Hey, look at that! The Pesky Umbrella Graphic got an upgrade!!! Well, it may have brighter colors and a few changes in the wording, but hey, guess what?
It’s still missing the mark.
Before I jump into all of that, though, let’s recap:
- The intro: His Banner Over Me is Love (AKA, “I am NEVER on the bottom of the totem pole”)
- Part 2: “Married/Single: There’s a Place for You“
- Part 3: “This is a Man’s World“
And after weeks (maybe months) of sitting on it, I think I’m finally ready to write the part of this series that’s the most difficult to me: “Redefining the Role of a Woman.”
I want to state again very clearly before I tackle this topic that I am NOT a feminist. You won’t find me wearing a “P” hat, burning my bra and screaming about the patriarchy (okay, you MIGHT find me burning my bra, let’s be real here). You will find me, however, more than willing to engage in discussions about respect and expectations, and I think that’s really at the crux of it all. People want to be respected, and treated well. No one wants to be treated as “less than” for any reason, especially if it’s because of facts that are out of their control. I recently blogged about why I’m grateful for Title IX training in my place of work, and why I think Christians have failed in getting and staying educated in such matters. Sexual harassment and improprieties stem from an overall lack of respect for another individual (& from an overdeveloped sense of entitlement & lack of humility). Last January, I blogged about hoping for a day when we rise up and instead of saying, #MeToo, we say, #IAm. What if we went from being victims and from being victimized, to being a people that are aware of the great Love with which we are created? A people that recognize that greatness in each other, and respect it? It would be the death of the #TimesUp movement, because the time for improprieties and inappropriate behaviors would TRULY be “Up.”
More than just respect, however, comes a need for people to seek God and ask Him the question, “Who do You say I am?” When we start…just to start…to ask Him that question and wrap our heads and our hearts around His response, we find ourselves shell-shocked by GRACE.
A leader in our Church told us we needed to ask God that question a few weeks ago. Since he made that statement, there has been a seismic shift in our church body that we’re all reeling from. We’re all processing, and a lot of people have been deeply wounded by the actions of another…yet in the midst of that, the question remains: “We are wounded. We’re bloody on the battlefield, God, but who do You say we are?”
He looks back at all of us, and His answer is the same: “You Are My Beloved.”
His banner over us as a corporate body, and as individual people, is still, in the midst of it all, Love.
When we look at each other the way HE looks at us, what choice do we have but to treat each other with grace and forgiveness? With love and respect? And in that treatment, where is there room for inequality or hierarchies?
I’m not a feminist. I’m an equalist. We are different in our roles and our responsibilities, but we are not worth more or higher than another. The only One that’s above any of us is Jesus. He’s the only One Who is worthy!
When we look at this Pesky Umbrella Graphic, it really does defy logic. It doesn’t make any sense!! WHAT’S HOLDING UP THE UMBRELLA, PEOPLE?!? It requires a central line and support pieces. What’s that supposed to be, in this graphic? IT’S NOT DEFINED. Whoops. There’s an artist somewhere who’d flat-out failed.
When I wrote the blog on them role of the husband in the household, I didn’t have the updated version of the Pesky Umbrella Graphic (the PUG) to work off of. I am not going to tackle the role of children in thein the household at this time; that may come later. For now, I am sticking to husbands & wives.
For the man, it states that role of the husband is to:
- To Protect the Family
- To Provide for the Family
- To Lead the Family.
That’s similar enough to the older version of the PUG that I’m not going to recap it for the sake of comparison. You can check out the link that’s listed above if you want the breakdown. I’m focusing on women in this blog.
The PUG graphic is basing itself on Ephesians 5. The older version of the PUG states that the role of a woman is:
- To Be a Helper to the Husband
- Raise Godly Children
- Submit to Husband’s Authority
The newer version of the PUG states that the role of the woman is:
- To Comfort
- To Teach
- To Nurture
I have to say, the older version of the PUG makes the hair on my arms stand up, and in fact, by omission, so does the newer version. This kind of thinking–this hierarchical system–is what belittles women and devalues their contributions to the household. It creates a system that opens doors to abuse and to second-guessing the unique roles that God designed us as women to take on.
I did a lot of thinking and questioning regarding this topic. I mean, the Word is the Word, right?
Ephesians 5–let’s take a look at it, because it’s really what this whole hierarchical system comes from:
21 Honor Christ and put others first. 22 A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord. 23 A husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head and the Savior of the church, which is his own body. 24 Wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first.
25 A husband should love his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26 He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water. 27 Christ did this, so that he would have a glorious and holy church, without faults or spots or wrinkles or any other flaws.
28 In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows that he loves himself. 29 None of us hate our own bodies. We provide for them and take good care of them, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are each part of his body. 31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother to get married, and he becomes like one person with his wife.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I understand it to mean Christ and his church. 33 So each husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself, and each wife should respect her husband.
I can’t, and I won’t, argue with the Word of God. My issues are not with what the Bible says. My issue is how it’s been interpreted, and how that interpretation has been twisted to manipulate women in particular. I want to be very, VERY clear, once again, that I AM NOT ARGUING WITH THE WORD OF GOD. Even when it uses words that rankle me in today’s retaliatory feminist construct, I’m not disputing it. I’m disputing the misinterpretation. Women were NEVER meant to be on the bottom of anyone’s list. Period.
The old PUG states that we are to “be a helper” to our husband, while the new PUG says we’re to be a “comfort.” I am not going to deny that we have a job to be a helper to our husband….but we share that responsibility. He is our helper, we are his helper. We are co-helpmates. It may be something as simple as, “I’m going to load the dishwasher; you can put the dishes away,” or something as complex as, “I’m confused as to my role in the church and I don’t understand what God is doing right now; would you listen to me and help me sort this out and get some focus?” When you have a relationship where there are medical issues, where you can’t keep up with what you need to get done, your spouse has to jump in and help you. Marriage is not about one person leaning on the other all of the time. Marriage is about two people leaning on Jesus, and working together for His common goal, whatever that looks like. It’s not co-dependent; it’s two independent people recognizing their weaknesses and learning the strengths that God put in the other to make the family work together for His purposes!
To be honest, I’m not as bothered by the new PUG stating that it’s our role to be a “comfort” as I am by the old PUG stating that it’s our job to be “a helper,” because I can see how one would assume that we as women take on that role of being a “comforter.” I get it, even though I know it doesn’t apply to all (having a uterus does not mean one is automatically a naturally-comforting person). I’m more bothered at the inequality of the old PUG stating ONLY for the women, is it a job to be a helper. Genesis 2:18 states that from the very beginning of Creation, God recognized that Man was not meant to be alone, and that he needed a helper “fit” for him. We’re designed to work together. One piece of a puzzle does not paint a picture; it takes pieces fitting together to make the whole scene come to life!
The second part of the PUG states that the role for women is to “raise the children,” or in the new PUG, “to teach.”
Please allow me a second to get up on my soapbox, & turn up my microphone so I can Bless God’s People.
