An Open Letter to Rebekah Merkle (Doug Wilson’s Daughter)

jordanThis post is in response to “My Brush with Feminism” by Rebekah Merkle which can be found HERE.

Rebekah, I first want to say that you are funny. I laughed out loud once while reading your post. Ok, twice. The whole time I was reading your post I was admittedly thinking that if you had been born in my home with my dad, I think you would be a feminist too.

If I would have been born in your home, maybe I would have been a complementarian. I am certain I would have been pretty bad at it, but seems like girls who are loved by their daddies try to follow in their father’s footsteps as best as they can.

Truth be told, my dad never directly taught me to be a feminist, but he did teach me that it was OK to be human.

You write this about evangelical feminists: “On the one hand, they want to be hard edged modern women, all pant suits and nun chucks, but then again, what they really want to be is tender and empathetic, cherishing and tenderly petting the hurt feelings of everyone everywhere.”

I guess you have us all figured out because I absolutely agree with you. I want to be both tough and tender because that is how my Jesus lived out His life. I want to wear blue jeans and girly dresses. I want to wear boots and high heels. I want to drink wine and beer. I want to eat with my hands and my fork. I want to be a lover and a scrapper. I want be both a leader and a follower. I want to attend tea parties and shoot stuff too (nothing living of course). I want to be me. I don’t think the mix of tough and tender is a “feminist attribute;” but rather, a “human attribute.”

I am guessing we grew up in similar home atmosphere. I too sat at the table and talked “the things of God” with my minister father. I too have a strong dad who taught me what sort of man to look for – a “non-chump,” if you will. I am not sure if you are aware of this, but as a Christian feminist, I do submit to my husband, Luke. The difference between my husband and your husband (I am assuming) is that Luke mutually submits to me, we lead each other, sometimes he has the final say, and sometimes I have the final say.

There are some areas in which Luke leads me because he is better gifted than me in those areas, not because he was born a male. Likewise, there are some areas in which I lead Luke because I am better gifted than he is in those areas, not because I am a female.

We function as a team and we co-lead. I am unaware if you have actually ever studied the Greek word “Kephale,” (head), but there is very little evidence that it means “authority over.” I am sure you will appeal to Wayne Grudem’s research to try and prove me wrong, but his research was blown out of the water by Richard Cervin (who is neither egalitarian or complementarian). There are simply not enough ancient texts to prove that “kephale” means “authority over.”

You seem like a bright woman and I am not at all trying to be condescending towards you, but your post was difficult to follow. You accuse evangelical feminists of being angry and/or rebellious towards men and therefore our motivation for fighting against patriarchy, but it seems to me that you are the one blaming men.

You wrote, “Men. Men who are chumps. Let us be frank – that’s the real problem here. If we want to dig in and get down to first causes, this is where the problem lies. There are lots of chumpish men of course, and each is chumpish in his own way . . .”

The problem is not men, Rebekah. Half my following is made up of men who fully support gender equality in the Church. The problem is that complementarianism is misinterpreting the Bible and limiting half the Church from fulfilling their callings. How would you feel if the Church (men or women) told you that it was against God’s Will for you to create a line of children’s clothing or be a high school teacher?

There are thousands upon thousands of women who sense a strong calling from the Lord to preach, teach, and lead both men and women and complementarian theology is standing in our way.

It is quite audacious for you, your father, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Matt Chandler and whoever else to say that those of us who sense a ministerial calling are mishearing Jesus. Is it possible that it is your camp that is mishearing Jesus and wrongly interpreting God’s Word?

If my camp is right, more men and women hear the Gospel and the teachings of Christ, as more females pursue their callings to lead adults in the Church. If your camp is wrong, you all have effectively slowed down the spreading of God’s Word by only permitting women to minister to other women and children.

I recently received an email from a missionary in China who stated that 75% of those leading China’s thriving house church movement are women. My honest prayer is that complementarian doctrine does not creep its way into China as this movement continually quenches the Holy Spirit’s workings.

Rebekah, I appreciate your cheeky way of expressing yourself, but your post was quite far from the truth and evangelical feminists everywhere are rising up to take back what the complementarian camp has stolen from us. If you want to fight against us, you are going to have to do better than sarcasm and name calling. I do love you as my sister in Christ and my honest prayer is that one day you and your family will become great advocates for gender equality in both worth and authority – using love, truth and justice as your weapons.

