#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear shows it’s sexism not hermeneutics

Feminists: “A strange sub-strata of women with a peculiar inferiority complex”

 

That isn’t a quote from some ignorant, aging Fox News commentator. It’s from one of the rising young stars of the conservative movement, writer Daisy Cousens.

In this week’s edition of the Spectator, she refers to feminists as being “obsessed with picking at the scab of women’s lib, trying to draw fresh blood, often being seen prowling (or lumbering) around, attempting to sniff out sexism in every nook and cranny.”

According to Cousens, women who complain about sexism are whiny and pathetic. And they lumber (whatever that’s supposed to mean!?!). She concludes,

“The idea women that in our society are still somehow under the thumb of men is a fallacy; every opportunity available to men is also available to us.”

The same day I read Daisy Cousen’s diatribe against feminism, I discovered that Canadian Christian blogger and author Sarah Bessey had just launched the Twitter hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear and it was trending. Big time.

Woman after woman (including many personal friends of mine) tweeted the passive aggressive put-downs and out-and-out sexist statements they’ve heard in churches over the years.

It seemed cathartic. Like lancing a boil. Years of snubs, sneers and rebuffs flowed like puss.

For me, reading it was like passing a car wreck on the freeway. I was repulsed, but I couldn’t look away. I kept reading all the well-meaning digs and full-scale humiliations perpetrated against women in ministry. And feeling sick.

Rachel Elizabeth Asproth from Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) has collated 55 of the best/worst tweets in the thread. Warning: it’s horrifying.

So here I am in an airport gate lounge reading Daisy Cousens telling me the time for feminist rage is over, while all my sisters in ministry are tweeting a volcanic flow of disparagements and put-downs.

For Daisy Cousens and many other women on the right, asserting that they’re oppressed is patently absurd. Imagine if they ever walked into a church!

Is the church that far behind the times?

Even if I believe Cousens is correct and the playing field has never been more level for women in society, isn’t it utterly embarrassing that Christian women are still living in a sub-culture where they’re not permitted to teach men, or be pastors, or not be at home raising kids and getting the Sunday dinner cooked (one of the reasons proffered for why they shouldn’t be preachers).

This goes far beyond debates about complementarianism and how to read Paul. I know many complementarians who are certainly not sexist in their attitudes to women. But read those tweets, people. They’re not expressing some caring, compassionate desire to read Paul’s words about women teaching men. They’re sexist and demeaning and insulting. And it only takes the suggestion of a hashtag to get them flowing. All those barbs and affronts are right on the tip of the typing fingers of all women in ministry. And that’s shameful.

I’m getting sick of men using hermeneutics as a cover for sexism. I’m getting tired of us making allowances for people who claim they’re just trying to be true to Scripture while making statements about the place of women that were considered sexist in the 1950s.

 

#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear is important. It’s not feminists picking the scab of women’s lib. It’s women holding together an open wound. It’s hurting Christian women, trying to be faithful to their calling to serve God’s church, but laboring under continual discrimination, humiliation and criticism.

And please don’t think this is just a problem for the conservative denominations. Even in movements that allow the ordination of women there are so many examples of everyday sexism hobbling their women leaders.

For the record, I don’t agree with Daisy Cousens’ analysis at all. But the fact is that there’s now young, conservative commentators like her telling women to “take off the pussy-hat, put on a bra and check your proverbial privilege.” For them the feminist movement is over. The battle has been won.

Meanwhile in churchland, intelligent, educated, dynamic, gifted, godly women are still being called “female pastors” (I’ve never needed to refer to myself as a “male pastor”). They’re being asked “who are you working under?” or “what does you husband think?” They’re being threatened with walk outs if they preach. They’re paid less and offered fewer opportunities.

And they’re getting tired of having to justify their call and position, and having their motives and integrity questioned. Heck, I’m tired of writing about it. I can’t imagine how much worse it is living with it.

 

 

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79 thoughts on “#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear shows it’s sexism not hermeneutics

  1. Thanks for this post. I am a female pastor. Who gets asked “are you the childrens pastor?”
    (I am the youth and young adults pastor and our childrens pastor is actually male) and usually the second question I get is “so how does your husband cope with you in this role and “looking after” the kids 2 nights a week?” I usually reply “are you indicating that my husband is not as capable a care giver as I am? And would have an issue being alone with his own children? And I wouldnt call it “looking after,” I call it parenting.” That usually bring the sound of crickets. But I find even though my church is quiet accepting in some manner. I am the first female pastor, which saw some opposition. And also means I am not “allowed” to preach on a sunday. But can give youth talks, go figure!

    1. You have to make so many compromises and put up with so many inconsistencies and double standards to live out your calling. Thank you for being prepared to do all that for the sake of God’s people.

      1. Well said Mike…
        Thank you Louise and I apologise on behalf of those who won’t but should…

    2. A female pastor? Impossible if one seeks to follow God’s word.

      1. Exactly. There are no female pastors, just false teachers.

      2. I didn’t know that an Assyrian from Turkey who was a Pharisee of the Pharisees born Roman: was God.

        Can you show me in the Gospel of John where Jesus said He came to prepare the way for the Pharisee who was coming after Him?

        Who would organize institutional religion around the male domination sexist discrimination of the Pharisees?

        Because without Jesus quoted in the Gospel of John commanding us to follow one who would come after Him: I am rejecting every epistle of “Paul”.

