Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Servant Leader: Doublespeak for CHIEF

Most Christians likely think the term servant-leader came from the Christian community as a biblical picture of what Paul specified husbands are to be toward their wives. But it didn't. The term came from secular society,, specifically the corporate world. “The term servant leadership is attributed to an essay written by Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990) in 1970.” Servant-leader is a business model that one third of Fortune 500 companies utilize to help the CEO and a corporation's leaders appear more caring and less dominating. See So Christians have latched onto the term to help husbands APPEAR more caring and less dominating. The truth is, both the CEO and the husband who claim to be a servant-leader, are wolves in sheep's clothing. Their purpose is to control the organization for their own gain, at the expense of the wife and the employees.

In the Christian community, the term is used to promote the idea that males are humble servants of their wives, even while they lead their wives, make the final decisions and generally take authority over their wives, frequently for the benefit of the husband. This humble-servant idea is promoted and spun to make illegitimate authority look godly and biblical.

Illegitimate authority? Yes. A husband's authority over his wife, according to Jesus, is illegitimate.

What does the Bible say about servant-leadership? Specifically, nothing. Nothing is said about leadership. However, plenty is said about authority and about being a servant.

The words of Jesus speak best on the subject. “25But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Matt 20:25-27 KJV
"25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—“ NIV

Jesus hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head. These men want to be the PRINCE and exercise authority or dominion over their wives. They want to be the first, the greatest, the CHIEF. They are not interested in being the leader, because a leader must first walk the path others are to follow, a path of service and genuine caring and love. They want to be CHIEF, so they can command their wives to walk a path they themselves never set a foot upon. And the only time they stoop to serve, is when they want to con her into believing they genuinely love and care for her, so she will stoop even lower to provide extra-humiliating service to the CHIEF.

Instead of servant-leader, as they want their wives (and even themselves?) to believe, a more honest term is “CHIEF.” And if they must include the word servant, the term should be in reference to the couple: “Servant-CHIEF.” Indeed, complementarianism teaches wives to be the servants and husbands to be the chiefs. Better yet, “CHIEF-servant,” since authority-husbands believe their will and their way always come first, while their wives are secondary at best.

But Jesus said it is NOT to be this way. When He said those who want to be chief must be the servant or minister, He was not referring to being the most important preacher or teacher. By “minister” He meant to serve the needs of the other. He was NOT referring to the “service” of leading. In His day, He was referring to the service of washing someone's dirty feet. In other words, doing the jobs that are so humbling that no one wants to do them. That could mean cleaning the toilet, wiping the urine-spattered floor around the toilet, cleaning the shower including the grimy oil ring off the tub, washing the dishes including the gross ones, being the passenger instead of the driver, scrubbing the bug, bird, and tar spatters off the car, changing the baby's diaper when poop has leaked everywhere. Being a servant also means watching the movie she wants to watch and giving her the working remote control most of the time while you cook dinner or do other household responsibilities.

Being a servant is setting aside authority, even the authority that is spun to make it appear as “loving servant leadership” and taking responsibility as a servant instead. That is what Jesus commanded. The only way to be a servant-leader is to lead by example—the example of being a servant. The example your spouse is to imitate. Husbands, it is time to imitate the examples of your wives, who have been the genuine SERVANT-leaders.


Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The End of the Long Winter

Something wondrous has been happening. A side effect that the CBMW did not consider possible as they pushed women underground, snowed on them and iced them forever into slavery and silence—or so they thought. But similar to how bulbs and roots gather strength in the winter and push out shoots and bloom when the time is right, and similar to how sap flows within trees while they appear to be dormant, so has the “sap” been flowing virtually unseen in the lives of a growing number of women. Women have been gathering strength to shoot forth and bloom and no weed-killer complementarians devise will shut them up.

While complementarians have been silencing women and forcing them to lives in the lowest level of the caste system, not allowing them to speak in churches, forcing them to remain with abusive, destructive husbands, the women have been studying the word and writing what they find. Gary Smalley once shared that although he began as a one-on-one counselor, he found that speaking to groups was more effective and reached more people, that video tapes reached even more people, and that writing books was the most effective and reached the most people. Without intending to, complementarians have kept lowest-caste, spread-thin women from doing the busy-work of pastoring, thus freeing them in the small time they have available to do the most effective work of all—write books.

Women from all over the world can “hear” other women “preach” via books, no matter where they live. Women are not limited to those in the local congregations; their work and outreach goes global.