In Christ,

Jory Micah

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92 Comments

  • Since I’ve started following your posts last week, I’ve bee subjected to highly provoking dialogue and situations. I love it! I especially cheered when you mentioned how you and the hubby are gifted different in certain areas. I remember when my hubby and I realized this when it came to finances. We used to argue ALL THE TIME about it. I’m not sure when it happened but like two years ago or so, we came to the realization he was better at saving money than I was while I was better at handling our household expenses. This blew us out the water and to this day, we don’t argue nearly as much about money as we used to.

    Keep up the good work!

      • Jory,

        Kudos to you for defending men. It gets a little stale hearing women insulting men (chumps, non-chumps). Where I think you run afoul is when you try to make this a “salvation issue.” What it sounds like you are saying is that men (or complementarians) are preventing women (and some men?) from casting a wider gospel net. God can reach anyone at any time regardless of their views on egalitarianism or complementarianism, young earth, old earth, etc. God looks at the heart of the believer and if they’re willing to serve regardless of their denom, their views on baptism, and so on. To say otherwise it to limit a limitless God. One more thing, they are not “complementarians” they are men and women of God, brothers and sisters in Christ who have done wonderful things to spread the gospel message in all corners of the globe and long before Christian feminism became de rigeur.

        • You know I do have to disagree. Stopping women from sharing the Gospel & teaching the Word of God to men and women alike is most certainly a “salvation issue.” The Gospel cannot be fully carried out until men and women partner as co-equals as Adam & Eve did in the garden prior to the fall of mankind. Gender Equality in the Church is NOT a secondary issue.

          • I don’t think man could prevent God’s salvific purposes, but you do? Because what you’re saying is that people go to hell because women aren’t allowed to preach and that is simply false. You’re a strong woman, but you want men to give you the nod to preach? I don’t wait for a pastor or elder board to give me the nod to share the gospel or to show compassion to someone and neither should you or women in general. There are women pastors, but to me, since the words preached (in the pulpit or out) are spiritual and not gender specific, I don’t see how having gender quotas for the pulpit will lead to more people being saved. Nothing is stopping you from loving people except you and your own doubts. You’ve already been given the authority to share the gospel from Jesus, you don’t need to wait for complementarian churches to change their structure to do it.

          • How do you think so many people have been saved even though most churches appear to be complementarian? Those churches fund mission trips which include men and women to as far as Papa New Guinea, Kenya, etc. Amazing! Yet, you feel that man somehow restrains God’s salvific purposes. Keep in mind I am not against women “leaders.” There are women leaders. They may not have “center stage” but that’s not what leadership is all about. You appear to say that you’re a strong woman (and those who follow you are strong women) yet, you’re all waiting for men to give you a commission when you’ve already been give it by Jesus. You will not be judged by what title you held at a specific church building, but how you used your gifts regardless of church politics and structure.

          • The point is, Greg, that I was never wanting a title or waiting for men to give me a commission, because I knew I had received it from Jesus. However, I and other women in churches with complementarian structures have been told outright that only men are allowed to __________ [fill in the blank]. You’re assuming that we could just go ahead and step out in our gifts. However, those of us who’ve tried to do so have been reprimanded, accused of being unsubmissive, or worse — even when the “stepping out” was done outside the church’s politics and structure. Imagine, if you will, being a woman commissioned by Christ being called in by a group of men and scolded like a child or accused of having a Jezebel spirit because you stepped out in your gifts, shared the gospel, or ministered to someone. And imagine being a woman who wants to reach out to those with needs in the church or who knows in her heart that the Lord has things He wants to speak to His body through her but being relegated to the nursery, teaching children in Sunday School, or helping in the kitchen. At most she might be allowed to oversee vacation bible school or lead the worship team, but it’s made clear to her that those things are a special privilege and everything else is for men. A woman shouldn’t have to go on the mission field in order to step out in the gifts God has given her, especially if she doesn’t feel called to do that or isn’t in a position to. Do you think that God gave women His gifts to only be used outside the church’s structure and politics, or that women should be content to do so? If so, your comment is very patronizing. If not, then your support is needed to help change the patriarchal structure that limits so many of your sisters in Christ.