        Continuing in the Word of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

        Because Jesus is Fully Egalitarian in the Gospel of John.

        And I don’t believe God changed into the image of “Paul”: a religious sexist institutional Assyrian Roman Pharisee
        I believe I found the Real Messiah ~ the One and only Christ ~ in the Gospel of John : Jesus.

        Can you prove me wrong?

        And show He changed?

        And is now “Pauline”?

  2. Fantastic post, and spot on. Just a small clarification: this thread is not just about women in ministry. This is about Christian women generally, girls and women in the church. These are things heard by women whether they are in ministry, or are not. For one thing, hearing such things (as I did when I was growing up) is enough to put any intelligent young woman off pursuing such a calling, let alone continuing as a member of such churches. I was ‘treading water’ by undertaking masters and doctoral studies on a scholarship to Oxford because I wasn’t married yet. That was the view of the youth pastor at my church when I was 23. Praise God, I found freedom by leaving the Sydney Diocese then, and have since only attended churches that witness to the full equality of women and men in all aspects of leadership. ‘Don’t go back to Egypt’ (Deut. 17:16) – the site of your bondage – has been my mantra!

    1. Johanna I was told the same thing! when I went to do a PhD – with a NHMRC scholarship – in my 20s I was asked ‘oh is that because you haven’t got married yet’! I was also told not to do a PhD but to go to Moore…Like you I refuse to attend any church that doesn’t affirm the full equality of women and men in leadership, though they can be surprisingly hard to find in Aust. Even the ones that do in policy still seem to struggle to put it in practice, lots of unconscious bias etc. Best one by a long shot has been in Cambridge, US when I had a visiting academic post at Harvard. Yeah, dont do a PhD, go to Oxford, Harvard…wonder how many more there are of us…#thingsonlychristianwomenhear

  3. A very small category of complaints here are legitimate, not in contradiction to Scripture, and not things that everyone hears. These are related to the issues of abuse and rape. In the “top 55,” considered to be among the worst of these tweets, there are only 4 of these. Though legitimate, it’s really hard to notice these amongst all the noise generated by petulant women and those women who refuse to submit to the authority of God’s Word. However, these are the most important 4 tweets in the entire listing. Why? Because they show a lack of dignity, respect, and recognition of the imago dei by those who made such horrible statements. These are the ones that people really need to see. These are the ones that should make men and women of God weep over their lack of human decency. If a church has covered up such things as these, and allowed abusers and rapists to go free, and not protected the victims of these crimes, then those churches are failing to uphold the Scripture. These victims can be defended by Scriptures such as Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 1:17, 1 Timothy 5:8, Titus 3:14, and Romans 13:1-7. My heart breaks when I read these sorts of stories.

    But then…

    “…isn’t it utterly embarrassing that Christian women are still living in a sub-culture where they’re not permitted to teach men, or be pastors…”

    I find it far more embarrassing that so many people who I call my brothers and sisters want to throw out parts of the Bible to suit their humanistic, egalitarian viewpoint. I find it embarrassing that Christian women want to wear immodest, worldly clothing saying that it’s a man’s problem if he’s aroused by it. I find it embarrassing that these women complain about so many things that are said to them, when in fact, those things are said to men as well.

    Christianity isn’t a sub-culture. It’s contra-cultural, or a counter-culture. Christianity won’t simply align with the views of the world – it has never been expected to, and that was clear from the very beginning. Many people may continue to call themselves Christians while denying the faith and ripping pages out of the Word of God, but that doesn’t change what the Bible actually says about things.

    The vast majority (30 of the “top 55”) of the whining is about leadership (church and household), preaching, and pastoring. Now, you can complain about Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 11:3, and 1 Corinthians 14:33-34, and Peter’s teaching in 1 Peter 3:1. You can complain about the wording in Genesis 2:18. It doesn’t change the Biblical perspective – it changes your perspective away from the Biblical perspective. The women complaining about this should take their complaints to God, who prescribed this, and not to men who simply believe God’s Word.

    A close second to this is the complaints about women needing to be modest. I’m sorry, but your yoga pants and bikinis aren’t modest. They aren’t covering anything. Women would be repulsed to see a man in such stuff. Now, granted, some people take this a bit far. I think a good rule for this might be to wear only clothing in which you’d be comfortable standing in front of a holy and righteous God. If you heard Jesus was at the beach, would you suddenly feel the need to wrap up in a towel? Remember, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God because they were naked.

    The third major group is women complaining about all sorts of random things that get said to literally every group of people. Men hear them, non-Christians hear them. Men get asked to be secretaries and Sunday School teachers. Men, Christian or not, get told pretty much the exact same stuff about marriage and being patient finding a mate. When I was single, I had non-Christian friends tell me some of these same things.

    1. please let this be satire please let this be satire please let this be satire

      1. It’s not satire. Wheeler trolled me and others on the hashtag. While I appreciate his sympathy for sexual abuse victims, I wish his sympathy extended to all women who have been victims of misogyny.

        1. More like victims of feminism. A woman is a victim if she’s been convinced she’s happier working in a cubicle than being with her babies. Feminism isn’t about equality. It’s about gaining power over men. God laid it out in Genisis when he told Eve that her desire will be for her husband. A better translation is a desire to control her husband, or men in general. This is why so many men hating lesbians join the military or get into law enforcement. They do this claiming equality with men but demand standards be lowered to accommodate them.

