Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Posts tagged ‘women’

A Tale of Two Moms

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The other day I was talking with two mothers. We were all home schooling, and both mothers were new to it. As I recounted my life and experiences I noticed that each mother was reacting differently to everything I said. At the end of the conversation one mother exclaimed, ‘I know who I’m coming to with any questions!’ The other shrank away from my presence.

I’ve seen this reaction before. Moms who are not secure in what they are doing, and who dislike hearing that anyone is in a better place then they are. The irony is that years ago I was in the same place they were, and their results are likely to be just as good as mine are! I am just a little further down the road, and a lot more comfortable with what I am doing, because I have been there, done that, and seen the fruit of some of my work blossom into blessings for the children I taught- and they have not had that experience yet.

The problem is that we are trained, for the most part, by society to see life as a competition, and with that perspective we have trouble asking for help, or even utilizing the people God puts into our lives who are good for instructing others. The older cannot teach the younger if the younger are threatened and offended by the offer.

The woman who loved hearing that I had all of this experience is rare. And the irony is that I would love to help in any way I can, and now that mine are grown, and leaving the house at a rapid rate, I have the time (and energy- no more midnight feedings etc) to do so. I love this stage of my life, but it will all go to waste if the younger generation continues to belittle each other and make each other fear looking weak, or less than in comparison- especially when that comparison is the equivalent of comparing apples (an older mom) to oranges (someone still fresh and cheeky and ready to take on the world). And the irony is, in general, women love to talk, and especially reminisce about their children’s younger years!

I am the mom I am today thanks to a remarkable generation of older women. I went to their houses as a home care physical therapist, and gained mountains of insight and advice as we engaged in small talk about my children. Did I do everything they recommended? No. But I did learn a lot, and it is time for my generation to return the favor. Young moms, ask yourselves: Who you are allowing into your life to provide wisdom and insight that will make your life easier and more enjoyable in the end? (Pick some good ones!)

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‘Women Are Emotional’ -Biblically Debunked

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One of the fallacies perpetuated in the church is that women are emotional while men are not. While, in truth, this statement does more to deprive men from healthy emotional expression, it is also commonly used to put down and undermine women in the church. So let us look at scripture, as it pertains to emotion:

1. Women cry, men do not.

Men in scripture cry, a lot. And for many, many reasons. Being reunited with estranged relatives (Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers), for the death of loved ones (Jacob, Abraham), because people are speaking badly of him and life seems to be overwhelmingly (David), when their inheritance is lost (Esau), for the state of a nation (Jesus) and when they are in real danger or pain (Jesus, David). Weeping is not reserved for women, and there are more scriptural examples of men crying loudly about life’s injustices than we have of women doing the same.

Men Weeping In Scripture (usually loudly): Gen: 23:2, 27:38, 29:11, 33:4, 42:24, 45:2, Num. 14:1, Jdg 20:23, 1 Sam 20:41, 30:4, 2 Kings 8:11, Job 2:12, Is. 16:9, 33:7, 38:3, Jer. 9:1, Lam. 1:16, Hos. 12:4, Micah 1:8, Mal. 2:13, Mt. 26:75, Lk. 19:41, 22:62, Jn. 11:35, Acts 20:37, Rev. 5:4 (This is an abbreviated list.)

2. Women are easily deceived.

Although Eve was deceived, Adam sinned purposely and brought death into the world. Sinning on purpose is always worse than sinning because one was deceived, so it makes little sense that this is used as an argument for why men are more fit to lead. But deception in scripture is not limited to the female. Jacob, Isaac, Laban, multiple kings who believed Abraham or Isaac’s wife was their sister etc were also deceived. There are also lists for what to do when you realize you have sinned unintentionally. Being deceived is not limited to the female, nor are the majority of examples in scripture of people being deceived of women. Deception seems to be an equal opportunity problem. Perhaps this is why a man is to choose a wife who is wise and offers good counsel….