          • The real question, Catherine, is why would you continue to go to a church like that? You can either work within the confines of that structure or leave- especially if someone tells you to stop your activities outside the church. That’s a big no-no and a huge red flag. As a Christian you’re not limited to the building in which you attend worship. I would find like minded people to fellowship with if I were you, but I don’t think you’re going to have much success changing the hearts of these men. Time to move on.

          • I couldn’t agree more. Like I said in another comment, my husband and I left that patriarchal religious system over 5 years ago and became part of an organic church. It’s similar to a house church but without a hierarchical structure–everyone is on equal footing, it’s very relational, and Jesus is our head–not a man or woman. It’s not always easy because life is messy, but it has been a wonderful gift from God and was the best move we have ever made. As for the rest, you need to take into consideration the indoctrination that believers receive in churches like that, and the millions of women still trapped by that indoctrination within that religious system.

          • Thank you so much Catherine. You wrote what I was too tired to write today: “The point is, Greg, that I was never wanting a title or waiting for men to give me a commission, because I knew I had received it from Jesus. However, I and other women in churches with complementarian structures have been told outright that only men are allowed to __________ [fill in the blank]. You’re assuming that we could just go ahead and step out in our gifts. However, those of us who’ve tried to do so have been reprimanded, accused of being unsubmissive, or worse — even when the “stepping out” was done outside the church’s politics and structure. Imagine, if you will, being a woman commissioned by Christ being called in by a group of men and scolded like a child or accused of having a Jezebel spirit because you stepped out in your gifts, shared the gospel, or ministered to someone. And imagine being a woman who wants to reach out to those with needs in the church or who knows in her heart that the Lord has things He wants to speak to His body through her but being relegated to the nursery, teaching children in Sunday School, or helping in the kitchen. At most she might be allowed to oversee vacation bible school or lead the worship team, but it’s made clear to her that those things are a special privilege and everything else is for men. A woman shouldn’t have to go on the mission field in order to step out in the gifts God has given her, especially if she doesn’t feel called to do that or isn’t in a position to. Do you think that God gave women His gifts to only be used outside the church’s structure and politics, or that women should be content to do so? If so, your comment is very patronizing. If not, then your support is needed to help change the patriarchal structure that limits so many of your sisters in Christ.”

          • LOL Greg, does it really seem that I have waited for permission from anyone to preach? I am preaching almost daily on my blog!

            Second of all, I am NOT a calvinist, so yes, I do believe human choices effect the salvation of others to some degree.

            Thirdly, women are contemplating leaving the Body of Christ due to influential comps not affirming their equality. It is crap and nothing will stop me from fighting against it. This is a primary, salvation issue!

          • Preaching on your blog about gender politics is not preaching per se. You’re preaching to the egalitarian choir so to speak, but if you are drawing in unsaved women (with the gospel and not gender quotas) then great! Why not go around your hometown and preach to the needs of the unsaved? There are many hurting ppl out there!

            As it turns out Calvin was not as Calvinistic as his Calvinist followers. God knows who will respond positively to his gospel message (Acts 17:26, 27) and he uses men and women to reach out to those very people (Romans 10:15). If salvation depended solely on men and women not many would be saved.

            It’s interesting that men can start churches, but for some reason egal women are not willing to do this. Take Acts 29 for instance. They just go about their Father’s business of planting churches and spreading the gospel. Why aren’t the egal women doing this? Surely there are egal men willing to do this with egal women. There has to be more to Christian life than fighting for gender quotas in the pulpit, wouldn’t you agree?

          • Greg
            Great thought and it has been done before! There is a long line of house churches started by women most whom could not even write. There are missionaries like Lottie Moon who did not have a man (her intended missionary husband & her broke up before marrying) so had to work with all unsaved. Like Jory people tried to put her in children’s ministry and she wouldn’t buy it. Lottie Moon is a very well respected missionary — very productive in reaching people in China no man would have been allowed to reach.

            Anne Hutchinson started a house church that grew to be much of the colony and had to meet in a church. The internet enables a new level of house church. I learned of these house church women while writing the book Rekindled … House churches are a major player in this book. Warning: The major character is a man tho who did not approve learned women though his fate was aided by them and he aided them.
            Teresa Irizarry
            http://www.rekindled.info

  • I’m glad you responded to a letter. I’m an evangelical feminist who does not worry about softening the edges of things. Of course, I’m male. But evangelical feminism like any “ism” or any big idea cannot be reduced the way that she reduces it.
    It is not an oxymoron, either. Thanks for responding.

