If you’ve ever wondered what a religious spirit looks or feels like, try teaching on equality between men and women in the church and you’ll find out pretty quick. Some things never cease to amaze me such as that this message can be spoken in the workplace, schools, on TV, the radio, in magazine articles, books, messages at conferences, etc. without much controversy. But as soon as it is mentioned in a local church, unease doesn’t even begin to describe the uncomfortable vibe everyone will begin to feel. Where does this feeling derive? Many have mistaken this discomfort for error in the same way that movement in worship or speaking in tongues makes church folk want to run.
The church is far behind in a revolution of unity between men and women that they should have led. (America didn’t even allow women to vote until 1920). Many continue to promulgate oppression of women under the guise of a culturally derived interpretation of authority and submission in the church. The whole picture God gives in his Word is not considered – which is just as dangerous as looking at anything in the Word out of the context of the whole message of God’s character and His Word. This unease is sometimes confused as an indication of error –not because it is wrong – but because it is stepping on the toes of social mores.
Our own local church body at River of Life Outreach began with three men and three women as leadership. We weren’t three women standing behind our men. We were six leaders standing side by side. We didn’t sit down and think this out. It was how the Lord put it together. This Valentine’s Day, I felt like the Lord wanted me to share a little on the “Divine Alliance,” as Carolyn Custis James refers to it in “Lost Women of the Bible.” We’ve practiced this together as a body for some twelve years now. This is one of the greatest blessing I have ever experienced – the freedom and the power of the Divine Alliance, the friendship and family of the Body at River.
- Love is the most powerful force on earth.
- Marriage is the shadow of Jesus love for the church
Ephesians 5:31… the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
- Love is a process; demonstration of the big picture – Christ and the church
- Adam and Eve were created to demonstrate this process of growing in love as they walked with God daily in relationship with Him in the garden
- Friendship - No greater love
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
- Thurs night during worship with the worship team, I saw a circle of warriors side by side wielding swords in battle. I immediately felt such gratitude for the ones beside me. And then the circle became a wheel within a wheel, back to back. When someone “has your back,” it’s an incredible expression of the love we’re called to experience together.
Note: There have been many attacks lately on the kidneys and/or bladder. For an interesting perspective on what the kidneys represent, check out: http://www.joannareyburn.com/blog/2009/11/18/practicals-living-outpouring; #3 on the list.
- David didn’t have the whole man/woman relationship thing down but what he did understand was love for a friend which he beleived was more wonderful than sexual desire for women.
- He didn’t have some perverted desire for Jonathon. What he experienced was friendship. He had an understanding of a more powerful love than sexual desire which is without gender or color or nationality
2 Samuel 1:26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your
love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
- We know David had many wives and concubines. He didn’t exactly have it together in every way. David lived under cultural practices of his day that do not reflect the Lord’s heart. Thankfully, God uses the stories of those who live in a fallen world to show us how to move from bondage of our times toward the freedom of His Spirit and of Truth.
Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
1. Yes, we are a spiritual family, but unless we have relationships that are more than an ethereal picture of something in our heads, we are fooling ourselves. This is what the local church family is about.
- Relationships between men and women have deteriorated to what has been referred to in our culture as the battle of the sexes. This wasn’t how our relationship was created to be.
D. We are called into an important alliance – a Body - a Divine Alliance- between young, old, male, female, every nation and tribe working together in the Kingdom of God.
3. On this day of a celebration of love, I want to say how much I appreciate the way the Lord has called us to demonstrate the Divine Alliance, the male and female image of God – without competition or power struggle in a place where southern church culture continues to enable a fallen view of what our relationship and place together in the body is supposed to look like.
- There are some things I have learned by walking with God –not by walking with people. Some of these things are a direct contradiction to my environment and culture as a Christian and as a woman.
- I learned about fathers from having God as a good Father to me.
- I saw the beauty of marriage through others I called aunts and uncles (mothers and fathers of my friends).
- I learned from good men who loved me and showed me what a father’s love looks like.
- Regardless how twisted a version of truth has become, the truth hasn’t altered. A twisted picture of fatherhood doesn’t refute the truth of a father’s love.
