Thursday, August 17, 2006

my path to women's ministry

My path towards women's ministry began when I went home for the Christmas holidays to visit my parents. My mother had invited me to attend her ladies' Bible Study with her. Sigh. A room full of thirty year old wives and mothers? Do I have to?

On top of that the women were reading through Loving Your Husband, by Cynthia Heald. A junior in college and not a single date to boast of, I was not qualified to partake in a discussion on the matter, so I sat back to listen as the women discussed the topic of *how* they could show love to their mates. I began to squirm at the blatant disdain most of the women felt towards their husbands. They were failures as husbands, fathers, and men. I clenched my fists.

Once they had all had their say, a minister's wife looked across the table at me. "Christine, what are your thoughts."

"You wouldn't care to know. I'm young and single. What do I know?!"

At this the women in the room turned their attention to me, assuring me that my thoughts mattered.

I began slowly.

"I believe that a man feels most loved when he knows that he is respected."

I went on to describe how I desired to serve my husband and show him respect to himself, in front of our children, and before others (whether he was present or not). In matters of submission, I imagined the thrill of being able to serve my husband even if the task was small. I longed for the Lord to bring me a mate that I could run along side of as we ran the course God had set before us, cheering him on ... quenching his thirst ... rejoicing at his/our victories.

I did not qualify my statements by saying that I would only do these things if he proved to be a godly leader and lover. I knew that many of their husbands were not. However, wives are responsible for their own actions and attitudes ... not those of their husbands. Scripture does not describe the marriage relationship as "Wives, submit to your husbands when they lead you in godliness." Instead, 1 Peter 3:1 states, "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives—"

After explaining my opinion, the women sat there slack-jawed for a moment ... and then ... they burst out laughing!

They laughed!

I put my head down ... half in anger, half in pity.

"Ha ha ha ... oh, Christine! Just wait till you get married. Just wait and see. Ha ha ha ha ha! You're so green!"

My face burned and tears stung my eyes. Not from shame. But the hopelessness I saw in these women ... the search to excuse their own faults by placing the blame on their husbands ... the pride ... the bitterness ... the disrespect ... the sin.

Many had come to Bible study hoping my mother would pat them on the heads, understand their point of view, agree that their husbands were failures, and pat them on the back for doing the best they could do under the circumstances. Perhaps the Bible might even have some sort of loophole that would make them feel even better about themselves.

Their disregard for Scripture and their lack of understanding of the character and will of our God pierced my heart. Then and there I was determined to do my part to raise up women in knowing God through the teaching of the Scriptures. Women apply this intimate knowledge of the their Lord to their daily lives through discipleship/sanctification. The girls and women I work with will receive a foundation of biblical and sytstematic theology followed by applied theology (applying what they know of God and man to their daily lives). Women who know the love and holiness of God Almighty will seek to honor and obey His Word.

I have sought in my own living to apply King Lemuel's mother's advice to her son. She described a godly wife who's husband is confident in her and her abilitites. She seeks to do him good and not evil all the days of her life. All the days ... even before she is married? Indeed. Take God's inspired Word seriously, ladies. Look at the married women around you. Are they disrespectful? Do they leap at the opportunity to bite off their man's head? Do they ignore their husbands? Have they grown bored in their marriage? Single women, like myself, this is not your fate. Do what is necessary today to love your future husband. It's really no different than living the Christian faith. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength ... and ... love your neighbor as yourself. Being conformed into the likeness and image of Christ, living the gospel daily, and removing selfish pride from your life is essentially the ulitmate preparation to living with and respecting and loving a husband.

For more reading click on the following links:
I'd rather laugh than cry: cover letter and resume
(My path to Southern Seminary)

Loving Your Husband Before You Get Married, by Carolyn McCulley

(Note that my precious little iBook is back from the hospital. She has woken up from her coma. But sadly, she is suffering from amnesia. She remembers nothing. Not the thousands of songs we listened to together. Nor the hundreds of pictures we looked at. We will get through this together. It's a new beginning. A fresh start. This time around will be better than the last. She looks forward to meeting Mike's new macBook ... I, however, will smash it if I see it.

I'd appreciate it if you have my email address, shoot me an email so I can store your info in my address book. Thanks.)


onlinesoph said...

Christine, I'm not sure if I'm fully onboard with your statement that “being conformed into the likeness and image of Christ, living the gospel daily, and removing selfish pride from your life is essentially the ultimate preparation to living with and respecting and loving a husband.”

While I agree with your foundation of what makes a great marriage, I think there’s a real danger in viewing being conformed to the image of Christ in this light. Godliness should never be “sold” in terms of preparation for a husband. I would like to think that women should seek those things independent of whether they find a husband or not, as glorifying God is our upmost calling. I would also like to think that women ministers would be encouraging them to do this above all things, whether or not they have a husband. The way you treat your partner should be a reflection of your godliness which is ultimately lived for the Audience of One, i.e. Christ - not the other way around (as in use godliness to prepare for marriage).

Also, could encouraging singles to "prepare for marriage" nurture discontent for those who haven't got a relationship? What about joyfully serving God in whatever situation you're in? What about those who choose to remain single for the sake of the Gospel, like Paul did?

Surely there is more to women’s ministry (and accordingly, to women) than looking forward to, then looking after, a husband?

Priscilla said...

Take heart, Christine. I'm thinking that the women in that study might have laughed because of embarrassment. Atleast some of them. Their first reaction may have been to defend themselves, but I'd be willing to bet that at least a few went home mulling over what you had to say.

I was once in a similar study and one woman went on and on bashing her husband..."He won't help me around the house...He never puts away his clothes...He this, he that!" She complained that she would do all the laundry and that he never helped fold or put it away.

