Women Enter Boldly: The Torn Veil and Direct Access to God

Women Enter Boldly: The Torn Veil and Direct Access to God

I am thankful to have my post hosted by Junia Project (www.juniaproject.com) today.  As we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what the tearing of the veil means for women and our roles in marriage, church, and life. “Starting from the top of the veil and tearing downward, the hierarchy of privilege was removed. Through the sacrifice of our Savior, we may now enter boldly into the presence of God without the covering of sacrifices and High Priests: “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ…But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2: 12-13)…” Women Enter Boldly: The Torn Veil & Direct Access to...

Rethinking Proverbs 3:5-6

Rethinking Proverbs 3:5-6

  God gifted me with an inquisitive mind and empathetic spirit.  I’ve asked difficult questions since I was small. In first grade, I remember turning to my mom and dad for explanations on why God created different races, although I think at the time it was more, “Why do some people have a different skin color than ours?” In the fourth grade, my family and I visited a church attended by many local residents. While I found the preacher’s style of delivery off-putting, I was most turned off by his use of the “n” word in his sermon.  Although I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, in rural towns where people used the slur as flippantly as any other word, my soul always stirred in protest to its use. I began to question the coexistence of racism and faith.  How can some preach the good news of Jesus’ love and grace and simultaneously spew hate language about others?  How can followers of God reconcile a faith in the Creator with their hate for His created? By high school I was well aware of some people’s views on women and our place in the world and in the church.  Having a father who raised me to believe I can be and do anything, I struggled to understand philosophies which said otherwise, philosophies which placed me lower than a male on a hierarchical ladder simply because I was born a girl. At this point in my faith journey, I had developed a close relationship with God, a personal parent-child dynamic which triggered more questions.  How can my God, my creator, see me, His daughter, as anything more than equal to His sons?  Why would God call for His daughters to be brought to Him yet approve of gender rankings which push us further away? (Isaiah 43:6) College is often a time of discovery.  Many experiment with new-found freedom through parties and sexual escapades. My experimentation differed; I discovered my feminist voice, my liberal views, and my unbelief. Being young and impressionable had less to do with my drifting than my innate desire to search and question. The university environment fostered my desire to investigate.  French poet Antoinette du Ligier de la Garde Deshoulières predicted correctly when she said, “Seeking to know is only too often learning to doubt.” When some of my questions about the coexistence of faith and inequality (gender, race, and sexual orientation) couldn’t be answered by the teachings of my faith or by the teachers of my faith, the rope of belief was severed and I began the free-fall into agnosticism.  Choosing to walk away from my faith was definitely a personal choice; however, it had less to do with my unwillingness to accept the word of God as truth and more to do with believers’ unwillingness to engage in conversations which challenged their interpretations of truth in the gospel. Today, years after my redemption and return to God, my questions are still answered by some believers with mini sermons on Proverbs 3: 5-6 which instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” The implication of this verse is clear; my views are not inspired by God, but my own reasoning and emotion. It also implies my thinking is crooked or misinformed in some worldly way, and by submitting to God, I will have my thoughts corrected to be in line with God’s word. There are two things wrong with this use of Proverbs 3:5-6.  One, it shames the listener because it suggests she is not in accordance with the word of God; two, it presupposes her failure to hear from God, erroneously indicting her own thoughts and emotions as barriers to proper biblical edification. My own upbringing serves to rebut claims that my thoughts and feelings on gender equality are my own.  I grew up in a conservative, rural town in the heart of the Bible Belt.  Although the hearts of residents are good, the ingrained bigotry and patriarchy is not.  My aversions, from a young age, to the predominant ideologies on race, gender, and sexual orientation are counter intuitive to the culture in which I was raised. While I could peruse scripture and find verses to prove I am trusting in the Lord with my whole heart, it wouldn’t accurately reflect the shaping of my theology or the evolution of my spiritual journey.  It wouldn’t capture the idea that for some of us, our identification with egalitarianism and other progressive ideologies is a result of an...

Psalm 40: 1-3

Psalm 40: 1-3

  Today I am feeling grateful and humbled by how quickly God will work to open doors when we follow that still small voice which whispers, “this is the way, follow me.” I am a former agnostic who was redeemed by God and is being used by God in ways I never dreamed possible a decade ago. Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…” I am excited to say my next post will be published next Thursday morning, March 24th, at Junia Project (juniaproject.com) just a few days before Easter. It explores the miraculous tearing of the veil…stay tuned! All things are possible through...