  • Jory
    Your husband and you appear to complement each other beautifully. I don’t want you to give the other side the word “complementarian”. It is too great a word, as NT Wright says.

    The rub of course comes in that area that both parties care about deeply and both or neither do well. That is when an assigned leader is useful make a final call.

    The default or historical optimum would be the male partner for leader as childbearing is a consuming experience and until recently not under a woman’s control–and openness to new life is still a value we much cherish. However, women have always led house churches! Even the 17th Century men followed inspired women leaders like Anne Hutchinson much to the chagrin of more rigidly traditional men. Whoever the leader is, the partnership needs to model Christ and his church.

    We are all human. We all need respect, even though we are all part chump.

    Teresa Irizarry

  • Wait a sec … The argument in favor of women submitting to me is that men are chumps? That would mean the greatest leader ever would be the biggest chump ever.

  • “How would you feel if the Church (men or women) told you that it was against God’s Will for you to create a line of children’s clothing or be a high school teacher?”

    That is clearly not Rebekah’s argument *at all*. Rebekah and her father have very vocally agreed that those are callings that are absolutely open to women.

    • I am not saying this was her argument. I am simply asking her how she would feel if anyone told her that her passions/gifts were wrong.

        • My major point is that she and her father are wrong – not hearing the holy spirit and not interpreting God’s Word correctly when it comes to their belief in complementarianism. I thought I made that very clear in the post. Lastly, I do believe Piper and all those dudes ARE quenching the Holy Spirit in the lives of thousands of women and since this is my blog and I too have a relationship with Jesus, I will say exactly what I “feel” led to say and what I “think” the Word of God teaches. God Bless Jon and blessings in your journey! 🙂

      • A better response: Our feelings are not the judgment seat. Scripture is. So we apply the pure Word of God to the situation.

        And honestly, I know you think it’s “audacious” for John Piper et al to claim you are mishearing Jesus about your calling. But then you say they are actively squelching the Holy Spirit, which is a far worse accusation. So let’s not get all offended at strong words.

          • Thank you for illustrating that there are sides…we made that stuff up, because: There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3.28 NRSV)

          • Instead of seeing this as about which side we are on or think everyone else is on, perhaps we all need to start listening to different perspectives among family and humbly consider whether we are rightly dividing the Word of God, especially if the results of our conclusions create hurt for some human beings and ultimately division between brothers and sisters in Christ.

            The question is not what does my side say but what does the Word of God really say about human beings, and how did Jesus relate to people?

            I appreciate this article, despite my minor differences of opinion with the author, for its reasonableness and lack of personal attack; something from which a few complementarian writers could learn much. I’m tired of how this secondary issue is being touted as a reason to break fellowship with fellow believers. It is not. Arrogance shown in callous sarcasm and superiority might be a reason to separate however. That has no place among God’s people. If we come from a position of knowing it all we have lost the plot.

            This is a necessary discussion, and there are serious Scriptural issues at stake, but too often it goes nowhere because Christians are dividing over it, rather than accepting each other and focusing on all we have in common in Christ, and indeed, as human beings.

          • Thank you for your sensible comment. However, I would disagree that this is a “secondary issue.” When women who feel called to be ministers are being told “the Bible says no,” they don’t pursue their callings. How many people are not hearing the gospel and/or the teachings of the Word due to this? When the gospel is being held back, I call that a primary issue.

          • And there you go… the most intolerant on this issue are not generally complementarians or patriarchal types, but the egalitarians telling us that God didn’t really say what he said throughout Scripture. I’m fine with fellowshiping with egals, but many of them are too shrill to be around.

          • ‘Shrill’, like ‘abrasive’ are words used to shut women down. It’s a cheap shot because it doesn’t bring an argument, just an insult, which is a low blow.

          • “…egalitarians telling us that God didn’t really say what he said throughout Scripture. I’m fine with fellowshiping with egals, but many of them are too shrill to be around.”

            That statement was not “understanding what God said different from us” but “telling us that God didn’t really say what he said.” You did not paint egals as fellow Christians who studied scripture and came to another understanding, but as people who ignore the Bible. Look at the beam in your own eye before calling egalitarians shrill, or intolerant.

