Let Her Lead

Final Thoughts

This is the last post in Let Her Lead, the series that will never end. I promised a conclusion back in December. It took way too long!

In the past two months, I’ve already thought of half a dozen more topics to write about. There’s so much I haven’t even touched on. Watch for those posts without any particular progression or regularity.

Faithful Options for Christians

What was the point of the series anyway?

You might think it was to convince you of an egalitarian position. While I try to write persuasively, that wasn’t really my goal.

Throughout the series, I hope you noticed I often talked about Christians having “options” when it came to interpreting those controversial texts on women. I also tried to be very careful to not speak with absolute certainty about a passage. I resisted being dogmatic.

My goal was to show that Christians have options available to them other than the patriarchal interpretation and that those options are still faithful to Scripture.

For so long, the theological gatekeepers in the biblical manhood and womanhood movement told me that if I believed in an alternative to their interpretation, I was unfaithful to Scripture at best and a heretic at worst.

But as I wrote this series, I kept finding myself thinking, “I don’t think we can definitely know what this means. But there are other, faithful options that make good sense of this text and the whole Bible.”

My desire for you, dear reader, is to know that many passages in the Bible are absolutely clear. Some, however, (like the ones covered in this series) have many, many layers that make them difficult to understand.

It’s not about being right. It’s about living right. It’s time to do right.

When I was in seminary, I learned about the distance that exists between us and the Scriptures. Language. Geography. Culture. Ethnicity. Time. And more.

Sometimes these things are more easily overcome when we have better data available to us. Other times, we have to do our best with what we have and, at the end of the day, say, “It’s okay to disagree here.”

I hope that I’ve shown that about many of the passages I covered. I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

It’s Time to Do Right

In the end, as my wife Carly has often said, this isn’t an intellectual exercise. It’s not “let’s get our theology right on paper.” It may feel like that for some men. But not for women. For women, it’s flesh and blood. It’s a fight for their lives in the church. A fight to be seen, appreciated, equipped, empowered, mobilized.

For me, this is no longer intellectual. It’s not, “I need to get my theology right” but “I need to love right. I need to change.”

It’s not about being right. It’s about living right. It’s time to do right.

I started this series by saying it’s my public repentance. This is my way to tell the world, or at least a small corner of it, that I’m turning. I’m turning from my patriarchy (which I didn’t even see!) toward the full inclusion of women in the life and leadership of the church.

This is only the beginning. But as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do what’s right.”

Do You See This Woman?

In Luke 7:36-50, a woman came to anoint Jesus while he was at a dinner party. She didn’t know when she arrived that the host would disrespect Jesus by refusing to wash his feet or greet him with a kiss. With a broken heart, she wept so much that she washed his feet with her tears. She kissed his feet constantly, dried them with her hair, then anointed them with perfume.

“Do you see this woman?” Jesus’ words echo deep in my heart, almost daily now.

Jesus had a question for Simon, the host of the party, “Do you see this woman?”

If you would permit me some applicational leeway, it’s not a stretch to think that Jesus might be saying the same thing to us in the Church today.

Men, open your eyes and see her. She’s called and capable. She was made to walk alongside you. Not to fulfill a designated cultural role subservient to yours (whatever that may be), but to partner with you in fulfilling God’s mission in this world. Imagine what she could do with the training and experience usually reserved for men. Invite her in and watch her fly.

Women, Jesus sees you. I see you. Many others are beginning to see you now, too. You’re called and capable. Not just to do one thing, but whatever that thing is that God calls you to do. You are dearly loved by your Father. He will use you to fulfill his mission in this world. And the Church needs you and we will not reach the world with the gospel without you.

“Do you see this woman?” Jesus’ words echo deep in my heart, almost daily now.

It sparks me to pray this simple prayer. Will you pray it with me?

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us so that we see her. And when we do, may we let her lead.

Commentary Let Her Lead Ministry Theology

Interlude: Why I’m Writing About Women Now

Throughout this summer series that I’m calling Let Her Lead, I’ll occasionally write a short “interludes” (like this one) to help bridge from article to article, provide context, or say something I think is timely but just doesn’t seem to fit elsewhere. Most likely, these thoughts will be far less organized than a normal series post.

Earlier today, a friend of mine–a woman–sent me a message wondering if I intentionally wrote the first post in the series at the same time that certain male leaders in a large North American denomination spoke out against women in church leadership. (They did this on Mother’s Day of all days.)

You might ask, “What was it?!” Well, I’m not going to link to anything, but I read some posts on Twitter and Instagram on Sunday that broke my heart. You can easily find them and if this conversation has interested you for a while, you have probably already seen what I’m talking about. Suffice to say that what was said didn’t strike the note of Christian charity.

Back to the timing of my post. The answer is “no” but “yes.”

What I wrote wasn’t a direct, flurried response to those very sad and disheartening things I read. I wasn’t on Twitter one moment and then pounding the keyboard the next.

That said, I began this series now because I had been considering it for quite some time anyway. The Christian social media subculture just provided the right opportunity for it. In the words of Dr. King, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

The heartbreak (okay, anger is what I felt first, let’s be honest) is what moved me to say Enough is enough! I have a wife who is so talented and gifted and full of zeal for the gospel and justice (if you know her, you already know this). I have two brilliant, young daughters who love Jesus and know more Scripture than I did at their age. I know many women who have influenced and inspired me at a very deep level. I work on a ministry team with some amazing, talented women. (I’ll share more on all this soon.)

So here’s the thing. Here’s why I started writing: how we talk about and relate to and labor with these women–all women–matters.

And if the Church keeps putting “women” in their “place,” we lose. Every single time. Why?

Because Jesus never did that. And that is where this all starts.

Wherever you’re at in this conversation, it must start and end with Jesus. I want to be like him. And I hope you do, too.

(It’s worth mentioning that not all people who hold to male-only leadership put women down. We’ll talk more about that, too.)

One last reason I’m writing this now. As a white, Christian man who has benefited from a theology of male-only leadership, I sense a holy responsibility to help my brothers in Christ consider a legitimate, biblically faithful alternative. I also sense a holy responsibility to empower my sisters in Christ who for far too long have been marginalized and (let’s be honest) flat-out ignored simply because of their gender.

Doing justice means that the advantaged stand up, speak out, and lay down their perceived rights to uphold and give advantage to others. Or, as Tim Keller has written, doing justice is giving people their due. In other words, what they are owed.

I’ve taken too long to realize this when it comes to women in the church.

But it’s never too late to do what’s right.