Finally I was able to take advantage of a lull in the discussion. I said, "I have the perfect solution to your problem of Jim not folding and putting away his clothes." Her eyes brightened and she waited eagerly for the magic I would give her. I said, "Fold and put away his clothes. Furthermore, never nag him about it again."

I think she was shocked and angry at my suggestion. (Not surprisingly...this marriage came to an end a few years ago.)

I never understood all the whining about husbands not helping with the housework. At least with my own situation, I'm a SAHM and I figure my husband works all day so that we can eat and pay our bills. Why would I complain that he doesn't fold and put away his clothes? I just don't get it!

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about your aim to "reverse the trends of feminism". Do you wish to deny women the many things that feminism has paved the way for such as the right to vote, the right to equal pay, the right to work?

Feminism brought about many good things that you are currently benefiting from such as the right to be single and a valued member of society, the right to live alone...

Feminism has not won. In the third world women are still treated as property (bought and sold and their value placed upon their fecundity)and poverty is very much gendered as women experience poorer mortality rates and low infant mortality. In the developed world rape and domestic violence are common. They are a result of a patriarchal society. Thus, there is still more work to be done in terms of promoting feminism before we look at reversing it. I wonder if that is as christians our greater calling... to look after the opressed (the rape/domestic violence victim, 3rd world woman) rather than to "reverse the trends of feminism" in the church.

CraigS said...

Powerful post Christine, we can all learn from your humility.

The Borg said...

Great post Christine. (and it was good talking to you yesterday :))

Jonny said...

You started that off well, but smashing Mikes MacBook? That's your applied theology?

A good point about women living a respectable life even before they meet their husband. I know it would be difficult even dealing with a girlfriend that has had many different relationships. Something most people try to ignor these days.

CraigS said...

Mike, it will be a challenge to be worthy of this mate...

Chris said...

I cannot WAIT to read the entirity of you book - it's going to be fantastic, given the slice you've written here.

Onlinesoph - I'm pretty sure that Christine, of all people, is not saying that it's not ok to be single. She's written many times of putting God first and that singleness is a wonderful and beautiful thing, just as marriage is. I would rather think that she's writing about preparing for marriage of a spiritual sort (aka the church is the bride of Christ), and if you happen to marry before we all meet Jesus, then good, you're more or less prepared for that too.

Anonymous - perhaps you should ask what Christine's definition of "feminism" is before you criticize her on it. I think that the point is that feminism in the past has corrupted a few things, in her words, "allowing women to take the place of the aggressor." I don't imagine she wants to reverse all the good things that have come, just the things that have led to problems.

Christine, to make sure, am I representing your views accurately?

I have to agree with Jonny, though - smashing the macbook?

onlinesoph said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
onlinesoph said...

Sure Chris, and sorry if I've misunderstood you on singleness Christine. I haven't read all your posts, just the ones you put on 10,000 words.

I also have nothing against being prepared for marriage spritually. I think that is a great encouragement, particularly when a couple is going out. I guess I'm voicing the dangers of encouraging women to make marriage their idol.

To anonymous, I understand your frustration and point about feminism. You are right in some ways; we need to be more discerning when we "attack" feminism. It is responsible for some of our basic rights, such as the fact that women can debate here on this blog. However, it has also done much damage and as Christians, we need to learn how to acknowledge the good and shed light on the bad.

And yes, we definitely need to be looking after the oppressed in 3rd world countries! However the problems in these places are complicated and though sexual violence is rampant, patriarchal societies are not completely to blame. Often, the problems are political and economical too. Rather than promote "feminism", perhaps the answer is to promote justice, mercy and generosity (after all, God asks us to love these things!) Would be nice if you left a name too!

Tracy said...


I completely agree with you about the importance of supporting your man and not undermining him, complaining about him, etc. I think this is a very important point and the women that you encountered at that Bible Study were really showing a sinful attitude.

That being said, I know how easy it is to say too much, be too honest, and let a critical statement or unflattering story come out of your mouth. It was easy to think that I would not tell unflattering stories about my husband when I was single. It is equally easy now that I am married to let my guard down and fail to protect his image around my friends. So do remember to be gentle in your admonisions to women who slip into a poor attitude. But do continue to admonish, please. What a wonderful, insightful think you are doing to call attention to this.

I also was a bit concerned about the advice to single women to prepare for marriage. As someone who was single for 38 years, I spent many many years single. I really struggled to not fall into the trap of spending my life "waiting" for marriage. Contentment was what I strove to acheive and the older I got, the less I wanted to "prepare for marriage". But my experience is a bit far removed from yours. :o) I'm glad to know you have a godly boyfriend. May God continue to bless you both in your ministries.

Anonymous said...

What is your view then, Chris, as a white male, on what 'problems' feminism has created for christians all over the world?

CraigS said...

It is responsible for some of our basic rights, such as the fact that women can debate here on this blog.

Hmmm, Soph. I feel you are giving feminism too much credit. How, specifically, has it given you this right?

I must admit that I primarily think in terms of 2nd Wave Feminism - Greer, Friedan, Summers, Wolfe (before she came over to the light side), etc.

ckhnat said...

a big thank you to Soph and Tracy here

Craig - don't raise me on a pedistal like that. I could say the same of Mike. His passion and zeal for the Gospel and people put me to shame. Neither of us are perfect and we attempt to be very honest with each other about our flaws. Forgive me if I put forward a better picture of myself than I really am.

Jonny - Ah, jealousy. Such a new emotion/sin I've been experiencing lately. I'm not jealous OF Mike for his new prize ... I'm jealous of all the time Mac is able to spend with him in person and I can't. My greatest fear is that there are kiss marks on the screen. Would you check for me, Jonny? He says that they're "just friends". but I have my doubts.

Donners said...

Chrstine, I know what's like. When we're at home, Luke spend more time staring at "Lappy" than he does at me.

And he's always saying "Look at what Lappys doing! or "Lappy said..."...

