“Tearing Down Christian Patriarchy: Forgive Us For Our Mess”

under-construction-working-girl-1826687711Sometimes I picture myself as a construction worker with a sledgehammer.

I know I am bulldozing over so-called “biblical” mindsets. I know I am breaking down long-standing walls of church tradition. I know I am pulling nails out of the wall and “religious boards” are falling all over the place. Not only this, but I am looking for fellow sledgehammer helpers. I am under no illusion that I can tear down the broken, but stubborn walls of the Church, in the area of gender equality, alone.

I was fortunate enough to receive an early copy of Sarah Bessey’s new book (which comes out November 3rd), “Out of Sorts.” I have only read two chapters thus far and have already been stirred. I think of Sarah as a soul sister. Even though we have never met in person, she writes what is already in my spirit.

When I read her words, my spirit says, “Yes,” and I get the confirmation I need that I am not crazy, that God really has spoken to me concerning the Church and changes that need to happen for our survival and growth.

Sarah writes on page 16,

We are dying, perhaps, but even death is part of our story: It comes right before resurrection. It’s already happening globally – on the margins and among the disenfranchised, in the outsiders and the grass roots. I’m sure the great bastions of power and leadership within the Church are feeling the strain of the shift.

Sometimes I wonder what unbelievers think of the Christian Church right now. Are they disturbed by the mess or are they sitting on the edge of their seat, watching and hoping we get it together so they can join us in our search for Jesus? I sense the Church is under construction right now and everyone knows how annoyed we get with one another when “the house” is in process.

We are bickering and some of us have lost friendships over theology. The truth is that we are in the “working it out” stage; if the Church represents a marriage, we are on the verge of divorce and need some serious marriage counseling.

Some of us want to reevaluate the authority of the Bible, some of us want to reevaluate how the Bible has been interpreted (that’s me), and some of us want to cling to the way the Bible has been traditionally interpreted.

It reminds me of a family that purchases a “new” fixer-upper home. A lot of things need to be torn down, ripped up, and replaced. The house is on its last legs and no one really wants to live there as is; but there is enough hope to invest a little money, time, and love in it.

The problem, though, is that mom wants to rip up the carpet and put in wooden floors. Dad wants to keep the carpets, but get them professionally cleaned, and the kids were hoping to use their flooring from the home they are leaving behind because the truth is that they didn’t want to move in the first place.

The hard truth is that the Church has to move forward and we have to eventually figure out a way to get along.

The reason I began this blog is because I have felt a call to be a woman in ministry since I was 13 years old, but I got shut out of church leadership because I am a woman. The Church kept telling me, “you can be a teacher over at our Christian school,” or “you can be our children’s pastor.” I hesitantly accepted these positions as “my place” in the Church even though I never felt called to either. As a result, I became depressed and empty because I was not fulfilling my God-given purpose.

It’s been a little over a year since I began advocating for women in church leadership and I have found out that I am far from alone. Other women have felt the same way for decades. We want in. We want our teaching and leadership gifts to be used. We want our authority to count as much as a man’s authority.

Christian women want an equal vote and if we have to get a little crazy and start hammering down stale, religious, stubborn doctrines, then so be it.

The truth is that women being considered equals in both worth and authority in the Christian Church is only one change among many that needs to happen. However, women make up at least half of the Body of Christ, making this a “front and center” issue.

In order for women to be free to pursue their leadership callings, all patriarchy in the Church must die.

This includes the popular “American theology” of complementarianism. Complementarians are normally wonderful Christian men and women who truly believe their doctrines are biblical, but the doctrine bears bad-tasting fruit.

Essentially, complementarianism gives women a vote, but not an equal vote. It teaches that women are worthy of love and that they are equal in value, but their authority weighs less than a man’s in both the home and church.

The doctrine promotes hierarchies and masks itself behind a “servant leadership” facade. It pretends to be sacrificial; but in actuality, it puts both women and men into ill-fitting boxes, limits most everyone’s potential, and oppresses those who won’t submit to its control. This movement is spreading worldwide through Acts 29 Network churches and we must warn the world.

Some folks get frustrated with me for trying to tear down their human-made doctrines, but if we want to see the Church resurrected once again, brothers and sisters must work together to dismantle all forms of patriarchy.

 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:28

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  • Hi Jory! Your thoughts resonate with me. I understand what you mean when you talk about confirmation as you read other writers’ thoughts and convictions. I am in the same boat! No Sister, we are not crazy. The crazy thing is that many don’t even realize that somewhere there is a problem in the application of complimentarian theology. And for some people, even though they sense that something is amiss, if they speak up, they fear they are rebelling against God. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Jory, thank you for this! I meant to comment on this earlier in the week but am just now able to get to it.

    I looked at the Acts 29 Network website, and am not really sure why their complementarian viewpoint is included as one of their theological distinctives: “We are deeply committed to the fundamental spiritual and moral equality of male and female and to men as responsible servant-leaders in the home and church.”

    It is truly puzzling to me – this is included right alongside God’s sovereignty and grace, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, missionary understanding of the local church.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Olivia, I am very concerned with Acts 29 Churches. They do not allow women to lead or teach men. It is a very male dominated movement. They know how to word things so people don’t flip out. They believe women are equal in “worth” but not in “authority.” In my opinion, worth and authority go hand in hand as it relates to our spiritual authority in Christ.

  • Brave rebellion at its worst. You are not rebelling against man but against God. Tearing down the church Christ bought with His blood. There are two things you should know: Patriarchy isn’t what you think it is. True, all throughout the Bible male headship and leadership are emphasized. But along with that comes responsibility or accountability – towards God. In the end we ALL have to submit. You women want the power and the authority. Where do we ever read you want the accountability?? Certainly ly not in your column! Everything on your terms.
    Second: Patriarchy isn’t a man made doctrine. Even biblical “greats” like Paul or Peter emphasize in their letters they are not writing their own words – even when they teach feminine submission. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) All Scripture is inspired by God, and that includes the passages that teach feminine submission. You can’t pick and choose what’s convenient for you. So you are not rebelling against man-made doctrines, but against God Himself. You need to repent,

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