Leadership 101

I try to keep away from these Black Hole discussions that start with “Can Christians drink alcohol?” or “Does the church need female leadership?”, I try, but sometimes when I’m scrolling down the newsfeed my eye gets snagged. 

“Many women,” (I read), “possess the moral and spiritual qualities of leadership, but because they are women they lack the biological quality for leading.”

Take your time unpacking that one, you’ll need it. 

Farther down someone had written: “Even men aren’t authoritarian enough to be good leaders”. Ah, and there’s the problem right there. The idea that leadership in the kingdom of God is about being in charge.

You would think that our Lord had made it clear enough that it wasn’t, by a far cry. He did tell the disciples pretty plainly that amongst his followers, leadership was not to be as it was among the worldlings – an exercise of authority. It was to be an exercise of service and giving. 

And that’s an exercise that ALL members of the Body of Christ are called to.

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Biblical Submission

“[A woman] is to obey her husband as if he were God Himself. She can be as certain of God’s will when her husband speaks as if God had spoken audibly from Heaven.”[1]

And thus,

“[She has] freedom from having to take the consequences of making decisions.”[2]

This, according to Elizabeth Rice Handford (author of the “classic resource”[3], Me? Obey Him?) is what submission looks like.

The true biblical definition of submission is neither “obedience” nor “exemption from accountability”. Biblical submission does not shape wards, subordinates or dependents. It is not the opposite of strength, competence and maturity. Rather, it is “serving one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13) and “in humility valuing others above ourselves” (Phil. 2:3), and it is a way of living we are ALL called to, regardless of gender or marital status.

[1] Elizabeth Rice Handford, Me? Obey Him?, p. 34
[2] Elizabeth Rice Handford, Me? Obey Him?, p. 67
[3] Typical example of conservative evangelical praise for this book: https://www.thebereancall.org/content/me-obey-him

Protect His Sheep: An Open Letter to New Testament Assemblies

This letter was sent out last week by the directors of the Galilee Program to all the listed assemblies (“Plymouth Brethren“) in North America. It is a call to identify and address the problem of child abuse (sexual, physical and emotional) in our church circles.

This problem, as the authors state, is not limited to a few isolated cases, but is much more prevalent than we realize. Its seriousness has been greatly underestimated and the response has been inadequate.

It is my personal persuasion that this problem is directly fueled by supposedly “Biblical” teaching on child-rearing and by supposedly “Biblical” teaching on authority, and that the problem is by no means limited to children but encompasses women as well. Sexual abuse and domestic violence are a terrible, present problem in our church circles. It is HIGH TIME they were addressed.

The website Protect His Sheep, linked below, contains the letter and helpful resources. May I encourage you to read and share.

LINK: Protect His Sheep

The Model Wife

I like listening to music on a Christian radio station while I’m driving, but they do throw in the occasional pep talk as part of the bargain.  One day the hosts were talking about a friend who was having marriage difficulties. Apparently her husband was behaving in a hurtful way and she didn’t know how to handle the situation. Their advice?

“Your husband is your spiritual covering. You need to be his follower. If something is bothering you, simply pray about it. If he needs to change, God will take care of it.”

I could not help but think of Sapphira’s story. A woman who followed her husband’s lead, supported him loyally and, if she had any misgivings about his decisions, she left them all in the Lord’s hands. The model wife.Christ-Husband-Wife-Covering-Umbrella-200x300

Which is why the Lord praised her and gave her to us as an example to follow.

Oh wait, except that’s not how the story went.

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. | Acts 5:9-10

How embarrassing for the spiritual covering theorists.

This is the thing: if your husband is being a brat, he needs a true friend (Proverbs 27:6) not a groupie. If he is doing something wrong (which includes wronging you, or your children), you don’t get spiritual points for keeping quiet.

It’s a mistake to confuse humility with servility, or gentleness with weakness. The model wife has an opinion and a voice, and she does not act the part of a subordinate (because marriage is not a chain-of-command, and domineering is disrespectful behavior which should not be a feature in any relationship). These are qualities that make her a worthy companion.

We really need to find healthier, saner, more practical and more biblical marriage advice to offer. Here are a few things I came up with:

  • Be honest with your husband because relationships are built on communication.
  • Pampering someone’s ego is not respectful or loving.
  • Remember that although you are a team, you are also two individual people responsible before God. There is no such thing as someone acting as a “covering” for you, or standing in front of you before God.
  • Praying about situations is vital but it does not replace actual relationship work.

We Should All Be Feminists

I have two small daughters and they both covet the position of class monitor and the power it confers. Fortunately, gender is not a deterrent in their school. That’s not the way it’s always been though.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells her own experience in the following excerpt from her essay We Should All Be Feminists (with which I aspire to hook you and get you to read whole, something you can do in about half an hour). Continue reading “We Should All Be Feminists”