Women and God: why this conversation is even necessary

I want the Bible to be my guideline. Of course, I don’t live that perfectly, but it is my goal to constantly be growing as a student and practitioner of the Word. If you know me in person, I think you know that. If you follow me on Instagram, I think you know that. If you read my blog, I think you know that too. So my questions of how I’m supposed to show up in the world as a woman are shaped by what the Bible says about being a woman.

But the stories I’ve heard about being a woman have always had holes. I’ve had questions that no one has answered; questions it seemed no one else was asking. And, let’s be honest, the questions weren’t welcome either. I’ve spent years sweeping the questions under a mental rug and moving on. But the questions got bigger and bigger and then I added in questions about how I was supposed to raise my boys as men. Avoiding the questions wasn’t a feasible way to do life anymore. So I brought all the questions back out. Truth can handle questions. Truth isn’t intimidated by my questions. I put down all the stuff I was reading that people had to say on the topic (all complementarian, by the way, and raising more questions), and went to God.

I did a lot of reading. Most of it was not about what the Bible says specifically about women. I went right on with my normal Bible reading, but my heart was pulled toward the topic so I saw relevant connections everywhere. I started taking notes. I started comparing passages. I prayed over what I was reading and what was happening in my heart and what was taking place in the world around me. I expected my reading to fill in the gaps that I was finding in the story I was told. But instead I found the holes were there because of the story we were telling.

I’ve debated for a while about writing on this topic. A lot of people I respect are going to disagree with me. I expect to lose readers over this, not gain them. But my challenge to you is to stick around. Ask hard questions. If you’ve never considered our gender story long enough to have questions (this one is especially for you men), consider my own questions. I want you to go to the Bible for answers. Don’t just decide you’ll agree with me. Don’t pull out a theologian and read me what he said one time. Don’t sit comfortably in line with tradition without checking out whether or not it’s truth. Be able to handle the Word comprehensively and faithfully, with answers to the questions that women have. There are answers. We don’t have to shrug our shoulders and be satisfied with, “well, we don’t know the answer but you just have to believe God loves you anyway.”

Women have questions. It’s obvious a lot of the church is telling a strange story because there are so many books and articles on this subject. When’s the last time you saw a blog post asking if God liked men? Or a book discussing if the Bible was good for men? Never, in my experience. The story about men doesn’t change. A lot of the story is damaging to men, but their place in the story is never debated. The story about women is varied, often offensive, and includes a lot of conflicting material. It really boils down to whether or not there is a place in this faith to be a woman and matter just as much as men matter. I’ve found that God says “yes”, while a lot of the church says “yes, but” or “yes, as long as.” And friends, that actually means “no.”

I was tempted to continue raging (mostly) silently over this issue. But after months of discussion with a few friends, I couldn’t stay there. We are hurting women. We are hurting men (anything bad for women is bad for men too). We are hindering the mission of the church. We are damaging our testimony to the world. I personally know women who have left Christianity over the story we are satisfied telling about women.

We need to stop throwing God under the bus to justify our male supremacy. That’s a strong statement, I realize, but it is a strong belief. I actually looked up the word supremacy to be sure I wasn’t exaggerating and I’m not. Supremacy means “the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status.” I’ve found that is what’s frequently taught.

I once stated that I wanted these stories to go in a corner and die. I’m not satisfied with that any longer because history shows us that will never happen. We need to arm ourselves with truth and stomp these stories out. We should not be living complacently alongside this twisting of the kingdom. I know that’s an easy place to be. I’ve had conversation in person with people about this. A lot of men have never considered some of the questions I had or issues I’ve raised. I have calmly pointed out that’s because it doesn’t affect them. A lot of women might be uncomfortable with some of the things said, but they are either more uncomfortable with making a fuss or do not feel equipped to look for answers in the Word.

This is my year of not making excuses. I had an epiphany a few weeks ago when I realized that if I were told that I only had a month to live, writing this series on gender would move near the top of the list of things I wanted to do before I died. Friends, I’m not actually promised that I’ll be here in a month. That’s not morbid to my mind; it’s motivating. The only excuse I have for not writing is avoiding any potential (I’m making up problems before they exist here) backlash. I don’t want to be a coward.

I want to issue a challenge because I believe we can and should do better. I want us to move closer to the kingdom. I don’t speak from a place of cynicism but from a place of hope. Buckle up. Stick with me. Take the time to feel all the conflicting and uncomfortable emotions that might come and don’t jump ship until you go to the Bible for answers. Truth is not scared of questions.

(Also, any comments that attempt to close off the conversation by taking one verse of Scripture out of the context of that particular passage and the context of the Bible as a whole will be deleted. Thanks.)

Part 2: The joint mission of the sexes
Part 3: The things we know that aren’t so
Part 4: Tracing marriage through the Bible
Part 5: A woman’s place and the implications of our theology

 

6 Comments

  1. Ruth Ann Ann Sommers

    This gave me some things to think about!

  2. Madeleine

    So excited for you to write about this, Lisa! I’m in the same boat, but maybe a little bit behind you – still mostly with questions and no answers. I’m trying to be brave and learn to live in the questions until they get answered. I’m cheering for you.

  3. ooh I’m so glad for you to start writing about this! Can’t wait to follow along…this has been a journey we’ve been on and learning and growing so much and I just really want some more solid resources out there!

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