Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

Posts tagged ‘gospel’

Salvation is a BIG, multi-faceted, all-including, relational story (with some social justice and revolution included)

I have heard evangelicals say that Christians should focus on the gospel – other concerns should be forgotten for the sake of the gospel. Others say the church should focus on both the gospel message and Christian actions like feeding the hungry, helping the abused, etc.

What if the gospel looks different from what we have been taught? If they are both right about a single-minded gospel focus, and about helping those who need it? What if the gospel actually includes, among others, feeding the hungry and helping the abused?

gospelasusualAs a young evangelical, I attended classes where I learned to “witness.” What that actually means, is that I was taught a formula to repeat to others:

1) God made you perfect

2) You sinned – it messed up your relationship with God and you should be punished.

3) Jesus was punished in your place

4) Accept Jesus so you won’t be punished, but go to heaven instead.


I don’t disagree with any word in that. But the fallen nature of man don’t just mean that I do wrong in God’s eyes, and need to be forgiven.

It also means that others are doing wrong against me, and I need a God who promises to dry every tear.

It means that I do wrong against others, and I need a God that can change me from the inside.

It means that the earth is full of pain and problems – illness, natural disasters, human error, even when no direct sin is involved, and the earth is waiting for salvation too.

As such, I propose a gospel that looks more like this:

big_gospel11) Instead of “God made you perfect”, “God made everyone and everything perfect”.

God had a whole creation to relate to, but it seems only one class of being – humanity – could love God back.

2) Instead of “you sinned – it messed up your relationship with God” “Everyone sinned. It messed up everything.”


big_gospel2Sin messed up your relationship with God. It messed up other people’s relationships with God. (The red wavy line in the picture stands for a messed-up relationship.)

It also messed up relationships between each other: Your sin influences your relationships, and other people’s sin against you influences your relationships – firstly relationships with the person whom you sinned against/ who sinned against you, and indirectly messing with other relationships.

Other people’s sin against you causes you pain and tears. Your sin against others causes them pain and tears. (Divorce, arguments, unfaithfulness, back-stabbing, rape, murder, assault…)

Sin (both of others and yourself) damages even your relationship with yourself. It could lead to self-hate and self-harming, suicide, or simply no desire to take care of the self.

Sin indirectly causes even the planet to be cursed. (“Thorns and thistles”, droughts and floods, ilness, pollution…)

Then, God stepped in, in the form of Jesus, to solve the problem which causes so much unhappiness.


3) Instead of “Jesus was punished for your sin”, “Jesus came to solve the whole sin problem.” (Not just yours, not only on the cross.)big_gospel3

Your relationship with God? You can be forgiven. Your relationship with others? Jesus can make you new, and them new, so you and them can stop hurting one another. Jesus can heal your pain and hate and self-hate.

Even our planet itself is eager to see the revealing of the children of God. (Rom 8:19)

“Let your will come on earth as in heaven” is about God – and us working with God – solving not only the sin problem but all the tears and brokenness caused by it.


4) Accept Jesus, because his plan is good and right and saves from the effects of sin, creating a world where God (who is the Good, the Wise, who is Love personified) is in all. (1 Cor 15:28)

big_gospel4Jesus came not only to take the punishment and forgive sin (2Cor 5:21; 1Jn 1:9), but also:

> To proclaim that his kingdom should come on earth (Lk 10:9 & 11:2) and within us.(Lk 17:20-21)

> To set an example of the kind of life we should live. (Heb 12:3; 1 Jn 2:6)

> To make right our relationship with Him. (Eph 2:18; Col 1:21)

> To make people new from the inside, so they can participate in His justice, mercy, and healing.(2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:10)

> To beat death – to die and come back to live Himself, to beat Satan by that. (Heb 2:14-15; 1Jn 3:8b)

> To make the whole earth new. (Rom 8:19, Col 1:20)

> To wipe every tear, to bring healing. (Lk 4:18; Rev 21:4)

There are certainly some more, but this is enough to get the picture that the gospel has real-world implications:

If God wants and enables you – with the forgiveness and healing of Jesus – to live right and bring healing, it means you will help those who were treated badly. The gospel tells you how to treat the hungry, the marginalized, the person who is bossed around because she is a woman, the poor person who needs medical help, the environment, the immigrant, the criminal who needs a second chance, the person who never had a first chance. It tells you how to think about racism, sexism and ableism.

