Friday, August 22, 2008

Further Confessions of a Recovering Feminist, Part 3

Yesterday we talked about how our experience alone cannot shape our understanding of God. But often this begs the question, "What do I do with my pain?" I don't want to pretend that there is not legitimate pain out there experienced at the hands of ungodly people. Even Job did not shy away from this reality. His suffering was excruciating, and to dismiss it without an answer would merely trivialize what he went through. Maybe the same is true with you. You are left wondering what to do now in the wake of a hurtful experience. There is hope for you.

I realize that I cannot know exactly what you are going through. I have never experienced suffering in a seemingly unbearable capacity, but I am a sinner living in a sin-cursed world, and I do have a Bible that tells me about this world and my own sin. All of the pain that we experience, whether great or miniscule, is a result of the curse. And though your situation is real, you are never alone in your pain (Hebrews 13:5b).

I wasn't there, but Christ was when your boyfriend broke up with you. He was there when your father let you down for the tenth time. He was there when your pastor disappointed you with his resignation. The sovereign hand of the Father is on every event that happens in your life. God is so powerful that nothing moves, even Satan, without his approval. We even see in Job's story that Satan had to seek permission before he was able to afflict Job. God is there in the midst of all pain and all suffering. He is the perfect and powerful Father.

But, let me tell you about real suffering—the suffering of the Savior. And he suffered an excruciating death and tasted abandonment by his own father, not only for your sin, but for the sins done against you. He knows our pain because the pain that he experienced, on our behalf, was far greater than we could ever know or handle. We serve a Savior who understands us.
So what do you do with your pain?

God has given us his Word for our good, and that is certainly true as we wrestle through pain. In the Psalms we see honest accounts of people in pain, crying out to God. There is much encouragement to be felt in reading the Psalms. And there is a wealth of rich theological truth about our great God in the midst of trying times. God's people were made to gather together. We were never made to walk through suffering alone, and within your local church you will find people who can hold you accountable and point you to the Savior. Sometimes there is no greater encouragement than to know that someone else knows what you are experiencing. Ask God to help you find someone suffering more than you and minister to them as you walk through these trials together.

When our theology of God is placed into experiential categories we create a God who is fluid and changeable. This is not the God of the Bible, and viewing God this way really brings no hope in the end. And though sometimes it seems like immediate comfort, it will not give us a Christ who saves us and deals with sin—even sin done against us.

Pain is a result of the curse, so we must look to the only One who can free us from this curse—Jesus Christ. And as you look to him know that the wrong done against you will not escape ultimate justice. Not only is there hope for you to be comforted in your pain, but you also have the freedom to forgive your oppressors as you have been forgiven. In all of these things know that the pain and the suffering must be brought to the foot of King Jesus, who knows us and loves us. We can experience the peace that Job expressed (42:5) when he said to God, "before my ear had heard about you, but now my eye sees you."

10 comments:

Christian Women with Brains said...

Courtney, I appreciate what you have written. I'm confused, however, on what this has to do with recovering from "feminism?" Are you saying that you believe that pain and disappointment are what turn women toward feminism (or in Christian doctrine to egalitarianism)?

debt said...

I hope this post will be here for awhile. I need to think through some of your thoughts and would like to add some of my own, if that would be okay with you?

debt said...

It was good to talk with you the other day, Courtney. Thanks for some clarification on your post. I agree with you that we can't change the meaning of Scripture because of our pain. Scripture speaks to our pain without ever having to change the meaning of clear texts, especially in regard to gender issues.
One thought, I do agree with you that pain drives feminists; but today, only some, not all. Having lived through the beginning of the feminist movement, I would concur that it's roots were founded on the pain they experienced at the hand of men. The abuse and pain from that should always be condemned. The wrong response to the pain should be compassionately corrected. Today, some women may choose the feminist mindset due to pain, but I think that over the past 40 years women have been so indoctrinated in that ideology that it's just the way it's supposed to be in the minds of most young women. The sad part is that it has come into the church. Keep thinking and keep writing!!!

devin said...

Amen! I wish more people would understand the truths of this post.

Christian Women with Brains said...

Courtney, as I have read comments from other posters on this board, I realize that there is the presumption that pain leads to feminism. That isn't necessarily true. In my family, women preaching has been in existence since the early 1900's when my great-grandmother became a Christian and was determined to preach the Word to anyone who would listen. Her desire came out of her love for the Lord, not from pain of suppression. (She wasn't suppressed; she was a pioneer in northern Idaho.) For some Christian women, the freedom to preach, the freedom to be an equal in a marriage is a family inheritance.

Tarters said...

In response to ‘Christian women with brains’ – I see what you are saying, your way of viewing women and their role did not come from pain, it was passed on from generation to generation in your family. I think Courtney is just merely speaking on one way women come to a feministic mindset. Pain is a hurtful way that brings us to a wrong view of our roles but certainly not the only way. I think the important thing to focus on rather, is that this view is still wrong. The word feminism may mean many different things to many different people, but the two points I noticed that you brought up were women preaching and equality in marriage. I feel where you are coming from in both of these points, we are women affected by the fall and apart from Christ my heart is in major dissension with God’s word. But, when I allow my life to fit the mold of the Bible and not the Bible to fit the mold of my life…Christ softens my heart and allows these truths of womanhood to be a sweet blessing both in the church and my home. 1 Timothy 2 speaks clearly to us in saying that we are not to teach or have authority over men in the church. I just can’t see any other way to interpret that, it may not seem like a good idea to us, but God is sovereign. He knows how many hairs are on our head, he knit us together in our mother’s wombs, and we can be sure that he works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. As far as equality in marriage…well that one’s already there! Both men and women are created equally in the image of God! (Genesis 1:27) 1 Peter 3 also tells us that we are heirs together of the grace of life! There is total equality, just different roles that God set apart for us. Again, the fall has affected marriage and unfortunately there are men who lord power over women and women who think submission resembles the behavior of a measly little mouse. This is a VERY wrong way to live out these roles and has polluted our mindset when it comes to headship and submission. Ephesians 5 speaks of this beautiful doctrine and how it reflects the relationship of our Savior and his Church. Christ was the ultimate lover in giving his life for us and because he dwells in us, it is not burdensome to submit to him. Again, sin affects everything, and so submission and headship in marriage are not always easy and they don’t always feel right, but we have a God who loves us and knows what is good for us, much more than we do. I do not intend to come across as harsh here at all! I speak to you out of love and from my heart as a wife who has to die to herself and mortify sin about every 5 minutes! But I do feel so strongly that our Lord has set apart roles for us as women and when lived out, we can truly be most satisfied. Forgive my longwindedness….

