Friday, January 25, 2008

Have Women Been Had By The Church?

"The consensus appears to be that as it is presented and practiced in our churches the gospel is NOT Good News for women"--Elaine Storke, President of Tearfund, a christian relief and development charity organization.

In any debate, unfortunately, each side will too often cherry pick the evidence that best supports their stance and gloss over or completely ignore any contradicting information. 10 Lies The Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused To Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage by J. Lee Grady, is refreshing because not only does the author cogently present supporting evidence, but he tackles ALL the evidence employed to support the OTHER SIDE. No matter where you fall on women issues, you have to respect an intellectually honest, holistic argument. Grady is an award winning journalist, ordained minister, and directs the Mordecai Project, an international ministry that confronts the abuse of women and challenges the church to release women in ministry.

I realize that the title alone of this book will offend many, so I would like to reiterate the introduction of the book that provides a few specific disclaimers to clarify what this book is NOT about. This book does NOT call for or advocate: female domination or rejection of male authority, an alliance with a radical secular feminist agenda or movement, gender androgyny, justification of female rebellion, bitterness, or resentment in response to male oppression or skewed biblical restrictions.

This book is about hope, healing, freedom and restoration for ALL of God's children, male and female alike; a call for all to take part in the spiritual inheritance made possible through Jesus.

The 10 lies Grady examines are:

1. God created women inferior being, destined to only serve their husbands

2. Women are not equipped to assume leadership roles in the church

3. Women must not teach or preach men in a church setting

4. A woman should view her husband as "the priest of the home"

5. A man needs to "cover" a woman in her ministry activities

6. Women who exhibit strong leadership qualities pose a serious danger to the church

7. Women are more easily deceived than men

8. Women cannot be fulfilled or spiritually effective without a husband and children

9. Women shouldn't work outside the home (not to be confused with MUST work outside the home either though).
10. Women must obediently submit to their husband in ALL situations.

Now, not all of these are complete lies, as Grady thoroughly covers, and some of them are only taught in very rigid fundamentalist churches, so some women may have never even encountered a few on this list.

Grady boldly explores the Genesis account, examining God's ideal creation, the miserable consequences of the Fall, and the miraculous, wondrous consequences of the cross: the restoration of both men and women to their original divine inheritance through Jesus' sacrifice. He examines the lives and implications of the female heroines of the bible: Deborah, Hulda, Miriam, Mary Magdelane, the many other Marys (hehe), Junia, Proverbs 31 woman, Priscilla, Philip's daughters, etc. He analytically and holistically examines Paul's writings, which seemingly appear to bar women from teaching/preaching/praying/leading in the presence of men, limit the spiritual gifts and capabilities of women, and advocate a heavily restricted-participatory status in the home, marriage, and society. Grady masterfully weaves together the the text, original historical and cultural contexts, the original language and the various interpretations among biblical scholars. He then shifts to a holistic approach to offset these isolated verses with the heart and message of the rest of the bible, believing scriptures should affirm each other and not stand in opposition to one another. He explores church history, challenging the basis for which some of these male-dominated interpretations emerged. The book has a personal feel to it, because Grady includes the stories of great Christian women leaders throughout church history and present day women who are restricted and conflicted. His scriptural study is EXTENSIVE, exploring stories and verses in Genesis, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Job, Judges, Ester, Psalms, Proverbs, Joel, Jeremiah and large chunks of nearly every book in the New Testament.

To fight my long-winded propensity, I will refrain from relating the specifics of Grady's case (so, you should just buy the book!). I will, however, be using this book as one of many sources in my eventual multiple part study on biblical roles of women in each domain: home, marriage, and public church life.

Regardless of your stance, this will be a great read, even if it's is just to find out the reasoning for the conviction many christian brothers and sisters have to live out an egalitarian home, marriage, and church.

"'When [the women] came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven. … But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense."--Christianity Today column.

"People do not know that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel, or that Esther delivered the children of God from supreme peril … Is it not to women that our Lord appeared after His Resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what the women had found."--Christianity Today column.


Terry said...

As it relates to women in ministry, I am very open precisely because of the many examples cited here. In additiion, the command from Paul about women teaching was stated with the pronoun I, meanining Paul's preference and Paul was always careful to delineate the difference between his own views and a mandate he received directly from the Lord. It's one of the reasons I love his epistles and I wish more contemporary ministers would be so careful when they write or speak. As to the Biblical roles of husbands and wives, you know where I stand on that (not budging either, sorry!), so no need to repeat that here. I believe the problem that many women run into is that quite frankly, they do an aweful job of choosing their husbands, either by being unequally yoked, rushing into things, or disregarding the advice of those closest to them who know them best. I believe that when both partners are commited to living out Christian principles in their lives, submission is really not the burden many make it out to be. I mean, who wouldn't want to submit to a man who lives them as Christ loves the Church? Our human frailties don't make God's word ineffective. The solution isn't to weaken the mandate, but rather to develop ourselves spiritually so that we can model the beauty of what God requires when its obeyed. Sorry for being long-winded, but this subject is a passionate one for me.

Tia Lynn said...

No apologies necessary, you offer great insights. And the book does not advocate wives dominating their husbands, it talks a lot about biblical submission that is required from both men and women and freeing both men and women from unbiblical roles so they can take part in their inheritance in Christ. Even if you don’t budge (hehe), I think you could glean a lot from this book, even if it’s just to familiarize yourself with the argument of the other side. :)

But you are right, people take marriage too lately, marry too quickly, and kinda think “hey your a christian, I’m a christian, let’s get married!”