Pure religion is “helping widows and orphans and keeping pure” (Jas 1:27), in the power of Christ. Social justice is not an add-on after you got the gospel right: It is part of the gospel. The gospel is not only about repairing your relationship with God, but also repairing relationship between yourself and others, people and the earth, other people to one another and God. It is about establishing God’s kingdom of justice and mercy on earth, as it is in heaven.

It is being plugged in to the God who is justice and love and truth – with the justice and love and truth overflowing to others and to the world. Conversion is not saying a rote prayer, but aligning your will and plans with the One who is bringing this great kingdom.






Why Biblical Womanhood theology is even worse news for single women than for married women

Biblical™ Womanhood theology, if consistently applied, is worse news for widowed women, divorced women, not-married(-yet) women, and girls of all ages, than it is for married women.

The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood does not officially say women should live with male relatives, not go to college, not work outside the home, and not be independent. But they are – I will motivate my accusation just now – on a road that logically lead towards the views, by Biblical™ Patriarchy supporters, that I will quote here*:

And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?” – Brian Abshire, quoted from now-deleted material at the Vision Forum ministries website.

Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner believe parents should not raise daughters who are going to compete with men in the marketplace,” but should train their daughters to be “a woman who will be a helpmeet to a man so he can compete in the marketplace.” They speak out against female independence.* (more…)

Paul envisioned complementarian marriages in Ephesians 5 (Part 2)

Part 1 showed how a 1st Century husband could picture Christ, and a possible reason why the Bible asked Christ-like behaviour of husbands in particular here, while elsewhere all Christians are called to act Christ-like.

The same way the Bible calls everyone to be Christ-like but repeats it to the one who is, like Jesus, in the stronger position, the Bible asks all believers to submit to one another, but in Ephesians 5 repeats it to the wife: “Submit as to the Lord.”

How do we submit to the Lord? We love Him (and submit to Him) because He loved us first. Submitting to the Lord is never about fulfilling Jesus’ selfish desires or ego trips, because Jesus is not selfish. It is about learning from the one who knows best, and living by that knowledge. It is about accepting the glorious riches of heaven that Jesus shares freely. It is about doing the same things Jesus did, and even greater things. (John 14:12) “The same things Jesus did and even greater things” doesn’t sound like gender roles at all!

We saw how the red and blue lines do pretty much the same thing in the second picture as in the Gospel picture. The difference is that the start of the male/ female picture was equality (we do not have that with God), and a total restoration to what God created us to be would also be equality.

Can complementarians today fulfil the gospel picture? Here is a picture of what happens when you impose complementarianism on today’s society:

Does this spell gospel 3

1) Eve was made as an equal to Adam, and the first picture is of equality. 2) In modern Western society, men and women have basically equal rights before the law and equal opportunities. (There are still problems, reasons why feminists rightly complain, but the big picture is one of roundabout equal rights.) (3) Complementarians impose hierarchy and gendered responsibilities on two people with equal opportunities and gifts. Instead of moving them closer together, it moves one person who don’t have more rights (thus no more ability to get legal protection for them both) or wisdom or perhaps even money above another, and turns him into the leader seemingly simply because he has the right genitalia.

Does this look at all like the gospel? To me, it doesn’t. I think modern day Christians can learn from Jesus and the church in Ephesians 5:

When one party has way more of the good stuff (opportunities/ property/rights) than the other party, it seems the Bible suggests a “complementarian” relationship whereby the one with more helps to lift up the one with less, and the lower has the responsibility to learn to use good things wisely (submit to the teaching and discipline needed to handle the good things). But this complementarian relationship does not suggest eternally separate roles, but the lower one becoming more like the higher one.

Of course, this passage does have applications for modern cultures, where a woman can be as likely as the man to be the one with more (knowledge, education, wisdom, opportunity or whatever good thing): Use whatever  you have more of for the benefit of both you and your spouse, lifting him/ her out of their bad situation.  When your spouse is the one who has more, work along with him/her, learning to use the good thing wisely.

