Category Archives: Theology

You Are Not a Jesus Feminist Pt 2

You are not a Jesus Feminist Part 2

 

In this current political climate feminist is a word that is used by women to let the world know that they stand up for the rights of women and seek equalization with men. Unfortunately, not all feminists are interested in fighting for the rights of ALL WOMEN. They have some how made a mental, sometimes unconscious list in their mind of which women are worthy and which one’s aren’t.

The most selective feminists have deemed women who are poor, of colour, not formally educated, hold a criminal record, are “too religious” or whatever qualifier they have decided is worthless, to not be females worth fighting for. Unapologetically, they exclude the women who have made it onto their list of undesirables.

I’ve read articles where Christians have labeled Jesus a feminist. I think that’s a slippery slope and it’s best to avoid attaching political labels to Jesus. It is no different than saying Jesus is a Democrat, Republican, environmentalist or a union supporter.  I’ve even listened to people who claim that Jesus was a vegetarian, and yes, this is even though we read of Jesus fishing and eating with his disciples.

Based on scriptures in the bible, I have no doubt that Jesus cared about the environment; the earth is God’s creation. And we know that Jesus cared about the poor, the widows, children, and women based on his teachings. The issue is not the values, but the labels. Jesus never labeled himself. Yes, he was a Jew born into the Pharisee tradition, and he came from a town that was part of his identity; but other than that, he didn’t give himself labels, especially political ones.

We as Christians can have labels, we can either assign them to our self, or whether we like it or not, one will be assigned to us by society, government, employers, and strangers on the internet. Your first identity is as a Christian, a follower of Christ, a child of God, and on this foundation is where the other identities grow from. No person has a single identity, we wear many hats and have multiple roles in our lifetime.

The values associated with feminists, Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, NDP, environmentalists, etc. have changed over time and will continue to be fluid; therefore, it is never a good idea to associate Jesus with a political label. When you say that Jesus is a ________ (fill in the blank) you assume that Jesus agrees with everything a group or organization does. The truth is we don’t know if he would. Jesus never gave easy answers or explanations; even bible scholars, philosophers, and theologians have different interpretations of his parables, actions, and purpose.

Go ahead and be a feminist, a member of a political party, and an advocate. Keep your choices rooted in the values and commandments that God has called us to live; but please don’t assume that Jesus would be a card carrying member or financial donor of any group or organization. God has given you strength, wisdom, a conscience, and skills to fight the good fight and seek justice rooted in mercy, grace, and repentance; this is what you need. Associate Jesus with values, attributes, and things that fall into alignment with the will of God instead of a political label.

As my friend used to say, ‘Labels are for jars’.

You Are Not a Jesus Feminist. Part 1

Jesus-Feminist-definition

May 2019 was not a good month for North American Christian women on social media and in the news. We experienced the loss of Christian author, speaker, and thought provoker Rachel Held Evans. Following that we witnessed epic verbal and moral attacks against Christian author, bible study teacher, prayer warrior, speaker (don’t say preacher), and energetic storyteller Beth Moore.

The unexpected death of Rachel was shocking and difficult for the many people who had been touched by her work. The ministry of Rachel was one where she asked us to think long, hard, and constantly about what we believe, why believe it, and how those beliefs are manifested in our actions. She provided safer spaces for people to freely question themselves, God, and society. It was her heart’s work to help us stand in front of the spiritual mirror and ask, does what I believe bring me closer to God and closer to others, or does it push me and those I encounter further away from the loving, grace-filled, and redemptive arms of Christ.

The more she spoke, and the more she wrote, the more her haters attacked. I have heard, seen, and read many nasty things directed at women within Christian communities, but I will say, some of the worst seemed to have been slung straight at her. Despite the heart breaking reality that her death had left a husband and their two very young children behind, it didn’t seem to spur her most fervid opponents to call a cease fire on personal attacks. This type of behaviour is what happens when people are so attached to their doctrine and dogma that they have no tolerance for extending emotional understanding or compassion towards those who are hurting and in need.