He takes Lappy to work and holds her close to his heart ( in his back pack)....he is alwaysa smiling when he looks at lappy...( sniff)

SamR said...

Craig, you need to go to Soph's seminar on Feminism - it's fantastic. See here

mq2 said...

Hi Christine,

My name is Liz and I followed your link here from 10000 words (I'm a part of the church family at Annandale).
Sometimes I read your posts and think - is this girl inside my head? I long for, pray for and think about a lot of the things that you write about... even dream about writing a book and how to encourage our brothers, me and husbands in leadership in churches and families!!!! Is that what you are doing?
So I thought I'd finally leave a comment and thought this was a great post to comment on, for it is another issue I think lots about.
I have spent the past three years working and training in ministry to women, and this year I am studying at theological college.
I am 100% behind you in your desire to teach the entire Bible to women - indeed that is what I have been trying to do.(sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong). And certainly I think all women should seek to be like the woman in Pr 31 - a woman who fears the Lord (married or single).
I also agree with Soph that marriage should never be the reason to be godly, but is is true that one should desire to be a godly wife.

Here is my thoughts/ question - what are your thoughts on Titus 2:3-5? About what older women should teach younger women.
Lots of people use these verses to say why we should do 1 to 1 women's ministry, which it may well do.
But it does speak of teaching what is good, that older women should train the younger women to love their husbands and children and to be subject to their husbands (among other things). \

A few things have struck me about this passage:
1) women need to be TRAINED in how to love their husbands (whether this be through teaching the Word or modelling it)( but it doesn't necessarily come naturally)
2) Which means that while it might be that primarily as a woman grows to know God better, she will grow in godliness in regards to her marriage - it is also necessary to teach specifically how to be a godly wife who loves and is subject to her husband.
3) it is GOOD to teach these things. and we should never be ashamed of, or shy in teaching them.
4) I don't think that we have to restrict to teaching these things to married women. Indeed it is always better to think about how to be godly in a situation before you get to it, even if it may never come. (Christine - you are an example in this.)

I am a married, (but not tooooo old!) and as I have met with single and married women I did not shy away from teaching what it means to be a godly wife. Of course I did not teach only this. And not even much of this. But as it came up in a part of the Bible, we talked at length about it. Because it is a part of the whole counsel of God, which should not be shyed away from - even it might hold the danger of breeding discontent in single women.
(just as hearing about the advantages of being single can breed discontent ion married people).

Anyway - so sorry for such a long comment - especially on my first comment! how embarassing!

But I have been encouraged much by your words Christine.
And I should say - it is not only to the single women we should be saying "Single women, like myself, this is not your fate".
Rather encourage the married women also! Despite your bad experience with that group, if a woman is Christian, then God is working by his Spirit in her life. DO not give up on married women who struggle in maturity in the area of marriage. Love them, encourage them, rebuke them and teach them.
Just as you, a single woman, have just done for me, a married woman.

:) Liz

G. F. McDowell said...

Good, thoughtful post. Although I am a single male, I was tremendously blessed by Carolyn McCulley's, "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?" as it seems you've been as well. One of the frustrations of being single is the presupposition that we "just can't understand" the problems of married people. On one level I suppose that is true. On the other hand, it seems that in that encounter with your Mother's bible study group, I wonder if you had addressed them as a married woman whether they wouldn't have found some other reason to write you off. I think I saw you deep in contemplation/ blogging? in the "NEW and IMPROVED" cafeteria yesterday. I didn't want to interrupt.

Lara said...

Interesting and challenging post. I'm just curious whether anyone has written a similar post about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church, and striving to present them pure and blameless.

Does anyone know?

CraigS said...

Liz, great comment, what a blessing to have you at our church!

As a guy, when I read stuff like this I find it very humbling. It certainly makes me want to be a better man...

onlinesoph said...

Thanks Liz, that was helpful:)

Jonny said...

Christine, there is a incredable number of pictures of you on that MacBook. But he has been playing with the inbuilt camera so kiss marks could mean just about anything.

mq2 said...

Craig, if only my desires to be a godly wife matched up with my life. Please pray that I won't be full of empty words. But that God might transform my life.

I did want to add that I by no means whatsoever want to hold marriage up as an idol or what women should aspire to. I wish I had learnt true contentment before I was married. Though I have a wonderful husband, I only learnt properly after we were married, that it is only in our gracious God that we find true contentment, and our true identities as His children.

Chris said...

anonymous - while I've done little reading on the philosophical side of things, I think that my impression of feminism is twofold: it has helped bring attention to the fact that women and men are both people, and it has harmed in its insistance that they are the same.

So many feminists, while they call for equal rights, really call for feminine superiority, and that is harmful. Christine once mentioned that women have taken the place of the abuser, and I think this is true. The double standard of previous centuries has not been eliminated, it has merely been reversed. The hardest person to be in today's society is a middle-class, average white guy (especially if you're an honest one) because we aren't "special" like everybody else (in society's eyes). I think feminism's fault is that it has gone too far.

lara - I think mike may have, sort of.

liz - awesome comment, worthy of it's own post I think :)

Chris said...

I think that in my last comment I may have been unclear, and I forgot to finish my first thought.

I think that feminism forgot that men and women are different; we have different roles, different bodies - different purposes - and that's ok. To have equal rights in society (equal rights for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) is not the same as BEING the same, and feminism has forgotten that. I'm not saying that men earlier were any better - there was often an air of male superiority, of which I and many of my brothers are not proud - but it's no excuse for women to do the same. But I'll let Christine talk about that, she's more eloquent than I am.

CraigS said...

quenching his thirst ...

Getting him a glass of water you mean? That's so sweet...


ckhnat said...

whatever it takes, Craig.

Lorie said...

