Coming Out – Rethinking The Norms

REPOST FROM 2012 UPDATED

I hope that this title drew you to see what my “coming out” is all about.  I’m wondering how many people made certain assumptions without reading the article. If you are this far into it, let me assure you this has  has everything to do with my belief system and core values based upon the Word of God.  This article comes out of thirty-five years of walking with Christ.  The last fifteen years especially have had tremendous impact on the growth I’ve experienced.  It’s time to write, to publish.  Why you ask? Because there is so much to say.

I dreamed of this day.  I’ve wrestled fear and labored with sleepless nights.  Emotionally, it finally came and like Neo in the Matrix, I took the red pill. Once I began the journey out of the systemized menagerie of the learned religious experience, a whole new world opened up to me.  — Like Neo I am experiencing some challenging, life altering awakenings.

Let me say right here that I am not, Emergent, Seeker Sensitive, or Liberal.  I am a born again, Spirit filled, believer and I am deeply committed to Christ.  A lover of truth, I am passionate about the health of God’s Church, His body, His living people.  I am ready to engage in this dialogue.  It is important, it is necessary. “God, give me courage and grace, because it is enough, and though I’m week, YOU ARE STRONG”. (2 Cor. 12:9)   “I need You Lord, empower me to stand strong in YOU, because I know religious intimidation is about to come”.

This is the first of a series of articles and I’m coming out for the one I love the most.  My precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  He alone is worthy of all my praise, undivided attention, and adoration.  I believe the scriptures in the original languages are the correct Word of God.  All the other books we have are translations.  Reading these translations alone is not enough and it’s proven that when taken literally, things get twisted.  I’ve come to love Exegesis, (reading them in their own time removing myself from the picture and allow the author’s true meaning to shine through) because exegesis reading has changed my Bible reading.  This has caused my understanding to change too.

I am a believer, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a pastor, a mentor and I belong to a large body made up of many nations of people called ‘The Body of Christ.’  I was an alcoholic in my early 20’s when I came to know Christ in a very powerful and personal way.  I have no doubt that I would have died young had I not believed the message of the Cross.   Where would I be had I not received the King with His glorious Kingdom into my life.  I’ve tried blogging, but writing is not easy for me.  However, I know I need to break into this “Online Community” and engage in conversations that are very important to the life of the Church.  I believe God wants us to dialog because no one has ALL THE TRUTH, we really need each other.

Truth be told —I HATE, HATE, HATE conflict.  I am not a type A personality, I don’t like to push or drive people to do things.  It’s particularly hard to get them to do it “MY WAY”.  I am a team player and love to see the group as a whole function in harmony.  That is so fulfilling to me.  So, because of this, it is difficult for me to demand and push people.  I find that pushy people are often self-absorbed.  More of a broadcast system than listeners or friends.  I know that there is a place for this in life and within organizations, it’s just not something I am comfortable with.  This doesn’t disqualify me as a leader, no it causes me to dig deep and rely on God’s Spirit to stand strong in difficult situations, that’s all.

There is a problem in leadership throughout the Body of Christ.  It is “narcissism”.   —A narcissist uses people for their advantage.   Unfortunately this has been how leadership relates to people often.  Their vision and goal, and their needs and wants,  supersedes all others.   Often it involves coercion through guilt, bullying and manipulation of some kind.  In fact this has been my experience in ministry at least half the time— “being bullied into something”.  However, there is this thing on the inside of me that won’t let me surrender to  “the things as they are” culture when I can see they’re not right.  I love it when the underdog succeeds.  I want to see the marginalized used and grow.   I believe this is God’s heart because Jesus clearly reveals this to us … Which brings me back to the title point.

I’ve been through many things over these last thirty-five years.  I am a bible school graduate.  I have been in ministry full-time on and off over the last twenty years.  Five of those years I was a regular bible teacher in an established Bible Institute in Central America.  It was there that I actually began to search the scriptures in a much deeper, historical way.  I began asking important questions about things which I had been taught.  I also had many questions about how the inner workings of ministry really should work.  (Frankly, because what I was experiencing was so contrary to many of the teachings of Christ).  As I dove deeper into Paul, and other writers of the New Testament letters, I found many contradictions.  My questions arose especially on teachings about Authority and Submission.  Also, on the topic of Women in Ministry, and rules for the home.  I observed many women who had very abusive husbands, and one by one be turned away from the church.  Why?  because we were powerless.  This inability comes from doctrinal beliefs on men’s roles in marriage, and it really caused me to pause and ask  —  “Lord, is this really the truth, you are only pleased if they submit and obey?”  These questions lead to study and much to my surprise, things aren’t as simple, or as obvious as we’ve been made to believe.  The Greek reads differently than my English version.  So a new life opened up to me.  A life of theological study and higher learning.  It was tough going in the beginning, but I pressed through.  Thousands of hours later, here’s my conclusion…

