Friday, November 30, 2012

Finally Friday

I've had quite a week.

I don't usually write a lot about my not-quite-orthodox views, but a few weeks ago, a friend asked me to.

So after prayer and pondering, I did.

If you're so inclined, you can read what I wrote (and the responses) at my friend Mike's blog

You may or may not agree with me, and that's OK.  I believe that God's grace is big enough to cover me if I'm wrong and you if you're wrong.

I can't lie.  The first three comments were hurtful.  If you know me at all, you can probably guess why.  I pondered over whether to respond.  I asked friends to pray.  Several friends (thank you!) responded which left some of what I wanted to say unnecessary.  My sweet sister emailed just to make sure I was ok, and you know what?

I was.

Although I was stunned by the tone of what was written, I was not undone by it.  Early into reading it, I realized, "She doesn't know me.  She isn't even talking about me.  She's talking about someone who doesn't even exist."  So I was able to read it and not be  too terribly hurt by the tone or the words.

I did pen a quick response there, but I want to share my full response here.  Not because I feel the need to vindicate myself or to set anyone straight, but to share my heart and hopefully provide some frame of reference for who I am and what is important to me.   So here goes.

Jenn, I can tell that you care deeply about this topic too, but can also tell that you and I have very different perspectives.  I'd like to tell you a bit more about myself, because you seem to be making some rather large assumptions about me.
1.  My faith in and relationship with the Lord is the cornerstone for all that I do.  Each day begins and ends with prayer and I seek his guidance throughout my days.  I take Bible study seriously and church has been a continual part of my life and of my parenting.  I want nothing more than to see people with God's eyes and to treat them the way God would treat them.
2.  I take the scriptural mandate for older women to teach younger women very seriously.  We are all older than someone and I've been a teacher at church since I was in seventh grade. Currently, I teach and plan curriculum for our women's class at church.  I work in the nursery.  I help plan retreats.  I also volunteer many hours a week with college women and am blessed to be a part of their lives as they navigate through the beginnings of having their own faith.   I also try to be the very best mom that I can be to my own daughters.
3. Although I work full time now, it has never been my first choice.  I spent years as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and still miss that life.  Financially, we could no longer make that choice.  While I was praying through the very difficult choice of what I believed to be "abandoning God's plan for women," I was reminded by a wise soul that I was my husband's wife before I was my children's mom and if helping provide income was necessary, then I needed to do that.  I do not work out of selfish ambition or a desire for riches.  I do not own a boat.  We only bought our first house six years ago and we have been married for 25 years.  My children wear second-hand clothes.  We drive out-of-date, barely functional vehicles.  I work primarily so they can afford to go to college without having the student loans that have burdened us throughout our adult life.
4. I do not claim to be a Biblical scholar, although I do read and study my Bible regularly and seriously.  Because I don't know the original Biblical languages, I must depend on translations and realize that I could be misinterpreting.  Scot McKnight's book "Blue Parakeet" does a wonderful job addressing how we read the Bible and which parts are cultural and which parts are not.  There are many commands in the New Testament, including one that says that slaves should not seek to be free.  Does that still apply?  If women are to be silent, why are we allowed to sing? Just before the scripture telling women not to teach men, there’s a verse telling women not to wear gold or pearls.  Does that still apply?  Why are some of these assumed to be cultural and others to be truth-for-all-time?  Our answers to these are wrapped in our cultural worldviews. 
5.  I could be wrong.  I realize I could be wrong.  It’s OK that I could be wrong.  I’m not trying to convince anyone to agree with me – I’m just sharing my heart and what I would love to see happen.  Unity is more important to me than anything.  I’m a middle child; a peace-maker.  I want a safe place to ask questions and I want open dialogue, but I will demand nothing because I believe that unity and cooperation are more important than any one person (or group of people) having their way or having their say.
6. If I am wrong, I believe that God’s grace will cover that.  If you disagree with me and that winds up being wrong, then I believe that God’s grace will cover that.  When I interact with other people, I will choose grace over law any day of the week.  God chose grace over law when he sent Jesus and it was a big gamble.  I fail every day and God chooses grace over law when he views my life, so I want to extend the same grace to others.
7.    Life is short.  My real-life friends know how close we’ve come to burying two of our children due to illness (Caleb’s Type 1 Diabetes) and injury (Emily’s wreck).  No day is guaranteed, and I do not choose to spend the limited time that I have trying to find the flaws in other people’s lives.  I choose to love people, live by my beliefs, and teach those beliefs through living what I say I believe.
8.  There is a reason I named my blog “God is good.”  He is.  God is good, and I want to reflect that in my words, thoughts, and actions.  I want to bring the same calm, non-judgmental, accepting, and encouraging presence into the lives of others that God has brought to mine.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Those are my goals.  That is my to-do list.  And for that, I will not repent.

 So there's my response.  This week has used up my allotted courage for the decade, so I hope that the Mayans were right and we only have a few weeks left on this crazy planet.  If not, then I will still say, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus," and I will remind myself once more that, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

Yes.  God is good.


Jenn said...

