Mad as Hell {Scot McKnight, Silenced Women, and Who Really Cares?}

Today I throw open the window and scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” {That’s a quote from the 1976 movie Network, in case you just got alarmed by the radical change in my vocabulary.}

Let me explain: Last night I went to hear Scot McKnight at Fuller Theological Seminary speak on “Junia Is Not Alone.” {At this point I know I need to clarify the subject: Junia is not a ‘what.’ She is a ‘who.’ You can read about her in Romans 16.7}.  For some time now, McKnight has been a reasonable and persistent voice advocating for the empowerment of women in the church. I was thrilled when I learned he would be speaking in my own neighborhood {well, close enough}.

McKnight gave a moving lecture on how women have been silenced out of our Bibles, the Church’s teaching, and its leadership. He called for the Church to welcome the Spirit’s empowerment of both its sons and daughters. All in attendance nodded, inspired and affirmed.

All 60 of us. Seriously, 60, I didn’t forget a zero. Sobriety echoed from the many empty chairs. Only one-third of the attendants were women. Ladies, where were you? Does anyone care?

I left feeling as if though I was pregnant with a to be stillborn child. As McKnight spoke, I felt the burning in my heart {not to be confused with a burning in my bosom} to be the person I believe God has created me to be, without apology…without shame…without tiptoeing on the tightrope of other’s expectations and judgments. I pushed back against the excitement; I know too well its evil twin of disappointment. Not only has Junia been silenced, our modern day Junia’s are absent. Junia is alone.

I feel alone.

I feel alone in my desire for women to be “esteemed apostles” without having to be a flaming bible-burning feminist. I love and serve my husband {who proudly and eagerly went with me last night & who is my biggest advocate}. I love my children. I am enthusiastically enjoying a season where I am a “mere stay-at-home wifemom” {gasp}. I read Martha Stewart magazine. I bake. I scrub my own toilets. I get a bi-weekly manicure, minus the flower. I regularly encourage other women to do the same.

I also lead a weekly bible study. I study. I research context and syntax. I wrestle with big thoughts about God and deep truths too treasurable to pass up. I take God at His word and do things others say can’t be done. I regularly encourage other women to do the same.

I feel alone in my desire to hear gifted women preach and teach, to follow gifted women as they lead, and to see gifted women embraced enthusiastically in their communities of faith. I’m not even talking about ‘authority’ here—Christ is the Head…slap on whatever titles you want to all the others, or give none at all, but please for the love of God, let the women be filled with the power of the Spirit. Recognize it as His Spirit’s power. So long, power struggle!

McKnight is right; the silencers are still at work. But who cares? Who is willing to put forth the energy to give back a voice to those who have lost theirs? Are we really okay silencing the voice of the Spirit if He should choose a woman to speak?

I’ve grown tired and sad of hearing women tell their stories of feeling marginalized, patronized, disrespected, and unwelcomed in their churches. {Don’t let it go unnoticed that women are now the ones most rapidly being lost by the church.} I know gifted women, who love the Word, know the Word, and have been gifted to teach the Word…but they are silenced.  Men, if these women are anything like me, they don’t want your jobs. They are not trying to take over the church. They are not trying to “rule over the men.” They, like me, just want to fan into flame the gift of God in them (2 Tim. 1:6) as Timothy was instructed to do. {And stop right there…don’t tell me that book is a Pastoral Epistle so it’s not for me. I’ve already heard from a man that line along with “God doesn’t gift women with gifts of teaching and leadership” and I reject it on the higher authority of God’s Word.} These women, like me, love their brothers and find it a joy to honor them and to serve alongside them as copartners.

Today I throw open the window and scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Why are we all sitting back saying nothing while Mark Driscoll is out promoting complementarian relationships as a distinctive of the global Christian movement? What? He speaks for all of us now? So if I’m not a complementarian am I deceived about my evangelical standing? Wow. Someone sure narrowed the corridor quickly on that one.

Do women do in your church what women do in the Bible? That’s the question with which McKnight wants us to wrestle. Don’t be soft on yourself in answering that question. If you answer ‘yes,’ then when was the last time you allowed a woman to use God’s gift of teaching…from the pulpit…on a Sunday? How often are you inviting women with gifts of leadership to lead…not from phony made up positions that give the illusion of your ‘progressiveness,’ but I mean really leading, where your manhood doesn’t get insulted by following her?

Why are we afraid to let women do in our churches what women did in the Bible? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

At the end of the evening, we were encouraged to return to our communities and tell the stories of women—to allow the narrative of God’s work through women to open our ears to their voices in the biblical text, in the scripts of Church history, and in the pews of our local congregations.

Will we care enough to listen if the stories are told? Do you have the energy to reclaim the voices? I do, will you join me…for Christ and His glory? We need more Scot McKnights—those who recognize that their silence on this is just as dangerous as those who promote the silencing.

We need the Spirit to breathe new life on the dead bones rattling around on the topic of women in ministry. Will you pray for that? We need to begin speaking about the women in the Bible…accurately. Will you? Will you at the very least get mad about this? Mad that people are telling us the Bible says things it doesn’t say? Mad that women are being asked not to say what the Spirit may be giving them to speak? Will you do anything? Do you care?

Why the silence?  To quote my favorite movie, “Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?”

“Let the Spirit empower sons and daughters. #TimeToChange” ~Scot McKnight

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions, even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days”               ~Joel 2:28-29.

17 thoughts on “Mad as Hell {Scot McKnight, Silenced Women, and Who Really Cares?}

    • Mike, Touchy subject, indeed! It’s always with fear and trepidation that I talk about this because it takes our eyes off of Jesus. Like you said, we should be amazed at how He affirmed the value of all His followers. We just have to keep trying to do the same. I appreciate your caring about this subject. I’m with you–it really shouldn’t be so uncomfortable for us to be having the conversations that will help us push in to be better reflections of our King.

