C.S. Lewis on Headship {Favorite Quote of the Week}

Quote

We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church–read on–and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is–in her own mere nature–least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other) never despairs… (~C.S. Lewis, The Business of Heaven, p. 169-170)

 

Maybe it sounds self-serving for a woman, who’s a wife, to love this quote. However, I share it because it fills me with gratitude.  Makes me thankful for my husband. He teaches me a lot about Christ’s love for me.

Thankfulness: Womanhood, Purity Balls, and Parents Who Did It Right

I’m pausing to consider and give thanks for my heritage.

Several  days ago I saw this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NO0FBo98zU&feature=related

Christian friends, we can do better than this!   We must do better than this.  We must learn to esteem the gospel in the way we raise our children.  I mean really esteem it–recognizing it alone has the power to transform the hearts of youth and empower them to live in the light of its truth.  Young girls don’t need fancy dresses and purity balls (such a bad name!).  They need to know they have a heavenly Father who loves them perfectly and to live their lives in the reality of His love for them.  They need to hear from us and see in us what it means to have our identity as men and women hidden in Christ.  They need to be instructed in how to clothe themselves in the compassion of Christ and the conviction of His atonement.

My own parents weren’t passive by any means about dating relationships.  So involved that I never dated anyone who didn’t first call my dad and hear him say, “I want you to know how special my daughter is to me.”   My parents spoke into these early dating relationships, but it was always in the context of who the “big picture” me was.  Sexuality was never disconnected from whole. I was never led to believe that I was “saving” something for my future husband, but rather I was preparing to offer the best of all of me.  But somehow the purity movement has let sexuality become the Queen of  a girl’s worth.

I am thankful I had parents who taught me to live fully in Christ.  I am thankful they nurtured strength in all areas of my personhood.  I’m thankful they taught me to think clearly, feel deeply, and to love purely.  I’m thankful they pressed me into letting Christ have lordship over my heart, mind, and body.  I’m thankful they let me walk in my future potential than in the condemnation of failure. There weren’t any fear tactics.  There weren’t any contrived manipulations.  Only the expectation that I practice loving God and honoring Christ with all of me.

Maybe that’s simplistic.  Or maybe it’s just taking God at His Word and allowing Him do the heart work necessary to stir up purity as one virtue of a surrendered life.

A Woman of Thanks

“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises” Hebrews 10:11-12.

 

 

Woman of Thanks

 

 

I am thankful I am a woman.

I confess, there have been moments when I have thought it would be nice (as in more comfortable and easier) to be a man.  Certainly, as I press more deeply to walk in my calling, there are days when I wish I could pull out a “man suit,” complete with burly musc(k)les (always add the ‘ck’ sound when pronouncing this…it has been Arnold’s greatest contribution to the state of California), deep voice, and a smooth pathway to “qualified and gifted” for ministry.  But alas, my petite stature, tiny voice, and uphill struggle remind me daily, I am not a man.

And yet, I am genuinely thankful.  Why?

1. Jesus is not ashamed of me. I rejoice that I am a member of those whom He calls brothers and sisters. He makes the distinction between genders, but does not fault or marginalize either.  He cherishes both.  I am thankful that He delights in my sisterhood.

2.   Jesus pioneers my salvation…and the perfecting of its expression.  Sometimes when you don’t have the musc(k)les to power something into being, you have no choice but to let Someone Else shoulder it. My weakness can comfortably rest on the shoulder’s of His sufficient strength.

3. Jesus understands my identity struggle.  He understands what it means for others to view Him as less than the whole self He knew He was intended to be. He knows what it’s like to serve up an expression of the Spirit’s work and have someone only compliment Him for the tasty wine.  There was much that Jesus offered in His earthly ministry that was rejected, scorned, and dismissed by others.  He understands what it feels like for every ‘brother and sister’ who experiences pain in the devalued places.

4. God uses my gender to expose my places of unholiness.  Through the issues I have struggled with regarding my gender, the Lord has tenderly, yet persistently, directed me to release pride, bitterness, envy, and self-trust.  My sisterhood is specifically used of Him to shape me into a person of grace. Through this grace, I am reminded that I am just one member of a very large family who are all having their dysfunction (i.e. sin) taken to the woodshed of God’s correction.  We’re in process…each and every last one of us.  No doubt, we “brothers and sisters” must sound like squabbling siblings, fighting over an issue that has confused logic and hyperbolic emotions on both sides.  Praise God, He is a patient Father!

5. I am glad that there are those who treasure the expression of the “sisters” in the congregation and use their platform to keep re-inserting the conjunction in “brothers AND sisters.”  My heart takes courage from the diplomatic and biblical appeals of people like Sarah Sumner, David Scholer,  and Anne Graham Lotz.  This post was inspired by Scot McKnight.  Thanks, Scott, for your post today and for faithfully valuing the expression of women as full ministry participants in the family of God.  You can read his post here.

Are you a woman?  Thank God for His fabulous design and “function” in it well. Are you a man?  Find a woman and thank her today for her expression of God’s beauty, truth, goodness and love in the family.  Trust me–it will mean the world to her!

Mad Men

My husband and I have been living in a Mad Men obsessed haze the last three days.  Set in the early 60s, the AMC series is about the advertising men of Madison Avenue.  It has all the essentials for a good watch–drama, suspense, romance and comedy.

