I have been quiet for a while and I am not going to be really noisy this time. However, I wanted to post this because it demonstrates the power of a female voice from the pulpit, even though she is … Continue reading
It was just another Sunday morning in our Church of Christ that my wife and I attend. We had gone to worship the Lord, having dressed our hearts in thankfullness for all he has done for us. As usual, women were allowed to do … Continue reading
Over the past year, I have had several projects that consumed alot of my time and we need to take breaks everynow and then. All of this time spent on projects has, to say the least, interfered with my time spent reading … Continue reading
I’m taking a short break from writing on gender equality, my favorite subject to blog on, to publish a story I recently received by email from a cousin I have become acquainted with recently while searching for information on one of … Continue reading
Another Summit has come and gone. It occupied my time almost totally for three and a half days, and has now moved into the history journals and mind’s memory. I am now back home and facing the never ending story of farm life … Continue reading
It’s been a while since I have had time to sit down and just blog a little. Life has been a real busy highway this year, and the summer months seem to have had their speed limits raised to the … Continue reading
NIV 2011: 2 Sam 6: 1 David again brought together all
the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to
Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the
Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on
the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house
of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding
the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.
5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord,
with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.
From the www.thefreedictionary.com/irreverent
[ɪˈrɛvərənt ɪˈrɛvrənt], irreverential [ɪˌrɛvəˈrənʃəl]
without due respect or veneration;
irreverent – showing lack of due
respect or veneration; “irreverent scholars mocking sacred things”;
“noisy irreverent tourists”
disrespectful – exhibiting lack of
respect; rude and discourteous; “remarks disrespectful of the law”;
“disrespectful in the presence of his parents”; “disrespectful
toward his teacher”
reverent – feeling or showing
profound respect or veneration; “maintained a reverent silence”
2. irreverent – characterized by a lightly
pert and exuberant quality; “a certain irreverent gaiety and ease of
manner” impertinent, pert, saucyspirited – displaying animation,
vigor, or liveliness
3. irreverent – not revering god, godless, impious – lacking piety or reverence
for a god
I love it when our preacher takes off for a couple of weeks to do a summer camp
with the pre-teens and teens. You never know quite what to expect when he returns!
It seems that while he is away talking to these pre-teens/teens, his mind is recharging with fresh new ideas and new goals, all at the same time he is answering the more or less unending and sometime pretty deep questions that come from young, inquisitive minds. He said that this year they had more than twenty baptisms, and many of those were teens who were from homes where there was no previous Christian support from parents.
After telling about camp, he headed into reading 2 Sam 6:1-7. This particular set of verses has been used for many years as an example of what will happen if we do not respect God’s
wishes regarding a number of legalistic practices (instrumental music being one of them!) that my fellowship has historically participated in and has been very judgmental towards others who disagreed with us. However, that was not where he was going with his talk this morning. He had received some information when he arrived back from camp and he came out today like a carpenter with a high pressure air powered nailing gun. He took aim and started nailing the men to the wall. Women were excluded from this one in our congregation because passing a communion tray front to back is a sign of male authority and leadership in the worship! We needed male volunteers to serve communion and
when asked, only three men out of our 800 plus member congregation volunteered. Our preacher said that not being willing to help was in effect, being irreverent to God. Uzzah, when he thought that the Ark was about to fall, did not respect God’s instructions not to touch the Ark. This was an irreverent act on Uzzah’s part and as a result, Uzzah died beside the Ark. He had been irreverent to God’s wishes.
While on coffee break, I chatted for a few moments with our preacher. I told him how I liked his sermon and then told him the thoughts that crossed my mind at the time (which I do on a regular basis—I think he kind of expects it!). This is the question I put to him:
“How can a person volunteer for service in the worship when he feels that the church is being irreverent to God and to women by not allowing women to volunteer also?”
I then said this:
“If the request for Communion servers had been “we need men and women to help serve communion”, you would have had plenty of volunteers!”
His answer was, in a nut shell (can’t remember the words exactly):
“You are right on that. I can’t see that there is any
overriding authority in serving Communion.
Women should be included just as the men.”
Now keep in mind, the church I attend is very restrictive to women. It is very typical of the vast majority of congregations in my fellowship where women are only allowed to sit quietly in worship. Outside of worship, they can teach unbaptized children and females of any age. My point, of course, is that it is very irreverent to God to disregard what he has
given to us via the Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul in both 1 Cor 12 and Gal 3. Paul makes it emphatically clear in Gal 3:28 that for all those who have been immersed into Christ, that there is no such thing as race, class, and gender and in 1 Cor 12, he says basically the
same thing. When we deny that we are one in Christ, we have been irreverent to God by first denying what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and then denying what the Holy Spirit guided Paul into be passing on to us in written form. If we restrict one gender from being in leadership or even just simple service such as helping serve Communion, we have said that there is no such thing as being one in Christ.