Wow. I had things in mind to say in response to your post and some of the comments, but this is a thoroughly discussed topic by the time you get all the way down here... :)


I appreciate, and echo, your desire to see women and men affirmed in this area of holiness, and to see growth and change. My experience has taught me that this is an area of growth and weakness in my own life...while it's easy for me to exhort others in the path of holiness, it is often very hard to walk in it when push comes to shove and old habits/patterns take over. I do agree that we have to be careful in how harshly we speak of sisters who are discouraged or hopeless or even sinful in their approach to their marriage relationship. The sin should grieve us and we should hurt for and exhort our sisters in Christ-likeness. At the same time, we must be careful not to judge them. Rather, it should move us to humble ourselves before God regarding our own tendencies and weaknesses in this area. No manner of reading and preparation in theory can prepare us for the reality of marriage. Godliness in relationships is tested and proved in the experience, and God provides the grace and power to grow us in this area although we will undoubtedly often fail and need to be reminded of his truth. We just have to remember that we will need encouragement and correction in some area just as much as those women at that Bible study did.

For anyone interested, there is a great practical book for women on how to better understand/love/respect/help the men in their lives. It's a quick read and written in such a way that it can be shared with believing and unbelieving friends alike (I'd thought about doing a coffeehouse discussion in my community). Check it out: For Women Only by Shaunti Feldman. There is also a group bible study resource (not the discussion guide) to go along with it that should be coming out soon (my mom worked on it).

Lorie said...

What a GREAT article by McCulley! Thanks for posting that.

The idea that we should be preparing for marriage regardless of whether or not God has a husband or wife for us made me think of the spiritual truth that we are the bride of Christ. The Word talks again and again about the Bride preparing and being ready for the Groom when he comes. So this is a good encouragement towards holiness and living out love as we prepare for our union with Christ. Kind of neat to think about...

ckhnat said...

yup, Mike has the For Men Only book. and I have the For Women Only ... plus, Bible study book. It's been really fantastic reading through the books and bouncing the ideas off of each other and understanding each other better. We might post reviews on both books.

ckhnat said...

a few of you have commented about the harshness of my reaction to these women at the Bible study. Indeed, what i've written does sound harsh ... however, these are mostly my thoughts and were not spoken out loud.

Remember, at the time I thought I had nothing to contribute. I was young and had never been in a committed relationship. I didn't even know if I was right or not or just completely dreaming. As I began to share my opinion, I kept my head down and did not look any women in the eye. I did not attack any of them personally. I approached the conversation as this is my point of view and what I would personally like in my marriage ... not judging the other women.

This is the portion of what I responded to them:

"I believe that a man feels most loved when he knows that he is respected."

I went on to describe how I desired to serve my husband and show him respect to himself, in front of our children, and before others (whether he was present or not). In matters of submission, I imagined the thrill of being able to serve my husband even if the task was small. I longed for the Lord to bring me a mate that I could run along side of as we ran the course God had set before us, cheering him on ... quenching his thirst ... rejoicing at his/our victories.

Indeed, I have never been harshly critical of anyone personally publicly ... as far as I know. I have, however, spoken to people privately or publicly criticized a movement or system of thought.

I agree with everyone here who has cautioned that we ought to admonish and exhort one another in Christ-likeness ...

However, this is no excuse for pussy-footing around issues of sin. my mother's and my own experience with these particular women over the years have been troublesome. They continue in the SAME sins justifying their actions because somehow at least they aren't as bad as their neighbor's or husband's.

ckhnat said...

Liz - now that you've past initiation, welcome! I've been seriously pondering your thoughts and questions. So good to hear from a kindred spirit!

Lorie said...

I was talking more about the attitude of our hearts towards people, as opposed to what we actually say to them. At least for me, that's where judging and self-righteousness manifest themselves---in my heart and thoughts, not necessarily my words. Just something we have to guard against as we call out sin with bold love and grace.

(I'm totally preaching to myself here.)

Donna said...

Your blog reminded me of several conversations Jason and I had on our honeymoon. Numerous strangers' responses (usually cashiers or other random workers we met) when we told them we were on our honeymoon were some sort of appalling comment like, "Oh, I should have known that you were on your honeymoon - you still like each other!" or "Just wait - in ten years he won't look at you like that anymore... be happy if he looks at you at all." Even so-called "Christian" books about marriage seem to set you up to expect dissatisfaction in your marriage - how depressing and telling of our culture's hopeless view of marriage that has even permeated our churches.

I want to encourage women as well to love and submit to their husbands for the glory of God - the Lord certainly doesn't give any of us a loophole for this, as He of all should know that we are ALL fallen and sinful and in need of abundant grace. At our wedding, we were charged by a couple who led our premarital counseling to seek to grow in grace and truth - and believe me, it's been the key factor in our marital growth and pleasure.

I could go on a whole tangent about this, but maybe I should save it for my own blog. :) Thanks for posting, Christine - always a good topic to discuss.

Kelli B said...

I think you are so beautiful. In your writing, in your heart, and in your pictures.

You are a beautiful, blogger friend.

Lorie said...

Yes, you are an encouragement. Keep it up!

4given said...

I LOVE what you have written here. I will keep you fervently in my prayers... you will not be popular.

To God be ALL the glory,

Michelle Pendergrass said...

You seem to have forgotten the part of God's Word that says the older women are to teach and encourage the younger women.

I'm sorry for the women of that Bible study if they're reading her blog. Sometimes it's better to be silent.

ckhnat said...

I understand your point. And I agree ... to an extent.

But remember ... I was ASKED my opinion.

And what I shared was not rude or judgmental. What I said out loud was that I thought men felt loved when they were respected and here are some ways I'd like to live that out when I get married. This post fleshed out some of my thoughts beyond what I actually spoke.