Examples of deception in the Bible: Paul Rom. 7:11, the church 2 Cor. 11:3, James 1:16, Eve 1 Tim. 2:14, Laban Gen. 31:20, Kings Gen 12:13, 26:7, Isaac Gen. 27:35

3. Women do not have the fortitude to lead.

There are many examples of women in scripture demonstrating leadership qualities and saving the day while the men were somewhat confused. Samson’s parents (Judges 13): The Lord speaks to Samson’s mother, not his father, first. When the Lord appears again, his wife takes him along to hear what He has to say. The husband then freaks out a bit, and his wife uses logic to reassure him that the Lord would not give them a prophecy then cause them to perish from being in his presence. There is also Deborah, who leads in battle when Barak is overwhelmed, the daughters who build the wall with Nehemiah while some elite men deem themselves to be too good for physical labor (Neh 3:12). Then there is the women who throws the millstone to save the city (Judges 9:53), as well as the one who has Sheba’s head over the wall (2 Sam. 20:22). The Queen of the South is also used as a witness to the wisdom of Solomon as a result of her testing (1 Kings 10:1, 2 Chron 9:1, Lk 11:31, Mt 12:42). Even Abraham was told by God to listen to his wife Sarah even though her wishes regarding Ishmael were in conflict with his (Gen. 21:12). (Sarah’s role as a parent becomes even more apparent when one realizes that Abraham had many sons, while Sarah had just the one. Gen 25:1-6) Women, good women, are typically portrayed in scripture as having wisdom, and making sound decisions that people respect and obey.

4. Women are nurturing, while men are less so.

God Himself uses feminine, nurturing adjectives to describe Himself. If Jesus Himself weeps and uses nurturing imagery to show Himself as a man who longs to gather His people to Himself, then a true man, walking in His footsteps should be able to do the same.

Paul too uses traditionally feminine imagery to describe himself and the others with him. (1 Thess 2:7 They were like nursing mothers.)

God as a nurturing mother: In labor Is. 42:14, Dt. 32:18, Suckling children Num 11:12, Is. 49: 14-15, comforts children Is 66:12-13, as a mother who births and protects Is. 46: 3-4, maternal Ps 131:2, Job 38:8, 29, Prov. 8:22-25, 1 Pet. 2:2-3, Acts 17:28, as a seamstress Neh 9:21, midwife Ps 22:9-10, 71:6, Is 66:9, as a mother bear robbed of her cubs Hos. 13:8, and a hen gathering her chicks Mt. 23:37

For more Biblical references to God exhibiting  traditionally feminine characteristics go to: http://clubs.calvin.edu/chimes/970418/o1041897.htm

5. A woman’s role is to teach other women and children.

There are more admonitions for men to teach their children than there are for women to do the same (though there are enough examples to prove that both are to instruct their offspring) and God states that on the new earth He will teach the children himself, indicating that teaching the children is the most important job there is (Is. 54:13). The Queen of Sheba tests a man, Solomon’s, wisdom, Priscilla co-teaches Apollo with her husband, Phoebe delivers the letter to the Romans and Julia is an apostle. The women are also the first to be charged with the message, ‘He is Risen.’ Women throughout scripture do more than work with children. They are a vital part of Jesus’ ministry, supporting the men financially (Lk 8:3). Women also run vineyards, work as shepherds, build cities, lead wars and make brave, quick decisions that lead to the defeat of the enemy (Judges 5:26). They also serve as leaders, prophets and have jobs at the Tent of Meeting (which seem to disappear after Eli’s sons rape them, not the women’s fault.) Women are more than capable of emotionally handling much more in life, and there are women in scripture for them to look up to as they do.

Further Jesus gathers the children to Himself, even though the disciples tell them to go away. Jesus, a single man, loves and is comfortable with kids. He also allows them to be present when He teaches (something not done during this time in history). Paul also has children he is close to who pray for him (Acts 21:5).

6. Men are stoic.

The psalms contain some of the best examples of worship and praise as well as examples of crying out loudly and emotionally to the Lord. And ironically, they were written by men, and many by a great warrior named David. He poured out his heart and soul in everything he wrote. Strong emotions resound, yet David is a man…

7. Women are better at relationships than men.

Many women do excel at relationships, but men in scripture are not lacking in this department. Isaac is caught caressing his wife in public, David and Jonathan are often used as an example of true friendship and the greatest love song ever written, The Song of Solomon, was written by a man. Men have relationship skills and, if allowed, may excel in this area as well.

