A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Our Inheritance in Christ is for Men and Women Alike

I am only going to cite two Scriptures here and let our readers comment on them.  They have real significance to the subject of abuse because they concern God’s view of women in His kingdom.  Specifically, they teach us that women have full rights to all the blessings that are in Christ and are not second-rate beings in His realm.  The first Scripture, it appears to me, is really the background to the second and I would imagine that the Apostle Paul had it in mind as he wrote to the Galatians:

Joshua 17:3-6 Now Zelophehad the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, had no sons, but only daughters, and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. (4) They approached Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the leaders and said, “The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance along with our brothers.” So according to the mouth of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brothers of their father. (5) Thus there fell to Manasseh ten portions, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is on the other side of the Jordan, (6) because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance along with his sons. The land of Gilead was allotted to the rest of the people of Manasseh.

There are reasons the Lord gives Scriptures like this.  Normally, the New Testament explains why.  So it is, in my opinion, in this case:

Galatians 3:28-29 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

While I believe that Galatians 3:28 has often been mis-handled, nevertheless it has great application and implications for us today.  Just as sons are heirs, so it is with daughters.  Peter says the same thing:

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Heirs with men, you see.  This fact alone sets Christianity poles apart from so many, if not all, religions men have created.  Oh, that Christians would just get it!

17 Comments

  1. Once I asked someone, what role do you see women playing in heaven? Do you see them being silent, waiting tables at the royal banquets, folding laundry for the angels? Or as joint heirs, do you see their role alongside you as kings and priests?

    Or perhaps, since the first shall be last and the last shall be first, *men* will be silent while the women rule the nations and serve in the courts of heaven?

    (Those who believe women are lesser usually don’t bring that particular scripture to the table with the latte)

    • Jeff Crippen

      And after that no one dared to ask Ida Mae any more questions.

    • Pippa

      :)

  2. no name please

    :)

  3. anon

    I want to listen to more of your sermons but I cannot find the link.

  4. Jeff Crippen

    Go to sermonaudio.com/crc. Individual sermons and series are there. Email me at swordtrowel@gmail.com if you have any problems finding it. Thankyou!

  5. Again I’m not sure where to put my question but here goes: I’ve been reading about how one ought to interpret the Bible. I came across these methods of interpretations (among others). Of these two, which would you, as a preacher, recommend? Ideological Interpretation or Grammatical-historical Method? I saw that the Ideological method, which the text says approaches the Bible looking for material relevant to their position, tends to be anti-patriarchy and in favor of protection of the weak, poor and downtrodden (in our case, the abused). The Grammatical-historical method tends more towards a literal interpretation and I guess is more or less in line with patriarchal values and such. I guess I’m asking, considering your concern for the abused, where do you come down on this? And how should the rest of us go about interpreting Scripture? Thank you. I deeply appreciate you taking the time to answer.

    • Jeff Crippen

      The grammatical-historical method is the way to go. This simply means interpreting the words of Scripture according to normal rules of grammar and in the context in which the author intended them to be understood. The same as you would interpret this email I am writing right now. This method really doesn’t have anything to do with patriarchy teachings. If we interpret Scripture as the original author intended it, in its historical context and setting, taking words at their usual meaning (as the context defines them), we are going to end up with the right interpretation.

      I think what the people who were critical of this method to you are really rejecting is what I would call “wooden literalism.” It is a favorite method of legalism. It takes statements in Scripture, isolates them from their context, and turns them into a rigid, all-encompassing law. It ignores the spirit in which the words were spoken. It takes, for example, the 4th commandment about the Sabbath day being kept holy, and creates a monster that oppresses human beings, ignoring the “big picture” that the Sabbath was made for man’s benefit.