Christy Fritz said...

i'll come back and read this later, but i did want to show you this, and inivite you our way...this is showing in charlotte on mon feb 11 and one of the guys is a friend of our pastor's so is speaking the 10th.
you guys are welcome to come stay at our place if your interested.
it just made me think of you.

Rebekah said...

Women today bear the curse of Eve just like they always have. A husband is to “rule over his wife” (Gen ). Paul clearly COMMANDS the continuation of this all time truth in Ephesian 5 and clearly commands women are to be silent in church, only learning from their own husbands/fathers. Churches today try to get around this crystal clear command by denying women to preach behind a pulpit, but allow them to sing outloud, sometimes even LEAD worship, teach Sunday school, or “share” in smaller groups. This is not the structure that Paul allows, nor does it glorify God. Biblically, women are not allowed to speak, sometimes even be seen, in the presence of men that are not their fathers, brothers, or husbands. This rebellion has lead to the feminization of the church, which has caused more homosexuals to come into our midst and the declining attendence rates nationally.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing this book out. Sounds really interesting. I want to read this book as soon as possible.

jacob said...

Is this book actually suggesting that men and women are allowed to serve in the same capacity according to the bible?! Men are to lead by teaching, preaching, providing, making the decisions and being in the front lines. Women are to follow by learning in silence, living quiet lives, maintaining a home life, and serving their husbands, families, fathers, and brothers in the Lord by submitting to authority and tending to their needs. That’s practically Bible 101. Don’t be led astray by the warped doctrine of this book. Head over to Domestic Felicity ( and you can learn what real womanhood looks like.

Tia Lynn said...

Hey Christy! Thanks for the invite! I would really like that, I’ll talk it over with Will and see if he can get off work!

Rebekah and Jacob, are you two married? If not, maybe you should be, you’re awfully like-minded. I am going to refrain from my usual rebuttle because I plan to tackle all the issues you just mentioned in my upcoming series on biblical gender issues. So tune in then, and then you can decide whether I have given in to heresy. :)

Jeff Gill said...

This sounds like a really good book. It is amazing and sad and on the other hand, not really that surprising that we need this book in 2008.

Warning: shameless self-promotion. I wrote a bit about the apostle Paul and women in my Seven Cheers for St Paul

DeeAnn said...

I've been avoiding saying anything because of how overly-passionate I get when it comes to women's roles in the home and the church, but that's because my life and my marriage have been radically changed since learning of those roles. Having not read the 10 Lies book, I am not opposing anything it says, I just don't understand why it is even relavent. In my experience there is too little being talked about these issues in the church. I feel let down because I was never taught to respect my husband or to be obedient to my husband "as to not blaspheme the name of the Lord" (I'm talking about obey my husband unless he asks me to commit a sin). I have witnessed more disrespect for men and mockery of husbands in the churches than shoving religious rules down women's throats. I wish there were more teaching on the biblical role of women and husbands' authority, but done out of love through prayer.

Tia Lynn said...

Haha! Shameless self-promotion, I love it! And I will read it!

Hey Deann, I hear you and you are right. I would never want to swing to the other extreme where men are mocked and disrespected. I am aware that this occurs in churches too and it IS wrong. But this book is relevant, (and being written by a man) and it is definitely not about tearing down men to lift women up. Just the opposite, it is just as much about freeing men to come FULLY into their spiritual inheritance. While this book does examine the dynamics of a biblical marriage (leaving room for various models, where yours is quite acceptable), it more focuses on releasing women in public ministry: allowing them to speak, teach, serve and lead in more capacities than is usually allowed in conservative-evangelical churches. Rest assured that no one is calling for wives to rebel against their husbands. I can lend you the book, if you’d like to read it! Even if you don’t agree with it, at least maybe you could see where egalitarian types are coming from. :)

DeeAnn said...

Yeah, I'd like to read it. I'll have to get my husband's permission before it am allowed to read it. Just kidding!

Tia Lynn said...

Ha! That was a good one!

musicmommy3 said...

Hey Deeann,
Make your you wear your head covering while you read it. That should make it ok. ROFL


DeeAnn said...

I knew that was coming.

Joey said...

My in-laws have served 3 decades overseas. Often times, it is the women who come to faith first and serve in teaching capacities over men. Women cannot be excluded from ministry. My wife's college professor had the audacity to say that is not God's best. Wow...

Tia Lynn said...

Oh Joey, I hear ya. As I've been studying church history and the original language of biblical texts, I am just AMAZED how women have been wrongfully barred from coming into their spiritual gifts.

Jennifer K said...

This sounds like a fascinating book. I'll have to check it out at my local library.

I was raised Roman Catholic, but now consider myself Agnostic. There are many reasons why I left the church, but one reason was their whole, "keep women in the backseat" attitude. Hey, believe me, it's the nuns who do everything. I went to a Catholic college run by the Sisters of St. Francis, and these were probably some of the most amazing women I have ever met.

Tia Lynn said...

Hey Jennifer K. I am so happy that you stopped by. I am so sorry to hear about your experience. Let me assure you, that not all churches keep women from fully participating. I am a christian, believe the teachings of Jesus, and fully believe in a true and living God. If you read this book, keep in mind that the author is also a believer, whose intent is not to discredit the church, but to restore the church to what it was always intended to be. Stop by anytime!