8. Men are protective, while women are nurturing.

Except the Bible describes women as the protectors as well. It is the mama bear, robbed of her cubs who is fierce (Hosea 13:8) and God describing Himself as a mother who rescues you. (Is 46. 3-4) While men do feel a need to protect their young, it is not limited to the masculine.

Joke: A comedian once said, ‘Women traditionally have had no interest in auto-racing, but if you strapped a baby needing to be rescued to the pace car, no man in the world would be able catch up.’ Women too are protective.

9. Women are weak.

While men tend to possess more physical strength (though this differs on a case by case basis, and women tend to survive harsh conditions better so there is a trade off) the type of weakness attributed to women is often not a physical, but a psychological weakness. Again, referring to scripture, there seems to be more cases of men falling in the area of moral fortitude than women, especially when it comes to the female. Lust takes down more men in scripture than their female counterparts (though we do have Gomer…). It is therefore the male, not the female, who has much to learn in this area. But that is the point. We are to learn. We are to mature and overcome. Scripture is not about staying weak, but about becoming a mature, stable, capable human being. And this admonition to emotional maturity is not limited to the male.

So, men, as well as women, are to be fully emotionally equipped. But those emotions are to be handled maturely, and there are examples of mature men and women who showed both wisdom and self-control throughout scripture. To say that ‘women are emotional’ is to not address her need to mature out of petty things. To say that men are not emotional is to deprive a man of his right to express what he feels. Neither is good. Emotions, when handled appropriately, are a God-given gift that every member of the Trinity also possesses. To deny or belittle their place in the human experience is to be less than the image-bearer of God, and to deny that we are to love Him with all of our strength, mind, heart and soul. (Luke 10:27) Emotional maturity is therefore the goal for all Christians, male and female.

Hijacking the Bible

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Somewhere along the way the church, our church of which we are all part of the body, allowed scripture to be ‘hijacked.’ No longer was it wisdom for a way to live, but instead, in many congregations, it became a set of rules to bash people over the heads with. And many of the rules are so twisted they no longer make scriptural sense. Let me give you a sense of what I am referring to.

The Slippery Slope:
Today many will warn you to stay far away from people committing sinful behavior or you will surely fall. (This argument amuses successful people who have done much better in life than those who are issuing this warning without ever falling into the sins these people say their associations will surely lead to.) This is also not scriptural. Let’s use alcohol as an example. (Though you could also use some of the current arguments about men working too closely with women.) Jesus drank wine, and spoke to and ate with sinners. There are even times the Bible tells us we may drink (which are typically conveniently left out of the slippery slope argument) . There were also drunkards who existed during Biblical times, so their existence is not a call for abstinence. While we are not to tempt those who have issues in this area, nor are we to put others in danger by driving after we have had something to drink, complete prohibition is not Biblical, nor is it a sound argument. What prohibition leads to is a separation of Christian from non-Christian that more resembles the rules of the Pharisees than it does the behavior of our Savior. But people continue to use this argument to keep Christians from witnessing in bars, on the streets and in other places where people are obviously in need and could use a loving Savior, as well as a loving relationship with a caring human being.
What is a sound is that we are to live joyfully, and help those who are falling. Unless we have a weakness in the area they are failing in, we are to get close. We are to help, not avoid the person in trouble. We are to be like a brother and help them out of whatever sin is destroying their lives (which may mean that at times we give up our rights in order to not tempt their weakness, as Paul gave up meat). And we are to continue helping as long as they keep repenting. Sure, there are times the Bible tells you to avoid someone, but these times are when they are rebellious and stubborn in their sin. When they want help, as messy as it may be, we are there for them.
Real life: Our church has a women’s group that goes to the strip clubs. The women bring presents and get to know the employees. At first it was weird, but now the staff loves them as much as the women love the staff and lives are being changed. No good Christian woman has been tempted to get on a pole, and the men of the church have an added reason for not showing up; their wife’s friends might be there!