It’s also a fascinating study on women’s struggle to be recognized as fully human in our American culture.  From the stepford wives who ante up their worth through home cooked meals and thin waistlines, to the office secretaries daily beckoned with whistles reserved for an average family pet–Mad Men has become a place for me to see gender bias outside of myself.

*Men ignore women, assuming they have nothing of true value to offer (unless, of course, it’s sex), and are threatened by any woman who has broken the social norms to find for herself a place of power, privilege, or persuasion.

*Men steal women’s bodies, ideas, work, and dignities as tally marks for their own egos.

*Men are shocked if women say something intelligent.  “Leave the thinking to us!”

*Men patronize women with half-hearted “there, there” apologies and considerations.

*In “noble” moments of protection, men shield women from the truth…even though most often it is covering themselves from accountability.

*Men consider other men “right,” even when they are clearly wrong.  How much easier to let a lowly woman wear the blame than to have a man and his promising future compromised.

*Men harshly judge women who desire to work outside of their homes…but I wonder, who did they think would get them their coffee and/or afternoon martini?

…and at last, in this early-1960s, twenty-third office floor on Madison Avenue in New York City I have a discovered a place where gender bias is worse for women than what they are today experiencing in the church.

[I am not saying ALL men in the church treat women with such low regard.  Rather, my point is to emphasize that within evangelicalism today there is a prevalent pattern of belief that the church is a man’s world and the image of Christ in women is less than necessary for the Spirit’s expression in building up the church.]

I’m concerned by the similarities because the church should not bear even a slight resemblance to Madison Avenue.  The fact that I can, as a woman in church ministry, so identify with the women in this show–to understand their silent looks, their shamed glances, and their frustrated longings to be seen as a person and not as a commodity–speaks strongly to the fact that there are lives still in need of surrender to the Spirit’s transformation.

Therefore, from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even as we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” 2 Corinthians 5:16.

I see the application of this for both men and women:

Men, (if any of you read this blog), see women as image bearers!  See Christ in them!  Welcome their expression of the Spirit’s work.  Stop seeing them through the lens of the flesh–the flesh is concerned about such things as roles, and power, and appetites, and who gets credit.  The Spirit in you does not.   He cares about each person–man or woman–being all they were intended to be in Christ for God’s glory.  If a woman will bring more glory to God through the exercise of gifts and ministry, will you allow it?

Women, Do not regard yourself through the impulses of the flesh. Stop waiting for some voice of affirmation.  Start obeying the Spirit’s prodding in you!  This includes, not using your flesh to garner influence or sympathies.   Be careful how you dress!  Be careful how you speak.  Be careful not to long for control.  The ministry of the Spirit is expressed in servanthood.  Be who you were made to be–a passionate lover of Jesus, serving others because the love of Christ controls you–and let the Spirit be responsible for your fruitfulness.   You can choose to play it safe, quietly pining away in the roles that men allow you to have or you can choose to focus your eyes on Christ and surrender to being the new creation He intends for you to be.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned to a man that I was preparing a “talk” on Romans 5.  His response, “Can you handle Romans 5?”  My response, “Well, the same Spirit that lives in you, lives in me and since it’s His text, I figure He can handle it.”    The Spirit doesn’t give regard to my gender.  He will use me however He sees fit to build the Kingdom of God–be that teaching the Word or  cleaning toilets.  But whatever He asks me to do, I will do it with no regard for the flesh…for the flesh is of no value.

No doubt the gender issue will continue to struggle for clarity in the church.   As for me, I will not sit and wait at home with curlers in my hair.  I have been invited by the King of Kings and the Lord of all Lords to express His worth and tell of His greatness.   He doesn’t consider my feminity a challenge to using me for His glory.

Annoyed

I know annoyance is not an admirable virtue, but this kind of stuff just puts wrinkles in my forehead.

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj1007&article=the-persistence-of-patriarchy

I wish we could get some clarity.

If Christ is the Head of the church and we are one body under His headship, do we really need to make this so complicated?  All this talk makes me think we’ve got too low a view of Christ.  This isn’t a male/female issue…this is a Jesus issue.  Let’s get back to making it about Him.  After all, He did say He was the Light of the world and we need Him to shine His light on this.

“be yourself”

Jason Young wrote a great post on “What Unhealthy Leaders Taught Me.”  You can read it here http://www.jasonyounglive.com/2009/11/10/what-unhealthy-leaders-taught-me/.

I admit, I think he and I might have learned some of the same lessons from the same bad leaders.  I would go so far as to say I’ve learned more from bad leaders than I have from good ones. 

However, I think there is one lesson omitted from the list. 

One lesson I have learned: If you want to be an unhealthy leader, pretend to be someone else to make others happy. 

There is nothing worse than trying to follow someone who is trying to be someone they are not.  There is no conviction or confidence.  Everything is hand-me-down PR images.

As a woman in ministry, being myself is a real struggle every single day of my existence.   There are so many expectations placed upon women–we’re expected to be strong emotionally, but weak positionally.  We’re supposed to direct our responsibilities faithfully, but eagerly defer to men when they are ready to lead.  We’re expected to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but not show up anyone in the process.  It’s confusing.

Personally, I’m worn out from the confusion.  I need to be who I was created to be…it honors God to bear the image He intended me to wear.   Too much posturing around the opinion of humans is crippling.  In the end, I just become the knock-off version of someone else and not the ‘me’ who has been called “for a time such as this.”

My mom had it right when she said, “Just be yourself.  If others don’t like you, that’s between them and God.”