          1. I absolutely understand why people are leaving the church. Most people grossly misunderstand the Bible, misquote the Bible, and like the Pharisees have no personal relationship with God. Deborah was a prophet and judge over all of Israel, appointed by God, and told a man what to do (Judges 4). Pheobe and Priscilla were both collators with Paul. Priscilla taught a man. Lydia was well known by Paul and had her own business and house fellowship. I think this biggest issues are 1. Ignorance 2. People do not study the Bible in it’s original language 3. People pull out verses and are clueless what they mean 4. Pride-some men are insecure (the flip side of pride) and want to bully and dominate. Jesus stated the greatest among you will be your servant. Jesus also said the world would know His disciples by their love (John 13:34-35). Love does not dominate, oppress, or bully.

            If you look at the demographics of the church a good chunk of the volunteers and missionaries are female, not male. God did not say women are only good for marriage and having babies (though that is noble).

            I truly hope for the next generations people get it right. Paul commended women. In his letters that seem to prohibit women he was addressing certain issues in those churches. I highly recommend people study the original language. A book that helps and is written by a man is Why Not Women.

            The sad thing is when we see God face to face, I wonder how many men God will say, “You limited your wife or daughters-My daughters. You refused to allow women in your church to do what I called them to do. Instead of being like My Son and empowering others, you limited them.” I often wonder how many women sit in churches dusty and not fulfilled because they have a calling from God they do not use.

            1 in 3 or 4 women are abused in the world. The stat is not vastly different in the church; verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. I have counseled Christian women in marriages from the pit and enduring horrific abuse and they are told it’s their fault and to submit to male authority. Ephesians 5:21 tells ALL believers to submit to one another-yet it is rarely preached. God gave both Adam and Eve dominion in the Garden (Genesis 1:27-28). And when God said to Eve your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you…in Hebrew God was saying, “Because of sin, your desire will be to be a people pleaser and your husband will desire to rule over you.” He was stating the consequences of sin, not His original design. We get God’s original design in Genesis before the fall and Jesus redeemed us.

            When Paul talks about headship in marriage, the husband is supposed to take responsibility to seek to protect and provide…not be his wife’s boss. The original audience of his letters would have understood better than we do today. God created two powerful people to love each other, mutually submit, and mutually serve. Eve was created as an Ezer Kenegdo (Hebrew) which is poorly translated helper. It means someone who adds strength, power, and aids. Ezer is a Hebrew word God uses for Himself in scripture. Kenegdo means equal but opposite complement. Man and woman were both made in the image of God to complement and add value to each other. It’s sad how translations of man and years of misunderstanding parts of the Bible have created some twisted views of who God created women to be. An Ezer Kenegdo was intended to be a warrior, not a maid or side kick or just for man’s pleasure.

            God help us. Sometimes the church GROSSLY misrepresents God and then complains when people don’t want to join.

          2. Interesting that men holding power over women is “equality” but women having equal rights and power as men is somehow making you feel oppressed.

            I wonder if men like you are even saved, your contempt for your fellow human beings (that Jesus elevated to your status, btw) is so blatant and directly opposed to Christ’s teachings.

      2. Nathan Wheeler is simply an example of the problem under the guise of Scripture, Christianity and learned Scriptural teaching. For that, I call BS.

      3. Yes. Please let this be satire. This cannot really be what this man nathan really thinks??

    2. I’m fairly sure a man hasn’t been told “It’s nothing personal, you’d be a great minister, if you were a man.”

      I have.

    3. When a man reads a page full of tweets by women, expressing the pain and disappointment they experience from having their ministries delegitimized, and begins his response with, “A very small category of complaints here are legitimate…” you know it’s not going to turn out well. I think it’s wrong of you to dismiss the egalitarian view out of hand. Many scholars, including leading conservative evangelicals, hold to it. But as I say in my blog, the tweets from #ThingsChristianWomenHear aren’t erudite declarations about hermeneutics. They’re sexist and demeaning and humiliating and we should repudiate them no matter which way we read Scripture.

      1. Yeah we should. But can we also read scripture well. Can we apply it as it was intended and move past what is simply an archaic hermeneutic informed by the pervasive masogony of the west, which we now see as socially and morally reprehensible. Furthermore it was this very exclusive and discriminatory class system Jesus came to level!

    4. I’ll happily stand before Jesus in a bikini. Jesus isn’t a creeper. Jesus will respond to me as a person, a meaningful individual, instead of as a sex object.

      1. the whole idea of different body parts being visible being sexual is entirely a social construct – parts of Africa and South America where the climate has been hot have had bare breasted women for millennia – and no-one other than those from outside who come in, are even the remotest bit arounsed by this.

        1. And to add to that, Adam and Eve never noticed their nakedness before God, until they first sinned. They covered themselves because they were afraid God would see their sin.

      2. Only a person aware and shamed by what he or she would feel or think would ask this question. To imagine that Jesus carries around all the same prejudices and nastiness that you do is an utter failure of incarnation theology.

    5. This comment is one of several reasons why I stopped believing the Bible (liberal Unitarian looking in from afar). He will always have an edge over the people he oppresses, because he can invoke “God’s authority”. All the while believing that he’s doing God’s will. It’s a hell of a game.