      I would also highly encourage you to become familiar with the “big picture” of the Bible – the main storyline if you will, and always, always, always keep it in mind when interpreting Scripture. Genesis 1:26-28 is really the story of the Bible, the main plot. This is why the Bible begins AND ends in Eden (compare Gen 1-3 with Revelation . Search for Eden in Revelation, in other words). For more on this you can listen to my sermon series on the Temple at sermonaudio.com/crc

      • Okay. Well, thank you. One more thing, is it proper for a woman to teach from the pulpit? Especially if the church supports the abused and otherwise teaches the Gospel? What if she is the “head” preacher? If that is not acceptable, what if she is a visiting preacher? Or just a speaker? Is that alright? Confusing…sorry.

  6. Jeff Crippen

    The most important question in this regard is, does the local church believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture or not? If the argument is that women can be pastors, elders, and preach from the pulpit because all of the statements in Scripture addressing these issues are really just the chauvinistic, private opinions of mere men like the Apostle Paul, then we must reject that notion entirely. Every word of Scripture is breathed out (spoken) by God without error. There are some Christians who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture but who believe women can be elders, pastors, and preachers. I personally do not believe that is the teaching of Scripture. In our church we would not have a woman functioning in those roles. We did, however, have Barbara Roberts speak to our Sunday School class when she was here:).

    With all of that said, we also have numbers of men who used to be in our church and who used to teach a class or even had preached a sermon on occasion, who have now been rejected from that capacity because they evidenced a lack of the requirements set forth in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1. And I would also say that I know women who I would much rather hear preach than some of the preachers I know!!

  7. Jeff S

    A resource I like very much regarding how to interperate scripture is http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-Scripture-R-C-Sproul/dp/0877847339.

    While there are plenty of people who “read into” scripture who are nice, there are just as many who “read into” scripture who are mean. If you are correctly “read out of” scripture then I believe you will come away with the ultimate in compassion, but sometimes compassion requires a display of strength that makes some uncomfortable (for instance, I think Jeff argues quite compellingly that I’m abuse cases, compassion for weak may require a display of strength opposing the abuser that most people just aren’t comfortable with- if we are uncomfortable is it because we are compassionate or because we prefer to avoid conflict?)

    There are those who justify having women elders on the basis of scripture- they believe that the prohibitions against women teaching in the New Testament are not blanket, principled prohibitions, but meant to address the specific situation. While each side of this debate tends to accuse the other of bringing personal bais into the argument, both are arguing over the true meaning of scripture, not whether scripture should be jettisoned in some cases.

    One really important thing is to note that both Jesus and Paul were very progressive, giving women much more respect than the culture. Any position that starts off with Paul being a “woman hater” (as I grew up hearing) is completely missing his (and God’s) heart.

    • Jeff S

      I should clarify than when I say both sides are appealing to scripture, I do know that plenty of people have weakened their view of inerrancy of scripture to justify their practices (especially the liberal churches)- I did not mean to say that all who debate this topic do from a position of inerrant scripture.

      • Alright. Food for thought. Thanks. So…not to press the point too much…I *hear* you both saying that it’s okay for women to preach under some circumstances though you don’t /others might not see that as the biblical stance. But, given certain circumstances, it IS alright? Women can preach if there are no qualified men? Is it alright then to have a woman preacher or for a woman to present a sermon…say on abuse…to the congregation with men present? Or is the prohibition to women elders…or preachers.. a blanket prohibition? And if Scripture prohibits it and we allow it out of compassion or expediency aren’t we being pragmatic? Still confused….