I sure hope we don’t suffer the same fate of Uzzah for our irreverent acts toward God by not taking his words regarding being one in Christ seriously. Our God is very, very patient but where does the patience end? God puts no restrictions on the use of gifts because of gender, whether it is simply helping serve communion or serving in the eldership and the pulpit! Man having authority over woman or woman having authority over man is not being one in Christ. Man and woman working together, serving together, sharing all authority together, worshiping together, and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit together to bring about a more spiritual and purer worship is showing reverence to God. Are you an Uzzah?
Memorial Day Weekend. A time to relax for a long weekend after a long week (at least for many people). I’m retired but it seems I’m busier now than I have ever been. Between trying revive an agriculture business again which went on the back burner on Sept. 11, 2001, taking care of an almost non-ambulatory mother who will turn 90 in a couple of months, giving time and attention to the rest of the family, remodeling my house, my online “ministry” and its associated connections that are not online, general upkeep of two additional houses, doing some volunteer photography for VFD’s, SO’s, newspapers, and a little hobby photography when time permits, not to mention bucket full of other small projects, there just doesn’t seem to be much time left in a week to just sit down and read an enjoyable book. My oldest hobby, Amateur Radio, a very enjoyable way to communicate with the outside world, has had to take a backseat to everything else. It took packing the camper last Thursday and driving to Martin Dies Jr. State Park, which is located deep in south east Texas in the Big Thicket area, for the weekend to find time to just sit outside in the shade of the camper awning or a 60 ft tall magnolia tree to read a book that I had been planning to read since February. That drive to the park was about 280 miles one way at 7 mpg average. That equates to about 3 miles of driving for every page of that book and at 7 mpg, that puts the average direct cost in gas to be able to read that book at around $10.00 per page! Life is busy and everything has a cost. We always seem to chase the wrong things in life.
The book, “Wisdom Chasers” by Nathan Clarkson, is about chasing the wisdom of God as experienced by a young man who wrote down his thoughts in the form of short essays from the age of 19 to the age of 22. They come from his life experiences when he is in a university and then stepping into the adult world a couple of years later. As he puts it in the Introduction in his book: “Life, I soon discovered, works out very differently from what I can plan or foresee. As I’m sure everyone realizes eventually, life is unpredictable and surprising; a challenge, and sometimes a fight. No matter how good my intentions were, or how hard I tried to get things right, I found myself constantly at the place that people call square one.” He is now older by one year from the age he published this book. At 23, he still has a lot of life to experience, but, after reading this book, he is well beyond most 23 year olds (and many of us much older adults!) in his pursuit of wisdom. His essays take you into his life in a very enjoyable way and at the same time ask you to think about what he has said. I found myself wanting to go to the next essay each time I finished an essay, not wanting to quit reading. It was really not an easy book for me to put down. His essays reveal the thinking that possibly many young adults of the Millenial Generation are experiencing and how he worked through his thoughts and was able to catch some wisdom in the chase. Maybe what is even more important about this book is it gives a glimpse into the thinking of one member of our Millenial Generation, the group of young adults that fall in the 19 to 29 year old group of young adults which has become a really hot topic in the last couple of years, as he faces different situations. I recommend this book for anyone who is a teenager or adult. It is an excellent book for a new Christian, and it is an excellent book for even us older Christians who maybe need a gentle reminder of where true wisdom comes from. Again, the book is “Wisdom Chasers: Catching Glimpses of God in the Pursuit of Truth” by Nathan Clarkson. It is available through Wholeheart.org @ http://wholeheartstore.ecwid.com/product?10490112 . Nathan has a blog at http://nathanjclarkson.wordpress.com/
It would seem that the Millenial Generation generation really has very few boxes as of yet to hold them back in their thoughts and to slow them from their chase, but that is really another discussion. For us older adults who are so worried about the Millenial Generation, maybe it’s time to step back and re-evaluate our positions regarding our own chase of God’s wisdom and start thinking outside our personal boxes we have created over the years.
Before I go much farther, it was my really wonderful preacher and friend, John Knox, who gave me the idea for this post. He has been doing a series on the Millenial Generation and why we are losing them, and he brought up the Augusta Golf Club in his sermon on Sunday.