Avoid the Appearance of Evil:
Surely we are not to pretend we are doing wrong in order to appease the crowd and avoid confrontation, but today this phrase is commonly used to mean a bit more than that. People who commonly use this phrase seemingly forget that Jesus was accused of being a drunkard, because, unlike John the Baptist, He drank alcohol, and He explained to the crowd that there was no pleasing them. If He abstained like John they would accuse Him of having a demon, if He did not abstain, they accuse Him of being a sinner. (Mt. 11:18-19) Most of the time, when people are told to avoid the appearance of evil, this is choice they have: Either they are not to fit in with common culture, and alienate the sinner who is seeking Christ, or they risk being called a sinner by those in the church. Does this mean you must drink or engage in other things that become vices when done in excess? No. John the Baptist was clearly correct in not drinking because that was the life God called him to live, but it is not everyone’s call, and we must be sensitive to that truth.

There are No Grey Areas:
There are many, many grey areas discussed in scripture. There are times when something is right to do, and times when it is clearly wrong. Here are a few examples:
David and his men were given the bread of presence, which is reserved for the priests alone to eat and they did not sin. (Mk. 2:25-26)
Aaron’s sons were smote for not following God’s commands regarding the incense at the Tabernacle, yet Aaron’s other sons were shown mercy when they did not obey the rules regarding the meat. Why? Because one set of brothers was rebellious while the others were trying to be humble. Motives matter. (Lev. 10:1-2, 16-20)
God does not punish the women when they become prostitutes because the culture of the time has pushed them into it. (Hosea 4:14)
Samuel is instructed by God to not tell the whole truth about his trip to Bethlehem. (1 Sam 16:2-3) Rahab and the midwives who save the Hebrew babies are also praised and rewarded for their lies. (It seems the scriptural admonitions about lying are do not do it unless someone is trying to kill someone and then you may mislead them.)

No Foul Language or Name Calling:
The Bible is full of not-so-nice language. Why do we not see it? Because most translations clean it up to conform with today’s Christian Correct standards. Here are a few examples:
In Philippians 3:8 what Paul considers ‘garbage’ or ‘rubbish’ should actually be translated as ‘excrement.’
The ‘filthy rags’ in Isaiah 64:6 are used menstrual rags.
God will smear people’s faces with ‘dung’ in Malachi 2:3 for what they have done.
Jesus and others call the legalists of the time ‘white-washed tombs,’ ‘broods of vipers (demons),’ and told them that their true father was the devil (John 8:44). I’m sure they enjoyed that….
So while we are to avoid being crude for the sake of crudeness or merely to injure another, it does seem that using strong language is appropriate at some times in scripture.

The Rules Are The Rules:
Isaiah 28:9-10 ” “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that [fn]; a little here, a little there.”
Mature Christians are to rely on wisdom and understanding, not strict rules that say do this/ don’t do that. Further, the weak are those who need extra rules and restrictions. So while those who are mature are to avoid doing things that are permissible in order to not cause the weak to stumble, it is the weak who need the rules who are the less mature, indicating they are not to be the ones in charge. (1 Cor. 8)

Men and Women Must Maintain a Proper Distance:
In the New Testament Jesus had female followers who supported His ministry and whom He called disciples. (Mt. 12:49, Acts 9:36) He ate at their houses and allowed a woman to dry His feet with her hair (a very inappropriate thing to do at the time). He also spoke to women in public (also extremely risqué behavior for a man). Paul had many close co-workers who were female, and John wrote a very personal letter to a woman in 2 John. Prophets also stayed in widows (no men in the homes) houses, some of whom were young enough to have dependent children living with them.
The scriptural admonitions are not to sleep with the women, and if you are tempted, to maintain a distance because you are weak. But only the weak need these rules. In society today doctors, police and firemen deal with naked women as part of their job, and we expect them to be appropriate. Men can obviously obtain a level of maturity necessary to do this, and it is sad that many in our churches teach that they can’t.