          • Complementarians/ patriarchy people are so intolerant, that they squelch the ministry of half the church to the other half. So intolerant, they will not have fellowship with those who disagree. So intolerant, they paint those who think differently as ignorers, not mis-understanders, of the Bible.
            When the writer Jory responds to call evangelical feminism an oxymoron, they will not notice intolerance. When Jory say this is a primary issue – without questioning the faith of those on the other side of the issue – you talk of shrillness and intolerance.

            Even just comparing Jory’s writing to what she responds to, will give some idea of why I find a certain group more intolerant.

          • But it’s even more than that. I have no interest or gift for leadership, and still, a theology of “separate but equal” is demoralizing and dehumanizing, and has me wondering if Christianity is something that I want to subject myself to any longer. Do I really want to be a part of something that still needs to debate about my equality as a human being? To be constantly brushing up against such gross misogyny from the Mark Driscolls and Doug Wilsons and their followers, while the “men in charge” shrug their shoulders and baptize their sexism and abuse with their silence–it has me wondering if Christianity’s role in my life is more harmful than helpful.

            In secular contexts, the idea that “women are equal” is, for the most part, an accepted truth at least in theory, if not in practice (and yes, we have miles to go before it is evident in practice). When I encounter rank sexism in a secular context, it is hurtful for sure, but when I encounter it in spiritual contexts, it is soul destroying. I’m really not sure I can do this anymore. Not sure I want to.

            On a separate note, I find it very interesting that Doug Wilson chose to push those 2 pedophiles off on someone ELSE’S daughters, while teaching his own to avoid “chumps”. Curious, that.

          • Dear Claire, it’s the patriarchal religious system that’s demoralizing and dehumanizing, not Christ. In Him we are all equal and free to fully be who He made us to be. And within that system it’s those who are threatened by our freedom and identity in Christ who are misogynistic, sexist, and want to “lord it over” others. My husband and I left the religious system over 5 years ago and became part of an organic church (similar to a house church but without a hierarchical structure–everyone is on equal footing, it’s very relational, and Jesus is our head–not a man or woman). It’s not always easy because life is messy, but it has been a wonderful gift from God and was the best move we could have ever made. I only wish we’d known about it 30 years ago, because it would have saved us a lot of grief.

          • Hi Catherine,
            Thanks for your response. I’m glad you found a way to interact with Christianity that isn’t harmful. But, I don’t know that I see a way to completely separate the religion from the religious system that embodies it. I know that there are congregations that affirm women as equal people, but the wider Christian community does not. If I have to isolate/insulate myself from the most of the Christian world in order to not be spiritually assaulted, what does that say about the health of Christianity?

            I really appreciate what Jory and others are doing to purge Christianity of its uglier components, but to be honest, I’m beginning to feel like I just don’t want to be in the same “tribe” with people who can’t affirm my equality.

          • “But it’s even more than that. I have no interest or gift for leadership, and still, a theology of “separate but equal” is demoralizing and dehumanizing” – YES!!!!

            Don’t leave Jesus though luv. We are going work through this! Xo

          • Darius
            I think we are trying to interpret scripture carefully and in context. I don’t think Rory or NT Wright would say otherwise. I do find all of NT Wright’s work, Paul De Vries work and Russell Moore’s work valuable in addition to Wayne Grudem’s work, and that Rory’s thesis is a good contribution but not the end of the interpretive work on the topic.

            The particular NT Wright work to read would be his chapter on marriage in this book: http://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Authority-God-Bible-Today/dp/0062212648

            My resources are cited at the end of this document and you are more than welcome to comment on the document should you believe you find error it is an interactive forum meant to accelerate learning.

            https://medium.com/we-are-all-overcomers/the-women-and-the-men-376dc6d37a82

            The key is that there is the original design (and by the way sex/gender predated the fall…it was not all about sin) and we live in a fallen world for thousands of years now, there is time-bound culture as well as eternal truth in scripture, and what is optimal may not be what you see in the particular pile of muck you get born to–but where-ever you are you can with His help go toward God. Sometimes he calls women leaders. He did it in scripture (Rory’s thesis has a good list from scripture), Jesus and Paul recognized women leaders, and He continues to do it.