True, complementarian male pastors also write books and their work goes global. But in their effort to silence women by hanging the most time-consuming work around women's necks and refusing them a pulpit, complementarians inadvertently directed women to the one door complementarians left unblocked—the most effective means of communication—especially for the small amount of time women have available to pursue their own interests—like communicating truth for women from God's Word.

So all these years, while women have been silent in the churches, the roots and bulbs have been growing underground, gathering strength and power to spring forth in glorious freedom in Christ.

Daughters have been prophesying—via books and blogs. Women and men have stopped hanging onto every word of the men behind the pulpits and instead are listening to the teachings in books and blogs, teachings that make far more sense than what was being taught from the pulpit, teachings that agree with what we know of the heart of God.
Joel's prophecy has become true and the power of God is becoming increasingly evident: “And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of my spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” Increasingly more daughters are prophesying, and a ground swell is growing, similar to the power of an avalanche or a tsunami, with the power to destroy the evil doctrine that is holding men, women, and the entire Christian community captive to that rotten and divisive caste system teaching that has been inflicted upon the church all these generations.

Praise God! Indeed, all things do work together for good to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28. What the complementarians meant for evil, God meant for good—to bring freedom from oppression and a voice-heard-by-all to women.

The long winter is nearly over. Spring is beginning to burst forth.
Glory be to God.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Keeping Women in Their Place

Women. Are they equal with different roles, or are they equal with a variety of callings as men are equal with a variety of callings? How does God see men and women?

We know Jesus chose a woman to be the first missionary to Samaria. And the first people she brought to Jesus were men. Was she outside her role to bring men to Jesus? If Jesus chided her for it, no one recorded that.

We know the risen Jesus showed himself first to a woman, waiting until John and Peter went away. And he commissioned her, too.

And Jesus did not rush to Martha's defense and tell Mary to hurry to the kitchen and do women's work instead of listening to the teacher like the men were doing. Instead, Jesus said what Mary had chosen would not be taken from her.

Looking at the life of Jesus, this idea of women's roles being limited by God to being servants to their husbands doesn't fit.

Perhaps the words of Paul in I Corinthians 12 will help solve the disagreement. Does the role that some say is for women only, make them of less value? How did Paul see the church?

I Cor 12:21-26: “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour, and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need, but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”

Reading that in “God's Word” translation: “An eye can't say to a hand, “I don't need you!” or again the head can't say to the feet, “I don't need you! The opposite is true. The parts of the body that we think are weaker are the ones we really need. The parts of the body that we think are less honorable are the ones we give special honor. So our unpresentable parts are made more presentable. However, our presentable parts don't need this kind of treatment. God has put the body together and given special honor to the part that doesn't have it. God's purpose was that the body should not be divided but rather that all of its parts should feel the same concern for each other. If one part of the body sufferes, all the other parts share its suffering. If one part is praised, all the others share in its happiness.”

What does this mean? Who are the more feeble or weak and who are the less presentable? Haven't complementarians indicated women are the weak and unpresentable? Women are NOT to be where they are seen, in front of the congregation. Instead, they are to take their places behind the scenes. And in spite of their behind-the-scenes positions, they are still equal to men in the eyes of God. Where they serve has no impact upon their value.

To make this better understood, consider which parts of the body are considered unpresentable or weaker, and which are “comely” or presentable, so they do not need special honor given to them? Aren't faces and hands the parts that are seen in public? So eyes, ears, noses, mouths, cheeks, etc are those that get behind the pulpits. And armpits and anuses are the parts that remain hidden, along with digestive systems, thyroids, adrenals, the endocrine system, livers, etc. So complementarians have said God decrees that males can be faces and hands, while females are the more disgusting and dishonorable parts. Ok, that is well and good. All parts of the body are equally needed.

So why are the anuses, armpits, endocrine systems, digestive tracts and livers complaining? Could verses 24a to 26a have the answer? “God has put the body together and given special honor to the part that doesn't have it. God's purpose was that the body should not be divided but rather that all of its parts should feel the same CONCERN for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering...” 

Could the whole problem with complementarian rules be that one part of the body is suffering and the other part is “rubbing their nose in it?” In body-speak, the anuses are in pain over the sandpaper that is being used as toilet paper, and the hands and faces are replying, “That is how God ordained it to be. It is your role.” The armpits are in agony over the antiperspirant that is being used, and the hands and faces are replying, “Submit to us! Stop rebelling, you Jezebel! That is the way God ordained it. Stop trying to take the role of the hands and faces.”