- It doesn’t matter how many men, women, or leaders have fallen into immorality, the truth hasn’t altered. Men and women are called into a Divine Alliance, each being one half of the Kingdom of God. There will be men and women who will walk in Divine connections and know the power of such Divine Alliances as Deborah and Barak.
- We NEED to learn to walk together. We are called into friendships – We must see one another as more than a gender or a threat.
- Many deny God because of a how the church has represented Him. But not even the wrong image of God’s character can deny the truth of who He is. That’s a sorry excuse…Even Samuel heard God’s voice in a place where his environment did not represent a true reflection of God.
- The religious world has made us feel like Joan of Arc soldiers without cultural approval rather than as a part of leadership we are called to.
- “The History of the English-Speaking People, Volume One”: "Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years." Sir Winston Churchill
- born 1412 in a village in the country as a peasant; grew up in a country at war for many generations.
- With the help of one captain, she led the capture of the fortress of Saint Augustins. A Divine Alliance.
- God didn’t talk to Joan of Arc because no man’s was listening. He didn’t use her because there were no men strong enough to fight. He used Joan because he wanted to. He has always used women. It’s not one or the other --- it’s both!
- Like Samuel, I met God in the midst of a religious world full of dead religion and perversion. And yet I knew the difference between Jesus and the way he was portrayed by the church.
- The same is true for the Divine Alliance between men and women. Just because there are men and women who have obscured the way with their immorality and lust, does not mean men and women aren’t called to have powerful alliances of friendship in the body. We are called – side by side.
Note: Great Books to read by Carolyn Custis James
When Life and Beliefs Collide; Lost Women of the Bible; The Gospel according to Ruth
- Carolyn Custis James said that Women’s stories “…have been buried under layers of low expectations and the belief that God is doing his most important work through men. It is a profound loss—not just to Christian women, but also to Christian men… (Lost Women of the Bible pg. 24).”
E. Yes, there are physical differences between us. But like all legalistic religious bondage, we’ve added to it and interpreted them with a Greek mindset to the point that a man who is emotional feels like something is wrong with him and a woman who is called to be a leader is interpreted as manipulative and a threat to men. It’s in our minds, in our cultural learned perception of truth --- not in the heart of God.
1. One of the greatest women Irish writers: Mary Ann McCracken (Volume V of “The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing) said that if one considers herself to be “created for a companion to man,” then “…she must of course be his equal in understanding as without equality of mind, there can be no friendship and without friendship there can be no happiness in society (pg 54).”
Since a woman’s body is smaller than a man’s, the thought was that woman was less capable of mental intelligence. McCracken compares three larger women to three of their rather puny (physically) male friends who were “little men possessing much genius (pg 55),” to disprove this ridiculous notion. If these small puny looking men were nothing short of geniuses, surely the same principal could apply to women of smaller statue.
- McCracken asks her brother, Henry Joy, “Is it not almost time for the clouds of error and prejudice to disperse and that the female part of the creation as well as the male should throw of the fetters with which they have been so long mentally bound…(pg 55).”
This incredibly moving question comes from the pen of an Irish woman who was not afraid to confront the slavery of women in her homeland. McCracken revealed slavery of woman and the slavery of African Americans, in particular, as being of the same spirit of oppression.
IV. We came from ONE body in Eden; not 2 separate planets of Venus and Mars
- Of course a woman will desire her husband and he, hopefully, will also desire his wife. But when a woman gets her worth from her relationship with a man, he has taken the place that only God is to fill.
2. 1st Commandment—to love the lord with all your heart, mind, and soul – and then—love the person next to you as yourself. Neither of us are to have someone else before him. That command wasn’t just given to men.
4. The Woman’s Rights Movement should have been led by the church and instead the church remains at least a 100 years behind the world. When the church does not lead in the stand against injustice, the world will and it will likely swing to the other side of the ditch. (hatred of men; abortion; etc.)
5. The first chapter is difficult to read. He gives examples of the results of misogyny in our time that continue: You would expect to read about North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan and East Africa but in Fayetteville, N.C., “…over a period of just six weeks in the summer of 2003, four women died at the ands of their enraged husbands. One was stabbed more than 50 times by the man who once claimed he loved her (Misogyny pg. 2).”
