On Being a Christian Woman in the Year of Our Lord, 2018

Last month I was intrigued to read the prediction that 2018 will be the year of the evangelical woman. I enjoy Karen Swallow Prior, the tweeter of that tweet, but I have no interest whatsoever in living in a world where the year belongs to evangelical women or women in general or evangelical men or any other such group. I am relieved that no matter our proclamations, 2018 will remain the year of our Lord.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve observed a pendulum swing in the more public places of Christendom (i.e. Twitter, blogs, social media, and the like. You know, the important places 😉 ) regarding the voices of “evangelical” women, reflected on a much smaller scale in the more private, local sphere.

To begin with, I hate pendulums. What are they but roller coasters that cause us all a ridiculous amount of motion sickness? The good news is that Scripture is immune to pendulum swings. It’s just as solid and unchanging as it ever was. And more good news: we can stand on the unmovable Word of God and smash the pendulum with that same Book all at the same time. The Bible can multitask.

I’ve tried to put my finger on what seems to be afoot, particularly with conservative Christian women––for whom the sound of the rumbling is different than its liberal counterparts, yet seems to be aimed in the same basic direction. It seems the culprit is a general sense that women have been underutilized and pigeon-holed in Christ’s body and the internet is the main means by which this problem has found its voice.

Here’s my summary: Biblically-conservative Christian women are eager to have visible, biblically-conservative leadership by women in their churches and eager to learn from gifted, female Bible teachers whether locally or nationally. Secondly, women with the gift of teaching in conservative churches have felt underutilized/devalued and are carrying some angst, even as things may change for the better. (The accuracy of these points will vary greatly depending on your local context, but I’m speaking generally).

The underlying lesson is: women are hungry for teaching from women. This is basically right and good (Titus 2:3–4). They would like living examples of wise, Bible-soaked women to follow and imitate. They would like to be fed meat, not just milk. And hungry people get nourishment wherever they can find it––they aren’t picky, they’re starving. If only the worst kind of teachers are available to women, many will go ahead and eat the rot.

So, from the perspective of the hungry Christian woman, this pendulum swing is very much a good thing, if it means more resources available to her that make it possible for her to learn and understand her Bible and her God better. Assuming that gifted conservative female Bible teachers don’t just stay within the boundaries Scripture lays out for women in regard to how they may and may not lead and teach, but have come to LOVE and TEACH the boundaries as good gifts, this is all upside. And I’ve seen lots of this. Loads of helpful Bible resources made accessible for women. Podcasts that go deep in wisdom and the gospel and basic Christian living. It’s awesome––what a time to be alive.

But I’m not so sure this fully describes where we are. There also seems to be an itch, an inkling, an impulse, even in the conservative sphere, that has begun to demand status for women as important and essential humans whose voices must be heard. It’s not that I disagree that women are important and essential, it’s that publicly insisting so is entirely an un-Christian way of trying to get that point across.

In this CT piece, Hannah Anderson (whose book on humility was a great read for me last year) says, “The way forward is for the church to identify and support gifted women, partnering with them via theological training and commissioned ministry positions. If you don’t want women breaking down the doors, simply open them for them.”

This encapsulates it: the mood, the slight angst, the rumbling.

If women are breaking down doors in order to use their gifts in the church, the solution cannot only be to teach men to open the doors. I agree that that is part of it. Let men learn to honor women and notice gifts and facilitate the work of the ministry and open the doors for their counterparts that are helpers by nature. It seems this is vital and basic Christianity and men should be exhorted to act like Christian men.

But there’s another side to it: we must teach the women to act like Christian women, not door busters. We must teach them that the Christian life is not one of getting our way or forcing our plans or barging in––it’s one of dying daily, humble waiting, prayerful dependence, and unseen service where our right hand is ignorant of our left. That breaking the doors down would be the path toward anything but misery seems obvious enough––which doors are enough, when does it end?

Once we’ve broken them down, it’s impossible to open them rightly.

Think of Paul’s letter to Timothy. Paul tells the young Timothy that he shouldn’t let anyone despise him for his youth. I don’t know about you, but I’m apt to cheer, Yeah! You heard him! Stop despising me! I’m owed a little respect! Is Timothy supposed to demand and insist that no one is allowed to despise him? Is he supposed to say, “You must value me!” No.

