Many of you know of Rachel Held Evans. If not, I’ve blogged about her before and you should definitely check out her informational and inspiring blog. This week, she’s created One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality, a week of discussion about gender roles and the church. It’s worth a look. She’s been tweeting out tons of great articles and blogs written by countless Christ-followers who are grappling with this issue.
In honor and support of this week, I’m reposting my “Letter to my Fellow Female Christ-Follwers” blog. Feel free to link back to see the lively comments this post got in February and leave some new comments as well.
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.