    6. Thank you for having the courage to share your ideas thoughtfully and respectfully.

    7. And there we go…

    8. So, you consistently and regularly get your Christian brothers with a holy kiss?

    9. Have you had regard to the Greek in the passages you cite/rely on? I firmly encourage you to open your mind and explore. A useful starting point is: https://godswordtowomen.org/women_and_scripture.htm

      1. Thank you for that clarification. I have silently fumed over those passages for years now, even coming close to not reading the Bible anymore if it so clearly found me and my evil female parts so lacking. Now I see it was part of the larger social construct fabricated to keep women in our place….for about 1800 years now MOL. Sigh.

        1. Hi Kira, there are a number of texts which are useful in understanding these issues. Try: Paul, Women & Wives by Craig S. Keener; and Beyond Sex Roles by Gilbert Bilezikian. It is utterly disturbing in the extreme to know the original Greek has been mis-represented in English and it is the English that is relied upon to justify discriminatory views.

    10. When the women wept at the foot of the cross, with the men denying Christ; when the women went to the tomb and the men hid in fear – we learned the meaning of devotion, courage and leadership – everything we have ever needed to learn, and demonstrated by good Christian women everywhere, and women ministers in particular.

    11. Thanks for this reply, Nathan. Headship is not an easy topic to understand and the devil has women all tangled up in it. When two people are dancing no one is angry that the man is charged with leading the dance. If both were trying to lead it’d be a mess. God does things we don’t understand and we don’t like. So much hate from those who disagree. I just wanted you to know there are others, women like me who read truth and are thankful for God’s design. Not in a mousey door-mat way, denying the gifts and talents the Lord has given me. But in an awe-filled mystery at how God works.

      1. Okay, this one is definitely satirical.

        1. No, I’ve heard this exact statement made in all seriousness many times among my fellow Christians. As for being accused of “ripping pages out of the Bible” and needing to “take my complaints to God,” I can’t count how many times I’ve been accused of this, simply because I’m a Christian egalitarian. Complementarian theology often insists that it’s the one and only right way to read the Bible, and only those who embrace it are good Christians.

          1. It is true that I am complementarian. But it was not always that way. I grew up in a church that had female elders my mom among them. It was not until I started reading the Bible for myself that I begin to understand the complementarian view that men and women are equal in value before the Lord but have different roles. Some of my very best friends are egalitarian and I respect their views, as they do mine. I just don’t like how some people on this thread brush off those with differing views by calling it satire or sexist, as if because I think differently I am not worthy of respect.

      2. That’s how I feel and how my husband and I parented our daughter and son! We have not quoted these statements to our children, now adults and I don’t agree with them. Some men in one Church have marginalised me. I choose to not listen to them as they don’t get it! God does!

      3. Guess what LK…..when people are dancing they are actually following something else….,it is not arbitrary or random but and agreed upon pattern according to the timing and tempo of music. The male and female are partners. The perform equal but opposite steps. It is not simply according to whatever the man feels like doing. Dancing is a result of two partners working together. The original choreographer sets the steps. The two partners follow variations on a prescribed pattern. In other words they both operate according to a “handbook” if you will. The male dancer doesn’t just make up steps and drag his partner. He must follow the pattern. Men promoting misogyny are like dancers stepping on their partners toes. Male and female together reflect the image of God. Definitely use the comparison, but realize dancing is partnership.

        1. agree…

          it is the power of the relationship between, makes for a third awareness, the trinity mindset, neither gender alone has the power within spirit like two working together…

          consider Napoleon Hill’s, 1883-1970, concept of the mastermind, explains well why any two or more people working cooperative/within love together are way stronger than anyone working alone, from there consider how working alone driven by an intent within competitiveness/fear is disempowering, subject to being controlled by a hidden third party that is dark…

          seems to me this trinity mindset was what Jesus and his partner, that yes, the powers to be did best to burn all records of, where teaching…

          i feel lead to believe that they were teaching how to build our awareness from a contrast/relationship within the difference between both Cataphatic Theology and Apophatic Theology…

          note how one theology is basically left brain thinking and the other is the more intuitive, of the heart…

    12. Case in point . . .

    13. Amen! God is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It was Eve that ate of the apple first. We are the weaker vessel. This does not mean we are less just that we are lead more by our hearts. My God is trying to protect me. Humility is a hard lesson to learn. Thank you for sharing with scripture.

      1. Jodi, you need the re-examine the Scripture. Firstly, most obviously, nowhere in Scripture is the fruit identified as an apple. That’s a traditional notion that probably came from the Greek legends about Athena, whose symbols were a snake and an apple tree, and who supposedly brought wisdom into the world. Secondly, the Bible doesn’t state that women are weaker than men; it states that the husband must treat his wife with respect, AS HE WOULD A WEAKER VESSEL. In other words, Peter commanded Christian husbands not to take advantage of their wives (as their culture permitted them to), but rather to treat with great respect, as fellow-heirs of the grace of life. Do you really believe women are led more by their hearts than men are? Have you ever watched men at a sports game, and seen how they react when ‘their’ team wins or loses? This has nothing to do with God’s unchanging character, and everything to do with the way we allow our cultural misconceptions to dictate to our interpretation of Scripture, rather than the other way around.

