Saturday, April 30, 2011

So Women Have No Rights?

A few months ago, a visitor commented, "So your [sic] telling me that you don't believe women should have rights? That we should just stay at home, bare [sic] children and have no options and let the man do the job even if he is a lousy breadwinner?" At first, I wanted to give the blog itself a chance to respond, hoping that the reader would find the answer to her question throughout the rest of the site, but then I realized I have no way of knowing if she ever found the answer she was looking for, so I am going to formally respond to it here.
There are two ways I can answer the question as to whether or not women should have rights: Yes and No. Let's look at "no" first.


I know we have some very astute readers who will point out to me a valid reason that women should not have rights, and so I know I cannot answer the visitor's question without first addressing that perspective here.

Our insightful readers will naturally point out that the Bible says: "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and all who dwell in it." (Psalm 24:1) Therefore, women should not have rights because no one, Christian or non-Christian, has any rights to begin with! (If women had rights and men didn't, that wouldn't be fair, would it?) Our money, our possessions, our talents, even the very air we breathe does not belong to us. It is borrowed and belongs to Someone else. Technically, women should not have rights (nor should men) because everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell belongs to God. (Psalm 24:1 states that our very selves are God's possessions.) If we have anything, including our "rights," it is for one reason and one reason alone: He has graciously chosen to give that to us.

The Bible further states that when a person becomes a Christian, that person willingly gives up all those things they perceive to be their "rights". We become slaves to Christ. We do what our Master tells us to do. Fortunately in our case, we serve a perfect Master, who will never steer us down the wrong path. We can trust Him with whatever instructions He gives. That being said, I can now move on to the response that I'm sure our visitor was looking for.


Throughout this site from time to time, we have featured some articles marking our feelings regarding the ideology known as "feminism." Generally speaking, we at Reformed SHEology do not adhere to feminist values, and at times have openly criticized feminist ideology on this blog. Why? Because it can be argued that "feminism," while intended to combat the effects of sexism, basically promotes sexist ideas in reverse. I would never doubt or question some of the wonderful achievements brought about by the American Feminist Movement, or claim that these victories were anything less than good (such as the right to vote and the campaign for equal pay). But other than this, much of what we see from feminist mentality is an effort to divide men and women further, rather than bring them closer together. Feminism's intent is to win victories for women, but the main "achievement" of feminism is often to fight wars against men. It is now acceptable to ridicule, insult, and berate men, even to the point of denying them the very things that define their masculinity. Feminism rarely objects to this phenomenon, and many who consider themselves feminists heartily approve of this type of behavior as an expression of feminism itself.

God has created women for a very noble purpose: to help men. Being a man is tough. Women can openly show emotion and talk about their feelings with just about anybody. But society in general does not allow men this same luxury. The average man will tell you there his only one person with whom he feels safe enough to open up, and that's his woman. For this reason, God tells women to submit to men. It is not a command to be subservient, nor is this command equal with the term oppression. Women are commanded by God to respect and submit to men because this is how men feel loved. If you want to show a man you love him, you cannot love him the way a woman wants to be loved. You have to love him according to the way a man wants to be loved. Submission, therefore is an act of the will. You choose to submit. No man can force you to do it!

Women are commanded to submit to men. We hate this because we mistakenly think that this is a one-sided effort. But upon closer inspection, we see that men are commanded to love women. In my experience, men do a pretty good job of loving us. How about it, ladies? Do we need to be reminded of how they faithfully put up with our bad attitudes in spite of our ridiculous attempts at rationalizing our behavior? Simply say the letters "PMS" to a man and he will instantly back off. He will not defend himself against our rude, angry, unjustified cruelties toward him. He will just endure it. This is his way of loving us unconditionally, even when we don't deserve it. He does this every month for us, no? Yet we continually ask, "So you're telling me we should let the man do the job, even if he's a lousy breadwinner?" The answer is, "Only if you love him." If you don't love your man, go ahead and tell him how disappointed you are in him. Go ahead and take matters into your own hands, letting him know just how much of a failure you think he is. Feel free to respect him only when he deserves it. Just don't expect him to treat you with kindness the next time you are undeserving.

