Sunday, December 21, 2008

Women preachers

These are five women preachers who have exerted an influence in my life, direct or indirect, through listening to them or reading them. My blog represents a traditional egalitarian approach, in touch with the first wave feminism of the 19th century.

Grace Irwin
Florence Li Tim Oi
Catherine Booth
Cathie Nicoll
Bernice Gerard

In response to some emails I have received, I wish to make a few comments.

First, I have no position for or against home schooling. Every family has to work out how best to raise their children and whether the mother wishes to home school or not. I am a public educator myself but I have had friends who have home schooled for a period of time for a variety of reasons.

Second, I am deeply distressed that my former church, which used to have women preach, no longer does so. However, I have never considered an active campaign on this issue. I believe women have the full responsibility to serve God in every way that men do, and I wish to support this as mch as possible by blogging about positive views on women preaching.

Third, I am strongly against the notion that women should be under their husbands' authority. I believe that it is biblically and morally wrong for a woman to vow to obey her husband. Women must have full moral rights at all times to make decisions according to their conscience. In matters that are not a moral issue, neither husband nor wife have the right to override the other. I am aware that there are many couples who live in successful, long term and fully committed marriages of mutual consent and equal regard. I believe that anything else is sinful.

I hope this helps a little to provide an idea of what this blog is about at the moment. The topics do tend to shift over the months and years, so likely next year I will be blogging about something else.


Cynthia Kunsman said...


I wonder if my role models would be considered first wave feminists?

I grew up in the Assemblies of God, and my earliest and main roll model was a woman named Rebecca Beisel. At Valley Forge Christian College (previously Northeast Bible Institute), there is a building named for her and her family, one of the first people there who taught others how to run Vacation Bible School, I believe back in the 30s. She was a Bible college professor by the time I came along and she went on missions trips to India.

Her MOTHER started the first Assemblies of God church in her own home in 1917, just after the inception of the denomination -- quite a mover and shaker. (She was married, but her husband left everything up to her. They eventually procured a pastor when the group became big enough.)

My other roll model taught music at the same college, and my next roll model had to be a missionary nurse to Africa who is still single and serving the Assemblies of God by helping to coordinate their short-term medical missions division. She has a doctorate in public health. All of them taught at the College level in Assemblies of God Bible Colleges.

And the other major role model was a PhD nurse who taught health education at West Chester, a Moravian minister's wife.

I am sorry to say though, that as a grown woman, my role model was a man, my former Christian School teacher whose dying words to me were to "never stop being a Daniel"!!!

No wonder I'm such a trouble maker for these complementarian types.

But I've enjoyed thinking about this and retracing who exactly it is that inspires me and why. The women were rich in their knowledge of the Word of God and were also teachers, just like you are. It is really a wonderful calling and I've been inspired by those in my life. I never heard about this stuff about being under authority, and I see my marriage functioning much like the two role models that I had that were married. (More than half of them were not, either never married or widowed.) Their husbands let their wives spread their wide wings far and lifted them into the air to fly where God wanted to take them in their work, inspiring their students. Their children still rise up and call them blessed too.

I pledged to submit to my husband as unto the Lord when I married him, and frankly, about the only time I've ever felt like we ever had an inkling of a conflict was when my husband was very ill. Our discord was all because of his illness and the self-destructive patterns in his life. I "submitted" to the bad circumstances, and they resolved partly because I told him that I could not stay with him if he continued at a job he hated where he was doing progressively worse. I gave him 1 year of notice, and told him that I would then leave if he didn't start living a healthy life. We rolled out of town a year to the day that I told him I could take no more.

Submission in that sense was more of a type of suffering with him (for 5 or 6 years) in patience while waiting for him to realize that his life had spun out of control because he'd effectively made his stressful job his God. In the long run, I don't think that I really did him any good. I put up with a lot, and in a way, it only enabled him on the self-destructive path that he was on. And it turned around when I could not take anymore and laid out options for us, none of which involved mindless obedience to whatever it was that he wanted at the time.