I was never a “fan” of Rachel Held Evans in the same way that I am not a fan of my parish priest and the clergy team. I saw her as a woman who fulfilled her calling in life. No one has to agree with her, I certainly didn’t agree with everything she said, and I don’t think she ever expected people to. Instead she encouraged people to do the work of self-reflection, communicating with God, revisiting the bible and being open to new understandings and ways of interpreting what we have been traditionally taught, and following God’s commandment to love others.

When I saw that these same people turned their spiritual venom towards Beth Moore I was disappointed, but not shocked. I consider Beth Moore to be an Evangelical fundamentalist.  I have completed over 10 of her bible studies, and she had a major impact on my life and my faith. Each one of her studies has brought me close to God and taught me the importance and benefits of going deep into the word of God.

As with Rachel Held Evans, I don’t agree with everything Moore teaches, and I also don’t believe she expects us to. She has provided us with the tools to dig deeper into a topic and it is up to us to understand why we believe what we do and how we came to those decisions.

After reading some of the online attacks against Beth Moore I finally accepted that the issue really isn’t about women and preaching; it is about the deep seated hatred and dislike that some people have for women. Some of the most passionate opponents of Moore happen to be women. They are active gatekeepers of patriarchy in the church.

To quote Anne Graham Lotz (Crosswalk.com)

“The very first person to be commissioned was a woman. And she was commissioned to go to men to share her testimony…and then also to give His Word. I know there are some people who will draw a line and say I can give a testimony, but I can’t share the Scripture. But Jesus didn’t make that distinction. He gave Mary Magdalene both commissions, to share her testimony and to give out His word.”

Could you imagine if Jesus gave post-resurrection instructions to the women and they responded by saying, ‘I’m sorry Lord, but I can’t share the good news I’m a woman; that’s not the role father God has given me. But we can go back and find some women to tell the good news to, cook for the men, and by then you will have announced your resurrection to them directly and we can all celebrate together.”

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Instead of falling back on man made instructions Mary Magdalene and the other women listened to Jesus, who clearly stated that he speaks as God  instructs him to.

Beth Moore I am

Jesus comforted the women and told them, “Do not be afraid” (Matt 28:10) and he tells us women the same thing today. Do not be afraid to choose the commandments of Jesus over the commandments of men.

While the women were on their way to share the good news of the resurrection, and to share the truth, a group of men (the guards) were busy being prepped for telling lies about why the tomb was empty and Jesus was gone (Matt 28: 11-15).

The Great Commission
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matt 28:16-20)

The passage above is one of the reasons I don’t need to call myself a Jesus Feminist. There is nothing wrong with doing so, it’s a personal choice, but I want people to know why I won’t give myself that title. I’m a follower of Jesus, that’s who I am. Whatever contemporary titles you give yourself, remember to keep them rooted in God, his word, his son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of wisdom which has been given to us.

Fill Your Cup and Others Also

Fill Your Cup

We hear the expression “You can’t pour from an empty cup” followed by “You have to fill your own cup first”. These sayings are very much in line with North American concepts of self-care being about one’s self only. That might also explain why there are so many memes which say, “self-care is not selfish”.

I’ve never liked the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup” because I always wondered, who pours from a cup anyways? When was the last time you went to a restaurant and the waiter poured your tea from one cup into your own cup? Even at home you start the kettle or the Keurig, and your beverage of choice is served from there into your cup. Full or empty, you don’t pour from a cup, maybe this is also key to why people continuously feel empty and drained; they are doing things in ways that were never meant to be.

As for “You have to fill your own cup first”, I would say to others; your cup is not meant to be poured from. Your cup is for you and only you to drink from. How often do you share your personal cup of tea or coffee? Probably never or rarely. Instead what we pour from is the teapot or the coffee carafe. We can pour our own drink first and pour for others or pass the container along for others to do so themselves. Your cup is for you to replenish yourself only and none of it is to be consumed by others, it is what helps to fulfill and sustain you according to your own needs and your life responsibilities.