Spring: An Anniversary of Loss and Life

Spring:  An Anniversary of Loss and Life

  The month of March marks the end of winter for those of us in North Carolina.  The transition is sudden, with temperatures jumping from the 40’s one day to the 70’s the next.  After months of cold weather, our street comes to life again as children play for hours and adults return to working in their yards. For me, spring is an anniversary of paradox, loss and life, death and rebirth. I’m from the South, born and raised in the heart of the Bible belt.  In my hometown of Mills River, North Carolina, a tiny town nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, identifying oneself as a Christian is as unnecessary as informing others of one’s humanness.  There are more churches than retail stores and restaurants combined.  Revival tents dot the sides of the road throughout the summer.  Locals look forward to Friday night pickins’ at the town’s feed and seed where bluegrass bands, like Appalachian Fire, sing and play well into the evening.  Visitors find themselves frequently and unexpectedly lifted up to the Lord. Long-time residents of Mills River sweetly exclaim, “Well, bless your heart!” and “God bless you honey!” and “Have a blessed day!” after tourists innocently ask for directions at Mills River Grocery, or after they order French toast from Mills River Restaurant.  Just as a compass points a lost traveler east or west, the small- town culture of Mills River points to God. It’s impossible to grow up there, surrounded by some of God’s most beautiful and majestic landscapes, and not be aware of His presence.  Rolling hills covered in a carpet of green rise up to create the feeling of being nestled snuggly into a natural cocoon.  Dairy cows gather along the road’s edge, forming the illusion of black and white fencing.  Rivers and streams wind through the countryside, creating a soothing symphony of sound.  Fields of corn stretch over acres of land, the intricate rows forming natural mazes.  Silos rise up beside meticulously hand-constructed barns, providing 5-star luxury accommodations for the farm animals.  The signature of God is recorded on every magnificent landscape, stream, river, and mountain of Mills River, North Carolina. Growing up there, it’s not surprising to learn my family believed in God.  We prayed before meals and at bedtime.  The sweet sound of bluegrass and gospel filled our house, with Mama and Daddy singing along loudly and joyfully to groups like the Kingsmen Quartet and The Freemans. Uniquely, the vibrant strokes of Christianity colored my educational easel, as well. We attended public school where we made Christmas decorations and watched Christmas movies for days leading up to Christmas break.  Friday night football games always began with a prayer, not a moment of silence, spoken over the loud speaker, asking for God’s protection over the players and giving thanks for the opportunity to participate.  I played volleyball and basketball with the same group of girls from the third grade through graduation.  My teammates and I took turns leading a devotional before games, using scripture and verses to encourage sportsmanship and Godly behavior on the court.  We huddled up before each game to say the Lord’s prayer before running out to the blasting notes of “The Wild, Wild West” (for West Henderson High School). Being a Christian wasn’t something people concealed; it was the norm, a clique to which all wanted to belong.     I wasn’t an exception to this norm.  I was part of the Christian crowd.  I was saved. I had managed, at the young age of eighteen, to have a personal relationship with Christ, unpolluted by the dogma of religion. College is often a time of discovery.  Many experiment with newfound freedom through parties and sexual escapades. My experimentation differed; I discovered my feminist voice, my liberal views, and my unbelief. Being young and impressionable had less to do with my drifting than my innate desire to search and question, an inquisitiveness which has been a part of my personality since my early childhood. The university environment fostered my desire to investigate.  For the first time in my life, I asked why I believed what I believed. French poet Antoinette du Ligier de la Garde Deshoulières predicted correctly when she said, “Seeking to know is only too often learning to doubt.”  When some of my questions couldn’t be answered by the teachings of my faith, that rope was severed and I began the free-fall into agnosticism. During the spring of my sophomore year of college my faith in God died. During my senior year of college, wedding preparations began.  Like most brides-to-be, I happily sought the perfect dress, the tastiest cake, and...

Guest Post by Rachel Held Evans

I experienced this first hand and was shocked when a close relative noted with criticism my use of the personal pronoun “I” when discussing spiritual topics, believing I should speak using “we” and “us” as my husband’s opinions should naturally be mine as well. No thank you and moving on. “I” am not in a marriage where I’m expected to silence my voice or shrink smaller! http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/absurd-legalism-gender-roles-submission-piper  

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