It is NOT the role of the woman to raise the children all by herself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (how many exclamation points can I add without it becoming obnoxious?)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This goes back to the blog about the role of a man, and the things I said about the cyclical treatment of women by men, and of men by women.
We love our spouses. We set the example. We teach inherent sexism by making it out as though only one gender can be responsible for certain things in the household. By saying that women are responsible for raising the children, we strip men of their contributions and their value in the parenting process, thus teaching our boys how to be absentee/uninvolved dads, and our daughters to never learn to respect and value a man’s worth in the home outside of his wallet.
I married a man who is an EXCELLENT father to our son. He does it without pause or resentment; never once have I heard him say, “You do it, that’s a woman-thing”. He loves that little boy with his entire heart, & he’s proud to be for him what he didn’t have in his own life. We each contribute toward the raising of our child, for better or for worse. We don’t always succeed, but we’re trying, and we’re doing it as a joint effort.
If the role of a woman is to be a comfort, and thereby, set the stage for a child’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, than that reiterates that a father & his relationship with his child sets the stage for that child’s relationship with God the Father.
It is NOT the job of a woman alone to teach their child.
We teach our children by how we treat each other, together, and by how we individually treat them in their role in our household.
The link above is to a blog that a man wrote in the Washington Post about the whole, “It’s not babysitting if it’s your kid” movement.
This picture infuriates me. Two people create a child. Two. Society has allowed women to take on the roles of both mother and father, and women have succeeded. We CAN do it all…but it’s at a tremendous sacrifice, and a very, very high price. It’s not the way it was designed to be. God made us to be together to raise our children…and two people can be together in a household, but only one who will raise the child. It’s a terrible imbalance that has spiritual, physical, and mental consequences.
Single mothers are amazing, strong, ferocious women that have taken on the collective responsibilities of the household. They’re the spiritual, physical, and financial leaders of their houses, and THEY ARE EXHAUSTED. But THEY. DON’T. STOP.
Because they can’t.
And in caring for their children to the best of their abilities, they sacrifice so much of their hearts and minds, only for the Church to come in and constantly remind them of why they’re just not good enough.
The Church is designed to be a supply house, both physically and spiritually, for the widow and the orphan, and women that are single parents are women that have been abandoned by their helpmate (or have had to abandon their helpmate), so I believe they more than qualify. We’re to be a place of open hearts and arms for these women, yet far too often, all we are is a house of judgement. That’s junk, and we’ve missed the mark. We need to support single mothers in such a way that they are spiritually sustained to fill both roles of leadership in their household, not to drain them by pharisaical false theology.
There was a set of books that were so popular in the 90’s & early 2000’s, called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The book was a broad-spectrum definer of why women and men think in such different ways from each other, and I find myself referencing it when I can’t figure out the Why in David’s DO. In the book, women are considered to be the broad-spectrum thinkers, where men are the ones with a singular focus. We branch out, while they go in for the on-site kill. They’re the hunters, we’re the gatherers–caveman stuff. I see these differences in my husband and I, to perfectly answer the book’s stereotypes (and I’m normally not a huge fan of stereotypes). 🙂 I will converse about an issue for DAYS. David will make his point once, and be done with it (and be frustrated with me, because I’M NOT FINISHED!!!!!). He will go to the grocery store and get milk and bread, while I will go in and get $200 worth of food for the month, without a list, but with an entire calendar in hand. Neither of us is wrong–we both needed groceries. He’s just got a completely different way of thinking than I do, but it still works. Again, we are made to fit together, to help each other, & to balance each other. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) our different ways of thinking frustrate us to no end, but it’s all part of the process of coming together as a team.
Single mothers have to have both sets of brains–they have to be both the hunter and the gatherer, the person of a single focus, but also the broad-spectrum thinker. That kind of duality is exhausting. The Church should be an oasis to challenge the spirit, but to also allow the mind to rest. The single mother should find no greater refuge than the church, and no greater resource to help her find her value as a woman, than in the church.
The third part of the PUG states that our role as women is to “submit to the husband’s authority” in the old graphic, or to “nurture” in the new graphic. Um…okay…..here we go….
When you nurture a plant, you feed it, you water it, you give it sunlight, and you give it the tools it needs to be healthy. “Nurture” is one of those words that evokes mental images of softness and of comfort, words that are not typically associated with men. We think of a mother nurturing their child from the womb and throughout life; our very physical body was made to nurture our children…but we weren’t made to do it alone. Mothers and Fathers work together to create a nurturing environment for their children. We need both the softness and the encouragement, as well as the firmness and the defined boundaries. I don’t think that just a mother, or just a father, should be one of those things at all times. I will say that in both of these graphics, giving the “duties” of nurturing to the woman makes the most sense to me, and it’s the least-irritating concept under the umbrella (ella. Ella. A. A. A.). I get that. It works. I’m not mad at it. The biggest, baddest, most aggravating concept on this entire umbrella (besides the fact that the old graphic puts women at the bottom of the patriarchal totem pole) is that word, “SUBMIT.”
When I hear the words, “submit!” I always hear it with an exclamation point, followed by an internal gif of an old white guy banging a judge’s gavel. The word “submission” has such a negative context; it’s because it’s been abused and misused so badly. I think it’s a word that’s been destroyed in the wake of misappropriation, and as Christians, we need to correct our interpretation and pull it back from this dictatorship-mentality that we have. If my entire series of redefining the Christian family does one thing, my hope is that it succeeds in changing perspectives on the word, “submit.”
Submission was never meant to be taken as a boot on the chest of women, holding us down or stripping us of our will. It was never meant as a constricting thing, never meant to confine us or to force us to do anything we didn’t have a desire to do or to be a part of. Submission is not abuse.
Say it again for the people in the back of the room: SUBMISSION IS NOT ABUSE.
We are not dogs, that we should roll over and expose our weaknesses for men to exploit. We are not victims, and they are not our captors.
We are not weak, that we should be parasites off of the strength of men because we lack the capacity to do it ourselves.
We are not at their beck and call, either in the boardroom or the bedroom, and we are not “less than.”
Back to Ephesians 5:24–“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husband as you do to the Lord.”
And there it is….”as you do to the Lord.”
There is quite a bit of instruction in this chapter; Paul runs through a list that’s pretty long:
- Do imitate God
- Do walk in love (some translations say, “Let Love be your Guide.” I like that.)
- Don’t be perverted or inappropriate
- Do give thanks.
- Don’t be deceived
- Do learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
- Do not participate in shady deals, but instead, expose them.
- Do make the most of your time, and walk in integrity.
- Do seek God’s Will
- Don’t waste time by being drunks
- Do be filled with the Holy Spirit and focus on worship
- Do submit to one another
- Wives, submit to husbands as you do unto the Lord
- Husbands, love your wives
- Church, submit to Christ
- Wives, respect your husbands
Of course, you can get super-exegetical and break all of this down, but that’s a volume. I’m focusing on those last 5 things. I can break down this section verse-by-verse and tell you the ways it’s been used to malign women. I think every one of us can think of a way that women have been shamed by the concept of submission. I think we can all see ways these verses have been misinterpreted….but look at the verses through the filter of that opening line. “Let Love be your guide.”