Drinking from your cup isn’t about the amount of time you selflessly give to others doing good deeds, favours, and things that are a result of your not being able to say no. The contents of your cup represent what is in your life. Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote a book Can You Drink the Cup using the cup as a great metaphor for life. In his book he writes,

You have to know what you are drinking, and you have to be able to talk about it. Similarly, just living life is not enough. We must know what we are living. A life that is not reflected upon isn’t worth living. It belongs to the essence of being human that we contemplate our life, think about it, discuss it, evaluate it, and form opinions about it. Half of living is reflecting on what is being lived. Is it worth it? Is it good? Is it bad? Is it old? Is it new? What is it all about? The greatest  joy as well as the greatest pain of living come not only from what we live but even more from how we think and feel about what we are living. …Holding the cup of life means looking critically as what we are living. This requires great courage, because when we start looking, we might be terrified by what we see. Questions may arise that we don’t know how to answer.”

Everyone has something different in their cup and what they drink might be refreshing, bitter, sweet, bland, nourishing, or toxic; regardless it fills them up. And when filled, what pours out is not from their cup but from their heart, mind, and actions.

Ask yourself, what are you filling your cup with, why, and what does it mean to you. How does it affect others?

Henri Nouwen_Can You Drink The Cup
From Can You Drink the Cup by Henri Nouwen

 

When Your Church Shames and Silences Others

Source: Belfast

If you watch and read the news you’ll notice that allegations of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace and the church hasn’t died down. This is not a surprise. As long as there is continued and growing support for people who come forward with their experiences the issue won’t disappear from media outlets any time soon.

Whether or not allegations become known to the public, there are people who bravely come forward and share their stories and the experience of not being listened to, not being respected, and not being supported.

If you call yourself a Christian, I believe it is important to know that God does not support harassment of any kind. Don’t believe me? Then don’t take my word for it, take God’s word for it.

When people come forward, remember that you are not a public relations agent. It’s not a time to worry about the reputation of the accused or your church. As a church community and especially as members, it is important to support administrative processes within the church that take allegations seriously. It shouldn’t matter who you believe or whose side you are on; every church needs to have policies and procedures in place where the accused and the accuser are both listened to fairly, and people with a bias are not allowed to be part of the investigation.

When people have been harassed or assaulted, the last persons they want to have to meet with is a team of  board members, that may or may not consist entirely of men, and have to beg and plead to not only be believed, but listened to and taken seriously.

I’m disappointed when I encounter women who don’t think it is important for churches to have policies and procedures in place that prevent church staff from being in situations where harassment can occur in the first place.  We live in a society where words are meaningless, expectations must be placed in writing and made clear to everyone. It’s not enough to trust that someone is a “good” person or a “godly” man. 

It’s not enough to quietly transfer the troublesome staff member to another department or church, or pay hush money to the accuser (this prevents the victim from being able to share his or her story and allows the accused to not be held accountable).

Jesus cares about people who have been sexually harassed and bullied within a community that claims to be his followers. Jesus is a healer and he wants to see victims healed in his name. It’s important for us to boldly let the board members and elders at our places of worship know that as followers of Jesus we won’t accept the dismissive attitudes and actions of leaders and church attenders who don’t believe in the importance of holding harassers and bullies accountable to their victims and the church community.

Ask yourself these following questions:

Does my church have respectful and justice oriented polices and procedures in place that help to prevent sexual harassment and bullying? Are there policies that specifically address sexual harassment and bullying?

What is the process for making a complaint against a staff member?Does it protect the accuser from being slandered and shamed, are co-staff and witnesses protected from retaliation?

How does my church currently handle friction and controversy?

Are there any women elders or board members? Do they come from diverse backgrounds (age, class, income, educational background, etc.)?

Has my church ever paid anyone hush money? Was this recorded in the church finances, were church members informed of this decision?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself about how your church handles the serious topic of harassment.

The following are some articles that provide some important, but sad examples of what happens when churches support harassment by church staff members:

What He Thinks About What Happened At Willow Creek

John Ortberg and His Observations on the Topic

Vonda Dyer. Believe Her.