Paul tells him how: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). This is the way of Christians. How do we get respect? How do we make people see our God-given value? We go low. We set an example. We don’t insist on our importance.

What if Christian women in 2018 decided that in all things we would set an example in our godly and gracious speech, our exemplary conduct, our loving actions, our bold faith, and our complete purity? What if we stopped trying to exalt our voices and “be heard,” but gloried in exalting Christ (Matt. 23:11–12)? What if we stopped seeking a seat of honor, but resolved to eat even the crumbs from the Lord’s table (Matt. 15:27)? What if we really trusted God––that God sees us, God loves us, Christ came for us, and the Spirit’s working in us, whether others see it or not? What if we really lived like it was the year of our Lord, not the year of the evangelical woman?

This isn’t theoretical for me. I’m as prone to desire recognition and a seat at the table as the next person. I’ve got more opinions, thoughts, and ideas than is safe for any one person to have. I long to have whatever gifts God’s given me recognized, valued, and utilized to their full extent and it can be painful to be constantly weaning myself from those mixed-bag desires. But, in Christ, I know that God is building his church. And I can take the steps of faithfulness available to me, speak and serve when given opportunity, and if not, rest in the knowledge that God doesn’t actually need me to do the jobs I think he might need me to do.

Jen Wilkin says this in her talk to Acts 29 church planters, “The contributions of women in the advancement of the kingdom are essential and indispensable. If we have crafted a vision of the church in which women are extra, in which women are nice but not necessary, we have crafted a vision for the church that is foreign to the Scriptures.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. She’s right. The church advances as the church––made up of all its parts. The stronger are supposed to see that the weaker are indispensable (1 Cor. 12:22). They’re supposed to show them extra honor (1 Cor. 12:23–24). And I think in the context she was speaking to––pastors desiring a woman’s perspective on how to better minister to women––it is helpful to give that reminder. I’m thankful for women like Jen who have had doors opened for them and now are using that platform to ask men to open the door for more women.

But there’s another side to being part of God’s people on his vine and that is that none of us are actually essential. God could raise up stones in our place.

In Romans, Paul tells the Gentiles that they aren’t as special as they might like to think––he’s telling us the same thing:

“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:17–22)

Did you catch that?

It is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.

Do not become proud, but fear.

Neither will he spare you.

Provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Is this part of what we’re teaching women? Are we reminding them that being a physically weaker vessel doesn’t make us humble by nature? That we aren’t owed a seat at any table, but Christ has graciously given us one at his? That as awful as it is that many women have been victimized by men, it’s equally awful that women also victimize those smaller than them, in varying ways? That pride is no respecter of gender and infects everyone in Adam, including women? Are we letting them know that they’re Christians too, which means we women have to die to the desire to be important. We have to die to the desire for the year of the woman and replace it with year of the Lord.

That doesn’t mean that we ignore the real needs of women––in no way! We must feed them, honor them, love them, and serve them––but not in an oddly self-serving, self-promoting way, rather as sacrifice. We must disciple women and fit their gifts into the body. But discipling isn’t only plugging in gifts or putting people in the right seats or developing leaders or getting a woman on staff. It’s also teaching everyone that the only path to life is crucifixion–that they aren’t living anymore, but it’s Christ who lives in them. It’s teaching them to, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3)

Exalt others. Honor others––men and women and children. That’s how we follow our Savior, who didn’t count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but in humility became a servant. Only then can we be exalted, once humility has so lowered us that only God himself can raise us up. And he will, in due time.

I’ll end with two practical concerns I have with the pendulum swing I see in some of the public sphere of conservative Christendom that’s been trickling down locally.

  1. It makes advancement mainly a function of women teaching and (accidentally?) devalues all the other ways women serve as an essential part of the body. It’s like we want all women to be teachers. I understand why the focus is on women teaching, because that’s the area that some are slower to embrace–feels risky, like a woman might overstep the bounds. But, in the same way I think men can be devalued when they aren’t teachers or pastors, I think the same thing is happening with women and we should avoid this silliness at all costs. You don’t have to be an up-front teacher in order to be a spiritual mother. A female on a stage speaking to a group is not essential to thriving spiritual mothering or the fulfillment of a woman’s role in the local body. A woman teacher is no more effective or influential in God’s economy because she’s been given a microphone.
  2. Our swing is in tandem with the current swing of liberal and unorthodox Christians as well as with the world, albeit on a different scale. This doesn’t make it all wrong, but it’s something to note. When the world is swinging into transgenderism and gender queer identity, and the liberal church is swinging into ordination of women and self-identified gay Christians, the conservative swing toward a disproportionate valuing of the stage/platform as the most important place for women to serve may seem minor, but we should pay attention to it. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater––there are important things to learn in this pendulum swing, good and right actions to take. There are many faithful upfront women teachers that I love and have learned a ton from–I want their number to increase! But maybe the most important lesson is that the pendulum needs to be smashed with God’s word.

