A Letter to My Fellow Female Christ-Followers

Dear Female Christ-Follower,

In case we don’t know each other yet, let me first say that I am a follower of Christ.  I believe wholeheartedly in Christ’s work of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation that was completed on the cross.  I love the Church (the whole Body of Christ, regardless of denominational affiliation) and believe God chooses to use the Church to carry on His work of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation.

My love for the Church has not blinded me to Her flaws, but as Christ loves His broken Church, I must love His broken Church.  And since love often takes work, I want to engage in an issue of brokenness that is preventing a movement of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation through the Church:

I have been very saddened by some discussions that have been taking place amongst the Body of Christ lately, which is why I am writing this letter- from a female Christ-follower to a female-Christ follower.  I wanted to apologize for some false messages that many Christ-following men have delivered, and for the lies that many Christ following women have believed and have passed on to you as truth.

To you, female follower of Christ, let me first say that you are a valuable member of the body of Christ.  You are a co-laborer with Christ.  You are not a second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God.  You are not a “helpmate” in the work of Christ.  You are not limited in your calling.

Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  My sisters, you are one with your brothers in Christ.  You are not second in line, you are not the shadows, you are not meant to be quiet and wait for your cue.  Your cue comes from Christ, not from your male (or female) counterparts.  As a Christ-follower, your calling is to love God and love others.  You do that by being “you” in the way that God uniquely created you.  He gave you a unique personality and giftings, so use them to live out your calling.  Your giftings are not limited because of your gender.

If you have an extra few minutes, read all of 1 Corinthians 12.  For blog length purposes, I’ve hilighed a few verses:

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink… There are many parts, but one body.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And in the Church, God has appointed first of all, apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?  But eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

My fellow female Christ-followers, each of you is a part of the body of Christ.  And each of you is a different part.  You aren’t limited to being certain parts because you are a female.  Forgive me if this seems crass, but I’m going to say it: Women, we aren’t the breasts of the Body of Christ – You know, ‘nice on the eyes, but really only practical and useful for babies and small children.’

Women, some of you are apostles, some of you are teachers.  Some of you are prophetesses, and some leaders.  Some of you have the gifts of helping, or mercies, or giving.  Some of you have the gift of tongues.  Yes, I said it, some of you are leaders, and you should be leading – and not just in the nursery ministry, or children’s ministry, or women’s ministry.  Some of you are teachers, and some of you should be teaching adults, not just children’s Sunday School.

Women, some of you hold leadership and management roles in the workplace, in which you supervise, manage, lead, and steer both men and women – and you’re good at it.  Why then, are you asked to check your gifts at the door of your Church?  If you have gifts (and you all do), use them!  Some of you love children, and are gifted at ministering to children; do that!  Some of you are servants; so serve.  Some of you are amazing cooks and you help by cooking meals for new moms and families in need. (Some of you men are also good cooks, sorry we as a Church haven’t often invited you to help with this!) Some of you are leaders; so lead in the areas that you are gifted!  Not all of you are leaders, teachers, and apostles, but whatever your gifts, use them!

And if any male Christ-followers are reading this letter, may I remind you that some of you are apostles, some of you are teachers.  Some of you are prophets, and some leaders.  Some of you have the gifts of helping, or mercies, or giving.  Some of you have the gift of tongues.  And if you are a Christ-following male, who does not have a gift of leadership or teaching, but rather, who has the gift of mercy or helps or giving, you are not a second-class citizen in the body of Christ.  You are not weak; you do not need to be called to greatness.  You do not need to be corrected.  May I remind you of Paul’s writings to the church in Corinth above: “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”  (2 Corinthians 12:18)

My fellow women (and men if you are reading), if you are feeling skeptical about women leading, teaching, and steering the Church, let me remind you of some God followers who have come before you:

Junia – Apostle (Romans 16:7)

Anna – Prophet (Luke 2)

Priscilla – Teacher – (Acts 18) – Interestingly, she was listed before her husband in Paul’s writing – Priscilla and Aquilla

Deborah – Leader (Judges 4,5)

Phoebe – Service (Romans 16)

Read these women’s stories.  They used the gifts that God had given them to serve their entire community; both men and women.  Then, think about your gifts and whether or not you are using them.  If you don’t know what your gifts are, talk to the people who love you in your life or take a spiritual gifts inventory.  My spiritual gifts are: Leadership, Administration, Teaching, and Pastor.  But I’m a woman, is that a sin?  Absolutely not!  It’s a sin for me to not use these gifts!