Scripture clearly commands both men and women to treat one another with kindness. Should women have "rights"? Of course! The Bible addresses this issue with men and commands them to treat us with love. Do men always treat us with love? Absolutely not. But this is no reason to launch a full-blown war against them. It is also no reason to punish every man for the crimes of one. That being said, it can be argued that there is no need for feminism at all. Why? The Bible makes such ideology unnecessary. A clear, thorough reading of the Bible will reveal that God does not hate women, nor does He consider them to be second class-citizens. He cares very much about how men treat us. (Consider 1 Peter 3:7, which states that if a man is unkind to his wife, God will ignore his prayers!) Instead, the Bible has made provision for the respect and proper treatment of women, declaring them equal in value to men (just different in role and function) as co-heirs of the Kingdom. No man-made (or woman-made) ideology is going to improve upon what the Creator has designed.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Will Work for Food

One of the most common complaints I hear in the church today are those complaints against the local body in which we have been called. I began to touch on this a few months back with my thoughts in "Are You Fed Up With Your Church?" People always seem to have some complaint with their local body of worship, and threaten to leave if it doesn't suit their fancy. "There's no evangelism team here, so I'm leaving." "The worship style is not to my liking, and so I'm looking for another church." "I don't agree with the particular view that the elders have taken on the end times, so this will be my last Sunday at this fellowship." Of course, all of the people in these examples never claim that these are the sole reasons they are leaving their church. Instead, they give another reason for leaving -- one that I find entirely plausible. The number one reason that I personally have encountered as to why people leave their churches is this: "I am just not being fed here."

This reminds me of a passage in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-13. In the ESV, it reads as follows:
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

Normally, we encounter this scripture in a purely physical sense. We don't encourage slothfulness, and the church naturally will not be found giving a handout to those who refuse to get a job, take up their God-given responsibilities to those around them, and give back to the church. But what if this scripture was viewed in a more spiritual sense? What if there is a link between Christian service and spiritual nourishment? I think this idea is very interesting in light of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." Perhaps the reason we feel we are not being "fed" in our churches, is because we are unwilling to work!

Ask yourself this question: what is my level of service in my current church? Am I someone who comes to church on Sunday, takes what I can get from it, and then leaves? If so, perhaps you do not feel fed because God has decided to withhold your plate until you are willing to do some work.

Perhaps you are someone who is thinking, "I am more than willing to work, but the problem is there is no place for me to serve here." In other words, there is some "pet" ministry you have a desire for, but it isn't available at your local church for one reason or another. If so, you need to be sensitive towards God's desire, as it might be different from your own.

For example, I once knew a girl who complained for several months that she was sick and tired of her church because the elders would not allow her to be a worship leader. This girl came across as extremely bitter, and eventually left her church with a very bad attitude. Several people tried to counsel her on her decision to leave the church, but she insisted that she had to go because she wasn't being "fed," and the church was "obstructing her spiritual growth." As far as I could see, the church was not, as she claimed, standing in the way of her joy, because there were three valid reasons why she couldn't be a worship leader:

1. The position she wanted was already held by someone else. If the need is being met in that area, then another person is not going to be called to serve in that area. It was wrong of this girl to demand that she be placed in a role that was already filled, when other positions of service within the church remained empty for years.

2. The position she wanted was not Biblical. The Bible is clear that a woman is not to usurp authority over a man. This usually eliminates women as being qualified for positions of leadership within the church. This girl was offered an opportunity to serve on the worship team, but that wasn't good enough. She wanted to be a worship leader. She wanted to be the person in charge of worship at that church, and the idea of serving in any other capacity was not an option for her. Therefore, she concluded she was not being fed. In actuality, she was being offered food to eat. It just wasn't good enough for her.

3. The position she wanted required skills she did not possess. When this sister first told me she wanted to be a worship leader, I was surprised, because I never witnessed her musical talent in public. Wondering why she was keeping it hidden, I asked, "How come you're not in the choir?" She replied, "Because I don't sing." I then asked, "Oh, so do you play a musical instrument?" She flatly stated, "No." Puzzled, I asked her how she concluded that she was called to be a worship leader when she did not sing or play a musical instrument. She simply said, "Because that is the desire of my heart."