Christians have a fixed and ancient reference point. Let’s hold fast to it.

31 thoughts on “On Being a Christian Woman in the Year of Our Lord, 2018

  1. Abigail, I really appreciate your thoughts. I have had some rumbling concerns about the ways some of the conservative discussions have been moving forward (both in tone and content), especially while seeing such an upswing in my liberal Christian and non-Christian friends along the lines of “smash the patriarchy” as well as what you mentioned seeing on the internet platforms. I am hoping that we can really have biblical lenses and filters on our eyes, thoughts, motivations, understanding of what we read via media etc. and not be swept up in the current wave but with sanitized churchy ways of accommodating popular, current lines of understanding. This is so hard for us. The ways of our Lord are never fashionable, they an unmoving rock and we will be continually uncomfortable rubbing up against them if we fail to mold ourselves to the shape of his ways and instead try to force modern thoughts (whatever our “heart” finds comfortable at the moment, often accommodating popular concerns) up against the rock of unchanging truth. I have been praying verse by verse through the epistles since Thanksgiving (I’m up to 2 Timothy) and the contrast between my thoughts and the Lord’s can be stark and uncomfortable. Do our lives and thoughts and behaviors (as women and men) look like what Paul teaches? It’s been convicting. I have similar concerns to what you have expressed, on multiple levels. Your thoughts are much more developed than mine. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. One of the best blog posts I’ve seen in regards to Christian Women’s Ministires and speakers. It’s a problem and it’s refreshing that you addressed it!! Thank you! This opinion (of biblical womanhood in general), is very unpopular and I always love reading about other women who share this same view. Thank you again for writing this! I’m a new subsrciber to your blog, and “Hope and Stay” is quickly becoming a favorite. ^_^

    Halee Westbrook

  3. 1. Social justice is demanded in the Bible. Take one of your statements, and insert a different social justice concern to see how demeaning this comment is: “It’s not that I disagree that People of Color are important and essential, it’s that publicly insisting so is entirely an un-Christian way of trying to get that point across.” See? You can’t insist that a public reprimand is non-Christian. I mean you can, but it’s blatantly untrue.
    2. You say, “Is he supposed to say, ‘You must value me!’ No.” Um, yes, we must demand value as image-bearers of God. Nothing in 1 Timothy 4:12 says we can’t. Youth is something that would have possibly caused other Christians to look down on Timothy, so, again, we could replace the word “youth” with woman or People of Color. Don’t let anyone despise you because you’re a woman. Don’t let anyone despise you because you’re black. Loving well is making others feel valued. If your husband doesn’t value you, for instance, you’re going to feel unloved (because that WOULD be unloving of him). Also, you’re conflating importance and value here. They are not the same thing. Wanting to be valued does not=wanting to be important. It IS wanting to be loved well.
    3. The Bible applies to everyone, not just women, so your admonition, “What if we stopped trying to exalt our voices and ‘be heard,’ but gloried in exalting Christ (Matt. 23:11–12)? What if we stopped seeking a seat of honor, but resolved to eat even the crumbs from the Lord’s table” applies to women AND men and is, therefore, not a point to be made in a piece written for women only. It makes no sense if not taken in context of applying to every person equally, regardless of gender.
    4. Isn’t Romans 11:17-22 referring to Jews and Gentiles? That has nothing to do with a discussion of women seeking to be heard.
    5. Women can exalt and honor others while having their voices heard. You seem to think you either do one, or you have to do the other. False, you can do both. Beth Moore is a great example of this in action.
    6. Women don’t necessarily want to teachers. Having your voice heard, being listened to by men has squat to do with that.
    7. Even though I don’t feel comfortable working in the nursery, I would feel very uncomfortable with any man watching my children in the nursery or teaching their Sunday school class alone simply because predation occurs (not that it couldn’t by women but mainly that shows up in female high school teachers). However, we should also not be restricted to the nursery and Sunday school teaching of first graders. If you like doing these things, great! You must realize, though, that not all women are like you.
    8. No one has ever been able to answer this question for me. Maybe you can? Why do no men serve during fellowship meals (none that I’ve ever seen)? This to me speaks of larger problems in the church between men and women and of the pick and choose ways of men wanting to “serve.” They ALSO would like to be teachers or preachers vs. serving in a not so visible way. Maybe you can write about that.
    9. I believe men don’t engage in public or even private conversation with women about these things because they just don’t like talking to women. Our emotional, reactive nature seems to be despised by men so that they instead talk about us but never TO us because of fear. This is absurd and needs to change. The old saying, “I don’t bite” goes a long ways here. I, for one, am glad for the internet where women’s voices CAN be heard even if men choose to ignore our voices or give us a “wide berth” by never interacting with us due to their fear. The Bible says don’t fear, so men have no excuses as to why they are not entering into debate with emotional, reactive women (i.e. ALL women pretty much since that’s how we communicate). Men erect these walls and wonder why some women get frustrated, angry, and resentful. Men, this is a call to stop stonewalling women. Don’t just listen in and roll your eyes. Respond. Do something about your sterile ways of communicating.