      2. hi Jodi…

        yes, i am not the normal crowd, i saw this post on http://spiritualnetworks.com, and comment on SN and then added same comment here…

        i sort of agree that girl suits tend to have, a bit more connection within the heart, and boy suits tend to have a bit more connection within the left brain, think in words side, but we connect to spirit thru the heart not the left brain, seems this give girl suits maybe sight advantage within spiritual matters, and that the Christian church has so discouraged women in their ranks is one of the many reasons i left the church, Southern Baptists in my case, years ago…

    14. Nathan, I understand what you’re trying to say, and I think you’re completely wrong. I also think you need to pick a better example to illustrate your gripe about women’s clothing: if I heard Jesus was at the beach? Really???? Come on! He sees me in the shower, and on the toilet, and in bed with my husband, and in childbirth, so why should I be embarrassed in front of Him? I only need to cover up for my fellow humans’ sake, not in front of my Lord and Saviour. Adam and Eve (who wasn’t named until AFTER the fall, traditionalists take note) covered themselves in Genesis 3 because they realised they now had something to be ashamed of; whereas I know that I am forgiven. In front of Jesus, I don’t need to be ashamed anymore.

    15. Thank you Nathan for your comment (genuinely). The Bible is extremely clear on the roles of male and female in family and church and it is sad that more Christians don’t recognise the total authority God’s Word has on all of life. I am a female and am completely complimentary to my husband and not inferior to him in any way. I also recognise that the team roles God laid out in the Bible are slightly different for men and women, and as such am thankful for the powerful women who respect their husband’s leadership role and don’t try to usurp it, but nontheless have just as big an influence over the family and church community.

    16. If the Messiah was an institutional Assyrian from Turkey born Roman Pharisee of the Pharisees: then I would agree with “Paul” the Messiah that women must wear headcoverings SHAMEfaced, subject to and reverence (worship) men as God.

      But this religion of this “Paul” he brought out of Arabia seeing a spectre on the Road To Assyria (Damascus) is foreign.

      Because I receive Jesus in the Gospel of John as Messiah. Jesus did His first miracle with a woman: His lead apostle. His first evangelist was a woman apostle sent to Samaria.

      Jesus disobeys “Paul” at every turn in the Gospel of John.

      So, I have to follow Jesus. The Egalitarian Christ ~ the Messiah.

      Not the sexist institutional Assyrian Roman Pharisee who replaced Jesus in later opposite teachings.

      I am very comfortable following Jesus.

      And do not hear the voice of the stranger: to follow him.

      You see, many cult leaders have arisen. Written many books. None of these are “scripture”: though they all claim such.

      I am not the subject of the Council of such men. Or those who call such fraudulent books “their scripture”.

      I am the follower of Jesus alone.

      He spoke for Himself in the Gospel of John.

      His words are Life.

  4. Thanks Mike – of course it’s not just women in ministry who experience this deeply entrenched sexism in the church. I remember when Laura Bates’ #everdaysexism started a few years ago, and the #yesallwomen also, female friends and I started the hashtags between us in our private messages #everydaysexismatchurch and #yesallchristian women. It’s so exhausting and tiresome, and so damaging to women. Especially being mansplained by Christian men and leaders telling us it’s not that bad or to get over it. I know so many women who describe church as the most sexist place in their week, despite all we know about sexism in the workplace and media. A major reason for women leaving church and faith, especially women who are single and not “conforming” to the married with children trajectory. I’d love to see some empirical work documenting women’s experiences – and men’s attitudes – re gender bias in the church – and real, deep cultural change to challenge and address these issues. Knowledge re unconscious bias, stereotypes and how they play out re gender seems miles behind in the church compared to the rest of society, plus a lot of defensiveness about engaging with these issues. Jesus’ engagement with women is a pretty stark contrast to much of what we see in our churches.

  5. The worst sexism I ever faced was when I was a church secretary. I was silenced, trivialised, my professional skills and experience ignored, I was bullied and finally resigned and haven’t had a paid job since.

  6. Mike, thank you for your post. As a female senior pastor, there have been many times when I’ve been caught by surprise by some comment, as I’m sure many pastors have. However the deeper pain for me has been hearing that my very presence in the pulpit, or in my leadership role, caused offense to someone. I admit that this is the first time I have commented on a ‘women in ministry’ type post, as I have continually sought to be respectful of diverse opinion. At times that has been extremely difficult – especially when it was once suggested that I would make a great senior pastor, if only I had balls. This comment wasn’t made by someone who was against women in ministry, or as a put down, but as a reflection of the real and ongoing opposition that would arise. I am grieved that the encouragement and respect that I received as a young woman in a non-Christian home seemed absent in the church, and sadly, the voice is seemingly louder now than it was 20 years ago. It is a daily, intentional choice to refuse bitterness- and some days that’s harder than others… I am thankful every day for a husband who is committed to standing before Christ on that day and being able to say ‘Jesus, I followed your example. I laid down my life, my ego, my pride, to make my bride the most beautiful she could be – supporting her as she grew and exercised the gifts and talents that you gave her.’

  7. I didn’t put my name on here – I was afraid to.

    Wow, if that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what does.

    I have a seminary degree. My husband does not.
    I have taught Bible classes on the university level. My husband has not.
    I have preached, baptized people, led Bible studies, led ministries, served on staff in churches – just like my husband.
    I have been in ministry as long as we have been married. Just like he has.

    But while he gets phone calls to pastor churches, I will not. It just won’t happen. I can be the wife, but not the head pastor. I can volunteer.

    I’m grateful that my husband supports me and sees me as his equal in ministry – and I’m so grateful that it bugs him as much as it does me. But the system is frustratingly skewed for men.

