womanhood a godly and blessed calling!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Beauty of Submission, Part 3

It's interesting ... I just finished the last two chapters of Feminine Appeal last night and guess what one of those chapters was called? The Beauty of Submission ... how appropriate! I promise I didn't read ahead or catch a sneak peek before I started this submission series.

I haven't had the chance to dive into Genesis like I had mentioned last week, but with the bit of study that I ventured into last week, I believe that Mahaney's wisdom ties up many of the loose ends for me that I was unsure about in 1 Peter 3:6, where we see that Peter uses Sarah as the example for us to follow:
5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
As we look at Sarah's life in Genesis, we see that even though she acted in obedience to her husband, Abraham, and accompanied him on a long journey from their home in Ur to unknown places, where she did indeed trust God to lead Abraham, she still failed many crucial times.
  1. Not standing up for truth when Abraham asked her to "act" like his sister, not his wife, so that Pharaoh would spare his life and give him wealth

  2. Recommending and having Abraham marry Hagar so that he could have a child with her to be his heir ... failing to believe God's promise to her and Abraham ... ultimately causing bitterness between she and Hagar and introducing violent hostility between two peoples, Ishmael and Isaac, that has evolved into the Arab-Israel conflict today
But despite this sin (and maybe her 'good' intentions at times), God's faithfulness was greater. God still chose to bless Abraham and Sarah, and we see this as he gives them new names, a great covenant that they will be the father and mother of great nations in Genesis 17, and that Sarah will bear their child, Isaac, at 91 years old.

And the beauty of Peter's example here is that he does use Sarah, a woman who has screwed up, but even in the midst of her sin and after pursuing forgiveness, continues to put her trust in God, over her husband to do what's best for her. Mahaney says this:
Sarah's story doesn't end in failure. By the time she gave birth to Isaac -- a full fifteen years later -- God had performed a momentous work of grace in her life. Her lack of trust in God matured into a robust faith. In fact, she is one of only two women listed among the Hebrews 11 'heroes of faith.'

This God who transformed Sarah's disbelieving heart can do the same for us. If we embrace his plan for our lives and purpose to obey His commands, He will develop in us the beauty of submission. He will enable us to trust Him to lead our husbands to lead us.
How beautiful is that! That even at 91+ years of age, God still chose to use Sarah and to change her for His glory. So much for the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Sarah was definitely an old dog (no derogatory meaning implied)! And I think the encouraging thing for us here is that regardless if we've been married for a year, 10 years or 50 years, we ALL still need God's grace to submit well. Hopefully at the 50 year mark (and before) our hearts will be more soft and our attitudes will be more gentle to submit well, but we're all in need of the same grace and it's only through that grace and submission to the Lord that submission to our husbands will ever be beautiful. And it's also through that grace and reliance on the Lord that we can stand firm and "not give way to fear" as we continue down this journey.

Stay tuned ... I think I'll take one more post to wrap up this submission series, but in the mean time, here's what looks to be a great resource on Sarah and Abraham if you're interested in diving in deeper: