It seems odd that “women in church leadership” is such a controversial subject, but this blog and my presence on social media has caused quite a stir. I founded this “blog ministry” almost one year ago and I have had to develop thick skin due to all the haters. I have been called clueless, hick, fat, pig, ugly, Jezebel (one who practices witchcraft), frumpy, stupid, misguided, unworthy of a man, prideful, arrogant, ungodly and the list goes on.
I spend a significant amount of time muting mean people on Twitter, deleting comments of unproductive critics and even unfriending people on Facebook who are disrespectful towards me. I am sort of a “no-nonsense” type of person and I also have a sensitive soul. My natural tendency is to immediately delete a disrespectful person out of my life forever, but God is teaching me to be gracious and longsuffering. At this point, I typically give people one free pass to be a jerk to me. Maybe next year I will give two free passes as I grow in grace and let go of defensiveness. Either way, my goal is to be emotionally unmoved by “haters” or “lovers.”
For every hateful comment I get, I get ten words of encouragement and love. I value and appreciate these words so much, but God has shown me that I must not allow lovers to sway me either. When fighting a spiritual battle, the goal is to stay firmly planted, not permitting any human to push me in any single direction.
I don’t like when people try to stuff me into their small boxes. I don’t mind labels, but the minute I no longer agree with what the label stands for, I buck against it. There is only one place for a Christian to stand and that is on the Word of God.
The cool thing about the Word of God is that it is more than just the Bible; it is Jesus Christ Himself.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son (John 1:14).
There are a few controversial scriptures about gender in Pauline texts, but we must run everything through the filter of what Jesus said, what Jesus did, and who Jesus was because Jesus is the Word of God come to life. This does not mean we ignore difficult Bible passages, but it does mean we first center our thoughts on the middle of the Bible – the four Gospels and our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
When we stand on this rock we will not be moved by lovers and we will not be silenced by haters. We will remain untouchable as we grow in the knowledge of who we belong to and only what He says will matter to us.
If you are fighting this battle for gender equality in Jesus’ Church alongside of me, there are some demonic strategies you must be aware of. You and I both must ask God to grant us spiritual discernment, which is a knowing deep in our gut that someone is being used of Satan to speak mean or nice lies to either silence or move us. Satan can use “haters” and “lovers” alike to try and trip us up. If we think Satan does not use well intentioned Christians to do His handy work, we are sorely mistaken (See Matthew 16:23). Satan will use your spouse, your friends, your parents, your kids, your pastors, complete strangers and your enemies to try and shut you up and shut you down.
There are many Christians and non-Christians, men and women alike out there who are staunchly against gender equality and will grab for any quick argument they can find to stop or slow down progress. They will reach for Bible verses, stats, quick wit, humor, intellect, and harsh words that will have just enough truth in them to sting your soul. We must remember that these people are not bad people, but they are being used by Satan in that moment. We must take pity on them, pray for them, and hope that Jesus will set them free from spiritual captivity; but most importantly, we must not allow them to silence or move us from our position in Christ.
Be Ready. Get Prepared. These are the two top ways Christians have tried to stop my progress towards gender equality in the Church:
- I have had both atheists and Christians dart 1 Timothy 2:12 at me as if they were throwing a sharp dagger. They think they can silence me quickly with this Bible verse since it literally says, “Women should be silent.” Remember when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11)? How did Satan try to trip Jesus up? He quoted the Scriptures. He took them out of context to try and stop Jesus’ mission. Jesus countered Satan’s lies by stating, “The Word of God also says…” Learn the surrounding context of 1 Timothy 2:12 HERE. And don’t stop there. Understand all controversial passages concerning women and all the named female leaders in the Bible. I address them all in my master’s thesis HERE. Listen to me. The only thing more powerful than education is Jesus; therefore, an educated Christian is unstoppable.
- Fighting for gender equality is not prideful or selfish. Humility is a Christian attribute, but do not mistake humility for quietness. Our God is a “justice junkie” and He wants us to be “justice junkies” too. Some believers have misunderstood what humility is and have taught women in particular that meekness means wearing plain clothes, little to no makeup, remaining submissive to men, and not making a fuss over anything. Self-righteous men and women have attempted to call me “prideful” and “showy.” They have tried to put me in a category that I don’t fit in because I scare them. They don’t know what to do with an educated woman who is obsessed with Jesus and not afraid to speak out the truth. It is interesting that when a man fights for justice in the Church He is brave, but when a woman fights for justice, she is prideful. Humility is considering others more important than ourselves and it is a “heart issue” that cannot be judged by exteriors. We are fighting for women to be free to fulfill their leadership callings in the Church and there is nothing prideful or selfish about that!
It is imperative that we understand who our enemy is and how He works. Our battle is never against people. If we get defensive and take our frustrations out on people Satan is using, they will never find freedom and our enemy wins. There is no better way to defeat human opponents but to love them right where they are at. Disagree, but do it in love. Do not allow haters or lovers to have too much power over your mind or emotions. Refuse to be stuffed in an ill fitting box. Shine brightly, speak loudly, stand on the Word of God, and refuse to be silenced or moved.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
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