I want to take this Mother's Day as an opportunity to encourage all men who read this blog - for the good of your mothers, wives, daughters, and granddaughters - to consider that you just might be wrong about what the scriptures say about women and their subordinate role they must play in the church.
I know that the prevailing thought based on scriptures such as 1 Timothy 2 and the account of the fall in Genesis 3 is that women should be subservient to men, and that men should have authority over women, and that women are forbidden from teaching men, or holding certain offices in church.
I know, because I was taught that in Southern Baptist Churches my entire Christian life. I've been taught it by people in my family and by my baptist pastors for over two decades. It was when I heard of the firing of Dr. Sheri Klouda by Paige Patterson that I first considered that perhaps this doctrine that led to this tragic action taken by Patterson was wrong. I read a good portion of Patterson's deposition in the Klouda case a couple of years ago, and the absurdity of statements made by Patterson under questioning of Klouda's lawyer, Gary Richardson, further led me to believe that this doctrine of male authority in the church is counter to scripture and the will of God and required my further investigation.
And I have to say one of the turning points that caused me to dig even deeper, is last year when I came across Ergun Caner's "joke" at the 2007 Ohio Free Will Baptists Men's Retreat when he said that he believed women should be behind the pulpit...how else could they get back there to vacuum....and his jokes about "mutant granddaughters" barking like dogs. It made me sick that this sort of thing came from one of the most popular baptist preaching-circuit personalities.
So after much reading and research I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong, that in fact the bible does NOT teach that God's plan is for men to have authority over women, and that the Bible does NOT teach women are exempted from having leadership positions over men in the church. I may explore this topic in future posts as to the particular arguments for what I believe, but I want to in this post simply implore men to consider an alternative view by a conservative teacher that can be trusted in this area. His name is Jon Zens.
Jon Zens is a preacher and author that has spoken around the world, but mostly outside the institutional church which is why many Southern Baptists have not heard of him. He is a pastor of a church, but does not draw a salary. He has taught and lived out for years a different model of pastor, not of a pastor having authority over people, but of serving and being amongst the congregation as a servant. You can read Jon's bio here. Jon is a good friend of author Frank Viola ("Pagan Christianity"), and also of Cal Thomas who uses Jon as a reviewer and editor of his work. Jon and his wife Dottie are sweet Christians who in recent years have been involved in traveling to the Philippines to help women and children get out of the sex-slave trade.
I had the privilege of meeting Jon for lunch last September when he was in Jacksonville to do some teaching at a home church group here in Jacksonville, after which he traveled down to Gainesville to meet his friend Frank Viola and minister in that city. We talked over lunch about my family's experience at First Baptist, the journey I have traveled through my blog, and my views on tithing which Jon has written about for quite some time. Jon graciously shared with me a bag full of books and other materials related to topics I was writing about on my blog that he had written about.
What I would recommend for men (and women!) who are willing to just possibly consider they have been taught wrongly what the bible say about women is to listen to Jon Zens' 8-part teaching series he delivered at Wade Burleson's church last September. Click here to go to Emmanuel Baptist Church's video archive, and scroll down to September 2010 to see this teaching series. Also, Jon has written a book entitled "What's With Paul and Women", and another one out this year entitled "No Will of My Own - How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood". Read Wade Burleson's forward to this latest book here at Wade's blog.
Let me give you a quote from Wade Burleson's foreward he wrote for Jon's book "What's With Paul and Women":
"The viper known as 'the doctrine of male authority' has bitten the church. the toxin emitted by this errant teaching affects the females within our assemblies. It debilitates their God-given gifts, denigrates their Spirit-led ministry, and downplays their role as new Covenant priests. Those of us who have seen the church bitten need assistance, and help has arrived. This book will help you suck out the venom of male-only authority within the church. It will do so by helping you be able to articulate Jesus' view of the equality of women and then revealing for you how Paul's words in 1 Timothy 2 are consistent with Jesus' own teaching and ministry. You will be able to point out to others how the modern institutional church has misconstrued and misinterpreted Paul's writings on the subject, while at the same time ignoring Jesus' words and life on the same subject."So I hope this Mother's Day you will commit to at least consider the possibility that you have learned wrongly what the Bible says about women, and do further investigation starting with Jon Zens' bible teachings in this area. I believe this is so very, very important. I believe this wrong teaching that has infected our churches for so long is why we are reading about so much sexual abuse and cover-ups in our churches as Christa Brown has chronicled for years. I also firmly believe that the absence of women from any serious positions of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention or in our churches is why there is no movement at all toward reaching out at a denominational level to victims of pastoral abuse or establishing a database of credibly accused ministers to keep predator pastors from freely moving from church to church. Many of the problems we see in the SBC, I believe, are related to having women on the outside of the leadership circle.
So Happy Mother's Day...and please, men....as a gift to the women in your life, be open to what God might speak to you in this important area.