Women Cannot Lead:
The issues with many churches current views on women are numerous, but let us examine a few of the whopping lies that are out there:
Women cannot be in charge of men, yet Deborah was in charge of Israel, Samson’s mother and Rebekah were given prophecy from God even though their godly husbands were around (and Samson’s father wanted to learn more. Judges 13) Abraham is told to listen to Sarah regarding what to do with Ishmael even though Sarah’s wishes are in conflict with his. (Gen 21:12) Women supported Jesus’ ministry financially (Lk 8:3), and were the first to proclaim that He is risen.
Women are also not perfectly suited to housework according to scripture. The Proverbs 31 woman has servants for that and works outside the home, even to the point of managing a vineyard, which we can assume has males working which she must supervise. She is a wealthy woman in her own right and she is to be praised. Sheerah too is credited with being a working woman, building at least three cities that stood for many, many years. (1 Chron. 7:24) Women helped rebuild the wall during Nehemiah’s time (when the elite men would not)(Neh. 3:12), were assigned jobs at the Tent of Meeting (Ex 38:8, 1 Sam 2:22), and many were shepherdesses (not a safe, or dainty profession).
Men too get the shaft in these teachings when they are told they are not nurturing and are to be less emotional. (Have you seen how many times men cry in scripture! ) Instead what we see in scripture is that men are to be highly involved in the rearing of their children, and that even God chooses female imagery to describe Himself.(Is. 66:13, Mt. 23:37) The line between what is male and what is female is not as finely drawn as we are sometimes led to believe, cheating the man out of activities that build a strong relationship with His children. (Further, the teaching of children is something God will do when the earth is renewed, making it the most important job in the church! Is. 54:13)

We Are the Moral Police of the World:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 tells us that we are not to judge those outside the church. Why? Because they are not followers of Christ and therefore we should expect them to sin! Instead our focus should be on cleaning up the problems within the church, and probably not the ones you are thinking of. Among those we are not to give the Christian name to are: the sexually immoral- with an emphasis in other places on those who do not care for their families (1 Tim. 5:8), the greedy, the slanderer (so many Christians spend so much time putting down other people for how bad they are this would clean out the church!), the unrepentant alcoholic and the swindler (those who use Christ to gain money? Living off the church in ways that are not quite right…). This is not to say that we do not try to help these people before we stop calling them ‘brother in Christ,’ (Matthew 18: 15-17- the three strike law- is still in effect.) but we do not allow our church to become a cloister for mean people who do not treat others well. The church, like Israel, is to be a beacon to those who are lost showing them that there is a better way to live, and it involves a relationship with a God who loves us. How can we do that if our relationships with others in the church suck?
Instead many churches focus on the sins of the world. Who cares what the world is doing? What matters scripturally is what we are doing. Was there any class of sinner Christ refused to forgive? (No.) Then our mission outside the church is to show people Christ’s love in the same non-judgmental way He did. He ate with sinners, conversed with prostitutes etc. (But today we put down those who try to preach in bars and do not lovingly accept the immodestly dressed woman into our midst when she shows up on Sunday.) What He did not do is call the overly religious, legalistic people of His time His followers. Today too many in the church spend much of their time complaining about how bad the sinners are, and not enough time figuring out how to love them and help them into a relationship where a powerful Holy Spirit can do more for them than rude remark or disdainful look ever will. So WWJD? Judgmental attitudes and nasty labels were for the religious who thought they were better than everyone else; let’s follow His example.

But we keep putting legalists in charge (where they admittedly like to be) even though the Bible tells us not to…
The mature in the church, the ones to be called ‘elders’ and have positions, are to be respected in the community. They are not to be the weak, who need extra rules, but those who have shown wisdom (including mercy) in doing justice. These are not to be new believers, yet many times that is exactly who we put in charge. Like the Jewish people in Jesus’ day, the legalists are the ones we look up to and revere. This is not to be so. Let us do a better job, putting people who have gained wisdom are respect into position, and let us stop beating each other up with what people suppose is the Word, but truly is not.

Real Men Treat Women With Respect

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN8ujidL9kk

Have you seen the video from the students in Oregon? If not, check it out- it’s short, and I’ll wait.

It makes me wonder…

I wonder what is being modeled in the home. How is dad treating mom when she is ill. Is there a dad? Is mom picking men who treat her like trash and bringing them home? What is the disconnect? This behavior should be instinctual by the time you’re old enough to drive. Why isn’t it? What tells a teen that they are free to take advantage of another human being in our society?