Many years before that, soon after we married, he received an awesome job offer which got him out of a bad job. I had one that I loved, and I saw that giving up my position as a type of submission. Someone has to be in charge and have the priority. And it really wasn't an issue, not really in the sense that most people talk about male authority. (I wanted him to have the great work opportunity anyway, and we did what was best for him which I was joyful to do.) Had I wanted to stay there, I think that he would have done so for me, but that would fall into the laying down of ones life, I think.

We've carried one another through dark days, but I don't think my vow to God to submit to him as unto the Lord looks much at all like what passes for what comps call male headship. I think they'd likely call me a strident feminist.

Glad I'm not living for their approval!

Suzanne McCarthy said...


thanks for recounting more of your background. Your marriage sounds more like mutual submission than an authority and submission relationship.

I read your blog avidly.

Anonymous said...

"Their husbands let their wives spread their wide wings far and lifted them into the air to fly."

I'm writing a book on Deborah and loving that Lappidoth fellow :).

Always much useful stuff to chew here.


Suzanne McCarthy said...


Is it a novel? Are you aware that Psalm 68 cites Deborah's song. I think of Ps. 68 as sung by women, as a ceremonial song for women.

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzanne,

I write about Psalm 68 a ton in both of the two books I'm writing now :)! I like how you think of it as a ceremonial song for women.

They are not novels but, rather, teaching of a sort (prone to exploring the metaphors, looking for threads between stories and potential spiritual applications, etc.). I do not have a gameplan on pub for many complicated reasons including the fact that the books don't fit into any nifty pubbers category that I can find. One consolation, however, is that a fairly influential pastor of a large church has previously indicated favor on these books (and hopefully that still stands... I've taken some risks with the fellow) for whenever they are pubbed. Another consolation is that I have been compelled and know I am being obedient to God. I could write pages and pages about all of the odd and detailed confirmations that have come to me along the way.

The two books both deal with countering rejection. They are:

Accepted in the Beloved: Rejection and Redemption in the Transjordan Tribes

(which includes introductory thoughts based on Nehemiah)

Accept one Another: Becoming More Like Barak’s Circle and Less Like Saul

(the introduction to this second book is based on Job)

Back cover blurb for the first book:

Reuben was a moral failure, making himself eminently rejectable.

Gad’s surrogate mother had long been used, perhaps never more so than in his conception, and he himself had been imagined by his unloved, adoptive mother as a pawn in a game of recently heightened jealousy. He would, therefore, have been the subject of intense, unattainable parental expectations. God’s intentions for him had been plundered from the onset.

Manasseh, a natural recipient of the blessings of the firstborn, was inexplicably shuffled beneath his brother Ephraim by his grandfather, Jacob. No doubt he felt forgotten, devalued, and misunderstood, leading to disillusionment, resentment, insecurity, and confusion.

Yet God used these particular tribes to lead Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land. And three gates to the New Jerusalem bear their names still that we might enter into heavenly realities through them. What does this mean?


My figurative exploration of Manasseh has a lot to do with women, as women appear in some Manassite stories (including the daughters of Zelophehad who asked for an inheritance!) and fit a similar pattern of devaluation. Manasseh was also the tribe that divided in half, so I talk about some of the divisions we can know as women.

I talk about the redemptive character, destiny, and calling that can come from each of these three types of rejection issues in our lives, using the tribes--the prophecies over them, the stories of their leaders, and the occurrences in their lands--as a basis. For instance, Gad is one who is plundered but plunders back, and I found that the blessings of the Revelation overcomers naturally wove into his story.

In addition to the in-book discussions, both books have extensive appendices on women and their roles (the second book, after all, discusses Deborah and Jael). I had done very little work on Manasseh prior to digging into the book and so had not anticipated such a strong "women" connection (at the outset, was only aware of Manassite leaders like Gideon). Nor did I know that the second book would exist (I thought it was all going to be one book and a snippet on the story of Deborah one chapter--ha, ha). So God kind of tricked me into this one. :)

I ramble. Thanks for asking,