Working in optometry, I’ve learned the huge change that can come over someone when they get a properly-measured pair of eyeglasses. The entire world changes!
We’re to look at the world through the love of Jesus. We’re to read the Bible through lenses of the Love of Jesus–not through lenses that are clouded by misinterpretations and oppression. When we as women read these verses in particular, we need to stop and put on those lenses of the love of the Lord. We need to read them as though He were saying them to us, to our face. How would Jesus speak these things to us?
As women, we have a responsibility to seek Jesus first and foremost. We have a responsibility to establish that relationship on our own, before we go looking to another to establish it for us. Our relationship with our husband should strengthen our relationship with Jesus, but our relationship with Him cannot be dependent on our relationship with him. Get it?
If only we could undo 2,000 years of negative connotations for that word…
When you love Jesus, you trust Him. And when you trust Him, you allow Him to direct your life. That’s submission. That’s what He wants.
He doesn’t want to bruise us, or to crush our spirits. Jesus wants the absolute best for us, which doesn’t always line up to what WE think is His best, so we have to submit our will to His. It can be a difficult process, but it’s SO worth it in the end!
Our husbands have a responsibility to love Jesus, first and foremost. They’re human; they’re flawed, and they fail. It doesn’t say they have to be perfect. They just have to maintain that heart that remains focused on Him. When they do that, they exhibit His character. When WE do that as women, WE exhibit His character.
We move in harmony with the will of God when we’re both focused on serving Him.
When we love Jesus, and we love each other, we each want God’s absolute best for the other person. We are willing to humble ourselves and to seek God’s will; we put our own egos aside and we go before God as a unified household. My husband is to love me as Christ loves the Church–that’s that Song of Solomon love, that love that goes before us and behind us. That’s the love that declares to the enemy that I am his, and he is mine, and you won’t come against our marriage or our household.
It isn’t easy for me to submit, & I can’t do it on my own. It’s not easy for me to say that word. I don’t like that word–“I am Woman, hear me roar!!–but submission is not a sign of weakness or failure.
Submission doesn’t mean that I go blindly, or that I haven’t put up an argument or asked my husband to explain himself. I’m not expected to acquiesce in obsequiousness. I’m not a blow-up doll, and God didn’t create us as women to be such. GOD MADE US AS WOMEN IN HIS IMAGE, and He loves how we think and work and function!!!! He made us to communicate the way we communicate, with reason and with intelligence for a PURPOSE! He thinks our brains are beautiful, and He loves us! He doesn’t expect us to suppress that in marriage—He expects it to improve as “iron sharpening iron!!!!!!” (Have you ever seen iron sharpen iron? It’s a really messy process.)!
It doesn’t mean that he disrespects me and doesn’t hear me out. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t miss the mark (or that I don’t miss the mark). It does mean, though, that there is grace.
Submission takes respect, grace, prayer, and support, from both parties in a marriage. We have to respect each other. We have to give each other grace. We have to pray for each other and with each other, and we have to support the decisions that are made. Without support, a structure crumbles.
When it comes down to it, though, biblically, I have to submit to the decisions my husband makes. I don’t always go quietly; in a previous blog, I discussed how during one season, it took me over a YEAR to finally get on the same page as David. In walking that out, though, I found out about the blessings that can finally come when two praying people stand together in unity. It’s still hard, but at least I can appreciate the process, & after that last experience, I’ve learned some lessons.
Before anything in Ephesians is broken down into focusing on marriage, we’re to submit to ONE ANOTHER. In the English Standard Version, it almost uses the words “respect” and “submit” interchangeably, which I love (Ephesians 5:33, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband”). When you respect someone, you submit yourself to their expertise. You trust them, and you trust that you can learn from them–how cool is that? We trust that they have something to say, and they trust that WE have something to say, so we listen to each other! We’re to be respectful and kind to each other (I Pet. 3:15)–Remember that when these chapters were written, they weren’t separated into topics. They were letters written to people groups. We broke these things up in our English translations, and in doing so, put our own spin and focus onto key verses that may not have been intended by the original authors. So, when you read Ephesians 5, read it straight through, without pausing for sections, and think about how it goes.
Submission is a requirement for a successful family dynamic, but that doesn’t mean everything looks like that totem pole/umbrella graphic. Just the visual of that graphic–placing women on the lowest rung?!?!–causes dissonnance and the devaluing of the roles we each play in our household. We’re so beautifully meant to intertwine and to work together for the glory of God…everything is for His elevation, not for our humiliation. I want to rethink this graphic, and take it completely out of the concept of a hierarchy.
The closest thing I can liken it to is a planetary orbit. I love how God gives us the best images of His personality in nature!!!!
The planets orbit around the sun, right? And each planet has their own course, with their own moons–do you see where this is going?
These planets all have different things pulling on them. Magnetic pulls, centrifugal forces, etc., all take part in keeping the planets on the course they’re designed to be on. If one planet decided that it didn’t want to stay the course, the entire solar system would be effected, and it would be cataclysmic. I think instead of a hierarchy, perhaps we should look at biblical family design like it’s own little Solar System spinning around Jesus. When one person stops seeking God, and stops focusing on Him, it affects the paths of the other planets.
I don’t like the hierarchical illustration. It reeks of manipulation. I don’t for a second believe it was ever meant to be taken as men are over, or are more important than women, but the Church has interpreted it that way for years. It’s not to be read in arrogance, but instead, in humility and grace. When you read Ephesians 5 in context, you see that it’s a manual for a life of integrity, respect, and kindness, . There’s no pride in the entire chapter. Men set the example of submission for women, by submitting to Jesus. Women set the example of submission by respecting their husbands & by submitting to Jesus, and we all respect each other. Our kids grow up in an atmosphere of SERVICE—what?!? It sounds a little utopian, but imagine how the world would be if we all acted it out?!?
Is that crazy?
In Galatians, the Bible says there is “neither Jew, nor Gentile; nor slave, nor free; nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I think it’s fitting that the verse comes in the middle of a chapter that focuses on deception and of being locked in custody. There is tremendous freedom that comes when we put on those lenses of grace, and understand that God sees every single one of us as equal to another, regardless of gender or societal position. We’re all on the same page, at the same level, and we all have the same goal: To love and to serve Jesus with humility and grace…to seek Him first. That is the very definition of what I mean when I say that I am not a feminist. I am an equalist. Every man has a role. Every woman has a role. Those roles together, centered around the mission that Jesus gives each and every one of us, is our entire Focus. There is no competition. There is no struggling for position. There is only focusing on the Lord, and uplifting each other for that purpose.
Ditch the umbrella graphic. Forget the totem pole concept of putting women at the bottom of the list. We all have a voice, and we all have a role in the Kingdom of God. We’ve been created by a God Who loves us so much….Who appreciates us as individuals, and as part of His Body of believers. Men and women are together the Bride of Christ, and He loves us with an immeasurable grace. As Christians, we have no other option but to love each other to the best of our abilities, with grace and with respect to the value our Creator puts on each of us.