Twitter posts from teachers show that this is not isolated thinking. We are doing something wrong. It’s time to do something right. Kudos to the students that are working to reverse this this trend.

Outside the Camp

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I have never viewed being ‘outside the camp’ once a month in the desert as a bad thing.

It always looks like a glorious week off!

No children (except maybe the one you are currently breastfeeding), no chores, no responsibilities save taking care of yourself.

A monthly week off to visit with friends. To relax. To enjoy the company of other women and refresh. To be without the demands of everyday living.

And then to come back, having missed those you love, appreciating them so much more and ready to do what needs to be done with renewed vigor.

I have always viewed Sunday as a day of work. Children to be gotten ready, Sunday school to teach, music to be learned hurriedly before service, and a schedule that is completely out of synch with the rest of the week, that inevitably puts small children off kilter.

The anticipation of ‘rest’ and the reality of chaos.

The Sabbath is not a rest for a young mother. And I doubt it was much different in the desert. Children’s needs do not go away for a day.

In my mind, God ‘redeemed’ the working Sabbaths by giving young mothers a week away. And I was a little jealous of them.

Photo by Matija Barrett, effects by Kristin Andraka

Why Do We Keep Separating the Men from the Women?


After a particularly great men’s conference, one of my male friends made the following statement. He said, ‘I wish my daughter had been there. I want her to know what kind of man she is to look for, and this speaker made it so clear.’

He has a point. A good one. Why should the other gender not know what the church is saying to their spouse (literal or potential)? Would the men have more of an incentive to be a wonderful man of God if they knew the women had heard the message as well, and were holding them accountable? Would the young girls choose more wisely, and thus motivate the boys to be better husbands, if they had heard what a mature man believes all men could and should be? Why do we keep separating the sexes?

The Pharisee-controlled society of Jesus’ day separated them; but the early church did not. Women supported Jesus’ ministry and sat at His feet to learn. Women were in the Upper Room, and told of the empty tomb. Women ministered with Paul and one taught Apollo along side her husband. With so many examples of the sexes together, why the over-fascination with splitting them up?

The sad truth is that more women probably watched the movie Courageous than men. More women currently attend Bible studies and have daily devotional time. More women work in the church. More women are told that they have to remain pure, but cannot expect this of their future husband. More women settle for men who are not what they should be, and then try to change them once they are married. More women are leading the homes because the man is absent, physically, or emotionally. Our notion of separate, but equal does not work. Men and women are to become one, not separate entities who split the work according to gender roles that make little sense now that there are modern conveniences and the children go off to school. And even if you choose to teach them that way, shouldn’t the other sex know what they can expect?

And our women’s groups seem to be compensating by throwing tea parties and dumbing-down the curriculum choices. Where one could once get fed deeply, a woman is more likely to be required to dress up like a princess at a pre-school party and asked ‘non-judgmental’ questions that have no right answer, rather than examine what the truth is according to God’s Word. Would this occur if the men were invited?

I am tired of women’s conferences that have no meat! (Literally and figuratively- have you seen the menus? Which begs the question: Who decided BBQ and wings were only for men? And how did I miss that meeting?!)

I want my daughters to know what a true man of God should look like, and I want people to stop implying that ‘real men can’t help themselves’ as a motivation to keep them modest. I want the men to stand up and protest any time it is implied that they are animal-like slaves to their hormones, because they don’t want their girls picking a man who is. Sure, modesty is good. But a real man throws his coat over the naked girl and saves her from the burning building without a second glance. He does not ogle her and then blame her for whatever wrong thing he does next.

I also want my sons to know that the good girls make the best wives and that they have no chance of getting them if they are not behaving themselves. I want them to understand that purity is for before marriage, and that girls can and do make the change. False teachings cannot be corrected when one side has no ability to say, ‘That is definitely not true’ and discuss it. Men and women’s roles in today’s society continue to be different- that much is true. But society is changing rapidly and the answer to how we keep up and remain godly lies in communication, not private lectures that are soon forgotten, and occasionally focus on an ideal that could only be achieved in the 1950s or before. Let’s stop playing around and get real.

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