    1. 1. Social Justice is an important aspect to the character of God and his plan but is not the chief end of the church. I believe that the church should not be silent on social problems and I will agree that we have been a little slow to the draw historically but I also know that it falls to the state who has been given the sword to act on these issues. John 13:31-35 is one of the last of Christ’s command to his followers and it is that that we would be known for our love. Abigail’s point is to show that it is by the conduct of the church and not merely the words that the world will know Christ in us. Public reprimand for the means of self-gain is not the purpose of the church. It is a blessing to be persecuted for the humble and loving conduct of following Christ. That is the Matthew 5:10-11. I think that the church needs to make biblically centered progression toward implementing woman where they are most able to use their gifts for the benefit of the body but this will not be done through a view that “I am vital to the operation and I would be a delight to all if it were not for so and so keeping me off the mic.” This is not the biblical attitude commanded of any believer.
      2. I whole-heartedly disagree with your statement that “Nothing in 1 Timothy 4:12 says we can’t [demand value].” Paul explicitly says that the proper response to those who are devaluing you for a negligible trait is to “”set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” not to argue your value with them. Timothy could make a claim that he has been confirmed by the great Apostle Paul, and has been confirmed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit but instead he is instructed to live humbly and practice your gifts. Wanting to feel important is the heart of wanting to feel valued. Importance is the idea that you are a vital part of the operation without which there would not be the same fruit. Biblically we know that all in the body are meant to work together and I agree that we are all important and there is nothing wrong with that beside the mindset that you are important. The reason we die to ourselves and humbly take the charge of any ministry is because we can serve others and are commanded to do so. The second you think highly of yourself and seek your own gain or think yourself vital to the operation of God’s glory the bible reminds us that were we not worshiping God than the very stones could cry out. There is twofold truth in the economy of God in which we are all needed but not for the value we bring out of ourselves but for the amazing ability of God to work through willing vessels. This is the same way that marriage is the most beautiful union of two people. Both are blessed in their respective roles when each party is considering the other as greater than themselves and not selfishly waiting for the other to act the way they ought to. The solution to an unfaithful spouse (unfaithful in regards to your example of being a poor lover) is to be more faithful as Paul says “that he might be won without a word by the conduct of his wife”.
      3. I agree that this admonition to all to not to seek your own honor is absolutely applicable to all and should be enforced upon all in the body. The church should be keeping careful eye on all those who are working for their own glory because this is the sure sign of a wolf whose “god is their belly” and who works only to their own gain. If in this is meant for all than it definitely makes sense to say that his applies to woman. It is not mutually exclusive to say that woman must not murder because it is meant for both genders. No one should seek their won gain in ministry and if they do than they are not meant for ministry; man or woman.
      4. The same logic can be used. This is most certainly speaking to Gentiles and reminding them that they are to be humbled by the work of God to plant a root in the Jews that the Gentiles would be grafted into as well. This is applicable to woman as well as men because we are equally accountable to this heart humility before God. Paul makes this clear in v.25 by reminding us that the purpose of him reminding us of the Jews is “lest we become wise in our own conceits” and begin to think that we were sought out for our inherent value as superior Gentiles. In the same way woman (and men) can cultivate a heart of humility and remember that we are all the same in what we bring to the table and that is nothing.