I work for a University. It’s not hard to figure out which one; I draw very little attention to where I work, because, DUH, public forum. I like where I work. It’s a very different world from where I grew up, and how I grew up; it’s a very different way of functioning from what I’m used to, and I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to be here. It’s time for our Annual Title IX Training, and I have a few things to get out of my system…
I grew up in a small town (no stoplights!), and I graduated from a small, private school (in a class of 6 people, I was the valedictorian!). When I went to college, I went to my third- or fourth-string pick of a Bible college in Florissant, Missouri, not too far from where I’m currently employed.
I still don’t know why I wound up there. Honestly, it was down to the wire to make a college decision, and my choice of a school in Tennessee was firmly shot down, as was my choice of a school in Webster Groves, so here I was, in this tiny, little Bible college at 17, feeling out of place and completely on my own.
I grew up in a charismatic church, and was partially sold on my Bible college by a man who told me the school was “non-denominational.” This was, in fact, technically true…but not practically true. Sure, there wasn’t a governing body or a synod, but the Bible college was full of people from what’s called the Independent Christian Church, which I was unfamiliar with. The basic theology was the same amongst 70-80% of my peers and professors, which was fine at first, but the longer I was there, the more it rankled me. Even as I went on to represent the school for over 3 years in various events and committees, the cracks in the foundation became wide-spread faults, and by the time my academic career ended with the school, I was in counseling as a devastated, spiritually-void trainwreck.
I was a shell of who I’d been just 4 years earlier.
As a freshman, I’d been excited to learn new things, and try out new clubs, meet new friends, and start a life outside of Franklin County. I sang, I taught Sunday School, I received decent grades, and even though I lost 1 scholarship my freshman year, I made up for it with 4 different scholarships over the next 3 years. I pushed myself harder than I should have; I got sick more often than I should have. I made terrible financial decisions, and I brought a lot–A LOT–of hard times upon myself…but not all them came by my own hand.
I loved (love) Jesus, and I wanted to serve Him. I wanted to reach out to people, to work with teenagers and junior-highers, and to eventually parlay that into a writing career. I didn’t really have a career trajectory, but I knew I wanted to work in the public speaking circuit. More than anything I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mother, which really played to the whole, “get your MRS. Degree” stereotype that every woman heard as she went through Bible college. None of us, of course, could ever hope to make it in ministry without a husband, didn’t you know that?
So, I got a boyfriend.
That was a mistake.
Between the emotional intensity of being 18-19, the lack of maturity, and the understanding that as a woman, I was automatically an inferior being, I was not prepared for the level of temptation that came with autonomous free time and a boyfriend at that age. I made some bad decisions. When I tried to rectify those decisions, my right to decide was taken away from me, and after that point, I knew God didn’t want me anymore.
I didn’t want me, either.
Wouldn’t you think that in a Bible college, a woman would have solace in knowing there would be someone she could identify with? Someone she could talk to, someone she could pray with? Doesn’t God have forgiveness and healing for all of us, not just for men? Nope.
I had no one, and I was nothing.
Although I never came forward with my story, I knew of 2 other girls that had similar situations happen with a guy. One actually had the bravery to come forward, and the shame she endured from leadership is TEXTBOOK for what NOT to do. Since my college years at that “fine” establishment, I know of a professor who was terminated because he dared to speak up about the inappropriateness and lack of proper reporting amongst students and faculty, and has basically been blacklisted because of his willingness to take on the topic. I know of at least 10 other people, men and women, who have endured sexual inappropriateness and harassment at this same institution, yet the school itself refuses to acknowledge any incorrect behaviors, responses, or situations that have repeatedly been reported to them, and has in fact taken great pains to silence them. Taking the time-tested path to “sweep things under the rug” seems to be their modus operandi; I’m assuming their Bible takes Luke 8:17 and chucks it right out the window.
There is something to be said for the simple acknowledgement that a wrong has occurred. There is something to be said for the basic acceptance that “bad things have happened,” and “we failed to respond, we failed to acknowledge, and we failed to provide a place of healing in an institution based on the very grace of a loving God.”
The level of sexual harassment I endured on campus over the course of 4 years would not be tolerated today. I know this, because I’m current on my Annual Title IX Training (which, at last check, my alma mater does not require…but they sure do appreciate those government dollars for student loans and grants, don’t they?). It was common for women to be shamed for ANY kind of dress, thought or words deemed to be sexual, but for the guys? It was practically honored. The girls were actually subjected to an entire evening of “well, we’ve heard rumors of sexual activity,” that was nothing more than an attempt to get us to rat out our friends, and an overwhelming reminder that impure thoughts and behaviors meant that we were unlovable and terrible human beings. We were shamed for even THINKING about sex, and if we’d already had it?!? OMG, we may as well surrender any thoughts, hopes, or dreams we could ever have, because we were “Damaged Goods.” It was purity at the cost of hope, and more than a few of us lost both.
So much for being a “place of healing.”
I’ve been working on a series of blogs this summer about the “Pesky Umbrella Graphic” which firmly places women at the bottom of the totem pole of the Good Christian Family. My goal is to redefine this graphic, and place men and women in the roles God designed. I have one blog left to write, about the Role of a Woman in the Church, and it’s been simmering. I believe this blog had to come first–I had to get this out of my system, because for me, my role as a woman was never so undermined as it was over the course of 4 years in Bible college. It took 4 years to wreck who I was as a person, as a Christian, and as a woman; it took 13 years to heal, to hope, and to have a clearer understanding that as a woman, Jesus loves me, He understands me, and He sees me as relevant, with all of my hormones, emotions, and crazy detours that paint anything but the “perfect” Christian life.
My Annual Title IX Training is often referred to (by me) as our Annual “Don’t Be a Terrible Human Being” Training. I think we take it for granted that people understand that sexual inappropriateness of any kind is wrong, but we have people in national leadership and in Christian leadership that consistently prove us to be incorrect. People don’t understand inappropriate sexual behavior. Now, I could launch a diatribe on how the media takes a turn on this; how the rampant rise and access to pornography takes a turn on this, and how being scientifically reduced to molecular accidents takes a turn on this, but that’s an entirely other conversation. The reality is that EVERYONE needs annual training on abuse, discrimination, sexual inappropriateness and how to report it, how to respond to it, and how to understand that IT’S NOT OKAY.
It’s not okay for “no” to mean anything other than, “no.”
It’s not okay to make the “joke” or the inference.
It’s not okay to make women feel inferior. It’s not okay to discriminate against anyone, and it’s not okay to make someone feel differently or to be robbed of opportunities because of their gender, religion, skin color, race, or orientation.
Your (My) Christianity does not give you a “Get out of Jail Free” or a “Bypass” card. Your (MY) Christianity does not give you the right to play judge or jury to that person who comes to you, or to that person that is reporting an issue.
Your (MY) Christianity requires that you treat people with honor, integrity, and respect. ALLLLLL of these verses tell us how to treat people. NONE of these verses tell us to shame someone or to throw a blanket over bad things and act like they didn’t happen.