            Teresa

          • The mistake is seeing “the message” of the Bible as Patriarchal, when that was in fact the cultural backdrop of the Bible.

          • Yikers I found the article you linked to rather shrill to be honest. One of the first descriptions she had on the article, ‘swaggering machismo persona – or delicate, hyperventilating, victimhood’. I mean she sounds like she watches to much MSNBC when they bring on their bunch of wackadoodles on all at the same time.

            Quite honestly, I didn’t find her piece had very much sarcasm, but more mean spirited dogma that she was brought up on I guess. Sadly, she was speaking down her noses at people…and that isn’t a gift. It’s bitterness.

            I truly feel sorry for such close minded people. They live in a bubble, and just assume they know the world from what other’s have told them. Sadly – its shows too.

            Her brush with Feminism? Wow. The poor woman needs to get out more.

          • I hope Rebekah responds this time in grace. I am sure she is a kind-hearted person who was maybe trying to be funny in her post.

          • Jory
            I misspelled your name in my last post! I can’t fix it –if you can please do… “Rory” should have been” Jory” and while we’re at I should have put your last name…yikes! Apologies… Teresa

        • Jory is writing woman to woman and not theologian to theologian. Rebekah Merkle’s blog post was full of emotional reactions and vague generalisations.
          Jory’s reply was much better thought out and contained much clearer theological argument, however it is not inappropriate to appeal to feelings when the blog post you are replying to is composed largely of talk about feelings.
          Keep up the good work Jory. Well written.

        • Jon, with a scripture like Acts 2:18, the Spirit will lead men and women to prophesy. If this is true, and women are led to prophesy by the Spirit, complementarians in essence are “squelching the Holy Spirit” if they don’t allow women to do what they are being called to do. I don’t think that’s an accusation without merit on Jory’s part. I have personally seen the Holy Spirit work through women in the church to heal, encourage, and teach. And this is coming for a guy who attended John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church and The Master’s College, so I understand that side of it (you can call me ex-reformed I guess). With that background alone, Galatians 3:28 has given me fits for far too long. I think your last line in particular is pretty condescending as Jory isn’t offended by strong words, but by the actions she sees that hinder women in the church from doing what the Spirit leads them to.

  • Wow wow wow, certainly made me think, glad that such discussions are happening. I often think that we must be the only army, that shoots itself and limits the abilities of 50 % of the army in some way. Although I agree with Jon I think it is important not to keep shooting someone who disagrees with you, ie they are quenching the Holy Spirit. There are so many different view points on all sorts of things, I love what Jackie Pullinger said… I have just followed my calling and done what I believed God has asked me to do. When in the early days of her ministry she was asked to leave the discipleship to the male pastors of the men that had come of heroin and had given their lives to Jesus .. She replied would u die for my boys would u care for them when they are struggling, no I will not do that. From that she started her own services…

    • Hi Linda. It seems you are in support of women in church-leadership, but not at the same time. I am not sure if that is possible. I will not apologize or “take back” my belief that complementarians are quenching the Holy Spirit by limiting God’s daughters because it is in sincere love and hope that they will repent for doing so, so that our army can function as one again. Blessings.

    • So true. I wonder how many women in Piper’s church fell “second class?” Th Bible is our guide. Not anyones feeling. Feelings change, the Bible does not. If you don’t like what God says – take it up withHim.

  • I actually think that it IS important to keep saying that you believe John Piper, etc. are wrong and quenching the Holy Spirit. They are in a position to hold many, many women of God back from preaching and teaching the Gospel. In a world that needs to hear the Good News, that’s a travesty. How many women already might have chosen to preach or teach God’s Word, if they had not been discouraged by either these complementarian men and women, or by those that follow their teachings?

    • Exactly Bekah! I believe with all my heart that comp. teaching is holding back thousands of women who are called by God to lead and minister. I don’t think most comps realize this. I think they think they are following God’s Word, but they are missing it big time. We all “miss it” when it comes to the Bible, but comp. teaching has serious consequences for the Church.