  8. I’m pretty sure Jesus has seen me naked…..

  9. Im pretty sure Jesus has seen me naked…..

  10. Thank you. I am a missionary with my husband. Before we left, my husband’s home church wished to ordain him. We both have master’s degrees from the same seminary. I asked them to consider ordaining us or commissioning us as a misionary couple, rather than a pastor. They agreed. On the day of what turned out to be my husband’s pastoral ordination, they elders announced in front of the congregation that there was some confusion and that I was not being ordained/commissioned. I was in shock and cried through the whole thing. When they asked us to come forward to lay hands on us and pray. They all gathered around my husband. Only obe person had a hand on me. I thought, “I’m supposed to go and work with him without support.” I get no pay, no support? Many instances like that over the course of our ministry. Interestingly, the elders in the churches where we minister are generally very open to me having a voice.

    1. That’s the worst! Ugh. Thank you for serving God’s kingdom and people, sister. Your crown is going to be huge!

    2. This deeply sadden me.

    3. Ruth, that is painful to hear. Thank you for having the courage to overcome things like that and to serve the call of God jointly with your husband (despite the barriers and discouragement).

  11. Thank you so much for being a man who’s willing to stand up and address these issues right out. It’s so meaningful to know that there ARE men out there who see and hear us, and don’t shy from standing up for their sisters!!! Thank you.

  12. Thank you for not only using your voice and your platform to advocate for women like myself (I am deeply grateful), what you have addressed is mission critical. Recent research shows women leaving the church in greater numbers than ever before. Is it any wonder? Not only is that heartbreaking in and of itself, we’re losing the gifts and talents of those who could help build the Kingdom of God through the church.

  13. Thank you Mike for speaking truth, in this and many other areas.

  14. I am a very grateful Catholic convert, exceptionally pleased with the Church’s treatment of women through the centuries, and especially now.

  15. Even as a young girl I wondered why the prayers and scriptures that were used said things like “for us men and for our salvation” and “mankind” I was 10 when I asked my mother why women weren’t included. She fobbed me off with the argument that everyone knows “mankind” means everyone. Please. I went on to become a youth pastor because that’s what women do when God puts a strong leadership calling on their life and the church has no place for us. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my calling, but when I preached my first sermon in “big church” to the grown ups (Mother’s Day of course), four men walked out in protest. Then later that night when I preached at youth, their sons walked out in protest following their example. I didn’t give up, rather it made me more determined. I didn’t waste time arguing my position with mysoginistic men and women, some women are worse than men, I just got on with my calling and led. I am retired now, but this is still my position and I mentor others accordingly. There are some young women today who need reminding just how hard it was to get this far. We still have a long road ahead.

  16. My first call was to two small congregations in Texas. As I the “newby” tried to get acquainted with local pastors by inviting them to an event, one of them refused to speak with me even on the phone. He wouldn’t hang up the phone but just sat in silence as I tried to strike up a conversation. I finally realized he was not going to speak, so I asked his name. He did say just that one word to me. I was so hurt when I found out it was only because I was a “woman pastor.”

  17. Over and over, I was told as a young woman that I needed to cultivate “a quiet and gentle spirit.” It was inferred that real, GODLY Christian women were meek introverts. I do not have a quiet bone in my live-out-loud extrovert body! 25 years later, I finally went to seminary. I grieve the years since lost because I was cowed into volunteering in the church. God help me, my daughters will not be pigeonholed.

  18. Thank you to all the brave women in this thread who have shared their painful stories. Some of them have boggled my mind. I wish before Nathan posted his essay on male headship, he could have actually listened to the pain expressed in these comments. I wish he could have acknowledged that even people like him, who interpret Scripture in a particular way and believe women shouldn’t teach men, need to show grace and kindness, compassion and dignity toward people who see the issue differently. Showing no interest in understanding people’s pain, but desiring instead to be ‘right’ about certain interpretations lies at the heart of this issue. It is bitterly disappointing. This blog wasn’t about hermeneutics. It was about how men often cover up the sexist attitudes expressed in the thousands of tweets by claiming the Bible silences women. Many conservative evangelicals (NT Wright, Scot McKnight, Roger Olsen, etc) have shown how an egalitarian interpretation is entirely legitimate (indeed, compelling). I’m not asking people like Nathan to agree with me. I’m asking him to at least acknowledge people in good faith can see it differently and that thousands of women who feel called into ministry are deeply hurt by the insensitivity and disinterest of so many of their brothers.

  19. Your comments struck home with me on so many levels. As a married, childless woman, whose husband is not a believer and who never attended church with me, I always felt doubly ignored and overlooked. I sometimes refer to myself as a “married single,” since I don’t fit into either group. I definitely have a God-given teaching gift, but aside from leading some women’s groups, I have never been allowed to use it, nor have I been encouraged to develop any leadership gifts. I finally left the church about a year ago, although I am longing for a truly welcoming church every single day.