Above all, your (MY) Christianity tells us that our Father is close to the brokenhearted…that He is a strong tower, that He is a refuge, and that HE LOVES US.
For me, Bible college should have been a place of spiritual growth and encouragement. Instead, it became a place of private shame and hopelessness, and to be honest, I do not look back on a most of those years with fondness (although I’m grateful for the relationships with friends that I still maintain). Bible college was where I learned how to pretend that everything was fine, even as it was falling apart. It was where I learned to speak fluent “Christianese,” and where I learned that Jesus was not big enough to love me through my darkest days.
In the years that followed, I went through an intensive breaking process of learning to be very, very real in my relationship with God . It’s an ongoing process, and one I think I’ll always work on. I also went through a healing process that involved counseling (the first of several encounters with counseling that I’ve been through) with a pastor who was AMAZING. He restored my faith in church leadership and in the compassion of Jesus, and I’ll never forget him. I was directed to him by a professor at my Bible college, who was overseeing an internship that ended halfway through–it almost cost me my college degree, but that’s another story. Either way, between that professor and that pastor, they saved my life physically and spiritually, and they became the light at the end of the Bible college tunnel. They had the concept RIGHT–Biblical counsel and healing, and GRACE over shame–and they were a blessing. I’m still grateful. They showed me there could be good, kind men in Christian leadership, and I needed that hope restored. T
I know this is a lot; I know I’ve written a lot more than I intended, but the Annual Title IX Training has “bothered” me for the past 7 years that I’ve been required to take it. Where was this training when I was in college? Would it have saved me, or saved the 10 or more other people that I know of? Would it have saved our professor, who gave up his career in order to speak a truth that no one wanted to listen to? Would it have saved the others who never told their stories?
I don’t know.
I’m not upset that I “have” to take this training. I’m not upset that we’re creating a Culture of Compliance over a Climate of Fear or a Climate of Shame or a Culture of Arrogant Ignorance. The more Christians that stop thinking they’re above all of this stuff, and instead choose to engage the fact that we’re all sinners, we all struggle, and we all need grace, the less stories we’ll hear about places like Willow Creek, or the Catholic Church issues (which could be in ANY church), or whatever. The second we think we’re immune is the second we fall…it’s time that we all acknowledge our weaknesses, that we train to be aware of situations, and that we as Christians provide a place of healing and of hope, particularly in our areas of educational institutions for children and adults of all ages.
***Edit: I’ve had a few remarks on my Facebook post on this blog, and I just want to say that college was a long, long, LOOOOOONNNNNNG time ago. What I thought was the hardest time in my life was a cakewalk compared to losing my daughter, so I’m looking back at those experiences through completely different lenses. In fact, the breaking/building process I went through after college laid the grounds for a solid foundation for that very journey. It was an entirely different breaking/building process, but the foundation was tried and true. 🙂 My entire point in bringing up those years is to draw attention to the lack of care and the lack of change that’s been seen in places of so-called Christian education. NOTHING has changed–NOTHING. That’s wrong. Secular universities like the one I am employed by have moved farther and higher than religious institutions, and that boggles my mind. I’m not a broken or hurting college kid, anymore. I’m a grown woman, I know who I am in Christ, and I BELIEVE with all of my heart that the Church is failing in the areas of training their leadership to guard their sheep. I will definitely admit to being angry…Every time another story comes across my Facebook page where another person in ministry has hurt or abused someone, I’m reminded of how far we have to go in the journey to educate Church leadership, to educate those in places of Christian education, and to educate ourselves how to be wise and to be aware…I’m reminded that shame never helped a soul, and that the basis of our very faith is gentleness, respect, and love. We have a long, long way to go…and we are all–not just me, and not just you–responsible to make the necessary changes.
She’s an amazing dog, and an amazing soul…I believe all dogs go to Heaven. I mean, how could something love you like that…and I do believe it’s love…and not be allowed to return to their Maker? God blessed us when He gave us animals to love…
She’s been my very, very best friend…she’s been a dog I needed, even though I never knew just how much I’d need someone like her.
She’s in my heart, and I am forever grateful for the day David called me and said, “I got a dog.”
Officially, she’s “Christmas’ Holly Golightly.”
Unofficially, she’s “Miss Stink,” “OooohGetOffaMeYou’reGross,” “$%&*%$&!!!!,” and a few other unmentionable names. 🙂
She’s a Good Dog, and I wish she could read…I wish she could know just how grateful we are for her….and how we are changed for the better, because of the Love of a Dog.
Happy 13th birthday, Holly. You’re a Very Good Dog, and we love you!
Two years ago, I posted a status update that I was basically cancer-free.
You guys, God blew up my brain this morning. Like, He shattered me in the best of ways…..I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out:
In the morning, I have about a 45-minute commute. I like quiet in the mornings. My drive is usually where I try to get focused, I pray, and I listen. This morning, I had just finished praying the intro (LOL–by “the intro,” I mean the Lord’s Prayer. I start every day with that. Long story. Good enough for Jesus, good enough for me.) and I was thinking about my son. I was thinking about how he’s said a couple of times lately that he wants to be baptized. Now, he’s 5–I’m pretty sure he’s not ready yet, but it’s on the table. I was 9 when I became a Christian and was water-baptized, so I firmly believe that kids can know what they’re doing.
We pray with him every night. I want my son to know that God is real, that He is listening, and that we don’t have to fake anything with Him. Jericho’s prayers are really, really cute, and I believe that he prays with intention. David has been AMAZING at working with him on Bible verses (I highly recommend Pixie Paper on Amazon; we purchased superhero-themed prints with Bible verses on them, and Jericho’s been learning them since he was 3. “Green Lantern verse!” “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path!” “Captain America verse!” “Jesus is the Captain of my Salvation!”), and he’s been learning them at school.
Watching a child develop their own faith is fascinating.
As parents, we have to be careful of a trap that I have found myself in: Don’t disregard the strength of their prayers because they’re cute.
I was driving into work, thinking about how Jericho had jumped at the opportunity to pray over my family’s Father’s Day meal. It was a simple prayer, full of thanksgiving, and one I really didn’t put much stock into, because let’s face it: I have a really cute kid, and it’s cute when kids pray.
I was, of course, happy that he WANTED to pray (my mother was verklempt, LOL), but I didn’t really think too much more of it beyond the general pride I felt that MY KID PRAYS. Outside of that, it was adorable, and we go on with our day.
God feels differently.
I felt Him whisper to me this morning as I merged onto 270: “His prayers are REAL.”
My brain exploded like a firework. If I could have stopped my car and pulled over, I would have.
He kept going–it all rushed in: “His prayers are real, his heart is pure, and I AM LISTENING. All of Heaven is listening when a kid prays. His prayers have stock in them, just as yours do. Age doesn’t matter. I listen. Nothing he says is in vain; all of Heaven takes note. It’s written down. Jericho’s prayers are HEARD.”
So much for my mascara this morning.
How dare I sit back and write them off as a novelty?!?!?!?!?!?
The prayers of our children are heard in the heavenlies!!!!!!!!!!