As we can see from the above example, the sister in this story claimed she was not being fed, and she was right. She was not being fed because she refused to eat the food that was given to her. I wonder how many opportunities for service were missed because she insisted on getting her spiritual satisfaction from places she was not necessarily called to be.

Are there ministries that you feel are "lacking" in your church? Perhaps you are right. Perhaps those ministries aren't there. Perhaps you've talked to your pastor about having these ministries started, and he said no. So you're not being fed by your favorite foods, then ask yourself, "What else can I eat?" If we only look around us, we will see a feast of opportunities where we can serve, and feel completely satisfied.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Don't Need a Man!

My grandmother died on February 15, 2011. She was 91 years old. Our family had been preparing for this day since July 2010, when she first fell ill, and it was around that time I began to reflect upon her life. I thought about specific memories I have of her from my childhood. I also thought about little things I'd categorize as "Grandma Trivia." (For instance, she worked for many years as a seamstress in a factory.) But it wasn't until the actual funeral that I began to dwell on the manner in which my grandmother expressed her femininity, especially since she played the role of a single mom for 60 years.

My grandfather left the family when my dad was three years old (1951). We always had contact with him, and he had a presence in our lives until his death in 2001, but he did not really have any type of real commitment to the family that required any responsibility. It was my grandmother who worked, raised three boys, cooked for her family and cleaned the home all by herself. She didn't need a man's help. She didn't need a man at all!

My grandmother worked hard, but she also played hard. I remember around 1982 or 1983, she took a trip to Switzerland by herself. She belonged to several clubs, had tons of friends, played bingo, and went to senior citizen dances. She lived by herself. As I began to review her life as a single woman, I began to think that maybe the single life really is pretty amazing. When I considered the fact that my Grandmother was single for most of her life, I began to strategize how I could do the same: "Do I really need a man? Grandma didn't. And as a Christian, I know that I already have everything I need. So I suppose I don't need a man. I don't need a man to be happy, I don't need a man to survive, and I don't need a man to define my femininity. I'm single, and I'm doing all right!"

My cousin Joe, a Christian, delivered a very brief speech at the funeral home. With tears in his eyes, he said, "When my mom died, Grandma did everything for us. EVERYTHING." It was true. Joe's mother passed away when he was only 16, and there was Grandma who stepped right in and became a surrogate mother to him and his siblings. She remained in that role for 15 years, again, without a husband. She honestly and truly did not need a man!

But as Joe continued his speech, something became very clear to me. As I listened to him talk about how Grandma cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, and basically kept that house together after his mother died, it was evident that Grandma did not need Joe, but Joe needed her.

More than ever, I realized the importance in of women in the lives of men. The Bible tells us that we were created for them! As a single woman, it can be easy to forget that, not only because we are so independent, but because this is what we often tell ourselves when we are trying to remain content with our singleness. In many cases, we're right. Technically, we don't need a man. In Christ, we have all we need. But as Christians, we should be equally aware of others' needs, not just our own.

Here's a thought to encourage you. 1 Peter 3:7 describes women as "the weaker sex." Many times, passages like this are misunderstood to mean that men are somehow superior to women, but let me challenge that idea with this question: what do you think this says about men, considering that women were created to be their helpers? Think of the incredible honor it is, knowing that someone "stronger" than you is actually depending upon you for help!

Strong people are not necessarily independent, but interdependent. Strong people are not strong because they can do everything alone. Strong people are strong because others lean on them for help. This is the privilege that women have as helpers to men. Consider Jesus, the strongest Person of all, who did not remain independent of humanity, but carried the weight of the world's sin on His shoulders. Now that's real strength!

Married or single, when was the last time you said to yourself, "I don't need a man"? What was the situation? What was the condition of your heart? I ask this not to imply that your attitude was poor. Perhaps you're right. Perhaps you don't need a man after all . . . but maybe, just maybe, there is a man out there who desperately needs you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I recently adopted two cats from my local animal shelter. One was a rambunctious little kitten, the other was a two-year-old female Torbie for which I did not have a name at first. “No Name” was undeniably sweet, docile, and responsive to human attention. She also had a sadness in her eyes, as though she wanted desperately to be loved, but knew that she was unwanted. I don’t know exactly what it was about her, but I was drawn to her, and so I completed the paper work for adoption on January 1, 2011 – New Year’s Day.

