In 2006 my DVD Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free came out and since that time I have seen my share of scarecrows who are intent on destroying the message of women in ministry. One such scarecrow refuses to go away and it is time to create a blog post where others who have been hurt by the issue of women in ministry can share their pain. If you are a woman in ministry or a woman teacher and you have been hurt, abused or silenced and you would like to share a short story, this is the post for you to share with us. I will moderate the comments so that any scarecrow/troll who would like to sound off against women in ministry will either have their comments moderated or removed. This is a safe place where others who are like minded can encourage you as there are many who come to this community of loving Christians who value the worth and ministry of women.
The reason I named this post Stubble, Straw and Scarecrows is because those who are vehemently opposed to women’s gifts used for the common good are planting chaff and their words are nothing more than stubble and straw. Stubble, straw, and scarecrows are not God’s tools nor are they things to be afraid of. We are to fear God and allow Him to decide what gifts we receive for the fact is that the gift we receive from God comes with His permission to use His gift for God’s glory and the common good (1 Peter 4:11). No man can give us spiritual gifts and no man may kill God’s gifts within us. We are accountable to God and we must be faithful with what God has given us rather than holding back because of the fear of man.
Last year I blogged about Dr. Barb Orlowski’s research on spiritual abuse. Barb contacted me during a time when I was going through a very difficult period in my own life, and she was very helpful to me in both her active listening and in her own decision to contact the District church leaders that she knew personally to act on our behalf. Her intervention resulted in an investigation that dealt with the abusive situation. While the cause of the abuse was ultimately removed, I had to privately go through my own grief and deep sorrow. I was raised as a preacher’s kid and had always seen the church as a place of safety. As a result of the spiritual abuse, the idea of the church as a safe place was no longer that same place of safety to me. Time does a great job of helping us heal, but I am not yet sure when I will come full circle and be back to where I started. Spiritual abuse is that devastating. I have never made any of the details public although I am currently working on a DVD project that is a result of the things I have learned as a direct result of the abusive situation I endured. God certainly is able to work all things out for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. What seemed like evil to us can and will be used for good by God who holds us in His hands. …
Can complementarianism ever be considered spiritual abuse? Before we can discuss this, we need to know what spiritual abuse is. David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen have written a definition in The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.
Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment (pg 20)
Spiritual authority can become spiritual abuse when leadership places a value on a “doctrine” (especially a secondary doctrine) over and above the value of the member of the body of Christ. Johnson and VanVonderen identify how subtle a matter of authority can become spiritual abuse.
It’s possible to become so determined to defend a spiritual place of authority, a doctrine or a way of doing things that you wound and abuse anyone who questions, or disagrees, or doesn’t “behave” spiritually the way you want them to. (pg 23)
The following is a very eye opening article by Lee Grady. From Fire in My Bones online, November, 2009. Copyright 2009 Strang Communications; all rights reserved. Used with permission.
Christian teaching on male headship is often used as a weapon against women. This abuse must be confronted.
Last week during a ministry trip to Hungary I heard a painfully familiar story. Through a translator, a tearful young woman living near Budapest explained that her Christian husband was angrily demanding her absolute submission. This included, among other things, that she clean their house according to his strict standards and that she engage in sexual acts with him that made her feel uncomfortable and dirty. …
John Piper: “What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?”
On August 19, 2009, John Piper tackles a question on an abusive husband, and Piper’s answer directs women on how they should take abuse from their husbands. The answer is typical of a complementarian who sees the husband as king and priest and the wife as the follower of her priest-king.
My comments will be below the transcript. I recommend you listen carefully to what Piper says. I think there is a lot to discuss especially his Freudian slip calling the husband “lord.” An edited transcript of the audio is below. …
For those of you who are experiencing church abuse or know of someone who has experienced abuse from a church leader, Dr. Barb Orlowski has her book online at churchexiters.com for only a little while longer. Barb is now working on the final stages of publishing her dissertation and so anyone interested in her research and work on ministering restoration to those who have been hurt by churches, or abusive and authoritarian leaders may want to view her material now before her book is removed from the internet.