      • Jeff Crippen

        NOS- I think that where we get into trouble so often in our application of Scripture is that we want black and white answers that we can rely on in every single situation. Normally, when we do that, we back ourselves into the corner of ridiculousness. I believe (and I am still friends with genuine Christians who believe otherwise) that the Scriptures teach that the office of elder/pastor is to be held by men – qualified men. All else being equal, the preaching and teaching ministry of the congregation is to be carried out by men in those offices. That, I believe, is the teaching of the Scriptures. In our church we would not have a woman speak from the pulpit in a teaching/preaching capacity. Those are our general practices. However, are we to press the Scriptures to such rigid application that a woman cannot speak in the service at all (pray aloud for example)? Or to the point that a visiting missionary who is a woman is not allowed to speak? What if, in remarkable circumstances in the church there simply are no men, let alone qualified men, to preach? Take Barbara Roberts’ visit, for example, to our church here. She travels all that distance, has written a book on the subject of abuse and divorce, has been through life experiences of abuse – but we cannot allow her to speak even in the general Sunday School class because men are present? Carry that further. Wouldn’t that mean then that no man is to ever read her book? Or any book written by a woman that teaches and applies Scripture? See what I mean? When we take the principles of God’s Word and apply them so rigidly that we end up having man made for the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath made for man, as it was intended, we surely are violating the spirit of God’s Word. Therefore, I would say in response to your question about a woman presenting a message on abuse to the gathered congregation — if a man won’t do it, then why would God not raise up a woman? As a whole, men are not speaking out on this subject of abuse and in the church they are largely contributing to the abusive culture in the church. Just talk to pastors and church leaders — or rather TRY to talk to them about it and see what happens. So to answer your question, yes, given certain circumstances existent in the church, it is alright for a woman to speak. Does that mean I think we should all go out and start ordaining women to the office of pastor/elder? No. In fact, very often where you see that practiced, you find an underlying denial of the inerrancy and infalliblility and authority of Scripture. Not always, but it is common. Once we jettison a sound view of God’s Word, we are the trail to becoming our own word.

        One more point. We are not to quench the work of the Spirit of God among us. Today as most all of us in this blog community know, there are voices being silenced. Voices of abuse victims who are crying out for justice. They are being told to be quiet and sit down. I believe this may well be an example of despising the Spirit of God’s words to us, and many if not most times these words are coming to us through a woman. “Hey! Listen to me! There is great evil among us and you don’t see it!” “You’re a woman. Sit down and be quiet.”

  8. Jeff S

    Let me clarify- I am not a pastor or a teacher, so my perspective is to relate how I, as a believer, approach scripture. Ultimately, in this I trust the leadership of the church where I am at, and as long as I perceive their view to flow from an honest determination to follow scripture, I trust they have given the subject far more time and study than I am able to (To be fair, this is the approach I took on the subject of abuse, and I was oh so wrong to do so, so I do not think I should be ignorant of the subject matter).

    The main point of my post was to address the question of how we interpret scripture, not the position of women as teachers in the church. I realize that is the ultimate question you want answered, but I have no answer to it (I have personal views, but I have not put in the time or energy to be qualified to answer, so I defer to the teaching of my church, which is that women may not serve as elders). I was trying to be clear that some argue FROM scripture, and these arguments are worth considering, whereas others argue from other motivations and USE scripture, a technique that I believe is invalid.

    If I heard a pastor say “we allow women to preach because Paul didn’t know what he was talking about” I would be leaving the church. If I heard a pastor say “we do not allow woman to preach because they are inferior to men” I would likewise be on the way out. Neither statement flows from scripture and both deny inerrancy (the first because it discounts scripture, the second because scripture directly states men and women are the same in Christ).

    It is a confusing topic and I don’t think there are easy answers. Remember that even when churches agree that the prohibition for women teaching is a blanket prohibition, you still have to define what “to teach” means. As we become more familiar with both the scripture and how to interpret it, it becomes much easier to discern who we can trust and who we should ignore.

  9. Anonymous

    In response to NOS and Pastor Crippen, maybe we should cut Deborah’s song out of men’s Bibles or the story of Abigail, or Mary’s song or one of my favorites, Jael and her tent peg. I think we have to make certain that we take the Scripture in context, which is the Church setting and not apply that to every conversation or event that takes place in life. For example, are women not allowed to have any conversations when men are present, for fear the men may learn something about life from the women? I just do not believe that this is what is meant here. After all, it was women who first went to the tomb and women whom Christ first appeared to. It was women who announced Christ’s resurrection to the men. Now, what if the men could not have listened to the women and learned from them? Would they all just still be sitting around, waiting….?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Anon. Good job!

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