The tone of my response wasn’t meant to sound harsh. I am a very straight-forward person and it sometimes can seem that way. It’s a good thing for me to have bible verses telling me to be silent in church, otherwise I would probably try to control the whole thing haha.
Allow me to go into greater detail on some points.

Jenn said...

I only brought up being a homemaker to show the trend in America which shows the dissolution of roles in our culture. The only place you still see it is in the church but you want to see it gone there too. I’ll explain what I mean. The women that pushed for "women’s rights” were in rebellion against God and their husbands. They weren’t Godly women. The Godly women and men of the time strongly opposed even women’s suffrage. They could see the result of this. The Bible says that man is the head of the woman and Christ is the head of the church. The men represented their families. That’s the Biblical way. Sarah even called Abraham ‘lord’ and God was pleased with that. That totally goes against the grain of this modern culture. Women wanted to prove themselves. They got what they wanted, and everything that goes with it. The majority of women now choose to get a job. I’m not at all referring to women that have to work. I do realize that husbands die, they get injured, some are pathetic, and sometimes bad things just happen but that should only be the minority among Christians. However, it is rare that a woman chooses to stay at home. Why? Because it’s a foreign thought today. Girls are pushed to get a college degree and rack up debt. You mentioned this in your post. You said you have to work because of your college loans. This is something that could be easily avoided if parents and church leaders are encouraging the young girls to get trained to take care of their families and their homes, and that training is free. Instead, as a young girl, you hear nothing but, “what do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor? That’s wonderful!! Now make sure you put your all into it!”

Jenn said...

In high school, a teacher asked me what I wanted to do. I had been studying the bible to figure out what I should do. I told her, “well, I want to be a homemaker like the bible says women should be” and she laughed in my face and insulted me. I was shocked. And this continued to happen. So, I went to college. I got a great job. I was moving up and was well-respected. I got married to a Godly man. He wanted me to stay at home after our son was born and when I told this to people at church, they told me I should definitely not do that. That would be a huge mistake! Besides, we would never be able to afford it. Both spouses have to work nowadays. My husband is a laborer at a shipyard and doesn’t make much money but he said he would work very hard to make sure I could stay with our child. Why? He mainly wanted to keep his son away from the government school system. We both went to public school and “turned out fine” if you want to call it that. We were taught that the Bible is a joke, God doesn’t exist, we got here by the big bang and chance random processes. We were also greatly influenced by our peers. Nearly every person in school was having sex. I knew lots of girls in 6th grade that had had abortions…. There were 5 of us that stuck together and were nerdy Christian outcasts. There was so much pressure to give up our Christian values and beliefs. Everyone was doing drugs except the 5 of us. No exaggeration. I’ve spoken to many, many people from other areas and their schools were no different. But, if you saw them around their parents, they were perfect angels and their parents were totally fooled. This scared us to death. Statistics show that 6 out of 10 kids brought up in Christian homes that attend public schools leave the faith. If they were still Christians by the time they graduated, they were very liberal Christians with a very worldly set of beliefs and they don’t even realize it. Even when I try to explain to Christian working women about the indoctrination their kids are getting at school, they shrug it off as unimportant and say they’ll be fine. My husband said he would work to make this possible but since he doesn’t make much money, we also had to seriously change our standard of living. We bought a 1000 sq ft home on 1/5 an acre. We are very frugal and never buy anything unless we have the money to pay for it. Again, I say all of this because I know it is possible to do it even when people think they can’t afford it. Sure, someone may not be able to have a fine home and new cars and nice clothes, but it’s worth it if the children can be brought up without the influence of the world pulling them away from God. If you knew that you could give your children a great education without all the above problems, as long as you made a few sacrifices, wouldn’t you do it? Of course you would. But people aren’t even given this as an option these days. We’ve been brainwashed by the culture to believe that we need to work. We just need to do this. If we stay home we are selling ourselves short.

Jenn said...

You mentioned that the culture affects the church. I’m in complete agreement with you on this. However, I think we’re looking at it from opposite ends of the spectrum. You see that women are being held back because the culture makes it unacceptable for women to lead and you wish to see this changed. I see that we no longer live in a Christian nation. We are pagan and the culture has infiltrated the church so much that women in the church want to apply their rights in the world to their roles in the church. Does this make sense? But that’s how Satan works. Very few people would try to do something they knew was terrible. He knows he has to make something look ok first. Look at the movies and tv shows that everyone enjoys. If you look at Hollywood entertainment through the eyes of the bible, you will see virtually nothing but Satan’s agenda. What are children (and adults) learning when they watch these things? They see that sex isn’t really bad outside of marriage, if you love that person, or if they are cute enough; adultery and divorce really isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s kinda glamorous; certain words aren’t really bad. They’re just words and only old fashioned folks say you shouldn’t use them; revenge is really cool; wearing modest clothing is only for wallflowers and if at all possible, you must always look sexy, regardless of the affect it has on our Christian brothers; men are buffoons that watch TV all day and can’t do anything, while the women are sensible and should be in charge. Women don’t really need men anyway so why bother. So you see, Satan has worked slowly but surely through entertainment to numb us. Things go on in churches now that 100 years ago would be an abomination. Unmarried couples live together, many marry non-Christians, women wear slutty clothing to the worship service that they’d be arrested for 100 years ago. Women are used to being in charge in every aspect of life, except the church. So it irks us and we seek to change it. I hope this all makes sense.