  • Hi Jory,
    Thanks ever so much for the thoughtful response! I’ve got a crazy day at work today, but I’d love to interact . . . I’ll try and post a follow-up soon!
    Blessings,
    Rebekah

  • Either 1 Timothy and Titus are God’s Word or they are not. Because they are God’s word, those churches in China eventually will be led by men. That doesn’t mean women are supposed to be without influence. Lydia et al. I am working on a children’s story about the five sisters of Zelophehad. There is an important gender lesson in that story that most people don’t pick up on. When God said 40 years for you. He WAS TALKING TO THE MEN. Otherwise, how could those same women be alive to address Joshua about their inheritance? Not all commands are for both genders. If a man stricken a woman for sharing the gospel, should she turn the other cheek? Should the man who is struck for the same thing?

    • Robert, I am sorry, but you are just plain wrong. Paul was a great advocate of female leadership and you are taking 1 tim/titus out of context. Please see my master’s thesis http://www.jorymicah.com/about/masters-thesis/. There I explain these difficult Bible passages in correct context and I also name many female leaders who Paul praises as his co-workers in the Church. God Bless.

      • You hit the nail on the head, jorymicah. After more than 30 years of being told what scripture said, imagine my great surprise (and relief!) to discover that lack of context, proof-texting, use of poorly translated passages, and mixing old covenant legalism in with new covenant freedom and grace has meant that most of those teachings are absolutely wrong. They don’t represent the truth of what Paul has written or what Christ intended for His church…at all. I try not to resent the years wasted under such error, but God began opening my and my husband’s eyes over 5 years ago, and I’m so very thankful for that. It’s never too late to taste the freedom from religious bondage that is found in Christ.

        • Catherine, you GET IT! I am so happy that you have found freedom. I truly pray all complementarian women would find the freedom we have found in Christ and shake off the chains of limitation!

  • Jory,

    You are right, this is not a secondary issue. I just wanted to let you know that because of what you are writing here, I am encouraging the leadership at the Christian org I work at to intentionally train and promote female church leadership in the Third World. My CEO is a woman with a sister in pulpit ministry, so she is more open to the idea than most. I don’t know if or how or how soon we’ll move forward with this, but we’ve discussed some initial first steps and I’m hopeful. A lot of people won’t agree, but seeing how so many women are already planting and leading house churches, it seems a grievance of the Spirit to wrest that ministry away just because they don’t have the “traditionally correct” genitalia. Thank you for the work you do here. You are inspiring so many people to make a real difference!

  • These conversations are very necessary; however, I’m often grieved by the tone and animosity involved. I am very troubled when I see us in a tug of war power struggle. I believe that part of problem is our starting point: So many in Christendom ask, “Who gets to be in charge? Who gets to delegate? Who grants permission to whom to do what?” I would love to be involved in conversations that as a starting point started off like this: “What burdens has the Holy Spirit placed on your heart? How can I come along and champion what God is doing in your life? What are our shared gifts, and how can we use them together against the kingdom of darkness and for the glory of God?” It is sad when I hear a conversation end with, “Oh yeah, such and such would be just fine for you to do because so and so said so.”

  • Spot on! After 46 years of egalitarian marriage, wonderfully happy ones at that, I am so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to minster in areas where my strengths lie, and for being supported in every endeavor by my husband, as I have supported him.
    I am increasingly amazed at the resurgence of patriarchy with all its spiritual dangers, and thank God for brave people like you. Interestingly, patriarchy has been affecting theology since the 1970’s as the idea of the eternal submission of the Son within the Trinity has gained increasing prominence amongst evangelicals, especially complementarians such as Grudem, who see it as a vehicle for supporting their ideas of male female relationships, even to the point of seeing the subordination of women to men persisting eternally in Heaven.
    Like you, I had a great minister father, a strong conservative evangelical, who all those years ago, firmly taught the equality of the sexes in the church, the home, and society.

  • HI Jory,

    I don’t know the girl you are addressing, but I know many like her. She’s well meaning and honestly loves God, but has not had an opportunity to see the rest of the world. I feel for her. For some people it takes years. It did for me and I wasn’t brought up a Christian but the early years of being taught in church as a young married woman sure was confusing. Thank God, He set me free.

  • I agree. For me, this is definitely a primary issue! I’m a woman with leadership gifts–it’s not possible for this to be a back-burner issue in my life.