Complementarians are saying if a person does not have penis and testicles, they cannot be part of the hands or face; the Spirit only gifts those with breasts and vaginas to do anus and armpit type work for the kingdom. Many women are saying they have NOT been gifted to be an anus. They have been gifted to be a mouth; God made that very clear to them. But those who claim they are the comely ones, whether they are or not, insist the Spirit does NOT gift females with mouth-gifts.

So who does one believe? Those who say women can only be anuses, armpits and guts, or those who say God has called them to be feet or hands or mouths? Does anyone have the right to tell another what God did and didn't say to them? What if the men in Samaria had told the Woman at the Well, that of course Jesus would not have said those things to HER, a mere WOMAN, and ignored all she told them? Samaria would never have had a sweeping turn to the real God.

How many people have not come to God, have not been able to connect the dots to be able to come to salvation through Jesus because men have forced women to be anuses, armpits and guts? And on top of that, those same men used sandpaper, harsh chemicals, and poison to keep the anuses, armpits and guts “in their place,” resulting in hampering the message of the vessels God had chosen to proclaim His message, His way, a way that the hearers could understand and to which they could relate.

Is the church today--the people who have accepted Jesus as Savior--half the size it would have been if women had been respected, if their cry of pain had been heard, and if women had not had their wings clipped so they could not proclaim the gospel as God had called them to proclaim it?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Friday, March 14, 2014

When Differing Roles Become Inequality

There is an on-going difference of opinion between egalitarians and complementarians about the equality of men and women, or the lack thereof. Complementarians argue that men and women are equal, but have different roles.  Egalitarians argue that the differing roles ARE inequality.

Some questions for all to ponder: are slaves equal to their masters?  Are children equal to their fathers? 
What causes people to be equal or unequal?

We are told to not be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers," II Cor 6:14-18, so we know inequality is possible. In the case of unbeliever with a believer, the inequality is in the choices each would make. If Paul intended the will of the husband to be sovereign, why bother to tell Christians to avoid marrying unbelievers? "Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? Can Christ agree with the devil? Can a believer share life with an unbeliever? Can God's temple contain false gods?" As long as the husband is a Christian, his wife would be obligated to obey her husband and these questions would not apply. The wife would have to agree with her husband whether she wanted to or not.

However, the above passage makes it clear that Paul expected wives to have choices, to be involved in decision-making. If it was only a token giving of her opinion and then the husband could make the final decision, this command would still not apply. Paul expects wives to have the freedom to choose for themselves, to have an equal say and to not continually set aside their own wishes to obey their husband instead. 

So what does make people equal? Is it merely stating that God says men and women are equal, therefore husbands and wives are equal, but husbands can still tell wives what to do and the wives must obey? Are nurses equal to doctors? Do patients believe the nurse is equal to the doctor? Do patients respect nurses as much as they respect doctors? Are employees equal to their employers? Are the poor equal to the rich? Are the poor respected as much as the rich are respected?

When do relationships become unequal?

Isn't it when one person or group is given more respect than another person or group? James 2:1-13 points out how sinful it is to respect the rich more than the poor. Yet complementarians respect and favor husbands more than they respect and favor wives. They assign husbands more influence and more respect than they assign to wives. They assign husbands and males more "rights" to have things their way than they assign to wives and females.  Complementarian pastors tell wives to have their say and then lay down their rights to cause their preferences or beliefs to come to pass. They also tell wives that if their husbands abuse them, it is because the wives did not submit sufficiently.  In other words, they accuse wives of not laying down their will so the husbands can have their will fulfilled. Is not that basic inequality and basic loss of respect? Are not men as well as women to follow Jesus's example of not grasping at equality and instead choosing to lay aside one's own will for the sake of another? When husbands also lay down their will for the sake of their wives, then the relationship is equal, with equal influence and equal respect.

In regard to equal but different roles, I keep seeing the picture from the movie "Ever After" where Cinderella went to rescue the slave that had been sold by her step mother. The step mother owner and the slave certainly had different roles, and the roles were quite similar to complementarian husband and wife roles, with the slave doing all the obeying and the step-mother/master doing all the commanding. The slave was penned up in a moving prison, that was on a cart pulled by horses.  He could see through the bars, but had no way of stopping the horror that was happening to him. That slave's plight is similar to the plight of married complementarian women. Is the person who has no freedom to choose where she will go or what she will do next, an equal of the person who makes the decisions for her?  Is a person who is an equal in the eyes of God, but an equal in name only in the eyes of humans truly an equal? And when a wife is denied the freedom to remove herself from mistreatment, is she his equal? Isn't she more an equal of animals who have no choice in their lives?  That is similar to the horse, Black Beauty, who had no choice over who bought him, or how he was treated.