Paul envisioned complementarian marriages in Ephesians 5 (Part 1)

My egal friends may shoot me for this, but I am 100% sure Paul envisioned complementarian marriages in Ephesians 5.

But, please do not quote- or argue with – that statement without the rest of this article. (more…)

Gospel marriage – Stop selling the gospel short!

Suppose, for a moment, that you saved me from a horrible fire when I was a little girl. I escaped unharmed, but you almost paid with your live and have horrible burn scars.

Assume, now, that a few business owners say they want to celebrate you and your great sacrifice, and celebrate [fill in your name] principles at work. You were friendly when you saved me, and they will celebrate by being friendly with their workers. And just like I should be very grateful for your great sacrifice, the workers should celebrate [fill in your name] principles by acting very grateful – they should willingly work overtime at short notice, accept low pay, obey all commands immediately…

Will you think these employers are celebrating you, or that they are trying to pull a fast one on the workers? (more…)

Just a coincidence?

When reviewing one of my older posts (which disagrees with a Mary Kassian idea that sex symbolize our unity with God), I found this sentence again:

Believing that sex is the main way people can understand the gospel, would lead to one of two ways of treating children: You could either get to the conclusion that the gospel is not meant for children, or that sex and marriage is meant for them.

“Biblical” patriarchy supporters  promote several books (To train up a child; Child Training tips) that imply the spirit of God cannot work in children to teach them to act right, out of love for Jesus – you have to install obedience by beating them the moment they disobey. This, insists their child raising books, readies them to obey God without your help one day when they are adults. The gospel of God’s love and mercy is seemingly not for their children.

They also believe in marrying very young if possible.  Marriage is, in their view, for the very young who never experienced decision-making apart from their parents.

I never heard one of them say sex symbolize our unity with God, but they do believe in the “man symbolize Christ, woman symbolize the church” idea, which is the logical predecessor to “sex symbolizes our unity with God”.

Coincidence – or is it?

What gospel is reflected in your marriage?

NN made this comment on Cheryl Schaltz’s blog:

…let us not forget the metaphor which God has used to express this truth [of the husband as Lord, king and master like God]. Marriage. For as God’s metaphor our marriages are supposed to reflect this truth; to ourselves, to each other, and to those around us.

Later he elaborates:

A shorthand expression which has stuck with me describing this is “Man cannot shut up about the gospel – He may be telling the truth about Jesus or telling a lie about Jesus but he is always, always talking about Jesus.”

I would agree with NN that we are witnessing for Jesus, so we should think about the message we send. This is what I answered:

NN, you say people should reflect the gospel in their marriages? For the sake of this argument, I’ll assume you are right about that.
By that view, if a wife obeys a simple selfish demand (For example, “Make me a sandwich, now”, when both are equally busy with something else*) it shows the world that Christ is selfish and we Christians are just giving in to God’s egotism. When, as patriarchal teachers recommend, a wife submits to the point of death to an abusive husband and don’t ask the help of the police, she teach a gospel, according to you. That gospel would be: Christ destroys your life, and Christians are really suckers for punishment to listen to him when they could be saved from this tyrant.
Would you agree that, to reflect the gospel, women have to respond to good things the man gives? When he don’t give good things, she cannot respond as to Christ? Because the gospel include that we love Christ because He first loved us, that we know that what He asks now is right and wise, and therefore we can do it.
For that reason, I believe wifes who submit in areas where husbands are wrong or selfish, are presenting a distorted gospel. She should rather help him to overcome his flaws, as his helpmeet.

We, in modern culture, teach a terrible message when women’s submission is emphasized: Rightly or wrongly, we send a message of God having unjust and arbitrary rules. Complementarian men often give the world the impression of selfishness (they support what works for them). Comp or egal, we should think really hard about the gospel we portray to the outside world.



* About the sandwich example: The circumstance and dynamic of every situation is different, and I can, of course, think of many situations in which it will be good and right to just make that sandwich without thinking again of it, through situations where it will be wise to mention his minor self-centredness, up to situations where she will edify him best by simply saying “go do it yourself.” This is a tiny issue, but an unbelieving observer may get a distorted gospel even from such a minor exchange.

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