  20. consider…

    that the church as we know it was compromised from the beginning, the teaching pair of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and yes i believe that they taught as a couple and she was in all the important ways his equal or more…

    anyway, so who did they fear up so bad Jesus was killed, the money changers that want a society that is structured as a half and have not society, and a key psychological part of this is the acceptance of dominant/submissive relationship as the norm within most all our relationships, add that women seem to have a somewhat stronger spiritual connection, and the choice on who to suppress was easy…

    so your feminist types, they are still stuck in the need to be in a dysfunctional dominant/submissive competitive type of personal relationship, just, they want/demand to be the dominant this time…

  21. Without in anyway detracting from the single point of this post to highlight the problem of sexism in the church, for those – men or women – who wrestle with the hermeneutical side of things, Kenneth Hagin’s “The Woman Question” is the simplest, most concise treatment of the kinds of New Testament passages that Nathan cited in an earlier comment.

    https://www.christianbook.com/the-woman-question-kenneth-hagin/9780892764051/pd/64050

  22. I don’t understand…the Bible makes it very clear that women are to be treated a certain way and not speak etc. Why is there a question when your leaders are just following scripture that is written so clearly? That is Yahweh’s culture that he created and commanded you keep and he is everlasting so…shouldn’t sexism be adhered to? He commanded it. Very confusing…

  23. As a single female seminary graduate, who was in music ministry for 4 years prior to getting a degree in counseling, I’ve had many of these debates and conversations over the years. Some I’m happy to say, have resulted in fellow students rethinking their stance. The one thing that keeps eluding me is the logic of the stance against women in ministry.

    If women are more easily deceived and the “weaker” sex (in the physical sense maybe, I know I am), then why put us in positions of teaching and preaching to children, teens, and women? By their own argument, these are the most susceptible and vulnerable of anyone in the church. Impressionable and easily deceived. Why put one easily deceived person in charge of another? I’ve also been told I could go preach as a missionary overseas to anyone but not in an American church. So I cannot be trusted with adult males in the US, but I have all the freedom to screw up impressionable children, women, and people who may have never heard of Christ overseas! (Please excuse the dripping sarcasm). To me that speaks more of a lack of value for women, children, and those who don’t know Christ. They argue the OPPOSITE in fact, according to them, I’m entrusted to teach the gospel to the vulnerable and impressionable…praise God! That is actually high praise, women are prepping them to be strong men and women of God, solid in their faith, a pretty high calling.

    Isn’t logic what we use to defend the gospel? Apologetics? One of my favorite books, Case for Christ uses logic and reason to defend the historical basis for Christ. And even God blew conventional wisdom away by using women as the first witnesses to the resurrection. To make a story credible you would never have the first witnesses, in that era, be women! It took several men to validate their testimony. But now that very fact gives more credibility to the story.

    So many things in scripture make sense to me, logical sense…but the argument against women in ministry never has. And if we are to judge it by the fruit it produces, it fails there too because it perpetuates the curse of the fall, not the redemption of the cross.

    I’d be more than happy to hear an argument that made sense, but the ones I’ve heard do not result in conclusions that make sense in our current culture.

  24. Not trying to troll…but, I’m very passionate about this topic.
    I believe that some writers are disingenuous and or some readers can misinterpret things when writers are not specific about what they are talking about.

    I’m not sure the author, @michaelfrost6, knows what Daisy Cousens is talking about when she talks about “feminism.”
    When people like Daisy Cousens use the word “feminism”, they are talking about “third wave feminism” or “neo-feminism”. Whatever you want to call it is fine but, if @michaelfrost6 doesn’t even know that the left and it’s ideology in the US/Europe in the last decade has destroyed the “feminism” @michaelfrost6 thinks he is defending, he shouldn’t be writing an article about it.

    If @michaelfrost6 does indeed understand that Daisy Cousens is referring to 3rd wave feminism/neo-feminism/SJW’s then, @michaelfrost6 is very intellectually dishonest.

    Now, regarding his point that you people shouldn’t be sexist, I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY.

    I just do not want very poor writing OR intellectual dishonesty poisoning people’s minds.

    1. I’m aware that Daisy Cousens is referring to 3rd wave feminism. This blog is about the ways women have been treated in the church, not an analysis of Ms Cousens’ views. I’m simply using her view that the feminist agenda has been fulfilled to show how much more work there is for the church to do. I see nothing intellectually dishonest about that at all.