I came into work, and turned on Bethel worship from a few Sundays ago. I picked it based on the screenshot of the worship leader, who I hadn’t heard before (Sean Feucht), and Pastor Bill Johnson was doing the intro. What he said made me stop in my tracks, and open up this blog to write all of this down:
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (NIV)
Mr. Johnson went on to read a paraphrase of a few more verses of the chapter (hit the video at the 4:32 marker):
“You have built a stronghold, a dwelling place of strength, from the songs of babies. YOU HAVE BUILT A FORTRESS FROM THE SONGS OF BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!! Strength rises up from a chorus of babies. This kind of praise has the power to shut Satan’s mouth. Childlike worship will silence the madness of those that oppose you.”
I have never, EVER read this verse like this. I’ve never seriously considered the power or strength of the prayers of a child. I’ve said, “oh, sure, that’s adorable, it’s good to teach kids to pray,” etc., but it’s never impacted me like it has this morning. Between what God whispered in my ear on my commute, and a different interpretation/paraphrase of a verse I’ve heard 1,000 times, my world is rocked this morning, and I am renewed in my prayers of gratitude for my son in my life. That boy is a gift and a blessing who has taught me more about God than in almost any other time in my life. He keeps me reliant on the Lord, and he keeps me committed to renew my faith every single day. Today is just one more example of the lessons God has taught me through Jericho…
You guys, how amazing, that the Creator of the universe stops in His tracks to hear the prayers of a child…that the prayers of the least of these matter to our Savior. Our prayers are never just a novelty act; He never writes them off because we’re who we are. He’s listening, and He’s not just listening–He’s looking forward to our conversations. He’s engaged with us as His Beloved. Jesus truly loves us so much more than we can know, and it’s a joy to belong to Him…it’s a joy to get to parent with the influence of His kindness…it’s a joy to be loved by Him…
(Okay, let’s be honest: I can’t say the phrase, “This is a Man’s World,” without thinking of Christina Aguilera’s best performance of her lifetime. She did a tribute to James Brown at the Grammys several years ago, and KILLED it. So, now THAT’s in my head. Squirrel!!!)
This is a series that started as a response to the Pesky Umbrella Graphic (PUG):
For the first blog post, I started with what I feel is the most important part: Jesus as the Song of Solomon bridegroom, as the One Who leads us to the banqueting table in celebration with a Banner over us…”His banner over me is love.” If you haven’t read it yet, take a second and go back to it.
I did a follow-up blog on marriage, and parts of it might have sounded more like it was about reasons NOT to get married (totally not my intention, LOL): Mawwiage
Marriage is tricky. Going into it with crazy, Disney-expectations is setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. I’m not trying to rain on your parade; we’re all humans, and we’re terrifically flawed. Even under the banner of Jesus’ love, we make mistakes and we lose sight of our goals. We hurt each other, but the beauty of it all is that we learn to forgive, and we learn to grow together. It’s a lifelong process that requires incredible tenacity and faith.
So, for today, I’m going to discuss the role of the husband in this blog. This gets delicate because if you haven’t figured it out, I’m married. 🙂 I’m also EXTREMELY difficult to be married to (but hey, I have my good points). We were once told that 80% of couples who have lost a child, divorce, regardless of faith. That statistic has been proven to be false, but when you have that information hanging over your head and you’ve been through hell, it adds some extra challenges. Our marriage has been through more than anyone will ever know, but 13 years in, I’d say we’re successful in maintaining our relationship, SOLELY BY THE GRACE OF GOD.
Did I mention I’m difficult to be married to? Oh, and don’t get it twisted–David’s not the easiest thing in the world, LOL. He’s generally pretty great, but ask me about cabinet doors and cereal bowls….
I don’t want anyone to think that when I describe the role of a husband in a marriage, that I am disparaging or focusing on my husband unless I say so. Don’t put thoughts in your brain that shouldn’t be there. 🙂 I really do have a great man in my life, and the ratio of things that bug me verses the incredible qualities he has, is completely disproportionate. 🙂 I won.
So, let’s go back to the PUG, okay?
Ah, there’s that HUSBAND, lording over everyone else, burdened with being both the spiritual leader, the provider, and loving like Christ loves the church…
See, this is why we have to start disassembling this graphic by changing it from an Umbrella to a Banner. To hearken back to my original blog in this series, Jesus is over our family as a banner of victory, a banner of recognition, a banner of declaration that screams out the Love of God like a megaphone across the heavenlies. He shouts His love for us in the face of the accusations of the Enemy, in the face of the temptations that come our way…That banner is everything; whereas an umbrella will only shield you from the elements, a banner carries the mark of the King! We have this amazing declaration over our household that WE ARE LOVED uncontrollably, without human understanding! We are covered in grace and dripping in mercy, and where we walk as a family, we leave a trail of the fruits of the Spirit. That’s the goal.
And there’s Mr. Right: There’s the Husband of the Household.
Is he a dictator? A lord? King of the house? Ruler of all? Is he a doormat that a contentious wife stomps all over (ouch, occasionally guilty)?
No, and if he’s playing the role like any of those descriptions, he’s out of line with the direction of the Lord.
I like this quote from Family Life:
“Head” does not mean male dominance, where a man lords it over a woman and demands her total obedience to his every wish and command. God never viewed women as second-class citizens. His Word clearly states that we are all equally His children and are of equal value and worth before Him. As Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
The teaching of the New Testament clearly shows that women are to be respected, revered, and treated as equals with men. Unfortunately, many husbands have not gotten the message. They degrade their wives by neglect or with insensitive and abusive treatment. One cause of the feminist movement may have been that men abandoned God’s design. When God presented Eve to Adam in the Garden, Adam received her as a gift of great value to God and to himself. When husbands, particularly Christian husbands, do not treat their wives as a precious gift from God and helpmate, they can cause those wives to search for ways to find significance and value as persons, often outside God’s will.
The PUG gives men 3 responsibilities, so I’m going to address each one:
- Spiritually Lead the Family
- We live in a society that has categorically undermined the authority of men and the structure of family in the media for the past 30 years. I’m 40, so I’ve had a front-row seat to this destruction. Shows like, “Married With Children,” “The Simpsons.” and the original “Rosanne” all painted pictures of men being basic morons, and the wives being the brains of the family. It was a huge departure from the shows of the 1950’s and 60’s that seemed to emphasize family. Men are now the brunt of every joke and have no authority whatsoever, in the name of comedy. I believe that issues such as sexual harassment, and abuse, are on the rise partially resulting from this oppression of the leadership role men are supposed to be in. They’re undermined and disrespected by women and children, so they retaliate with terrible behaviors (speaking broadly, of course). They’re designed to be respected, and they’re gonna get it one way or another, by golly, even if it’s by force! Maybe that’s a stretch, but if a man is treated the way he should be treated, and if he’s locked in spiritually the way he should be, walking in the love of Jesus, there’s balance. Our world is miserably OUT of balance; men are mistreated, and are reacting by behaving badly. I will say however, on the flip side of this, that the mistreatment of women by men most likely caused them to be portrayed as morons, so it’s a cycle of bad examples, poor leadership, and retaliation. If we carried ourselves with the balance that God created men and women to carry, NONE of this would be an issue.