My fellow Christ-followers, I want to address another conversation that concerns me greatly.  Christ-following women, it is not fair to our Christ-following men, for us to look to them to be our protectors, our leaders, our teachers, and our spiritual guides.  They are human; they will fail.  Jesus ONLY, is our Rock and Refuge, our Guide, our Great Teacher, and our Mentor.  My fellow Christian single women, look to Christ for wisdom and for your protection.  My fellow Christian married women, look to Christ for wisdom and for protection.  In marriage, communication and consensus is critical, but our husbands are not Jesus; they are not perfect.

Women, remember, you are a Christ-follower first.  You do not need to go through a man to hear from Christ, to learn from Christ, and to serve.  The veil has been torn, we can all communicate directly with God.  Women, we should not wait for our pastors, leaders, fathers, male friends, boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands to hear from God, and then blindly agree.  We must be praying and listening as well!  We are co-laborers, we can all hear from God, so let’s do it!  It’s lazy and unfair to a hurting world for us to not take ownership of our relationship with Christ.  Women, go after it, go after God!  Serve with not behind your fellow male believers!  I’m not calling women to be bulldozers, raging feminists, or man haters.  I’m calling each of us to use our gifts to work together for the kingdom!

My fellow female co-laborers with Christ, we need you!  We need all your gifts.  You are first a follower of Christ.  You are not first a wife or a mother or a career woman.  You are a follower of Christ.  There is a world full of hurting, lonely, lost people who need to hear the message of the love and redemption that Jesus brings.  So bring the message through your gifts, your prayers, and your unlimited co-laboring.

About allisonbuzard

Follower of Christ. Wife. Social Worker. http://twitter.com/AllisonBuzard
This entry was posted in Women. Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to A Letter to My Fellow Female Christ-Followers

  1. Ralph Brandt says:

    I am with you 100%. The church has taken two scriptures from Paul’s letters and made an anti-woman theology that is hellish. Two years ago God finally got to me to leave a church that had gone from a balanced view to this hellish doctrine with a change in pastors. I asked why Peter on the day of Pentecost said, “Your sons and daughters will prophecy?” I got no response. In this the church has taken the view of women that the world and Islam teaches. God help us, even the world is getting better in this. On moral and ethical items the church should lead, not lag.

    Allison, just keep in there, the songwriter said, “You must fight, be brave, against all evil.” That includes in the church. When I have spoken out at times I have been attacked, but remember Paul who said, “You have not resisted unto blood.” Jesus did….

    My site is

    http://www.triond.com/users/ralph+brandt

    A recent article on fellowship in the church.

    http://relijournal.com/christianity/blessed-be-the-ties-that-bind/

  2. Gregg says:

    Well said. I see a book in your thoughts

  3. Kim Rodgers says:

    Wow! Preach it sister. Very well said with lots of biblical backup. I’m impressed and wholeheartedly agree. Keep using your gifts, as we all should!

  4. Mallary Wiley says:

    Excellent. I totally agree.

  5. Ronni says:

    Wow did you start a discussion on FB… thank you so much. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking for so long and I pray that there are enough humble men in the kingdom to bring women into positions so that this false teaching dies!

    • Thank you, Ronni. I’m glad that this was encouraging. I hope more of us join this discussion and keep working toward unity!

    • Hi Ronni, this didn’t start much of a facebook discssion, but some discussion seems to be picking up here in the comments section. Feel free to wager in.

      • Ronni says:

        OH it was on a friends wall, she had posted this article and it ended up being a long discussion.

        I’ve just found that ultimately, when a man in authority has any insecurity what so ever, the first thing he will do is demand “submission” from any woman who has any spiritual giftings that could be seen as “uncontrollable”. I’ve been controlled, demeaned, had entire groups of people coerced into “reporting” my behavior to them so they could “discipline” me for my behavior… it’s just ridiculous. Did I have some areas to work on? Of course! But the manner in which most of this was brought was downright abusive…

        Anymore, I just find it easier to just keep my mouth shut, serve in the children’s ministry… but I always thought I had a greater call on my life than that. I even pursued Bible School but well, it’s not the friendliest place for an intelligent woman. Again, the men see you as a threat (especially if you are more intelligent than them) and shut you down fast.