Your Sister in Christ ~ Emily

debt said...

Excellent dialogue! Very clear, Emily, and I understand "Christian women with brains" a little better. You have had this taught to you within your family, year after year, generation after generation. This still doesn't answer the question of what does the Bible say and mean. May I respectfully ask you to change your blog name, though. It gives the impression that women who don't hold to egalitarian viewpoints, as yours, don't have brains. I hope that is not what you are trying to communicate. Finally, women are gifted to preach, can and do preach, they are just limited by the Scriptures as to where they can do that. That does not bother me, but actually frees me. As Jesus said, "The truth will make you free". Not a freedom to pick and choose what "clear" passages of Scripture I like and will fit into my desires, but freedom to(along with the power to) obey the one who set me free from the bondage of my sin. Scripture is clear, obedience is really the issue in this debate. Let's examine our hearts and submit first, to the Lord and His Word and then in the places He asks us to.

Christian Women with Brains said...

tarters:>>In response to ‘Christian women with brains’ – I see what you are saying, your way of viewing women and their role did not come from pain, it was passed on from generation to generation in your family. I think Courtney is just merely speaking on one way women come to a feministic mindset. Pain is a hurtful way that brings us to a wrong view of our roles but certainly not the only way. I think the important thing to focus on rather, is that this view is still wrong. The word feminism may mean many different things to many different people, but the two points I noticed that you brought up were women preaching and equality in marriage. I feel where you are coming from in both of these points, we are women affected by the fall and apart from Christ my heart is in major dissension with God’s word. But, when I allow my life to fit the mold of the Bible and not the Bible to fit the mold of my life…Christ softens my heart and allows these truths of womanhood to be a sweet blessing both in the church and my home. 1 Timothy 2 speaks clearly to us in saying that we are not to teach or have authority over men in the church.<<

Actually, that is an interpretation of the scripture, not necessarily a plain reading. Are you aware of the significance of the relationships of talmid to rabbis? It is this very relationship that easily changes the meaning from women performing public teaching to men to women mentoring men. From David Stern's Jewish New Testament Commentary:

"Sha’ul does not permit a woman to teach (to disciple) a man or exercise a discipler’s authority over him. But in a well-led congregation women may be given much authority and responsibility, including the discipling of women and the teaching of men"

The NT church was structured very differently than we structure our churches and believers were held accountable by mentoring relationships. The NT is clear that men are to mentor (disciple) men and women are to mentor (disciple) women. But women are not restricted from public teaching, both to men and women.

tarter:>>I just can’t see any other way to interpret that, <<

And yet, there is another way to interpret and many godly women have interpreted it differently for many years, including women from the NT church.

Do you understand the significance of Mary's sitting at the feet of Jesus in Luke 10:39? Such a physical position was reserved solely for talmidim (disciples) who could only be men. Martha rebuked Mary for taking a "man's" position and the Lord Jesus rebuked Martha. Jesus has freed us to serve Him completely and without reservation, yes, even behind pulpits.

Christian Women with Brains said...

debt:>>May I respectfully ask you to change your blog name, though. It gives the impression that women who don't hold to egalitarian viewpoints, as yours, don't have brains. I hope that is not what you are trying to communicate. <<

I'm sorry my name offends you, but I chose it carefully, long before the CBMW/complementarian concept was created. I was distressed that many Christian women focused solely on recipes, crafts, and child discipline and not ever considered serious Bible and doctrinal study. I believe that many churches (and other organizations) try to keep women ignorant in order to control them. I hope that hasn't been true in your case.

debt:>>Finally, women are gifted to preach, can and do preach, they are just limited by the Scriptures as to where they can do that. That does not bother me, but actually frees me. As Jesus said, "The truth will make you free". Not a freedom to pick and choose what "clear" passages of Scripture I like and will fit into my desires, but freedom to(along with the power to) obey the one who set me free from the bondage of my sin. <<

As do I.

debt:>>Scripture is clear, obedience is really the issue in this debate.<<

If you read the post above, you will see that I am obeying scripture. There is more than one interpretation and I happen to believe that the original Greek frees women to publicaly preach to both genders, not restricts them.

debt:>> Let's examine our hearts and submit first, to the Lord and His Word and then in the places He asks us to.<<

I agree. And that's exactly what I do. I'm glad that you do, too.

Cheryl Schatz said...

I notice that Courtney doesn't respond much to questions. I wonder why.

My question, if it would be worthy enough to be responded to, is do you believe that a woman is allowed to teach the bible to men in her home? Since you seem to believe that the "place" is what is forbidden for a woman to teach, then is the home okay? Can a woman teach the bible verse by verse to men?