- Okay, so he’s supposed to lead the family in spiritual ways. …but that’s also something we all have to work together on. We’re not supposed to be unequally yoked, right? We’re supposed to be partners in fulfilling this mission to raise Godly children: Deuteronomy 6:7 says that we are to “impress [the commandments] on our children; Talk about them when you sit at home, & when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.” It doesn’t say “Fathers Only–do this.” It’s for ALL of us to do…
- So, what does it mean to “spiritually lead?”
- First of all, we all stand before God ALONE. When I die, David’s spiritual walk will have no bearing on how my walk with Jesus is judged. So, I’m responsible for how I spiritually lead our son. Am I instructing our son in God’s Word? Am I teaching him biblical concepts and Scriptures? Am I doing everything I can to pray for him, and to set him in the direction that Jesus would have me set him in? Spiritual leadership is just that: Using personal examples and teachable moments, combined with prayer, to direct the household in walking in the will of God. It’s having a life dedicated to pursing Jesus, and in sharing that pursuit with those around you. My husband has the same responsibility to do that, as I do–one of us is not more responsible to live a godly life than the other.
- Spiritual leadership for a husband, like leadership over the family, involves biblical submission for a woman (ooooooooh, we hate that word!! “Submission?!?!?!” NOOOOO!) For women, this means that we stay respectful, even when we disagree with the direction he’s taking us. It means we listen, we pray, and we stay open to suggestions. It doesn’t mean that he’s abusive or an authoritarian. It means we give him the chance to explain where he’s coming from; it means we pray about it, we search our hearts, and we see where we stand with the result. If your husband is trying to lead you, spiritually, in a direction you know is wrong, I say stand your ground and pray that God changes his heart. Or, pray that if you’re wrong, that God will change your heart.
- Example: Around 7 years ago, David & I were at a crossroads. I was on the worship team at a larger church, and had “commitment.” David had never really felt like he fit in, and just wasn’t getting fed spiritually in a way that he needed to. He wanted to find a different church, and he knew where he wanted us to go (did I mention that he originally picked THIS church, shortly after we got married?). He wanted to make a significant change, and I was NOT having it. It took a year of praying on both of our parts, independently (I know, we should have prayed together), for God to change my heart and get the understanding that YES, we needed to leave that church. It was time. The craziest thing (and I’m NOT saying this will happen for everyone; it’s just our story), is that shortly after making that decision in unity, I got pregnant with our miracle baby. When a husband and wife come together in spiritual agreement, radical changes can happen. The Bible says that “one of us can send a thousand to flight, and 2 of us can send a legion fleeing” (Deut. 32:30). Personally, praying together with my husband is challenging for me. It doesn’t come naturally to me, even after 13 years. That doesn’t mean we stop trying, though.
- Provide for the Family
- Um, EXCUSE ME? What have I been doing for the past 18 years? What did my mom do for over 20 years? I’m coming at this defensively, because as a working mother, I’ve been seriously hurt by crap people have said about my decision/need to be a working mother. This isn’t 200B.C., people. They need to take that off of the graphic like, NOW. It’s borderline offensive. Welcome to a world where everything costs a fortune and most households cannot survive on one family member’s income. This is 2018, people, and diminishing the contributions of a woman in providing for the family is insulting. We work just as hard, and frankly, stay-at-home moms ALSO work just as hard at providing for the family (I think I read a statistic once that said if a SAHM was paid for the work she does, it would average over $150,000/year). WOMEN. FREAKING. WORK in this world, harder than we have ever had to, and we deserve to be counted as providers for our families. Men shouldn’t have to bear that burden alone in today’s world.
- I will 100% say that up until the 1950’s, women didn’t have to contribute to household finances to the extent that they now have to. I will say that consumerism, materialism, humanism, and an entire textbook of -isms have contributed to the change in the atmosphere that has resulted in women joining and/or taking over the work force. However, this is how it is NOW, regardless of what was intended in the beginning of Creation, and most of us have children to think about. I’m not sorry that I’m a working woman. I fully recognize the sacrifice that goes into being a SAHM, and it’s not one I feel like our household can make, or that my nature can process.
- Does the fact that I have to work in order for our lights to stay on, mean my husband is out of God’s Will as a provider for our family? ABSOLUTELY NOT. However, I also believe very firmly that if a woman is working and a man is physically capable of working, then he’d better WORK and not make her shoulder that entire burden alone. I do believe that God created man in His image, and just as He said in the Garden of Eden, they’re to work to provide for their families. Laziness is not a godly quality, no matter how you try to spin it. We’re not made to be a lazy, dependent people; God created both man and woman to be industrious (see Proverbs 31, for the ladies’ version) for provision and for mental well-being. When we do good work, we feel good about ourselves; a man that feels good about himself passes that along to his entire household. 🙂
- Love Wife like Christ loves the Church
- This is the third thing the PUG lists (reading L-<R), but it should be the first thing men are responsible to do…leave it to an archaic, misinformed, misogynistic graphic to put the leadership role first, and the loving role last. 🙂
- HOW DOES CHRIST LOVE THE CHURCH? Read the Song of Solomon–it lays it all out. In SOS, Jesus is the Groomsman, and we as the Church are the Bride. Read that book, men, and get your action plan on how to love your wife (and please, actually put it into practice. Just reading it won’t do the trick. Preaching to myself…). Here’s some killer resources that will revolutionize your Christianity:
- International House of Prayer with Mike Bickle. The link takes you to a ton of free downloads.
- Gateway House of Prayer with Tammy Riddering. Same concepts as the IHOP version, but taught from a woman’s perspective
- My husband has been studying this for at least 10 years. I’ve just started (again–this is so difficult for me to grasp, but I’m on my like, 3rd try of the in-depth study. I’m a fighter, not a lover). When you just barely, just lightly, start to grasp the love Jesus has for His Church, your brain will explode. And when you think that’s how a husband is to love his WIFE?!?!? BOOM.
- What does the love of Christ for the Church look like? It’s wholehearted. It’s full. Mike Bickle of IHOP says, “The way the God loves within the fellowship of the Trinity, beloved, here is the glorious thing—it is the only way
He loves. He cannot love partially. He only loves wholeheartedly. God does not suspend one attribute to exercise another. He does not put love “on hold” when He shows justice. He does not put His holiness “on hold” when He expresses mercy.”
- I John 4:7-8 says that “God is love.” He’s made up of Love–how is that possible? Bickle says in the same sermon I quoted above that “He always loves in fullness.” He doesn’t love halfway. He doesn’t STOP. He can’t love us anymore than He already does. His love is endless, boundless, and eternal. We can’t run from it. He won’t hide it from us. He doesn’t play games or manipulate it. God. IS. Love.
- A man can TRY to love like Christ loves the Church, but it’s basically not possible, because we’re flawed. 🙂 It’s not possible without having Jesus at the front/back/middle of the relationship. Jesus is literally the glue that holds a loving marriage together, because He IS Love!