However, in regards to older women teaching younger women ... does that mean if I teach a women's Bible study or speak at a conference or write a book no woman older than myself ought to attend or read? If the Lord has taught me something about Himself or about how to live for Him ... can I not share it with women older than me?

This summer I taught a women's Bible study and a 60 year old woman came faithfully and was greatly encouraged and exhorted by what I shared from God's Word. We were even able to pray together and she asked my counsel on various aspects of her Christian walk.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

You are certainly correct! You were asked your opinion. And I do fully agree with what you said.

Sometimes when we say things, our intent is definitely not to hurt anyone. And I don't agree with beating around the bush when it comes to issues of sin. And I do know many women who are sinning and not admitting it--yet they wonder why their marriage is going down the tubes.

However, the manner in which you expressed yourself is the part with which my discomfort rises. You seem far from humble from where I'm reading. It is a possiblity that I just don't know you and I've read things wrong. I've read through your post three times now, and I'm still getting the same feeling, and it seems as if you're saying that you know that if you do X, Y, and Z your marriage will be "white picket fence" good.

From my experience, that is a dangerous line to walk.

I think we can all learn from each other and I don't doubt your ability to teach someone who is numerically older than you.

I also think that a person that has never been swimming shouldn't teach others how to swim. I think it could be dangerous for both people.

I can tell from your passion and your wisdom that God has great things planned for your willing heart. I also know from experience that every time I've thought I had the lesson learned, God has showed me a critical aspect I'd previously missed. I just want you to be careful with your words. I've said things that have caused people pain that I didn't intend when I thought I was helping.

ckhnat said...

Indeed, I admit that I do, in fact, have very dogmatic opinions. If one lives a godly gospel-centered life ... is the Christian life going to be white picket-fenced good? Certainly not. The same for a marriage. If a woman lifes a godly gospel-centered life ... is her marriage going to be perfect? Nope. But she is certainly responsible for her own actions.

I am by no means attempting to prestent myself as an expert on marriage or mothering. I'm not qualified. But exhorting women to live a life prescribed by Christ and those inspired by the Holy Spirit ... Love the Lord you God ... Love your neighbor ... submit to one another ... etc. especially by instructing them in God's attributes and how He sovereignly works in the world and how He expects us to live and apply His Word ... that can be taught to single AND married women.

This post focussed on marriage because that was the situation that led me to the desire to minister to women. Not to make them better wives and mothers ... but better theolgians and Christians ... which, by God's grace, would make them better wives and mothers.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I've learned that legalism puts rears its ugly head as I choose to put the chains back on that Jesus died to take off.

It's not about the rules, but about the grace.

Have you read "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" or "What's So Amazing About Grace?"

ckhnat said...

I've read Yancey's book.

I'm curious to know how you think legalism applies to this conversation.

I lived through an environment of legalism for four years. Quite familiar with it.

Kim said...

Well, I've been married almost 20 years, and I appreciated your words. Doesn't bother me at all that you've never been married. If you're presenting your conclusions from a biblical standpoint, then I'll certainly listen.

Like 4ever4given said, this won't be a popular stance.

mike said...

I'm am also a little puzzled as to where exactly "legalism" comes in to what Christine has said.

obadiahslope said...

I don't know who was in the group you spoke to. But if you addressed a group of women at my church (not that far from Annandale) you would likely be talking to:
- a woman whose (christian) husband has hit her for years and who has just started on the children

- a women who won her husband to Christ by Godly sumission

- a woman with a controlling husband who micromanages her to the extent that he won't let her do the shopping, and buys cheap food that makes the children sick

- a woman expecting a violent husband to be released from jail soon, wondering if she should let him come home.

Lest you think I am exaggerating these are real life situations - and the result of a church reaching out beyond its traditional middle class congregations.
Naturally you will not be aware of everyone's story.
What impact do you think what you said that day would have on these women (and i am not making any assumptions about what you said - you have only sketched a rough outline after all).?
You may have already addressed domestic violence on your site. I am sorry if i have missed it. But it seems to be a reasonable topic to raise in the context of talking about submission in marriage.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree Michelle this reeks of plank vs speck in eye material.

4given said...

When you point to Scripture, name-calling begins... I have been called a victorian era moralist, a chauvenist, a legalist... the list goes on, but it includes cuss words, so I will stop there.
All that to say, press on, girl. I had a 61 year old woman that said she had the gift of teaching and exhortation that told me she was 61 way too many times. Age in years does not determine spiritual maturity. This 61 year old woman took Scripture and twisted it so bad my heart broke. She is the one that called me a chauvenist.
May our words not be purely experiential, but based on the knowable and applicable truth of God's Word. Yes, experience can help... but then sometimes it can blind us. Sometimes it takes someone that is basing their knowledge on Scripture without the experience to bring us back to what the Word of God says.
I have 6 children, I homeschool, I'm married. But my mother left when I was 6. She was and still is a drunkard, a theif and an habitual liar. If I had to rely on my experience as a child as to how to be a mother... well then, I would have no hope.
But my hope is not in what I have experienced. Nor will it ever be. This is not about legalism. This is about applying God's Word to our lives for HIS glory.

4given said...

By the way anonymous... what are you afraid of?

mike said...

Anon might I ask what exactly you are refering to re: the "plank vs speck"? I don't see how this applies unless Chrsitine wasn't respecting her husband/significant other. As her significant other I have found that she very much respects me and the decisions I make.

CraigS said...

CK, don't be discouraged by faceless critics. I fear you will be criticised for your stance, but be strong.

Obadiahslope, what is wrong with saying "A man feels loved when he feels respected"? I'm astonished that so many women are objecting to this - guilt perhaps?

Now, to practicalities. If this woman you know is being beaten by her husband, and he is about to start on the children - call the Police. Today. Now. That is their job - to maintain the peace and uphold the law, and this bloke has broken the law.

Same goes with the violent guy about to come out of prison. If he puts a foot wrong, back to prison.