6. In the 1st Chapter which is entitled, “Pandora’s Daughters,” Jack Holland writes about the Greek mythological story Pandora. Quoting the Greek writer, Hesiod:
- Pandora – created to get back at Prometheus (gr. god) for giving mankind the secret of fire; Pandora means gift of all in a sardonic way: 1st woman portrayed as having released all the evil in the world because she opened a box (or jar) out of curiosity.
8. In mythology, Venus (Roman; Aphrodite in Greek culture) associated with love, beauty and fertility; Mars (Roman; Ares in Greek) – god of war; (We get our day of the week, Tuesday, from “Mars” as well as the month March). Our culture is integrated with Greek philosophy and cultural mores.
D. Division actually came in the Garden of Eden. From the time of the Fall, it’s been a part of the mentality of the dark kingdom. Greek Literature helps us to see how it has been able to continue and gain momentum from one cultural time to the next.
- We need to be aware of this erroneous and harmful cultural belief system that is in direct conflict with the Lord’s original intent and design for humanity made male and female in His image.
E. Western culture is based on a Greek mindset: The Bible was written from a Hebrew perspective. There are distinct differences.
- Greek- split between natural and supernatural; Hebraic – Supernatural affects everything.
- Greek: Individualism and independence; Hebraic – importance of being a part of a tribe or family.
- Greek-worships youth and vigor (this is what the Olympics were all about); Hebraic – respect for old age
8. Heb- Relationships are ultimate / Gr. - Knowledge is ultimate
11. Heb - Faith and trust are essential / Gr - Proof, empirical evidence is essential
12. Heb. Belief is relational and personal • Gr. -Belief is intellectual and requires
13. heb. - Focuses on community • Gr. - Focuses on the individual
16. Heb - Dependent/interdependent mindset / Gr. - Self-sufficient mindset
1. http://www.godward.org/Hebrew%20Roots/hebrew_mind_vs__the_western_mind.html 2.http://joannareyburn.com/files/Greek-HebrewMindset.pdf
F. It’s easy to mistaken these “Greek” mentalities (which demonstrate the progression of the results of the fall) in the American Dream and even –Church beliefs.
V. There are many Biblical and modern day accounts of Divine Alliances that have been a great threat to the dark kingdom.
A. Deborah and Barak; Moses and his sister, the Prophetess Miriam; Esther and Mordecai; Jesus and his 1st disciple– Mary of Nazareth (Luke 1:28 Greetings you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you”: Mary’s song – Luke 1:46-55)
B. How did Jesus “grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and others (Luke 2:52) Mary wasn’t sitting idly by in his upbringing. Right from the beginning, she risk everything to believe. Luke 1:38—I am the Lord’s bond slave...may it be to me as you have said.”
- Cont. -- 1st Apostle – Mary Magdelene; Paul and the Women of Philippi
VI. Divine Alliance – Examples of other friendships that have changed the world. (Of course these Dinvin connections are not limited to men and women friendships. It’s friendships and connections in every place and time.).
B. Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel
C. There have been men who’ve said to me, “ This isn’t a fight for you to fight. We will do it for you.” As if to say, “It doesn’t make us comfortable for you to speak up. When we decide, we’ll tell ev”eryone the truth and they’ll listen cause we are men and have authority.” NO! It’s right for women to have a voice in their freedom! It will come through men and women who aren’t intimidated to stand side by side in a Divine Alliance!
D. Common Sense: All women are not called to be in positions of leadership any more than all men, etc. That doesn’t mean we don’t lead. The church has elevated titles – Not the Lord. We all have influence in the place we’re called to. We all have influence – But in many religious / church circles, a woman is perceived through our cultural mentality as being controlling and manipulative if she is a leader and men as being prideful, etc.; (By the way, these demonic spirits of manipulation and pride are without gender. They aren’t partial to one or the other).
- River Beginnings:
B. When we were praying about joining with Kingsway, one of first questions we asked was: Do you have women leaders in your organization? The answer was- Yes. At the time, there was a woman pastor in Germany and a woman pastor in Mexico. We met one of them at the 2nd Kingsway conference we went to in Texas.
C. Word of Encouragement to Women: You’re not just teaching little boys til there old enough to think for themselves.
And to men—This isn’t a competition or a threat to your own authority and place of influence. It’s a calling into friendship and oneness in the Spirit.
Gal. 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.