        I get tired of the posturing. I’m done playing. *shrug*

      • Ronni, I’m sorry that you’ve had some really hard experiences. It sounds like there’s some deep pain associated with this issue for you. I would challenge you to not give up, to seek healing for those areas of hurt, to work on that f word we all hate (forgiveness), and then to seek a community that loves you and welcomes and utlizes your gifts. Those communities are out there. I have found one, I bet you can, too!

  6. Stephen says:

    Well said my friend. Well done…

  7. Love it! Thank you so much. I feel affirmed. :)

  8. Proud to be your husband. Proud to stand right beside you in everything we do.

  9. Benjamin Allen says:

    Dear Allison,

    A great post, and very informative. However, I’d like to have a better understanding on these beliefs as I can see some very apparent flaws in them. The family structure, Christ’s role in the Body of Christ, and logical vs. emotional think behavior to list a few of the big ones. I am not out to shoot down your beliefs, but as steel sharpens steel so must one man (person) sharpen another. I think the role of women in the Church has been underplayed, and there needs to be a realization, and agree with the fact that men and women are equal partners in Christ’s work of salvation and redemption. However, there are distinct differences between men and women that have to be recognized and maintained otherwise allowing a ‘gray-area’ where satan is open to attack. It’s like saying all 4 wheels on a car are just as important, but the two in back are made to drive and the two in front are made to steer. Husbands are to love wives as Christ loves the Church and laid down His life for her. But the Church doesn’t guide Christ and tell Him what to do, He is still the Chief Cornerstone that she is built on. Likewise, God has put men in a place of authority in the family; and granted, many of them abuse this responsibility it doesn’t make it godly for women to assume their role. What do you think about all of this?

    • Thanks for reading my post, Benjamin, and for your thoughts on this issue. My guess is that you and I have both read and studied Scriptures and have come to different conclusions about the meaning of certain scriptures. I’m guessing if we were to sit down and chat, we would quickly realize that I land more on the side of an egalitarian view of men and women based on how I read Scriptures, and you would most likely land more on the side of complimentarianism. I’m also guessing that we could comment back and forth all day about the Scripture passages we read that have informed us landing where we’ve landed, and that after all that back and forth dialogue, neither of us would change our minds.

      I have many friends who are egalitarians and many who are complimentarians (even if they don’t identify with those fancy words, most Christ-followers in North America land in one camp or the other). We have spent plenty of time listening, responding, thinking, and re-reading Scriptures, and at the end of the day, more often than not, we don’t change our positions after said listening, responding, thinking, and reading.

      The reality is that there are gray issues in Scripture. That’s why there are some of our fellow brothers and sisters who believe in predestination and others who believe in free will. That’s why some believe in a literal 7 day creation, and others who believe that was figurative. That’s why some believe in complimentarianisn and other egalitarianism. If we could fully understand all the workings of God, we would be God, and where there is mystey, there is gray.

      As you can see from my post, there are plenty of examples in scripture about women being in leadership and just as you have had to wrestle with that in tension with the Timothy passage about women in leadership in contrast to the numerous examples of women in leadership, I have had to wrestle with other scriptures. It’s critical to me that Christians be able to live in gray areas, because there are gray areas in Scripture and there are gray areas in culture. (I don’t belive that we let culture interpret the Scriptures for us, but the Scriptures were written in cultural periods and it’s important to recognize that as well. Maybe the women in your church still cover their heads and do not cut their hair, but if they don’t wear headcoverings and get their hair cut, than your church has made some cultural adaptations to scripture). It’s critical that we listen to the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible and seek truth.

      My prayer in all of this is that Christ is glorified through his Church, that His Church is united, and that His Church works together to bring about His work of redemption, healing and restoration in the world.

      But that’s enough from me: This is a forum for others to share, as well. What do the rest of you think about what Benjamin has posed to us?

      • Lewis says:

        Hey Allison,
        Your whole post was very well written and you definitely are getting your point across. I expect nothing less from you. =) However, just for the record, I’m neither an egalitarian nor a complementarian. To my understanding, those two “camps” are way too small to fit the purposes and taxes of God into. To borrow from Calvin (who I completely disagree with in the origin of this statement), in this case, the finite cannot contain the infinite.