Regarding the husband who "wont let his wife do the shopping", I'm thinking this comes on the "low end" of the domestic violence scale...

Anonymous said...

No I do not mean by 'plank vs speck in own eye' that the author is not practicing what she preaches. She is not married anyhow. I mean that God requires us to bring before him our own sins not those of everone else around us- this is true humility. If the author spoke of her own shortcomings and God's grace to her despite these shortcomings I would have to need to comment.

Anonymous said...

meant to say 'have no need to comment' also it is important to have at least one critic as the rest of you seem to be the author's personal fan club.

David said...

keep preaching it sister...
from all of us in the fan club!

CraigS said...

I mean that God requires us to bring before him our own sins not those of everone else around us- this is true humility. If the author spoke of her own shortcomings and God's grace to her despite these shortcomings I would have [no] need to comment.

Methinks I smell me some irony...

obadiahslope said...

I am not sure whose post you read when you asked "what is wrong...". I did not comment on that aphorism. But I can't see anything wrong with it now that you ask.
As to the wife who is being hit. the real dilemna she has is whether to stay in the marriage. She has a strong commitment to christian marriage. She has stuck with him a long time. the hitting has been going on for some time. He often "repents".
The police minimise the situation. It takes several incidents before To take out a severe AVO will mean that the husband has to leave home. The kids will not want him back. They don't want the abuse.
For the church community the question is will they support this woman as she takes out an AVO and resist his pleas to come home.
Will they cook the casseroles to allow her to work so that she can support the family on her own? In our situation the answer is "yes".

In regards to the controlling husband, this has been a major factor in marriage breakdown amongst evangelicals in my experience.
Not letting her do the shopping is part of a pattern of wanting to control everything, and to belittle her ability to make decisions. It is not violence in the sense of hitting someone, but it can be very harmful.
If we have a balanced approach to the Bible's teaching, we should preach against abuse. " Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives".
If we consider that the Bible holds out marriage as analagous to Christs relationship to the church, the controlling husband reflects a return to the OT law and a turning away from grace. To be that sort of husband is to distort the gospel.

CraigS said...

The police minimise the situation. It takes several incidents before To take out a severe AVO will mean that the husband has to leave home.

This is wrong - it is very easy to get an AVO on someone. I know from experience.

If she is being hit, she should go to the police and speak to their Domestic Violence Liason Officer. They will do the rest.

This is a matter of law, and I can't believe you are being ambivalent here.

Your comparison of a controlling husband to the OT law is just plain loopy.

Chris said...

I would like to point out that Paul was not married, yet we seem so interested in what he has to say on the subject.

Next, I'd like to agree that good criticism is a helpful thing - it helps us grow as thinkers and as people. That being said, I'm not sure that I see that the criticisms offered here have been helpful. "You can't say that because you haven't been married" isn't wholly baseless, but at the same time, Christine is clearly trying very hard to understand their positions before she says anything, and - to me, and I'm sure those that know her better can back this up - seems willing to admit when she's wrong. There's only so much you can do to be qualified in anything, and if she spends a lot of time reading scripture - especially if it's more than you spend - then she's probably more qualified to teach on it than you are.

Just because she hasn't been married, then, doesn't mean she's not qualified to teach about scripture's views of marriage. They may not be "practical" (or even based on experience), but they're true, and how is that less valid?

Another thought: Catholic priests and nuns are (supposed to be) celibate. How are they, as the unmarried clergy, able to teach on marriage? Or child-raising? Or on sexuality?

I think so many of us agree with Christine because what she say fits both with our own life experiences and with the scripture we've all read. As a man, I DO feel most loved when I feel respected by my wife. That's just the way men are built, and however hard you argue against it doesn't change that it's the way the world is. Some men have ... shall we say, more harsh views about what resepect is. I don't think that this gives them liscence to abuse their women, and that we are called to defend the women they abuse. But the world is full of crap, and so many people have to go through a lot to get them that way. Perhaps understanding and sympathy - forms of respect - are what these men need from us (both men and women) in order to begin to heal.

obadiahslope said...

I am telling somebody else's story, and it reflects her "ambivilence". Taking out the AVO represents the real risk that her marriage is over. She has tried to be a good and christian wife, and sending him away is NOT easy. It is not unusual for someone to hesitate in doing this. They need support.

Getting the AVO is in many ways the easy bit. it is what goes with it that is difficult.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris, some men (and women) do many things simply because... they can.
Dear everyone, please do not take your eyes off Jesus who did not demand respect but respected. The perfect model for men and women alike.
My minister used to say a man should also submit to his wife and a wife also love her husband.

Ruth said...

obadiahslope - I feel really sorry for the women that you have mentioned. How difficult for them - and I agree that the 'micromanaging husband' example is also really awful. I will pray for these women.

I do think it's important for the woman who is being beaten to know her full options, as a citizen of Australia and heaven. I don't think that taking out an AVO means that her marriage is over - I strongly believe that 'separation' is not the same as 'divorce'. If the husband has started beating their children, then as a Christian parent she needs to do something about that - and their safety is important. I don't think that her taking action for their safety means that she isn't following the Bible - I think she is loving both her children and her husband by stopping the beating.

Chris said...

anonymous: I agree, lots of people do things simply because they can. Random example: sometimes I change the template on my blog just because I can.

I also agree that Jesus didn't demand respect. However, just because you don't demand it doesn't mean you don't need it. I think that men need to feel respected by their wives, their fellow men; it is a love language, if you will. It's all fine to say one shouldn't demand it - which we're not saying, by the way - but it's quite another to say that just because Jesus didn't "demand respect" that women shouldn't respect their husbands. I feel like that's what you're insinuating - that it's "demeaning" or "lowering" for women to respect their husbands or their fellow human beings, simply because of a gender difference.