On January 4, I took my new cats home. I had to isolate them both from my existing cat, just to ensure that they were healthy, and so that my existing cat would not be overwhelmed by his new roommates. “No Name” was staying in my bathroom. She was coughing and sneezing, so I took her to the vet the next day, and began treating her with antibiotics for the cold. Over the next several days, I began to bond with this animal as I cared for her. She allowed me to do anything – clean her ears, clean her eyes, administer medication – she especially loved to be wiped down with baby wipes (I did not want to give her a bath just yet). She never scratched, bit, or fought me. It was like she knew I loved her, and she trusted me.

I noticed this cat had large paws, and that she most likely was going to grow bigger. I spent that entire first week on the internet, trying to determine if she was at least part Norwegian Forest Cat. In a nutshell, she reminded me of a teddy bear. So I finally settled on a name for her: Corduroy.

Corduroy was a book I owned as a child. First published in 1968, the story follows a little teddy bear named Corduroy who sits amongst the other toys in a department store, hoping that someone will buy him and take him home. One day, a girl named Lisa sees Corduroy, and tells her mother she really wants the bear. Lisa’s mother tells her that they’ve already spent too much money, and besides, the bear is missing a button.

That night, Corduroy searches the entire department store, trying to find a button so he can fix his defect. He does find a button, but he is returned to the shelf before he can do anything about it. The next day, when the department store opens, Lisa returns to buy the bear with her own money, and Corduroy gets to go home, even though he still is missing a button.

As an adult, I am struck by the profound similarity between this simple children’s story and the gospel.As a child, and I remember being overcome with emotion when Corduroy was finally taken home. But as an adult, I am struck by the profound similarity between this simple children’s story and the gospel. Here is a teddy bear who is not perfect, and in order to increase his chances of being loved, he tries to “fix himself”, and he fails. In an unlikely twist, a little girl spends all she has in order to purchase the bear, brings him home, and sews a new button on for him, making him like new again. The story doesn’t tell us why Lisa chooses this bear. We never know why. She just elects to take him home, even in his imperfect condition. The story continues to have such a profound impact upon me, even as an adult. It was only natural I name my new cat after the bear in this story.

On January 9, Corduroy showed marked improvement. She was no longer sneezing and coughing, and she was anxious to get out of the bathroom for a change, so I took her outside and sat with her on my screened-in lanai. There we were, just the two of us: creature and caretaker, delighting in each other’s company. For two hours, Corduroy sat in my lap and purred, occasionally looking up into my eyes as if to say, “Thank you!” It was magnificent. I imagined it would only be a few more days before I could allow her to freely roam the house and see her stretched out on my living room furniture in all her feline glory.

But Corduroy's improvement was short lived. On the evening of January 11, her eyes were weighed down by mucous and her breathing became quite labored. I took her to the vet the following day and had her x-rayed. Her cold was gone, but her lungs were nearly filled with fluid, and she had a few nodules on her lungs as well. The x-ray also showed that she had a BB lodged in her back. “I don’t know if this cat is going to live,” the vet told me, but she gave Corduroy an injection to help open up her airways, and sent me home with even more aggressive antibiotics. Within five hours, Corduroy took a turn for the worse. She began to panic as she realized she could no longer breathe. I acted quickly, and headed for the overnight emergency clinic to have her euthanized, but I was too late. Corduroy died on January 12, 2011, only 8 days after I brought her into her new home. I bawled, listening to her cries as she struggled for oxygen, and the final gurgling sound she made as she drowned right there in my car.

As a former existentialist, I tend to focus on what I've lost. But as a Christian, I can easily take these thoughts captive to Christ, and rejoice in what I have, knowing it will all someday be taken from me. The old Jen would have focused on how terribly Corduroy suffered. The new Jen rejoices, knowing that for 8 glorious days, I was able to provide this animal with the one thing she probably wanted more than anything in the world: compassion. Corduroy died a terrible, frightening death, but she died knowing that she had been chosen. And for those 8 days she lived, she taught me a great deal about the gospel.