        You know I love you and respect you, and I absolutely agree that women, especially in the evangelical church, have been compromised and ignored and the full Gospel is not preached to them, but to their husbands. This “understanding” ignores women, single women, divorced women, etc. and it is absolutely and completely wrong. These churches lean too heavily on a wrong understanding of the order of creation (read: “me first” or “men first” mentality and not the prescription and proscription of the taxis of roles) and forget that, in terms of salvation, in terms of knowledge of God, in terms of receiving the free gift of God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone, that He has died for sinners to forgive them, there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor Greek. We’re all the same before God because we’re elect from every nation, and Jesus Christ died for all, for every nation. But, to me, being equal in the eyes of God for salvation does not equal being equally equipped and called in order to serve God’s Church.

        In my eyes, this question of women’s participation and influence is settled by Scripture, and only Scripture. I don’t defend my practices based on my feelings, my inclinations, or on my culture, or on my context, or anything but what Scripture says in both its descriptive and prescriptive verses. However, even when there are multiple perspectives, it is good to have the conversation in order to come to a more full knowledge of the Truth that God would have us read, study, and inwardly digest, so that we might be fed on the Word of God, cause divisions to cease, and grow closer and closer in Christ as brothers and sisters. I believe this is God-pleasing.

        That being said, while I do agree more with Benjamin and disagree with the extent of this post in that it may lead to an apology for women’s ordination, what I am more concerned about is the response that seemed to shut down dissenting opinion. The terms “gray area” and “agree to disagree” imply that, from the outset, it will be difficult to engage in an open-minded conversation. If anything is defined as a gray area in discourse, then there is no room to assert an opinion as objectively true for the purpose of true understanding. To the extent of that kind of assertion, that no one is wrong means that everyone and everything is right, and that is a logical fallacy.

        It seems that the post was to place your point of view out there for the masses. It’s assuredly helpful to know where you stand. But I wonder, is this post made in the context of a final conclusion purposed for others’ agreement or for the purpose of engaging in dialogue and conversation? It seems to me that it is more the former. Am I off on that? If I’m misreading this as the underlying intent, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for misjudging and misreading and any other offense.

        I would love to engage this topic more (there are a very few demanding women’s ordination in my denomination but they have loud voices and so I have been putting my attention more and more this as of late), but I do not want to offend my dear, dear friend by engaging in senseless dialogue with no purpose and with no clear telos in sight.

        All this being said, my wife told me that I should end with something humorous. I couldn’t think of anything. So, please accept this:
        A woman went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her letters. “What denomination,” asked the clerk. The woman replied, “Lutheran.” =)

      • Hi Lewis,
        Thank you for reading my blog, for your thoughtful and respectful comments, and for seeking clarity regarding the purpose of this post. Let me first say that I don’t take offense to your comments. I know that your comments come from your passion and genuine sincere knowledge of your beliefs. I feel confident enough in our friendship that I don’t feel that a disagreement on this issue will affect our ability to be friends. We knew we differed on this issue long ago, yet we remain friends.

        My purpose in writing this post was neither to begin a great deal of debate or discussion, nor to be a foghorn for my beliefs. I really and truly wanted to provide encouragement to my fellow sisters in Christ, who may feel as though they are a second rate citizens in the kingdom, and who may know that their God given gifts are being unused in the Church. People far smarter, wiser, more well-read, and well-written have dialogued more effectively on this topic than ever will, so my intention was not to be a know-it-all or the captain of the debate team. This post was also not intended to debate ordination of women. (Maybe I’ll be so bold as to tackle that one day, but I don’t have the strength to takle that issue in this season of life). I wanted to encouarage my fellow sisters in Christ to use their gifts, to pursue God, and to be confident in who He has created them to be. When fleshed out, that affects, marriage, family, and choice of church, but really, I didn’t necessarily intend to start a debate about how all of that plays out.

        You know I’m always up for a glass of wine and a good chat, but I’m not a debator. Perhaps that is what you picked up on. Perhaps one cannot publish a blog on such a hot topic and expect not to begin a debate. I’m new to this blogging thing, so forgive me if I broke a blogging rule.

        I love your respect for women, and your desire for the Church to treat them as co-laborers with Christ and their brothers. I hope that as you continue to pastor, you continue to value, esteem, and challenge the women in your congregation as you challenge the men. I hope that you continue to help women and men identify their giftings and then allow them to use those gifts.

        I know that you love God, that you study His word, and that you care deeply for His people. I also know you and your wife personally and know that you are not a sexist or cheuvenist, which is a bonus in my book. Whether or not we ever agree on what roles women can hold in the church, I will remain grateful that we both co-laboring, in the roles we are in, to serve God, and to further His kingdom. So, let’s keep talking. Come on down to Nashville with your wife (and a bottle of red) and the four of us can keep this discussion going.