I agree - men have abused this. Like all virtues, it can be turned into a vice when coveted or used improperly. Men who demand respect likely do because they either don't know they have it, or the genuinely aren't respected. Either way, it's sad, and I think that, while it's a slow and sometimes HUMBLING process, we (men AND women) should start loving them and treating them with respect to start the healing process.

This isn't about making women subservient, this is about being like Jesus. We're not trying to "put women in their place" or anything, we're just trying to ditch all our preconceptions and start over and find out what is true. I agree: it says "husbands and wives, submit to one another" just before it says "wives, submit to your husbands." Christine has made this point. She also said that men need to correct men in this regard, to love the church, and as such, it's not her job. Her job is to teach women their part. I would think that this is an honor, rather than demeaning. She's not saying "damn, I'm not allowed to teach men, they must think they're better than me," she's saying "what a privilege to get to teach the word of God to women, because they're beautiful creatures!"

This discussion is about finding our spiritual roles - different as they are - not about finding out how women can be just like men. The former illuminates both genders. The latter demeans men and women alike.

obadiahslope: I agree with ruth, I think that it's terrible what these women have had to go through. Sometimes we have to make hard choices and realize we've been forced into them; do we have to love our children enough to pull them away from the violence or do we obey a "rule" we've created and say "separation = divorce" ... because it's not true.

CraigS said...

I am telling somebody else's story, and it reflects her "ambivilence". Taking out the AVO represents the real risk that her marriage is over.

I believe you are failing her by leaving her in this terrible situation, and leaving her kids at risk. If things keep going the way they are, the marriage is certainly over, and all their lives are ruined.

Getting him out of the house for 6-12 months obviously protects the womand and her children. It is also very likely the best thing for him. It may enable him to get his head together and really make changes. If he cannot, then prison is the only option. It may even be the best place for him to be.

I am very sorry that the pastor of your church hasn't intervened more decisively. Then again, I'm of the old school where men are meant to protect women...

obadiahslope said...

Thanks, Ruth.
They are all real people who don't live that far from you.

If husbands want respect, surely they should show it first. That's a form of leadership if you like. Phillip Jensen put it well at a men's convention some years ago, when he talked on sex. To summarise him - a husband should not demand it, but seek to treat his wife well and meet her needs - sharing the housework and the like.
Blokes need to be more like Jesus, too.

Chris said...

obadiahslope: Oh, I totally agree, I wasn't trying to say that men shouldn't earn their respect. I do my best with my wife, and I know that I screw up a lot. But she respects me for trying, too, even if I fail miserably. I think I'm a better man because she shows me that respect. I just don't think it's one-sided. I think women should show a man respect, whether he's earned it or not. Likewise, men should love their wives as Christ loved us, whether they've earned it or not. I guess we shouldn't put conditions on it - for men, respect is basically love. So if you think about it that way, suddenly it's "I'll love you only if you love me." And that, I think, is selfish.

CraigS said...

Phillip Jensen put it well at a men's convention some years ago, when he talked on sex. To summarise him - a husband should not demand it, but seek to treat his wife well and meet her needs - sharing the housework and the like.

The old "housework for sex" exchange. Hmmm...which convention was that?

obadiahslope said...

Calm down - she has the AVO. But the temptation will be to give in and let him back home. That's been the pattern before. It hasn't worked. At least six months away is right i think. (I have been vague in my tenses so as not to be too identifying)
That's why it's important that the church's teaching on marriage, submission and the like includes DV. It is a present reality, sadly.

RodeoClown said...

What Chris said.

We should love our wives* whether they respect us or not. And be willing to die for them even if they think we are scum.

That's what we promised at our weddings. I don't take my promises lightly. I don't make many at all - in fact I think my wedding vows may be the last promise I've made.

Men who don't love their wives are sinning.

*we should only have one wife each though.

obadiahslope said...

the second or third.
To be fair to PJ, he was talking about seeking to look after a person without thought of automatic reward. He wasnt preaching craftiness or maniulation.
But if someone is lovable, who knows?

CraigS said...

Calm down - she has the AVO. But the temptation will be to give in and let him back home.

Well, your story has not been consistent on this, so its hard to know what is going on.

So you are saying that she *has* taken an AVO out, and the guy is not living with her anymore? Well thats good, but it seems to be different to what you initially said.

CraigS said...

To be fair to PJ, he was talking about seeking to look after a person without thought of automatic reward.

True enough - yet this goes against the idea of "earning/deserving" respect or love, doesn't it?

obadiahslope said...

I gave enough of the story to respond the this blog. I only wanted to give a fragment - its not my story to tell. I kept it vague - these are real people and I have said more than enough.
For example I said "taking out the AVO represents the real risk her marriage is over". Which is true whether or not she has proceded. You chose a particular reading of that. But I left it ambiguous, you see.
Thats enough of me for now.

CraigS said...

In your initial post you wrote -

a woman whose (christian) husband has hit her for years and who has just started on the children

This gives the impression that it is something happening now. I appreciate that you were trying to protect her identity, but it confused the situation.

obadiahslope said...

Gee you are persistent. latest DV AVO etc All within the last xxxx ...just decided not to tell you any more. Too identifying. Sorry.

John H said...

"I believe that a man feels most loved when he knows that he is respected."

I think that is probably true, which is probably why St Paul tells husbands to love their wives, but wives to respect their husbands. Another reason is that, while the temptation of men may be to be cold, unloving or selfish towards their wives (and I'm speaking for my own heart here), the temptation of many women is to be disrespectful (publicly and privately) towards their husbands. There can be something of a culture of denigrating one's menfolk.

Before we were married, my wife commented on the way in which, in her experience, many women, when in company with other women: (i) "overshare" about intimate aspects of their marriages/relationships; and (ii) talk in extremely disrespectful terms about their husbands. She told me she would not do that herself, and that is a commitment she has kept through ten years of marriage. That means an awful lot to me, and your similar determination will mean a lot to your own husband-to-be.

jenny said...