I highly recommend the book Corduroy, by Don Freeman, and believe it will be an important addition to your child’s library. If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can have it read to you here:

Friday, January 7, 2011

God Our Refuge

Today's topic weighs heavily on my heart. In fact it is a continuation of my last post simply titled "Fallow Ground". In that article I touched on how trials can lead to loss of expectations, cause us to slow our pace, and when we have been hurt there's a tendency to withdraw. As it so happened I was talking to a dear sister about this very issue which she also had been recently going through. It was a timely conversation and much needed time of fellowship. I have decided to share here what the Lord has shown me in order to bring help to those who are also experiencing any of the issues we have raised.

It is discouragement which can also lead to hope deferred which "makes the heart sick", Proverbs 13:12.We don't have to go through some major trial to become discouraged. As I touched on before just our being weary of doing good can cause discouragement. It is discouragement which can also lead to hope deferred which "makes the heart sick", Proverbs 13:12. There are times where we perhaps do need to withdraw a little from activities and maybe even some friends to spend time waiting on the Lord. Retreats are ideal for this but for those to whom it is impossible to spend time at a retreat, a quiet room at home will do, as will walks in a park or countryside, anywhere that gives a degree of privacy to commune with God. Physical withdrawal alone is not the answer, for our refuge is not in a place but a person. We must also keep in mind the scripture where we are commanded:

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. Hebrews 10:24-25

Withdrawal should never mean withdrawing from God. It is in these trying circumstances where we ought to in fact draw closer in communion with God and wait on Him.

"But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

As the above text shows our strength is then renewed so we are enabled to not only run and not be weary but even have the strength to get up! We can become so tired and weary that we cannot even muster the strength to move. Ground becomes fallow when in these situations we lose heart and become lax in seeking God. It is crucially important in these times to press into God even when we feel in life we can no longer run and press onwards. There may be seasons in a saint's life where she has been confined to the sick bed. These can be places of great spiritual blessing in communion with God. Two saints who come to mind are Jesse Penn Lewis and Amy Carmichael. Both drew their strength from God and went on to write about the deep things of God. You could tell through their writings they had been with Jesus!

Scripture also tells us that in the heat of the battle God hides us. In 1 Kings 17 the word of the Lord came to Elijah saying:

“Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” Verses 3-4

There Elijah was provided for and when the brook dried up, his source for water, the Lord, moved him on to a widow who would provide for him. Only the provision was not going to come from the widow but from God! The widow said to Elijah:

“As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Verse 12.

In Psalm 31 David seeks his refuge only in God. Not only is David's refuge in God alone but his trust also:

"IN YOU, O Lord, do I put my trust and seek refuge" Verse 1

In verse 20 he says:

"In the secret place of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men; You keep them secretly in Your pavilion from the strife of tongues.

What a verse of encouragement to those who are being persecuted. Who are the victims of not only their faith but jealousy, misunderstanding and false accusations. The rest of that Psalm is so encouraging I must go on to quote the rest:

"21 Blessed be the Lord! For He has shown me His marvelous loving favor when I was beset as in a besieged city.
22 As for me, I said in my haste and alarm, I am cut off from before Your eyes. But You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You for aid.
23 O love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, and plentifully pays back him who deals haughtily.
24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!

The worst pain comes not from those who are our enemies but brothers and sisters in the Lord. As David says in Psalm 55:

12 "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng."

We cannot hide from them but we can seek our refuge in God, drawing strength from Him and the grace to move on. In a previous post I touched on Psalm 84 on the valley of Baca, meaning "weeping". David being chased by his enemy (the enemy being not a heathen but one of God's annointed!), was in hiding so could not join the other worshipers in pilgrimage to worship God. Instead David watched them from the valley of Baca and in His despair penned Psalm 84. Yet look at Gods bountiful provision in this valley!
If you are in pain, discouraged and/or weary as I have also been, let us today find our refuge and provision in God. May He alone be our hiding place.