The Augusta Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, is a golf club founded in 1933 that only allows men as its members. Until 1990, one could belong to this club if he was a white male. It is can be called a “closed membership” organization. In 1990, it bowed to pressure and allowed the first African-American male member. The club’s restrictive membership rules will still not allow a female to be a member, regardless of how much people disagree with this practice and regardless of the amount of pressure placed on the club to admit women. As a private club, it is within its rights to do this. The founders wrote a set of guidelines and have pretty much said “this is the way it is”. The Church has always had a different set of rules for membership which is probably described best as “Open Membership”. God gave us guidelines for membership but he did not ever restrict membership to just one gender, class, or ethnicity. Open membership means open to anyone so the church essentially is 180 degrees opposit of the Augusta Golf Club. The Augusta Golf Club has some other interesting rules. They have a staff of caddies, which is a group of employees who, until 1990, were comprised of only African-American males. The club members were white, the caddies were black. Maybe they figured that this would make it easier to tell members from staffers when on the fairway, or maybe it was just more racism. Well, time changes rules, at least in some areas. Now, staff caddies do not have to be black, but they still have to be males. There are still no women allowed on staff as caddies, even when they are known professional caddies. However, as I said, over time things change. Professional women caddies are now allowed on the course when the player is paying the bill. They just will not be hired for being a club staff caddie and no woman, even a top notch woman golf professional, can be a member of the club.
In the church, even though God made man and woman with equal status in Genesis in His image, and then several thousand years later says in Galations there can be no discrimination because of gender, income level, or ethnicity, over the millenia men have taken control of the church and as a result, the church has become something similar to the Augusta Golf Club. Men moved women out of leadership positions between 100 and 300 A.D. and have managed to keep them out. At different times in history, they also managed to disregard Galation 3:28 by participating in slavery and discriminating against those of low income. Time has changed some things but leadership in the church is still a non-shared male position in the vast majority of our churches. Women are not allowed to be in leadership. Maybe we should be proud that another organization has seen the way we do things and put it into practice but it’s not something to be proud of, in my opinion. Let’s see, what do they say about imitation being a form of flattery? Now, 80 years down the road from 1933, we can look to the Augusta Golf Club and we could possibly say “we were their example!” and it just might be accurate. Sure says alot for us, doesn’t it. Something we can be proud of? Of course not! Of course, there is nothing to say they used us as an example in restricting women, but it makes an interesting speculation.
In our churches, women are kept at the caddy level. Women, like the black caddies, are only allowed the job of toting the clubs for the main players on the course, the male members. Women are given “permission” to do a few other things but they are not allowed to be members in full standing because they are the wrong gender. Of course, the men make those decisions. Sure, we have made progress in other areas such as race and class status and have learned (for the most part, at least) not to look at those two characteristics in people. However, in the vast majority of our churches, women are pew sitters, forced to remain quiet and passive during the worship and during adult classes. They are not allowed to teach another adult when the church meets, unless the adult is a woman and no man is present. They are not included in leadership functions or making decisions. Women can do the menial jobs the men don’t want to do (delegated authority?) but when it comes to being included as “members” with full privileges such as serving in leadership, preaching, teaching, leading a worship, etc, that is something that really just isn’t allowed by the men. Women are essentially the black caddies of the Augusta Golf Club. The “good old boys” who are the full members make the decisions and play their game and let the caddies carry the load on the course. Over the course of time, women have been taught by the men that this is their actual duty in the church, carrying the load, like the caddies on the golf couse. Vladimir Lenin is given credit for making this very true statement: “A lie told often enough becomes the trueth.”
Why do we want to be like the Augusta Golf Club? At least they have a valid argument in our legal system for their restrictions when they say “we are a private club”. However, just because they have a valid, legal reason does not make it right. What can the church, as an “open membership organization” which, like the Augusta Golf Club, has been and is being run by men, give as an excuse for our terrible behavior towards females for the last 1900 years? It is God who has the final say in membership. He’s told us that in numerous places in Scripture. Why is it so hard for us to hear and understand his words? Until we men, who presently control the church, recognize what we have done to our women, start teaching all of our members that God does not see gender, race or class, and then move women up from just being caddies to full membership status with the freedom to use the gifts that God has supplied to them, we will continue to be just another “Good Old Boys Club” like the Augusta Golf Club and we will continue our membership decline of the past ten years.
God cares about who does the work he has said needs to be accomplished. He wants each person, regardless of gender, race, or class, to use the spiritual gifts that he has given to each individual to accomplish his goals for the church his Son died for. Leadership, caddying on the course, and every job in between should be open to all who are gifted by God to do the job they are tasked to do. When we recognize this and put it into practice, I suspect the losses in the Millenial Generation members, which is a hot topic right now, and the losses of numerous other generation’s members who are not being talked about, will become just another solved problem of the past.