      5. There is no value in having your voice heard. The only unique thing that a preacher brings to the pulpit is his flaws. The purpose of those voices speaking is that we do not speak our own voice but to bring clearly and faithfully the voice of God in his word and the second you walk up with an agenda of having “your voice heard” you are not preaching the gospel of Christ but the gospel of your fallible self. The preacher is nothing more than clay in the gracious hands of the savior. To be reviled for faithfulness is only honorable if you are being reviled for Christ and not because you are brash, harsh and haughty (1 Peter 3:13-17; 4:12-19).
      6. I am not sure what you mean on this point but I think that you either need to find a new church if the men are truly “stonewalling” all woman, which I find unlikely, or you need to actually engage in more conversations with real men and not patriarchal caricatures. Woman bring a lot to the table that men do not and I do not know many men who do not whole heartedly believe in the absolute equality and integration of woman with respect to all that the bible has instituted.
      7. I agree and I agree. I think that we need to be careful and it is always right to take the necessary precautions as we seek to take care of our littlest ones. There are distinct roles that men and woman play and I think that you can agree based on your statement that woman do well to teach the children but I think you seriously border on devaluing these individuals when you act like woman are exiled to the lowest form of ministry. This is a beautiful honor and glory to teach young ones and should never be looked down upon as if it were lesser than the pastor in the pulpit.
      8. There is no problem with whoever is serving at these events. I have witnessed plenty of men being used in this role but on the contrary does the church have a problem with men’s rights because it is predominately men who are stacking chairs and addressing other tear down and set up needs? Is there a problem that men are in the sound booth exiled from the glory of the stage? I think that we can both agree that this is absurd and that this can be summed up to a varying degree of ability and interest in different areas of service. God does not see a hierarchy of value in his church like you seem to be equating to the body. The majority of men in the body serve in “not so visible ways” and that is how they would like it. There are not many who are willing to seek the office of overseer and of those there are not many worthy. There are books written on the topic of men who want to be leaders and they are the pastoral epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). 1 Timothy says “Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” But following this is the qualifications of an overseer. If men seek that spotlight than they are not God’s servants but a wolf there to devour the sheep for their own gain and do not worry because justice will be done to these men. The groom loves his bride the church too much to stand for these men.
      9. This is a nonissue to which I do not agree. Conversations between men and woman have existed from the beginning and will continue to exist in marriage, friendships, and employment relationships. We have adopted a “I am woman hear me roar” mentality that is not fair to woman and makes lesser men not engage. I personally enjoy speaking to woman and I have amazing friendships with women who carry all kinds of different views so I am not afraid to speak to woman. Men would not make it very far without communicating to woman especially in the church. We are working in effort to minister to all people and to neglect woman means that we are not being faithful as the church. I do not agree with the generalization that the majority of women are emotional and reactive because that narrative is part of the problem that separates men and woman. At the end of the day we are all children of God in his body in which our gender is so minuscule in importance in the grand scheme of God’s glory that we as the church should be known focused on being known by our forbearance, humility and love. Adopting the non-issues of the surrounding culture is poison to the gospel. We are like the one who takes another believer to court instead of settling it with god’s people; we blaspheme the gospel with our own agenda of vilification.