  25. Thanks Mike for this article and thank you for advocating for women. I don’t have a twitter account so I would like to make my contribution here: “You’ve got an impressive resume Lyn” and then (paraphrasing here) “I can’t employ you because you’re a woman and some in the congregation wouldn’t like it.” This was at Baptist church here in Sydney. Some years later after a short stint at a church I applied for a job at another church. I felt confident that I would get an interview since it was pretty much the same job as the one I had been doing. Oh no says my friend you won’t get a job there since the senior pastor won’t let women preach on Sunday. And sure enough I had missed the page on the website that said that women couldn’t preach to a mixed congregation but from time to time there were women only events where a women brought the message. Let me tell you that every time I receive my superannuation statement that I am reminded that I have been discriminated against because of my gender. And just in case we think that this is a church based phenomenon I would like to remind everyone that only last year figures were released that showed that women are still behind men in their average salary and women in top executive jobs had declined. In my neck of the woods in academia there are a a lot of changes going on with a shift to casualizing the workforce. There is a lot of anxiety on the part of female post-grads and younger academics that that will mean they will be facing a life time of constantly applying for short term posts, since as it stands there is an imbalance men filling senior permanent academic positions. And this is in a sector where it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of gender or ethnicity. I don’t think I would describe any of the young women I know as having an inferiority complex. There are some very real problems confronting young women in the new economic world of the flexible workplace. One would think that things would be different in the church where the very Scriptures are very clear that economic justice should be a concern for the people of God. If Bible colleges are willing to train women to the same educational standard as men, then where are the jobs for women with equal pay? Why is that men can go on to senior positions and receive an accompanying pay rate and housing and whatever a church can offer but where are these opportunities for women educated to the same degree? This seems immensely unjust to me. So perhaps Mr Wheeler and other people holding his view might like to stick their hands in their pockets and fund ministry positions for experienced and educated women? Because as I see it, God as he is revealed in the Bible is concerned about justice and his prime response to human beings is love. I find it difficult that Mr Wheeler is able to dismiss the struggles and hurts of hundreds of women based on what he thinks the Bible says. If Jesus sums up the law by saying that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God… and the second is like it “you shall love your neighbour as yourself”, how can Mr Wheeler dismiss the deep hurts and wounds of his fellow sisters in Christ and leaving them empty handed and say that this is what the Bible says? The good Samaritan took the beaten man seriously, he bound up his wounds and paid for his restoration. So where is this compassion for women, who in response to God have sought to serve and been insulted and dismissed, their gifts and training left to languish? Perhaps Mr Wheeler and others holding to his view might like to consider what it is like to have one’s wounds and concerns to be considered invalid. Thus unfortunately is the very thing that we are talking about- the systematic dismissal and unthinking response that belittles women and invalidates them as valuable people. If these broad theological brushstrokes fail to be convincing because the Bible says that women shouldn’t hold positions of leadership, let’s consider 1 Timothy briefly. Appropriate use of economic resources by Christians with wealth is a major concern in 1 Timothy (chapter 6). Let’s also notice that no woman is to be left without economic resources and honour (chapter 5). Perhaps we should spend time developing how this might like in your modern context. Further we might notice that the letter beings and ends with the command not to teach the other teaching. Central to this is the reiteration of this command and expansion on how it undermines the good teaching of Paul (ie the gospel) in chapter 4. This is the purpose of the letter. In between these poles are the positive commands, but Paul stops to tell the women in 1 Tim 2:12f not to teach or domineer their menfolk. In my view this must refer to this other teaching-like the men (we must take he likewise of verse 9 seriously- the women are doing what the men are doing (1 Tim 1:3-4)). But the end of these commands is love (1 Tim 1:5). And as I already pointed out love is the summary of the law. Is Paul’s command dismissing the personhood of the women in the church in Ephesus -no. He is guarding against the teaching that undermines the gospel and destroys love. So those who want to dismiss women’s experience based on ‘what the Bible says’ might like to consider their response in terms of love, which is the end of the command.

  26. When I gave birth, it was suggested that I should take some time off the Creative team. I don’t think anyone ever suggested that to the Creative Director when he had kids.

  27. I am the pastor’s wife of a village Baptist Church in England. Our congregation is small, but I lead our women’s ministry and our discipleship class (men included) and experience none of this. I’m praising God for helping me teach our Christian family how to accept leadership no matter what it looks like. However, thank you for standing up for those women who have been called by God to lead and are experiencing these attacks. Unfortunately it is Satan’s pleasure to see a house divided.

  28. Or there is the control freak minister who is so threatened by strong women in service/in the congregation that they maintain power by refusing to communicate with and involve the woman/women in necessary and appropriate planning or discussion for an activity or ministry.

  29. On top of everything, women are being accused of “feminizing the Church”, and driving men away. I wept after a sermon not long ago, because the sermon was so sexist. He said women were “all addicted to something” as per Titus II and that all women were good for was teaching the younger women how to respect their husbands. I give up. Honestly. I can worship alone in my house and worship the Lord in solitude.

    1. Please read 2 John.

      Women were leaders in gatherings of equal brothers and sisters in their homes.

      Not necessarily small homes and little gatherings.

      Elect lady ~ means presiding chief officeholder of the assembly. All women.

      This was the early church network Jesus ordained. This was Mary: the apostolic house mother of John and the rest. Meaning: lead officeholder as Deborah was Judge as a mother in Israel in her office.

      We see John the Beloved refer to Mary in her lead office ~ while speaking equally as a brother in the Lord as well.

      What “Paul’s presented was an opposing institutional sexist top down hierarchy opposite model. The false church.

      We can take note of the rise of the false institutional male domination discrimination sexist religious false church of the Pharisees through “Paul”.

      Who opposed Jesus the entire earthly ministry of Jesus as a Pharisee in Jerusalem.

      But it’s a choice whether to heed “Paul” or obey Jesus as John the Beloved, Mary, and the network of apostolic mother lead house church saints did.

  30. I’ve read through the entire comment section and just want to say “WHO CARES what sexist Christian men think or say?” At the end of the day God values and respects women more than even we do ourselves and we don’t have to marry snobs if we don’t want to! LOL. We have to remember that God is on our side and no weapon formed against us will prosper! I like to imagine all the men who try to ruin women’s lives with their self-pleasing ideas standing before God in the end and God saying “How could you do this to your other half?” That makes me laugh. The men that speak against a woman’s worth look like idiots to God. And quoting God’s scripture back to Him to make a woman seem weak? God sits on His throne and laughs at them. I want to say to every woman who is discouraged do not give up because if you have experienced sexism in church than we NEED you to share your experience to turn the tide. Run the race. Love y’all. That Nathan kid is a real piece of work

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