- A man is to love his wife:
- Wholeheartedly: Don’t reserve your heart or your feelings.
- Honestly: Don’t play games or hide truths.
- Humbly: Recognize your flaws and work together to fill in the gaps. Ask forgiveness when you’re wrong. Don’t be too proud to help; the Bridegroom in SOS is as much of a servant as He is a King.
- Shamelessly: Don’t embarrass your spouse for the sake of a punchline, and don’t be afraid to be publicly vocal about how much you love each other. Be vocal with compliments, and back them up with action.
- Compassionately: Egos are fragile. Contentiousness will destroy a marriage and will eat a person’s self-esteem from the inside-out.
- Demonstratively: You set an example to your family and your friends by how you love each other.
- Faithfully: This goes for physically, emotionally, and mentally. Cheating is a nasty, complicated parasite that will destroy your life. Whether it’s a physical act of being unfaithful to your spouse, or a lustful act of letting impure things creep into your marriage, you have to get that garbage out before it’s too late. It is SO HARD to stay pure in this world, for both men and women, but our hearts have to be towards our spouses! If you’re tuned into the will of God and you catch that stuff creeping in (it’s so bad that I’ve had to leave the room for a commercial. RIDICULOUS), you have to get out. It’s a constant discipline to maintain faithfulness and purity, and you have to commit to it daily. It’s not impossible. Men can be faithful. Women can be faithful. Relying on Jesus and being honest with yourself is the only way, because it’s coming at us from every angle today.
As a woman, and as a wife, it’s easy for me to look at the PUG with contempt. After all, it IS 2018, and women are enjoying more freedom and independence than ever before, right? We can be who and what we want; we can hang with the boys and be equals, right? I don’t need a man, right?!?!?!?!?!?
The last blog in this series will cover the roles of women in today’s world, and it’s probably going to be the most challenging for me to write. Like I said in the first blog, I’m not a feminist; I’m an Equalist. I believe we should be respected equally, paid equally, and treated equally, regardless of gender or race….but to be a woman is a glorious, unique thing, and I think our differences are to be celebrated.
Men carry such a burden. The phrase, “toxic masculinity” has recently become popularized, and to be honest, it makes me nauseous. Men are now being “punished” for being, well, MANLY. I think the definition of “manly” is more than a little distorted in today’s world, so let me take a crack at it:
Being “manly” is not determined by how much Budweiser you can drink, how well you can shoot a gun, or by how quickly you can disassemble an engine. A man that follows Jesus is to love in fullness, to walk humbly, to seek justice and to give mercy. He has shoulders that carry responsibilities with strength and a heart that seeks the will of God, and he makes that his priority. He protects, he provides, and he works in partnership with his Bride. There is nothing more manly than a guy who leads his family with humility and serves his God wholeheartedly.
In closing (phew!), I’m going to reference a blog I linked to in my first post of this series: The Thistlette. In this blog, the writer keeps the umbrella, but places them on equal footing with mutual submission to Jesus. Although I’m still not a fan of the umbrella itself, I can appreciate how she relocates the relationships out of the hierarchy that the PUG places them in:
We have a responsibility, male and female alike, that we share equally: Love Jesus. Tell the world about Him, and set an example of His love with your life. Raise a family together that does the same. We have different-but-equal responsibilities in the kingdom, and a goal to work towards, together. Setting aside religious misconceptions and walking forward in freedom to further the goals of the Kingdom is what we should all be striving towards, and building families together without judgment is key.
One more section of the PUG to go……..#JustKeepWriting
This piece is a departure from the “norm” for me, but it’s where my heart was moved this week with the passing of someone in our church that had an incredible heart for the Lord, & who understood the spiritual significance of the shofar for God’s people. He & his wife have made an eternal impact on our family in ways we never really explained…or for me, in ways I couldn’t explain. Our hearts are saddened by his death, but our spirits know he has claimed the reward of being in Heaven with Jesus…For Mark…
I’ve never been one
That likes the sound of a call to war
When the shofar blows
I cower and trust
That other people will
And fight the battles on my
I am weak.
I am only one,
But they are many together,
And I stand on the outside
The shofar blows,
Nine, short blasts…TE’RU’AH
And I run to safety,
Covering my ears because I know
It’s a sound of war
And a sound of beckoning,
Calling me higher to the
But I stay in the peaceful places of
Plenty and comfort,
Knowing before I try that
I will fail.
I’m grateful for those that have answered the call…
That rise up on their knees and fight,
But I am not enough,
So I stay in my
The shofar blows,
And the warrior responds,
Grabbing a shield to match the armor
He already has on,
Because he is prepared to fight
At any moment’s notice.
The shofar blows,
Three, short blasts…SH’VA’RIM
Blind, oblivious to my own regrets…
I pull the blankets over my head,
Hitting the snooze button
Truthfully, annoyed at the
The shofar blows;
A single, long blast…TE’KI’AH GE’DO’LAH
A shepherd, calling His warrior home in Victory…
Home…what a wonderful word…
A sudden realization…I am shaken
The call to war is
The warrior is Home, kneeling at the Feet of the
Captain of the Hosts,
Standing in worship,
Realizing the dream of his heart to be in the
Of the King of Kings…
The son is welcomed home by the Father
With words that echo the deepest wish
That all of His children have:
My good and faithful Servant….”
The shofar blows…
As one soldier lays down his weapons,
I pick them up…
With the sound of the shofar,
I am changed…
I am listening in hope…
It is never too late.
I am only one…
But I can put a thousand to flight…
And we are many together…
The shofar blows…
One loud blast…TE’KI’AH
No longer on the outside looking in,
I shake off the blankets and
Ready to engage in battle.
No longer satisfied in
The Safe Place…
No longer satisfied with
Covering my ears and trusting in others
To prepare the Way.
No longer satisfied in the valleys of the place of waiting….
There are mountains to conquer.
The shofar blows
One long blast…TE’KI’AH GE’DO’LAH
And a new journey begins…
A funny thing happens when I’m on the right track: The bottom falls out. Seriously, though, any time I’m researching something that I feel like the Lord is leading me to write (& I’ve never felt the need to keep moving forward on a subject quite like this, for whatever reason), I get TESTED…..and sometimes, I fail. Since my last blog post, I’ve been struggling at work, struggling to keep my mouth shut….Struggling at home, arguing with David…struggling to keep my mouth shut (& failing)….Just struggling.
Last week, I skipped church and went to the mall. I did my go-to, which is to make bad financial decisions….For the last 4-6 weeks, my food choices have been terrible.
I’ve been swimming in a pit, and I’ve been avoiding getting honest and getting back on track.
I’m working on it.
So, I’m aware of my shortcomings, and I will be back at this sooner than later. I’m not dropping this. To me, there is too much at stake, and too many hearts in the Church that have been damaged or burned. I’m not saying that I am going to be the one that fixes it, with my tiny, little blog….but if one person reads something I’ve written, & one heart is changed, even if that heart is mine, than it’s worth it.
I’m not stopping.
Just taking a short break. 🙂