  4. Abigail, I appreciate your reminders in this post that our value of ministry within the church doesn’t come from being on a stage or doing work that is noticed. I think that is an important reminder for all of us.

    I felt burdened to respond though to what you said here:

    “That as awful as it is that many women have been victimized by men, it’s equally awful that women also victimize those smaller than them, in varying ways? That pride is no respecter of gender and infects everyone in Adam, including women? Are we letting them know that they’re Christians too, which means we women have to die to the desire to be important.”

    As a victim of abuse this particular paragraph was hurtful. And having been in the role of pastor’s wife and advocate for those who have been abused at the hands of the men in their lives, I thought of the women who will be reading this and will feel the shame that comes from it. To give a victim the message “you are a sinner too” has been an all too common response in the Christian world. And very often re-traumatizes the victim.

    I am sure this was not your intention. So I wondered if you knew that 1 in 4 women in our churches have been sexually abused or assaulted before the age of 18? And many by the men in their lives that were supposed to love and protect them. And this doesn’t include emotional or spiritual abuse that is also very common in our churches as well.

    Because of this there are many who sit in our pews who have had their voices taken from them. And feel as if they no longer have one. I believe it is one of the most God honoring things we can do to help them see that they indeed do have a voice. And as his image bearers, that they are important to God. And then they need to be shown that they can use their voice for his glory. And that God created them for that purpose.

    This is the motive and message I think many women in the Christian church are trying to convey in regards to what you are talking about here in your article. I am far less concerned about women overstepping their bounds than I am about them finding their identity and freedom in him. As someone who loves Jesus and longs to see others find their value in him, I cheer loudly when women finally see that and start breaking down doors. Because I know the pain and suffering it took for them to find the courage to get there. Most of them are breaking down the doors that have taken them away from Christ himself. And they long to find him again on the other side of that door.

    Most of these women after they have found him again are not prone to the spotlight, but after having experienced their own healing, wind up going back to the same dark places they came from to help other women and victims find their voices as well. Places most people in the church don’t go. Or even realize are there.

    So, I think there is a place within this discussion where we can actually believe it gives God glory by giving women back their voices. And by giving them the value and honor he wants them to have as his image bearers. As you know there are many stories of Christ doing that himself for the women he came across when he walked this earth. He did it for me. And so I can’t help but want that for others, too.

    1. Hi Kimberely,
      I appreciate you voicing your concerns. I think there’s some legitimate misunderstanding in how you read the article that I hope you’re willing to hear. I agree that women who have been abused should find their voice. I was not trying to address that point with the article. When I spoke of breaking down doors, I was referring to the way that statement was used in the CT article I linked to and the general sense of how teaching/having the stage has become the primary way for women to “advance.” I was pushing on that in regard to doors being broken down. When I spoke about voices, I spoke about exalting our voices in regard to trying to get the role we want or our opinion across, not about “finding our voice” relating to telling someone about how we’re being abused and getting help.

      I also think you read a personal element into the paragraph you quoted that isn’t there. I wasn’t speaking to an abuse victim, per say. I was speaking generally about how we talk about sin. Are we communicating that everyone sins and abuse doesn’t respect gender? Do you agree with that? What I manifestly was *not* saying is that when a woman (or man! or child!) has been abused, she should be asked, “So, what did YOU do?” There is not a shred of that thinking in my mind or heart or in the article.

      I do appreciate that stats–I am aware of them. I’m thankful that you’re getting that info out as I believe, like you do, it’s so important! (As an aside, abuse of boys is estimated to be wildly underreported for many reasons, one is that they won’t self-report as much as girls. It’s also estimated that abuse of men is underreported). But I also want to gently ask you if you realize how much you assumed about me personally based on how you felt about what I wrote? You don’t know my story or my past. You don’t know what I’ve had to walk through. You also don’t know who or what I’ve advocated for in my personal life and ministry. I don’t plan on sharing all that here, but I just want to say, I think you’d be surprised.

      I’m thankful for the work you’re doing to help abused women. I hope it thrives and many find the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the help of Jesus’s active and protective body. Blessings to you.

      In Christ,

      1. Thank you for your response, Abigail. Just to clarify, I wasn’t trying to imply that you did not have knowledge about the topic of abuse. Obviously, I do not know your whole story or background. And I wasn’t making a judgment on that. Which is why I chose to ask the question verses just imply something about you that I do not know. I apologize if it came across that way.

        My main intention for commenting was just to share with you how I took that particular paragraph. And how it made me feel as a victim. And how from experience, I think others could possibly take it similarly. Often, especially in our writing, we can unknowingly say something that sounds like we are saying something else. And that can hurt people. I have done that myself and have had to tell that person that I was so sorry for not wording something better or at the very least tell them how sorry I was that I hurt them unintentionally. And I did mention that I didn’t think those were your intentions. I was believing the best about you.

        Thank you also for your clarification on what you meant in that paragraph I referenced. I do agree with you that everyone sins and abuse does not respect gender. But from what I have seen and witnessed in the reformed church it is women who have suffered the greatest abuses and oppression. And so I am careful on how I talk about that. Knowing I am speaking to many who are coming from a history of trauma. In comparison, as the wife of an inner city police officer who is white, and having conflicting thoughts on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, though I disagree with some of what they have done and how some in the movement have expressed themselves, I would never respond in my disagreement by saying to them “All Lives Matter”. Because I think that diminishes greatly the oppression and terrible pain they have gone through in their history as a people. And those words could be very hurtful.