Right on, Christine. Disregard the feminist "concerns" that have been posted as comments. It's difficult for most to accept the role of a Godly wife. First, we must learn to submit to God--then the rest follows with joy. Many women were raised by feminist mothers and grandmothers who despised being homemakers and pleasing their husbands. It is unfortunate that they are missing out on the great blessing God intended for wives.

Alison said...

Hello, just to add my two cents worth - speaking from experience, I've personally found that taking the biblical approach to being a wife (without waiting for my husband to take a biblical approach to his role) has resulted in vast improvements in our marriage. It certainly takes a lot of wisdom and trust in God to submit which is something I am still learning and struggling with. This is especially the case if there are things in your marriage you're not happy with (although I don't think it means putting up with violence/abuse).

I've found that when making decisions on how to act in various situations, it helps to think "what would be best for our marriage here?" instead of "what do I want to get out of this situation?".

In the end it is about acting out of love and respect for the other person, rather than protecting your own corner and only giving love and respect in return for same. We are to serve God through our role as a wife, not ourselves.

Lara said...

With regard to the domestic violence issue... I think it is scary that people can take the Scripture teaching on marriage and use it to say that a woman should stay with her husband if he is beating her, so that she may win him over by her behaviour. Or that it's ok for a husband (a minister in the church) to beat his wife, because he is supposed to present her 'pure and blameless.' Even after an AVO, counselling etc., what if reconciliation isn't possible? Is the woman allowed to seek divorce and remarriage?

And of course the 'micromanaging' example is on the low end of domestic violence, if it even is domestic violence, but if a husband is not allowing his wife to fulfil her role as suggested in Proverbs 31:10-31, what then? Should a husband have complete control over what his wife does, even down to the books she reads, or should he trust her and give her some independence?

Of course, I'm not suggesting that biblical teaching should be abandoned just because some people have abused them, but I do think these are important issues that Obadiahslope raised.

Chris said...

I don't htink anybody is saying that women shouldn't be given the freedom to make their own choices. That's the point: respect is not forced, it's given. Men, love your wives as Christ loved the church - freely, intimately, passionately, and in spite of the church's constant tendency to turn away from him. God gave us freedom of choice because love is so much better when it's freely given. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the defining characteristic of love is having chosen it freely.

Derek Webb says it best, for me:

"I am a whore, I do confess,
I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
I'm a prodigal with no way home
I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle
to you ..."

David Castor said...

"I believe that a man feels most loved when he knows that he is respected."

I think that is probably true, which is probably why St Paul tells husbands to love their wives, but wives to respect their husbands.

You mean husbands shouldn't respect their wives?

I made the suggestion that mutual respect was an integral element of any healthy marriage, only to be shouted down with an angry diatribe about the evils of egalitarianism, all the while refusing to endorse my suggestion that husbands ought to respect their wives. I thought that perhaps you people may be able to approach the issue with some integrity, so I'm offering this point up for discussion.

ckhnat said...

I agree, David. I think respect comes easier to men rather than women, thus the need for the command for women to respect ... and men to love. Why be commanded to do something when you are naturally inclined to do it anyway?

Sort of along the lines of ... Love the Lord your God with all your heart ... or love your neighbors as yourself.

ckhnat said...

Lorie and Michelle,

I have removed myself from addressing your comments the past few days so that I could think and pray through them ... examining my own heart and intent ... talking it through with Michael, even my mother (who was there at the time).

My intent in addressing your concerns now is not to re-open a debate but to seek your help. After prayer and counsel I am still at a loss to understand how my words, actions, motivations, and heart's intent were out of line.

I fear that you have the impression that I was somehow hostile toward these women.

If you have somehow caught onto to a sinful attitude of heart or action that I am ignorant of, I'm asking you to help me remove my ignorance. I take criticism very seriously and if I am at fault I wish to make it right.

Michelle Pendergrass said...


I'm not sure if you got my email, but I did respond to you and thanked you for your comments. I also added that I would answer you by this afternoon and that I would be in prayer until I write my response.

mxu said...

Wow. Nice post. Wow again. Thank you.

I've linked to your post here.

Annette said...

Followed you over here from Dan's.

I thought what you said was good. I could also see the pain in your heart.
I do hope it didn't show too much ... well the pain maybe, the frustration no.

I've been married four years now. Never even gave it a thought about how I would show respect to my husband...figured it would just come naturally! NOT!!! :) It's been four years of catching myself, of thinking things through, of learning to ask "why do you do that?" (instead of getting frustrated by what I see is lack of responsiveness).

I am so glad that you think about these things before marriage. I"m so glad you were brave enough to say.. but "a man feels most loved when he feels he is respected." (or words to that effect) It was an encouragement! :) So thanks for writing. AND thanks for talking when asked.

I do hope as you teach and lead that you do learn that not only does truth matter, but how one attitude in saying that truth matters as well. I'm hoping you have enough discernment (or if not that you learn to pray and depend on God for that needed discernment) to know when you can be blunt about sin, and when you can be truthful in a leading, guiding manner and isn't quite as blunt. May God bless your career as a teaching woman!

Anonymous said...

Ignore all the hostile posts.


Andrew Wheatley said...

I hope my daughters grow up to be like you.

James Garriss said...

Heare the word of God: "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (2 Pe 1:3, NASB95)

In Christ we have everything we need for godliness. Godly husbands are good, but not required. You keep thinking these godly thoughts, Christine.

Annie Peterson said...

It is so encouraging to hear your views on this! I think you've got it right...I hope someday in a marriage I can live selflessly, considering my husband better than myself, like Phil. 2 says: "in humility count others more significant than yourselves..."