Isn't a complementarian wife more of an equal to a child who has been beaten or verbally smeared by a bully, or who has been whipped and/or chewed out by his dad? The equality is in name only, like a dad is equal to his ten-year-old daughter whom he spanks and sexually abuses as often as he pleases.  The child's role is to obey and suffer abuse, but the child is still equal to her dad, according to complementarian insistence.  The dad's role is to have his way with the wife and child, and that is considered equality to complementarians.  Just like complementarian wives, the child can cry and complain all she wants, but it will make no difference, except perhaps that her dad/husband will use that as an excuse for being even more cruel.

Complementarians will claim this is a straw-man argument, that their roles do not include permission to abuse. Yet, until they stand firmly against husbands abusing their wives, punish and discipline the abusive husbands and offer protection and support without judgement to wives, they DO support domestic abuse. And their insistence that husband and wife are equal while they support the abuser, is equivalent to claiming that a sexually abused child is equal to her daddy/abuser. In both cases the abused is robbed of dignity and power, of respect and influence.

Equality is measured by the power one possesses to influence the outcome of what happens in life.  Complementarian wives, similar to nurses, children, and animals are commanded to turn their power over to another.  Some complementarian men give that power back and the result is equality. But many complementarian husbands do NOT give the power back and the relationship is one of master and slave, of upper caste vs lower caste. And the church has largely been siding against the slave, lower caste and supporting the power of the master and upper caste, even to the point of punishing the wife-slave for her master-husband's cruelty toward her and their children.

As Jane Doe has pointed out, when the church insists that wives give up their power and turn it over to their husbands, the wives become powerless like little girls, and the marriage bed like the relationship between a pedophile and a child.  The wife's role of giving up her power and the husband's role of taking his wife's power plus keeping his own, result in extreme inequality.  This is not mere difference of roles. This is a difference of respect and the difference of power to effect an outcome. 

When complementarians refuse to allow husbands any lattitude to use any form of abuse against their wives, whether verbal, emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, psychological, social, or sexual, when they teach that husbands are sinning against their wives when they attempt to control them, school them, and take authority over them, then and only then can complementarian roles be anywhere close to equality.  

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Submission, Obedience, and Authority

Finally I think I can spare a few minutes to blogging, without missing some super-important deadline. A number of folks have written comments, some of them in response to old posts, which no one else is likely to see. So I have decided to publish them and my response as posts. I do apologize for the long delay in publishing the comments. Life has been and continues to be overwhelming & hectic. I am doing my best.

Madcan commented on Institution ofSubmission—As to the Lord. I will put madcan's comment in red, and my reply in black.

In order to support your view of "submission," you have conveniently chosen to highlight Jesus' footwashing as an example of submitting as to the Lord. Jesus washed the feet of the apostles because he gladly chose to submit to Father! His submission (obedience) to Father was motivated out of his love for Father, to fulfill the mission Father had for him, and to make Father look great through his mission.

Likewise, a husband is to gladly submit to the Father by doing things for his wife. They may be status-lowering chores that no one wants to do. Just as Jesus was motivated by love for the Father, so also husbands are to be motivated by love for the Father, as well as love for their wives.

Surely you do not imply that Jesus had no love for those He served? Do we as Christians only serve others because of our love for God? Wouldn't that make our service condescending and cold? I Corinthians 13 says if we do all kinds of noteworthy things, but do not have love (for others) we are like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, and we are nothing.

Your comment sounds like IF Jesus loved us, He ONLY did so out of submission to the Father. If that is indeed what you are implying, you likely also believe that John 3:16 means that God the Father so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, who does not love us, or who didn't love us enough to die for us, himself. If Jesus only died for us out of submission to the Father, Jesus cannot be equal with God, for God is Love. But Ephesians 5 says Christ did love us--so much that he died for us.  Christ did not die for us because of love for the Father, but because of love for US!  

Your focus on the submission of Jesus to the Father (putting Jesus in a dress, as Cindy puts it) paints Jesus to be stupid. The submission you have been taught that goes on in the heavens leaves no allowance for the Father to submit to the Son. So the Son would never suggest anything because God forbid the Father should ever submit to the Son. That leaves Jesus as a mindless slave, not equal with God in authority, nor in power (if the Father gave Jesus-as-God power, He can also take it away). That makes Jesus into a liar; Jesus and the Father are not one, they are two. Obviously, Jesus cannot be the liar. Therefore it is the “doctrine” that is false.  