        I hope this helps clarify a little more my intentions in commenting.

    2. I’m not sure where this will show up in the thread as there was no reply button on your last comment, but I’m responding to the most recent one.

      Thanks for further clarifying. I think we agree on much and I can see you were trying to communicate how it made you feel as a victim and how you believed it would make victims in general feel–I appreciate that. I think there are some assumptions in telling me that, but I can see your heart is to protect people from feeling shame or reliving trauma. I don’t want to contribute to that at all, and at the same time I want to help people be willing to hold truth in tension: people are sinned against in ways that they have no fault in it and must be helped, and simultaneously, those same people sin against others (not necessarily to the same degree or as a response). The two truths don’t cancel each other out or negate one another–one truth isn’t an excuse or reason for another. The Bible is full of these sort of tension-producing truths and I don’t think I’m helping people if I don’t help them begin to move toward embracing the them. I’ve observed that victims of abuse process things differently and I want to be slow to put all victims in a box or make them a different class of people who can’t receive these sorts of truths.

      I appreciate your engagement and if you’d like to talk further, I’d be happy to correspond privately: hopeandstay.blog@gmail.com

  5. I’ve noticed many of those same things, too. Or at least, an atmosphere change or something. Thanks for putting words to your observations. ☺️

  6. So very much appreciated (and shared among some women’s ministry circles). I have grieved to see people demanding attention and position in the name of Christ. This is a wonderful, biblical course correction that needs to be heard.

    Similar to a commenter above, I noticed that another category could be placed in for “women” and the same arguments could be made (I just have a different conclusion than the commenter). Grasping and demanding are tools of the flesh which is hostile to God; not of the Spirit of the crucified & risen Savior.

    I am reminded of a quote from Jen Wilkins’ pastor, Matt Chandler – “by the cross of Christ socially I have been saved from the sin of arrogant hierarchy-seeking and saved to humility in seeking the lower seat.”

  7. Thank you for this. I’ve been blogging along similar lines recently and was beginning to feel as though no one got what I was trying to say. It’s not about being a woman or a man, it’s not about power, or balance, or getting heard. Or, if it is, it really shouldn’t be. This was a great read & I’ll be following you with interest.

  8. This maybe one of the best articles I’ve read regarding the Christian woman in current American Christianity. So well written and timely. I needed the encouragement. Thank you!

  9. You express very well a legitimate concern, Abigail. I hope many see your post and are prompted to think more deeply about this issue. Thank you.

  10. Hello Abigail😊 Happy new year. First timer here. Well, I love the way you right and you do have a lot to say. But I don’t agree with some points on this post. I’ll tell you why. Hope that’s OK. Well, when I saw “the year of evangelical women” I was like, “The LORD our God, the LORD is One”. Because I remembered the prophetic outlook given by God through the General Overseer of my church at the Crossover service. One of the prophecies is very similar to the evangelical woman. He said God will raise up radical prophetesses. And the Bible says, in the last days young women shall prophecy. It’s still the year of the LORD of course, but a prophecy is meant to tell us what to expect from God so that whoever is concerned will be ready. If I need to break doors to fulfill my destiny, unless God says otherwise, I will smash the doors. Then again, that might not be necessary. I might just say, ‘Lift up your heads o ye gates….’ I also recall the women who asked — was it Moses or Joshua? — to have an inheritance of their father. God did not say how dare they. Nor did God say they were too bold or to forward or demanding. He said what they asked was good and that their request should be granted, with some certain conditions. One might not receive if one doesn’t ask. If Jesus is our model, then ‘conservative’ does not describe a Christian. If you are naturally so, you may be excused. And if not, what is your excuse? Jesus overturned the money changers table at the temple. He shouted at the entrance of a grave that, Lazarus should come forth. That doesn’t sound conservative to me. The religious leaders did not give him a platform to speak, I mean they hated him and wanted him killed. God created platforms for him. What would have happened if Jesus had ‘patiently waited’ to be called by the religious leaders to preach? What we need is the call of God, not the call of men — even if they are men of God. Shalom🌻

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