I had another night with Danny and Sherri Silk tonight. Danny has to be one of my favorite teachers. He has such a way of keeping heavy subjects light, and intertwining wisdom with humor. I found myself laughing a lot tonight, yet aw were talking about a very touchy subject in many churches. The overall topic was on a Culture of Honor, but he started out talking about how the church in general oppresses women. I totally agreed with everything he said, although many would have disagreement with his teaching. Sherri has just been promoted to family life pastor at Bethel Redding. That makes her the first woman in that high of a position on the staff. I’m excited for her and I pray that this is just the first step in women taking an equal place with men in leadership.
Maybe it’s because I have two daughters and four granddaughters. Or maybe it was because I was married to a very strong woman in Julia, but over the years my opinion of a woman’s role in the church has shifted. Why should the church be one of the main oppressors of women? I’m not a theologian, but I feel like I do hear God. Of course there are scriptures telling women to stay silent, covered and all that. But there are also scriptures telling slaves to obey their master and to submit to slavery. There are also scriptures saying their is neither Jew nor Greek, MALE nor FEMALE. So take you pick. Jesus attacked sin and disease, Paul went after racism (Jew vs Gentile) isn’t it time we give freedom and honor to women?
Tonight’s talk was much more than just about women however. Danny talked at great length about our propensity to try to live out the New Testament using Old Testament priorities. Obey the rules or get punished. Protect the rules. Break the rules, and we break you. Order and conformity are the core values. You break the rules; you lose. (old testament). How many times have I done that? How many times did I teach my children that? The truth is there is no punisher in the New Testament.
Once again he talked about the woman caught in adultery. The Law was clear: stone her. The Pharisees knew that Jesus had the same law that they did, so they told him to sentence her. He told the man without sin to cast the first stone. They all left. The woman looked at Jesus and he asked her where were her accusers. She said that they had all gone. Then He said that He wouldn’t punish her, for her to go and sin no more. Jesus was the only one who could legally punisher. He was without sin, but He chose not to. In the New Testament it’s not about breaking the rules and being punished. It’s all about love and relationship.
There is no punishment in love. Punishment does not restore relationship. It’s not part of the New Testament. But it is a culture that we live in. It is the practice of dishonor. Love and fear are mortal enemies. Perfect love cast out fear. Fear of punishment works, but it is not Kingdom. The Kingdom of God brings freedom. It’s how we walk out that freedom in relationship with him. Fear and love cannot exist together. We have taught the world well. In a USA Today poll, only 25% thought that God was benevolent (good). Where did they learn this? Sadly, from the church. But it’s our job to confront and change this.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about and digest tonight. Tomorrow we get more. It is a rich time, and I am so blessed to be in a school like this.