The view you are pushing says that the Father orchestrates and decides everything, while Jesus' role is to love and obey the Father, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit while "equal" with Father, (as you put it) are His puppets.  Are you not aware that the God Jesus was obeying while on earth as a man, included Himself? He and the Father and the Holy Spirit, as 3 in 1, together love us and together chose to redeem us.  If Jesus only came to die for us because Father ordered it, that invites doubt about the Father's love for us, since He wasn't willing to die for us Himself, but sent His Son instead.  It also brings doubt about the Son's love for us, since He only came because He was commanded to come.  The fact is, the triune God loves us so much the 3 in 1 together chose the plan of redemption.  I believe the Word offered to come to earth and die for us, otherwise it is difficult to claim His love is of any depth at all.  Making Jesus into the Father's stooge so that men can make wives into the stooges of their husbands devalues the love of our triune God and devalues salvation and redemption to the point they are practically worthless.  Anyone can order their servant to do the hard stuff.  If that is the pattern, why didn't Jesus order one of His disciples to be His stooge and do the footwashing?  Oh, right, because of His love for Father.  Why is that not comforting? 

As you are aware, there were numerous other instances when Jesus instructed, corrected, and directed his disciples with the authority that Father gave him. This authority did not negate or contradict his submission to Father through acts such as footwashing; both authority and humble acts of service are two sides of the coin that men are called to live out.

Yes, I am aware that Jesus did instruct, direct, and even correct at times. However, it was with His own authority. Although Jesus was here as a man, He was also God. He simply HAD authority because of He was and is God. Where is/are the verse(s) that call men to authority over their wives, to instruct or correct their wives? Men are commanded to love and serve their wives, but never to teach, instruct, correct, or order them, any more than wives are commanded to teach, instruct, correct or order their husbands. We are all to edify one another as well as submit one to another.

Allow me to state the obvious -- men are not women. Jesus chose twelve men to be his disciples. Jesus chose men for HIS reasons. We can offer our opinions as to why he didn't choose six men and six women, but our opinions don't matter. God's ways are often too deep for us to understand; we do well to default to trusting him and accepting his ways as holy and right.

Actually, Jesus never even suggested that women could not preach or teach the gospel. Jesus chose women, too. They also followed with the disciples and supported Jesus financially. Did you notice how He did not choose to appear to John and Peter when He rose from the tomb? But after John and Peter left, He appeared to Mary, whom He sent to be the very first Gospel-teller. There was no gospel until after he rose from the dead, so she was the first. He gave that special honor to a woman. He also commissioned the woman at the well, who spread the news to her whole village, including the men. Jesus told parables that included women, so obviously he was speaking to women as well as men. Contrary to popular teaching, Jesus valued women, honored them, included them in establishing his church. He did NOT order Mary to help her sister, Martha, but protected her freedom to learn along with the men. Jesus did not establish a male-favoring gospel—humans did that.

My point? There are enough scriptures that teach us that wives are to submit to their husbands (as to the Lord). I urge God's people to accept the simple message he has given us through his word -- it is his will that wives submit to their husbands IN EVERYTHING. That submission includes both humble acts of service and obeying the instruction, correction, and direction (authority) given by God through
the husband.

And there is where you are wrong, madcan. Submission and obedience are not the same. Wives are never commanded to obey their husbands. Submission suggests choice, not a master/slave, or command/obey relationship. When a husband is not behaving toward his wife in a loving, Christ-like way, he is sinning against her. There is no way Paul would recommend that a Christian put her stamp of approval on sin by facilitating it. According to the doctrine you appear to support, a wife must obey what her husband commands her, unless it is clearly sin. But you fail to understand when a husband sins against his wife, even though he may not verbally be commanding her to sin, non-verbally he is commanding her to degrade herself, which is sin. (Do not call good evil; as a redeemed person, she is good.) Submission means she does not need to choose to obey a sinful demand against herself. As she would with any Christian, she must rebuke the sin to get rid of the leaven that will spread to her and cause her to sin.

The only part of Jesus husbands are told to copy is that of love and sacrifice. They are never told to copy His lordship. Neither Jesus, Paul, nor Peter command husbands to take authority over their wives. Instead, the Ephesians 5 instructions to husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, sounds similar to Romans 12:1-2, that of offering oneself as a living sacrifice—for their wives. As his equal, a husband owes his wife respect. As a servant of Christ's, he owes his wife love, cherishing, and submission. 

This blog is not a place for debate.  That is not my calling, and I find the exercise pointless.  It accomplishes nothing.  There are other bloggers who may choose to discuss or debate, you can do your debating there.  The few times I choose to publish a debater's comment and reply to it are those where I think the exercise can enhance the message God has given me to proclaim. 

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.