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Oct 19, 2006


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Let me tell a story to make this more personal (er, at the risk of offending anyone who is extremely anti-cessationalist...sorry).

At the height of my "patriarchal-hood," (lol), I remember being in a home Bible/prayer meeting. We'd been hosting them for new believers weekly, and they were really good and growing in attendance. A fairly new Believer was with us (who had been asking a TON of questions about the Holy Spirit during the Bible study) that time.

I was just sitting there, during a prayer time, when I was absolutely consumed with the need to go and lay hands on him and pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be imparted to him. It was so powerful that I was shaking, and the instruction was VERY clear---to go pray for that man.

I glanced at my husband and made a nod to our friend, and my husband knew it meant I wanted to go pray for him...and my husband then glared at me and gave me the, "no," clenched jaw. (We had been in charismania for a time and he was terribly against it, for good reasons, afterwards)...

I remember being caught in such a dilemna. I *knew* I was supposed to go pray for our friend and that God wanted to impart something to him (no, I don't go doing that stuff all the time). Yet my patriarch told me that I was not allowed to.

I didn't know what to do. I got up to quietly run upstairs to our bedroom because I knew I couldn't sit there without starting to cry...loudly...it was all I could do to sit still as it was...every fiber of me *needed* to go pray for that man. But I was told no.

My patriarch knows God better than I do, I was taught---if he says no, then, as my mediator (as my covenental head), I must obey him...and if he was wrong, then God would deal with him (the woman making a vow in Numbers---she may keep her vow to God if her patriarch says she may, etc).

I started up the stairs but broke down weeping on the first step...loudly. At which point everyone looked up and asked what was wrong, etc. It was terribly embarassing... My patriarch gave an annoyed nod to me, that I could do what I wanted to do, now that I'd ruined it...

I wiped away the tears, tried to just put the humiliation of the situation out of my mind, and went to pray for our friend. It was incredibly powerful. Gifts were imparted on the spot. It was awesome...more than just gifts, but a calling... (he became an incredible teacher/preacher, went off to Bible College and is a pastor now in an inner-city church, etc)...

I look back at that situation now and just scratch my head in amazement. I was literally under the assumption that if a conflict came up between my husband and the Holy Spirit, that I was to give allegiance to my husband. That I would be in MORE trouble with God for disobeying my husband than I would be for disobeying the Holy Spirit!

(Btw, my husband is not like this now, just so you know. We were both under a teaching of covenental headship that we don't ascribe to now...though, to be honest, we don't really know *what* to ascribe to, either...just trying to pick up the pieces, I guess, and learn how to serve God together all over again, in that sense...how to walk together now that we are side by side instead of one behind the other).

Okay, my extremely personal moment is over now... :) But I want to add that ministry based on personal gifting does not exist in most fundamental churches. The one I grew up in, the one we now work in...it doesn't matter if I'm gifted to teach or preach from the Bible, I will never be asked...NOT because they would purposely ignore me, but because they literally cannot conceive of a woman teaching a mixed audience.

It just isn't even an option. But I can supervise VBS. Or lead the children's choir. Or run the Christmas program. Or host a ladies tea... If a woman has a gift to teach, then it simply proves she was called of God to take a Sunday School class. (Not saying that is bad---I LOVE teaching children...just saying, it ends there. It doesn't matter if I'm actually gifted to teach adults, because it will NEVER happen here, outside of a total miracle).

It is for the same reasons I described above in my painful personal story. It's not because one doesn't want to obey the Holy Spirit. It's that one thinks that the Holy Spirit's way is through the heirarchy, and if it appears the Spirit is moving a different way, a way outside the heirarchy of men and women, then the problem is the *perception* of His movement. It can't really be Him moving, because He only moves within the heirarchal structure (because the heirarchal structure comes from God, therefore God would never go against it).

Michael Kruse

Wow Molly! What a great testimony. It is a powerful illustration of what Fee is talking about here. I have close friends who are from very conservative Baptist background that share some of your experiences and are on a similar journey. Thanks for sharing this.

Dana Ames

Fee's point of view is where I arrived this morning after the sometimes tedious and tiring engagement at Scot McKnight's - what a breath of fresh air. Those who believe God can't work in any other way but through hierarchy are only being consistent in maintaining women's subordination. There are so many good and beautiful aspects of spirituality and theology that have come from the RC/EO church traditions. From my point of view, the insistance on hierarchy that I fail to see Jesus or Paul constituting in the NT casts a pall over all that I find attractive in those traditions. Thanks for your clear and measured input over at JesusCreed, Michael.

Thanks to you too, Molly. You're where I was, although not in such a tight system, for about 15 years. I haven't been there for a long time, but my husband is still wandering in those circles.


Michael Kruse

As an INTJ I am the first to admit that I am often tone deaf to the emotional signals I give off and people sending me. But I am equally aware that isn't always me with the problem. :) Thanks for your feedback about my comments.

"There are so many good and beautiful aspects of spirituality and theology that have come from the RC/EO church traditions. From my point of view, the insistance on hierarchy that I fail to see Jesus or Paul constituting in the NT casts a pall over all that I find attractive in those traditions."

Me too. I really like the final paragraph I quoted from Fee.


My husband is the INTJ in our home (and I'm the ENTP that he can't ever fit into a box, poor guy). :)

Dana, in a big way my husband is still there, too, in that he would have prefered to stay in a patriarchal framework, and it really is only my fault that we're not. I have told him that I will happily go back, when I am sure it's God's desire/will/plan, but until then, have asked for grace to question and search.

Our marriage has been very difficult through these changes, I won't lie. It is very hard, I think especially for the patriarch, because in a huge sense, your manhood is defined by whether or not your wife is obedient to you.

I, personally, was so angry at him at first for how patriarchy has crushed and drained me...until the Spirit reminded me that it wasn't just *him* doing it to me, but that I, too, was decieved---I, too, chose that path as God's intention for us.

And am learning to have more patience and to be merciful to him. He changes slowly whereas I'm a quick leaper (together we have a good balance).

And, I also need to accept that he may not ever change. He may always feel that the Bible supports patriarchy, that the Bible supports male covenental headship. And I am going to have to live with that.

How do I love in that setting? How do I love and honor him...CAN we love and honor eachother with a huge difference of opinion in this matter?

I think the answer is yes. The church itself, for example, will never agree on all the particulars, but can we be known for our love, for our unity, while at the same time allowing for diversity? The answer is YES. I think we're *supposed* to be able to, anyways. Whether or not we will is another question altogether. :)

So I feel that way on a personal level... It would be so much easier if we could just see eye to eye...if I wasn't on this journey by myself. But I see this road (of doing it alone) as having great value, too. Can I love him? Can I honor and esteem him? I did it before because it was my place---because I was in subjection. Can I do it now for a higher reason---because I am called to love my neighbor, because the Love of God compells me to think outwardly instead of inwardly, because I am called as a Christian to love my brother as myself, to prefer him above myself?

Some days Jesus flat out rocks (in me) and I love and offer grace. Some days I am selfish and want to "love" only when everything is perfect and all my own *needs* are met, only when *he* gets it right, only when...

But I am learning! And so is my husband. We are learning to love in a whole new way. Because he's having to face the fact that *I* may never agree with the form of patriarchy we adopted, too...he's having to deal with the fact that we may never see eye to eye here. He's having to learn to love, also.

Love is the hardest thing I've ever done, I'll admit that, and is demanding more from me than any of the rules and codes and lists ever did. It is the only thing that requires Another to do it in/through me. I cannot do this "rule." I am powerless in and of myself. I hate that...and yet I also know it's the best place to be in the world... :)


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