  1. But what if the women lead the whole church off a cliff or something?! You know, being so easily deceived and all! ha ha ha, so kidding!

    My real comment here is-

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

    • Indeed, Amen! Lots of praying still to do, my friend. Oh so much prayer…and of course, some courageous ones who are willing to be the answer to the prayer.

  2. interesting perspective. I agree that largely women are silenced. However, one of the things that has happened is men have been emasculated. I wonder why it is that we, as the church, insist on squelching the very gifts and differences we were given by God.

    • Dr T, I whole-heartedly agree that we are a long way from where we need to be for both genders in the church. I have seen the emasculation of men…sometimes even intentional emasculation. It’s grievous. I do believe we can get a whole lot closer if we were to stop looking at this as a gender issue and started looking at as a Holy Spirit issue. The questions really become, in what ways is the church currently squelching the Spirit and how can we stop doing that? Thanks for your visit. I appreciate the feedback.

  3. When this subject comes up it always makes me so grateful to be a woman. I am allowed to receive the whole blessing of God’s gifting of teaching in the church, I feel so sorry for men who miss half the blessing. Perhaps this is part of the problem. Love you and am so grateful to sit under your gift of teaching. Blessings, Teresa

    • Teresa, that is a great perspective! So true, we women get the best of both! You know, McKnight would agree with you that the fact that men aren’t listening to women preach is what makes it hard for this conversation to move forward. He says that when gifted women are allowed that, even reluctant men can’t help but notice the Spirit’s work. He actually advocated for women to be in the pulpit half as much as men. Love you, too…and am always blessed by the way God uses you in my life.

  4. Amen! I am so grateful that there is a conversation going on about this topic! As scripture supports, God has done amazing things through women and I pray that the Church realizes that and accepts the blessings God has in store when women are allowed to walk fully in the gifts God has given them without being stifled or feeling insecure.

    • Amber, I so long for this too. I appreciate you joining the conversation. We have to keep using our voice…kindly, of course, of most especially in prayer. I’m thankful for the way God uses your gifts!

  5. I have enjoyed the Spirit led preaching and teaching of the author of this bold and needed post. Thank you Brenda for your obedience and courage. I pray that women the world over would follow suit and step into the fullness of our limitless Father’s plans for them.
    Brenda’s teaching in the power of Holy Spirit has made me a better husband, father, and brother in Christ’s church, and I know a lot of other men who would be lying if they said otherwise. Thanks for acknowleging Christ’s continued headship and challenging the Driscolls of the contemporary EV Boy’s club. Part of loving my wife like Christ loves the church is allowing her the same freedom to follow our Lord that I have. Looking forward to seeing more of what God is doing with you!

    • {Insert tears}. Nick, I can’t even begin to put words to how much this comment blessed me. I am humbled and feel undeserving. I will say, you and your wife have been a source a great joy as I have watched you step into the abundant life of Christ! He radiates through you…and has through this comment here. Thank you for being a lover of truth and and encourager of ALL Christ’s disciples. I look forward to seeing more of what God will be doing with YOU too!

  6. Ok- i just read this after watching a ‘driscol’ sermon on why he says women shouldnt preach (its in his Luke series) where he says eldership is modeled after jesus calling the 12- going after the men…..piquing my thoughts…

    • Katie, It’s such a complicated issue…or at least we’ve made it that, sadly. My point wasn’t to dis Driscoll–I believe he is a brother in the Lord. My concern is that I believe, based on what he’s published, that he would be less inclined to offer me the right hand of fellowship if I were to preach a sermon on Phoebe, Priscilla, or Junia…or the women who were the first entrusted with the message of the Resurrection. Keep thinking on it…and stay focused on Christ–He wasn’t confused about it and He is our Light and Truth…Driscoll and me, we’re just kids drawing with sidewalk chalk.

  7. Hi Brenda! This is Jaimie Bowman – not sure if you remember me, but somehow I stumbled upon your blog. This was one of the BEST posts I have ever read on this topic! I am so blessed that my own pastor has allowed me to preach from the pulpit on numerous occasions. Yet it saddens me that so many pastors still do not see as you said- “Men, if these women are anything like me, they don’t want your jobs. They are not trying to take over the church. They are not trying to “rule over the men.” They, like me, just want to fan into flame the gift of God in them (2 Tim. 1:6) as Timothy was instructed to do.” AMEN a thousand times over! 🙂 Thank you!

    • Hi Jaimie! Yes, of course I remember you. I am so glad you stumbled upon here just so I could say hi to you. Thanks for the feedback on the post…it is such a sad situation, isn’t? Sad for all us because the church misses out on the richly diverse expressions of the Holy Spirit. I’m encouraged to hear that your pastor has offered you this opportunity. Kudos to him. Kudos to you for using your gifts to love the church in the way He designed for you. As mad as I get about it, I also have hope because I know the church is God’s and He will continue to help it to grow up in all things. Next time you’re preaching let me know–I would love to come and receive from your gifts…and cheer you on! Preach it, sister!

      • Thank you so much! I still struggle with trying to find opportunities without being seen as self-promoting. That is a constant struggle for women in ministry, I have found.

        You might want to check out Jo Saxton – she is a pastor’s wife at a Lutheran Church in Torrance and also a speaker at Catalyst. She wrote a book in the UK about women in ministry and has such great insight into the topic. You can find her at http://www.josaxton.com.

        Also, I created a Facebook group for South Bay Women in Ministry. If you’re still in the South Bay, I’d love to have you join!
        https://www.facebook.com/groups/260667650631277/
        My hope is that we can start to meet together eventually for networking and encouragement. Thanks for writing back!!

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