(I think the true title of this article, in good puritanical form, would best be entitled “I Learned Feminism From Jesus or How the Failure of the Church and Weak Teaching Is Making People Lose Faith in the Church and the Bible.”)
Early mornings for me are normally made up of bleary-eyed blinks, sore-throated grumbles and boiling-hot showers. This particular morning I had made it through the initial steps of waking up and had moved to munching on a bowl of cereal. The “ding” of my computer let me know I had some emails to catch up on. This particular morning I was thrilled to see some old friends had emailed me.
It should never be surprising to see friends shift and change from the truths they believed and behaviors they once had. Still, I can’t help but mourn in my heart when I hear friend after friend who has suffered third-degree spiritual burns at the hands of a church or a family. That’s what I read between the lines (and sometimes explicitly) as I realized I was absolutely in the minority of those who continue to hold on to a lot of old thinking and ways of living. I had not had a massive paradigm shift. In fact, I had become more convinced of what I believed “back then.”
I couldn’t help but wonder as I sat there at the breakfast table: why do people s0 radically change what they believe?
I can tell you this: it is not the failure of the Bible that causes people to radically change their thinking on any particular topic. It’s the failure of those handling the Bible. The Bible has never changed. It remains strong and true, an unflinching bastion of Truth.
Yesterday the talented writer and blogger Rachel Held Evans eloquently related her story of becoming a feminist. I appreciate Rachel’s candor in her writing and her evident desire to have the gospel guide her life and thinking. I also find her story and her life fascinating, particularly since our backgrounds seem incredibly similar, yet our conclusions about life and doctrine are so distinctly far apart.
Honestly, as I read Rachel’s blog post, tears came to my eyes. Not because of her conclusions, but because of what drove her to her conclusions.
How does a person walk away from a conservative college and a conservative church and radically change their thinking? Here’s some of what I learned from reading her post:
It happens when our churches don’t understand true femininity and teach what womanhood really is to younger women. Womanhood is not about dresses, frills, and being a “princess of the King.” Womanhood is so much deeper than that. It starts with the heart.
It happens when so called “pastors” preach morality and that immodest women are “asking for it” in regards to rape. Modesty, once again, begins in the heart. Pastors who preach this filth are heartless, cruel, and need to pick up their Bible again. We should weep and mourn over the effects of sin.
It happens when Sunday School teachers tell girls who have sinned sexually that they are broken and no one will ever want them. This is beyond wrong. This is absolutely nowhere in Scripture.
It happens when men dishonor women and consider themselves privileged and better than the weaker sex. Paul calls me to treat my wife better than I treat my own body, sacrificing for her and honoring her any way I can.
It happens when hate and malice are shown towards those who have sinned instead of grace and mercy. This always hurts my heart. The Church must be a place where sinners come for grace and mercy, not hate and malice. Even when we disagree, and strongly disagree, I should never hate another person.
I find it appropriate to pause and on behalf of the those messed up churches and families and simply repent. These things are wrong. They are not representative of Jesus’ church and certainly shouldn’t be representative of “complementarianism.”
As I ate my breakfast that early morning I realized how incredible it was that I had navigated through the muck and mire and reality of sinful human beings known as the Church. This was not done with my own power. It was done because my sights were fixed on the only unchanging thing in front of me: an inerrant Bible. It never changed. Not for one moment. In it flows the spring of life. In it is the glorious story of the gospel.
There is certainly much more to say, but I will say this: as I hold fast to God’s Word, which I believe is completely without error, I continue to stand firm in the Truth. My hope and prayer is that my friends and others like Rachel will not look at the muck and mire of sin and make their theological decisions.
My hope is that they instead look to the Word, which helps us truly understand our roles and functions as believers, as men and as women.