Jenn said...

Paul does actually say that if a slave is able to be free, that he should (1 cor 7:21). I’m not sure how that would be something that shows that the passages about women aren’t to be taken literally. As far as women being allowed to wear jewelry today but not allowed to speak, Paul’s words are explained by looking at them alongside Peter’s words (1 tim 2:9; 1 pet 3:3). Your adornment should not be merely external, but (most importantly) internal, that is the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. If my viewpoint is incorrect, then we should be encouraging Christian women to put away their jewelry rather than tell them to put away the teaching about being in submission to male authority!!

Jenn said...

I just don’t want to see church members compromise anymore. You said you choose to love and accept people that disagree with you because God’s grace will cover them. But genuine love is not some saccharine sentiment that disregards truth and tolerates everything. The point of your original post was that you wanted to see women in the roles of elders and preachers. This is clearly forbidden by scripture. If I see that someone is trying to undermine the bible, I can’t just say “well, I love her so I won’t say anything”. That just allows sin to proceed. If you saw your friend about to walk off a cliff, you’d pull them back, right? If I see someone trying to make the church fit in more with the world, I have to say something. It’s serious. I just hope you will consider it. My point was not to insult, but to admonish.

Let’s not agree to disagree. Let’s agree to study more.

Sorry for such lengthy comments!

Jenny Klich said...

I am grateful for Jenn returning to explain her thoughts. I know it takes courage to stand up for your convictions, especially directly to someone you know disagrees.

Just a couple of personal notes - because belief system at the core of our life is really fleshed out until we make it personal.

Firstly, I also know Lisa personally - I know her to be a strong, loving woman of God who doesn't just study Bible or blog about ideas, but lives out her faith with her family, her job, and her every day life (even with lowly grad assists).Jenn, I admit I don't know you, well, but I choose to believe you are also a woman of God, committed to seeking out his truth and living it.

Jenny Klich said...

For all the struggles and challenges I faced in my time at Harding, one of the lessons I truly believe God brought me there to teach me was that ideas that I disagree with have faces and hearts. Some of the people I became closest to in my time there were people who believed things that, in more immature days, I would have furiously written off as ridiculous. But I know now that's not true - that Godly, wise, loving, intelligent people can believe different things.

Jenn, you're right - it does matter - we can't just write off arguments under what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." We are not called to stop caring what truth may be. Lisa is also right - that, no matter how carefully we examine Scripture and the heart of God, we're all going to be wrong about some things, and praise God that His grace does cover all.

Jenny Klich said...

Also, just a personal anecdote. I, as a wife, teach - and at a public school no less. My husband is proud of me, and I find incredible joy in watching the students I work with grow - students who come to our country speaking other languages that need support and advocacy to succeed. And they do succeed! Each year, I get to watch at least one incredible child come in with no English, terrified of these new surroundings (sometimes crying when I go pick him up from class) - I get to watch that child learn and grow and come into a new world of possibilities! And those times are some of my clearest visions of God.

Public schools are not perfect. Many struggle, and I will be the first to admit that there are some whose attitudes and failures are shameful and embarrassing and need to be completely scrapped and redone. But, at their heart, in their purpose, public schools are vital to our society. When they are strong, they are the one place that says to that says to the world, "No matter who you are - if you are poor, if you have severe mental handicaps, no matter who your parents are or how much education THEY got to have, no matter your skin color, no matter what language you speak, no matter your creed or religion, you can get an education and have a chance in this world to be better than whatever you come from."

There is something in that commitment that deeply moves to me, and, again, seems to speak from the heart of God.

Jenny Klich said...

As a note, these are services that many (whether Christian or not) private schools do not offer, and help many mothers cannot give their children alone. My husband went to Christian private school until high school, and couldn't wait to escape at the end of 8th grade.

That said - my point is not that school institutions are always superior - just that they sometime are. I have known closely students who were home schooled as well as those who attended private and public schools. In all of those groups, I have known students and friends of tremendous intellect, wisdom, and compassion. In all of those groups, I have known students who were immature, self-centered, and missing basic understandings.

We cannot lump all students educated a particular way into overarching stereotypes. We cannot force all wives and mothers into roles that may have been as ill-fitted as Saul's armor on David. Women in the Bible were stay at home mothers, judges, and deacons. The first missionaries were women who ran to teach the frightened apostles what had happened. A woman was praised for leaving the housework be long enough to listen to Christ teach. These women, I am sure, we will meet in heaven right alongside those who called their husband "Lord" and served in quietness.

Teresa C said...

forgive my question regarding the Blue Parkeet on the other blog, I came back and read this one and now know you have read it. Good book!

lisa b said...


Since we are both women who seek to follow God, let's make a commitment to pray for one another and trust God to lead us where we need to be.

My hope is that neither of us will put our hope in man or a group of men or a particular teacher or group or way of worship, but that our hope will be in God and the truth of God's Word.

God bless you.