      • Lewis says:

        Allison,
        You’re awesome.
        God loves you, so do I, so do we.
        You bet your sweet bippy we’ll be down to Nashville as soon as we can.
        Sincerely and always in Christ,
        Lewis =)

  10. elizabeth says:

    You know, there’s a reason we were friends back during our, ahem, formative years. :)

    Thanks for sharing this word. (Stephen linked to it.) It is a message that has always resonated with me, knowing ever since I was a little girl that if God had called me to full-time pastoral ministry, I would be there in a heartbeat. In fact, I really appreciate my parents on this count– I don’t remember ever being taught that I was or wasn’t allowed to do things. It was about serving God, plain and simple.

    And thanks, too, for emphasizing the way we are to relate to our spouses–it’s an important part of the “women in ministry” topic that is so often left out. When Jonathan and I wrote our vows, we specifically ended the lines with “as we serve God together, side by side.” It was the best way we know how to express it.

    Keep up the justice work, my friend. Maybe our paths will cross again some time.

    • Thanks Elizabeth for your thoughtful response. My parents set a great example, as well, for being who God made me to be and using whatever gifts He gave me. I love that you and Jonathan were so thoughtful about crafting your vows to reflect your team approach to life and ministry! I would love to see you again some day!

  11. Todd Stromstad says:

    Great article with scripture on being a part of the body of Christ the Lord has called you to be!!

  12. After reading some comments on facebook, I have decided to change the title of my post. I should not have targeted one group of women just because they attend a church who’s pastor has a big voice and a wide audience. The title was never meant to attack those women, but rather to offer them a different perspective. I believe, however, that it came across as critical, and because that is not my intention, I have changed the title of my post.

  13. Great and thought provoking post, Allison. I’ve gone back and forth with this one, and have fallen in both the egalitarians and complimentarian camps at times, depending on circumstances.

    I believe wholeheartedly that men and women are to balance each other. I also believe that God gives His gifts to everyone equally, as He chooses. I often think that God left gray areas in scripture to see if we could find a way to love each other in the midst of them. But we fail so often in this.

    I wonder how this would all work out if we, both male and female…
    cared more for others than for self.
    didn’t want what we didn’t have.
    didn’t strut,
    didn’t have a swelled head.
    What if we…
    didn’t force ourselves on others,
    weren’t always “me first,”
    didn’t fly off the handle,
    didn’t keep score of the sins of others,
    didn’t revel when others grovel,
    took pleasure in the flowering of truth,
    put up with anything,
    trusted God always,
    always looked for the best,
    never looked back,
    but kept going to the end.

    If we, the Body, could really learn to love each other well, no matter our genders, there could come a time when we might not even need these discussions anymore! Sigh… someday…
    And won’t that be fun!?!

  14. Ruth says:

    Allison, I love this! Mallary and I were talking about this issue and she told me about your blog post but I didn’t have the chance to read it until now. I think you articulated things really well and didn’t give into ranting, which is hard to do sometimes! I think this is a really important issue.
    One of the speakers at our conference was talking about how Jesus treated women in the gospels. Looking from our culture it doesn’t seem like much, but when we start to understand how women were normally viewed in that culture, it is totally radical! I hadn’t thought before how radical it was for him to tell Mary to sit down at his feet and learn from him instead of being busy serving. Amazing!
    And naturally I always think it’s funny how the church tends to place so many restrictions on women holding any kind of leadership in North America but has no problem sending them off to say…China…to do those “men’s” roles. What does that say??
    Love you Allison!

    • I love it, Ruthie! I love the perspective that you bring from other parts of the world.

      I know that one of my mom’s greatest struggles when I was growing up was why her denomination wouldn’t allow her to preach, serve communion, and perform some leadership roles in the US but that same denomination would encourage single and married women missionaries to perform those various roles overseas. She would be amen-ing your comment if she were a blog reader.

      I’m curious how churches in other cultures approach this topic? Do they place such a high value on assigning gender to certain roles in the Church or is it all hands on deck?

      I loved the way you ministered as a single woman, and I love the way you minister as a team now with your husband. I value you and the gifts you bring to the Kingdom, and I’m glad you weren’t deterred in your calling because of your gender!

      Love you too!

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