Worthy comments (that might not be worth mentioning)

Here are my promised thoughts regarding the book Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women. I’d really like to know if you’ve read it or plan to. It’s appropriate that this post is on Independence Day because my word for 2022 is “Free.” I’m so thankful for God’s intent to set the captives free. Books like this can be instrumental.

While the book isn’t specifically geared to married women, the authors highlight that God is the “helper” to Israel. I was aware of the comparison of woman as a helper for man to the Holy Spirit as a helper for the Church from a premarital discipleship resource. It’s one image of Christ that a married couple represents. The book made me ponder it a bit more because they emphasized God as a helper also. I saw submitting to your husband as true power under restraint. I pictured the meekness of Christ willingly submitted to the cross even though he could have called 10,000 angels, etc. It made me a little more honored to be part of the framework of human authority.

Granted, my husband never makes life-altering decisions without me. He seeks my counsel, and if there’s something important to me, he wants to love me. So it isn’t that difficult in my situation. (We might have to hash it out for a while if our desires conflict.) I laugh at men who insist they are the leader—they are in charge—and don’t take into consideration their wife’s needs, desires, ministries or counsel. That man arrogantly wastes his assets, like an insecure or moronic boss.

Some men love to be in charge of their wives

I have minimal to say about the scene with Saeed Abedini, but I also don’t think it’s wise to hope it’ll go away just because it’s an embarrassment when Christians entangle in messes like everyone else. Since I blogged about him several times while he was in prison (his wife was from my home church), prayed and wept over his plight—I feel like his recent quote is a an appropriate example for me to use. Saeed said, “The Bible says, the man is the head of family,” and “I am not the woman in the family.” I’m sure there’s more involved besides police records in this (or any other) situation than we’ll ever read, so maybe (and unfortunately) we shouldn’t break our neck every time a finger points in a new direction. But Naghmeh’s quote in the article “I would pray, ‘God, do you want me to submit [to my husband] more?’” is a perfect example of how humans try to apply the word submit. And how when we get it wrong, it ruins.

That is simply not how the Holy Spirit relates to us, or how God helps Israel. It is not the profound mystery of us submitting to each other. It is not submission with dignity as a joint heir. It’s a man taking what he thinks is the benefit of being in charge without the consequences of sacrificial love.

I definitely appreciate the book calling out congregations and pastoral staff who say subtly (or overtly) that women need to follow in quiet submission when the husband is abusive or sinful. As though it’s God’s will for a man to continue in sin. I mean, let’s not diminish the worthiness of men here.

Another Worthy (book) thought

I’d already been challenging the Billy Graham rule about never being behind a closed door with the opposite sex since I listened to a podcast with Elyse Fitzpatrick and learned how the rule affects women, especially those in academia. I cut my teeth on the belief that men needed a separate place to go—a men’s club where they could be themselves without the burdens of polite society and it was rude for women to want equal access. Men need to conduct exclusive business, start wars, and have locker room banter. (Don’t get me wrong, I love women-only interactions and think they are necessary for my sanity.) But misuse of the Billy Graham rule can be just another men’s club shielded in excuse. Notice how I say misuse.

Incidentally, my wording is not the exact rule—just what I’d always believed. When I looked it up, Billy Graham said he did not “travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than his wife.” Of course, church culture took it to the fringe and questioned friendship with the opposite sex. I don’t think of it as a good-and-standard-rule-in-all-situations anymore. It gave me another “worthy laugh” to think that I once believed it was OK to consider women “temptations to be avoided” because men can’t get their lust dealt with and women just can’t stop being objects of desire.

Those were just a few thoughts that set the stage before the authors addressed a woman’s worth and the “lie that the Lord prefers men.” I loved reading that that belief is a lie, because I mentioned it my introductory post as something I had to overcome.

Women aren’t second choice

In the history chapter, I appreciated,

“Please don’t assume that the Lord only uses women as judgement because men won’t step up,”

because that’s another thing I assumed and mentioned in my introduction post. The quote continues with one of my favorite lines:

“Consider that maybe he’s using us because that’s been his plan from the beginning and he loves using women, especially those who don’t quite fit the mold.”

Thinking about how God wants and uses men and women who don’t fit society and church-culture molds resonates in my heart.

Quiet and gentle spirit, not mouth

The authors used great examples of women disobeying society and furthering God’s plan. (Think of Tamar tricking her father-in-law into having sex, and him trying to stone her, but then acknowledging she was righteous.)

As a young girl, I remember feeling vaguely uncomfortable reading the bumper sticker “Well behaved women rarely make history,” because I assumed it was probably better as a Christian girl to be well behaved than to make history. I know better now. I stumbled across Dorothea Dix when I was researching Dance of the Crane. Before women could vote she exposed and advocated against the inhumane cells where mentally ill were literally chained to the wall during her “lunacy reform.” Significant change almost exclusively comes through men and women who unsettle the world and misbehave.

Somehow, I thought godliness was always submitting quietly. So the authors struck another chord when they wrote,

“The biblical femininity movement may have done some good… But in trying to militate against radical feminism, it has gone too far and stopped many women from pursuing their callings…”

I know how the “biblical” masculinity movement affected men who didn’t want to hunt and carve stuff with knives. Femininity movement, masculinity movement, purity movement—maybe we should concentrate on bowel movements in the future.

A woman’s worth is not tied to being nubile

I also hate the subtle (or overt) idea that a wife’s job to protect her husband from temptation means she needs to be sexy, slim and willing. And a girl’s job to protect her brothers in Christ is to hide those things.

I realize now how integral the theme of a woman’s value has been in all my fiction writing. The above thinking contributed to why I wrote Sovereign Ground. Eons ago, I kept hearing about the poor men and boys falling for the schemes of the enemy in the newly accessible porn culture of the Internet, but I privately wondered about the girls trapped on the other side of the camera. When we prayed for the men in church, it was almost as if we only prayed for their protection from the adulterous women of Proverbs—never for the broken sisters and daughters taking the pictures. After I wrote SG, I started to discover how many ex-dancers sit in the pews—too ashamed to admit their past, like it’s somehow worse than the ones who look at it. Because men just can’t get that lust thing dealt with…it’s the way they’re made.

I haven’t touched on a fraction of my thoughts, but I won’t keep going because of length. You can see how much there is to talk about in the book, though, and I suspect you’ll see references to themes in the future. The most impactful thing is that just because devaluing women (or anyone) is found all over time, all over the world—it isn’t what God intended when he created male and female in his image. And based on the way Christ interacted with women, it is another thing he came to fix when he brought his kingdom to earth. We should see the revolution in the church first.

3 thoughts on “Worthy comments (that might not be worth mentioning)

  1. Heather says:

    I found all your comments worthy of mention. I had started the book and was enjoying it. I got distracted and quite frankly forgot to finish it but now I’m eager to. P.S. Gut health is important! Maybe a focus on bowel movements would be good! 😅

  2. Angela says:

    Wow. I’m really looking forward to reading that when I return. Jesus did push the cultural boundaries regarding women. I love that he did that. And that he used them in integral ways to fulfill his plan. The church has gotten squirly throughout time dealing with women and men roles. Gods plan is outside culture. But, we as humans can only interpret within our cultural lense. Hence the squirliness. I love your thoughts. Lots to chew on.

  3. Letty says:

    “The most impactful thing is that just because devaluing women (or anyone) is found all over time, all over the world—it isn’t what God intended when he created male and female in his image.”

    What a great reminder, Jesus gave us a great example with the woman at the well – his interaction was with dignity and respect, even if at the time society shunned women in her case. He was our greatest teacher 💗

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