  • There is one place where I often see some confusion in this conversation. When we use the word “feeling” for a sense of call and/or the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it seems to send up a red flag for complementarians when then dismiss it as a mere emotion that must be brought into line with the Bible.
    I wonder–just from reading between the lines–if many complementarians fall close to the cessationist side of things and reject the personal guidance of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise I have to conclude that they reject this sense of call on the basis of their interpretation of the Bible, which then just brings us back to where we started.
    But I wonder, too, if in discussions with complementarians, we need to be especially clear that we are not talking about feelings but calling. I think that Rebekah’s latest response demonstrates this misunderstanding: http://www.feminagirls.com/2015/09/27/ill-take-whiskey/

  • I really appreciate that you presented your stance without a condescending tone. I think there could be so many more fruitful and enlightening conversations around this subject if we could overcome our human tendencies to get defensive, snarky, or condescending in the process of sharing our viewpoints.

  • Hi, I know others have said this but I just wanted to say I thought this was very lovingly and gently written, and you’ve done a wonderful job of expressing yourself in a godly way. I actually disagree with you on this, but I hope that will add weight to my encouragement, rather than taking away from it! Well done x

    • Thank you Catherine; I appreciate the support even when people don’t agree. That is what sisters in Christ are for! 🙂

  • Hi Jory, I subscibe to Desiring God and only just found out about Rebekah Merkle from her article in todays email. While I definitely have found a lot of great things on Desiring God, I was admittedly a bit disturbed by her conclusions and the possible implications. Which is how I ended up googling her and finding you. Thank you for this letter. I can see it was carefully written with compassion, in an effort not to fight, but to help us all gain a little more perspective. I am also a minister’s daughter. While within my denomination we did not have women pastors, we did have bold and fearless women who were elders and deacons. The idea of submission and the roles of men and women is definitely a complex issue. I can imagine there will be many comments from either side of the debate. I just want to encourage you to keep serving God and not be discouraged! Blessings!!

  • You lost me at “my” Jesus. He is Jesus. The problem begins when we try to make Him “my” Jesus.

    I am sure I cannot be the first person to ask this and am sure you have responded to this question before. What would you do if you and your husband both disagree and feel strongly about a decision?

    Also, you are making God small and yourself big if you think anything we do “quenches” Him.

    • Hello. If my husband and I strongly disagree, we do no move forward on a decision until we do agree. We believe in mutual submission to one another as the Bible teaches in Eph. 5:21.

      Also, please watch your accusations of me. The Bible is clear that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. God bless.

      • That’s great that you and your husband are able to do this. You did not give an answer on what to do when you both cannot agree. You and your husband may both have this perfect relationship that eventually comes to mutual agreement. This does not help those of us that do not. Fortunately, the Bible teaches those of us who don’t so that we can have a God fearing and God glorifying marriage that stands the tests of time and bombardments of this world.

        The Bible is also clear to beware of false teachers that suit their own passions, a characteristic of those that use the expression “my Jesus” and weaken His power and love. I apologize for not being clear on this because I don’t believe that you are one of these teachers. However, you are blogging to many that are as well as young/weak Christians that believe that they can make Jesus fit into their lifestyle/beliefs. We should be careful how we phrase anything that takes away from the omnipotence of God and the words of Christ.

        It is easy to pick apart the words of someone that blogs as much as you do. I don’t mean to do that. However, it is important for us bring to light heresy, much as you are trying to bring to light heresy, whether intentional or unintentional.

        • You know, one of the things I have been thinking about lately is the way unilateral submission to husbands robs them of the opportunity to mature. I know so many men who have never been asked to voluntarily submit to another, and who have succumbed to the temptation to believe in the rightness of their own wills. To ask a man to sacrifice his will for the sake of the bride he loves is to ask him to become Christlike.

        • My husband and I do not at all have a perfect marriage. We disagree on matters often, as we are both strong leaders. If we strongly disagree on something, it may take years before we move forward on something. Eventually, he may have the final say or I may have the final say. It really just depends on who feels more strongly concerning the matter. We both have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, therefore our spiritual authority comes from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our spiritual authority is equal.

          We are both human, and at the end of the day, we are brother and sister in Christ. He is no smarter than me and I am no smarter than him. We need to have each other’s back. We cover each other. I don’t understand what “false teacher” and “heresy” has to do with any of this, sister? Why can we not just have a woman to woman talk without these words? It seems so counterproductive to our Christian relationship.

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