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.

NO, WOMEN SHOULD NOT HAVE RIGHTS

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.

YES, WOMEN SHOULD HAVE RIGHTS

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.