I repent —I repent (turn away from and go in the opposite direction of) leading people in the culture and structure that creates a double standard.  One for leadership and another for those considered to be layman.  These leadership teachings create a double standard system that follows the world’s way of leadership which is opposite to the leadership of Christ.  If we look at the teachings of Jesus and Paul with exegesis eyes, we’ll see contradictions, and note there is an error being taught.  This error is creating an elitist group of people who abuse ‘POWER OVER’ God’s people to promote their own visions and agendas.  Power and control is more important than humility and sacrificial love.  When held up to the scriptures it falls short and is nothing more than the Shepherding error of the 70’s and early 80’s gone to seed. The scriptures teach true relationship and accountability, but there is no place for narcissistic, arrogant, nepotism in the body.  I am standing up against what I see is a dangerous ideology.  To be a leader in Christ I am required to be a servant.  Not just to him, but to all.

I have changed my mind on a number of teachings on Authority and Submission.

I have also studied at length about the gender issues that envelope the denominations. Because of this study I am persuaded in the egalitarian point of view in interpreting the scriptures.  I go to Central America every year to teach a class on Women in Ministry.  I have taught this since 2002 and I have discovered through better exegesis that the text doesn’t really say what I thought it did .  I have seen first hand the subjugation of women and girls simply because of gender.  In fact the scriptures being  used to support male governing over women come out of Gen 3:16.  However, Genesis 3:16 is the effect of the fall of humanity.  A closer look gives light to this fact.  Also, Romans 5 leads us to understand that Christ has redeemed us from the power of the curse and it’s effect over humanity.  So, it is important to ask the right questions when studying the texts that speak about women.  When we see tension and contradiction in scripture, we have to look closer.  This class has changed my life completely.  Thirteen years of study on this topic, weighing both sides carefully, is how I’ve come to my conclusions.

Also, the question “Who is the Church?”  I think we have missed some important insight from Paul.  An exegetical study of Ephesians helps us to understand that the Holy Spirit’s gifting in the body might not be so dogmatic or divided (average person and clergy).  We’ve gotten it wrong here when we believe that leadership is the most important part.  The body of Christ is the Church.  Every member is equally important to God and should be to each other.  I truly believe that these gifts are more functional than positional, and that’s where the enemy works most with pride and deception.

One last thing, —“IMAGE IS EVERYTHING”— I believe this does not promote the Love of God, or lead people into peace.  It creates schisms, pride, and clicks.  It empowers others-over-others,  not submission one to another.  It promotes a system of peer pressure and performance based actions to which we get in or out.  The question is, “why do we go to the world to learn how to LOVE AS CHRIST LOVES”?  He is nothing like the world’s system.  No matter how prolific or polished we are, SELFLESSNESS is still the test of God’s love.  Humility is not something that we can fake for too long.  Our character comes forward and people can see it. —Thank God for His Grace, we are a work in process all the way.  BUT, it’s wrong for leaders to have a double standard.  We are to denounce the works of the flesh, the carnal nature, and be transformed by the Spirit’s life.

This DOUBLE STANDARD is the key issue.  When the church becomes a club, as the Apostle Paul corrects in his letter to the Corinthians, he calls those who are in that state “BABIES IN NEED OF MILK.”

Over the last decade I have been on a journey with the one who has rescued my soul from the disease of pride —A sickness that effects everyone around them but the one who has it.  

Through a very difficult time in life, I came to understand clearly how important humility is.  In fact through the valley and wilderness the key lesson almost everyday was “Humility, The Missing ingredient.”  I was born again, again.  I never want to go back to the world I came out of.  The past is behind.  The future is forward motion… I live in Freedom and true liberty in Christ.

Finally, my prayer and dedication:

“In the wilderness I met you beautiful Lamb of God, the True and Living Christ, who delivered me out of deep and gross darkness.  You established my life again and you are leading me.  You are the Good Shepherd who lays down your life for the sheep.  Oh, my soul delights in you Oh My God, My King!!  When everyone else turned away Lord, YOU WERE THERE!  I LOVE YOU! It has been the most incredible journey into the heart of God.  Thank you for loving me so much Lord, and leading me in to the secret place where your love grows stronger… Purified, tested and tried by fire.  It’s precious to me.”

Thanks for reading, it’s simply a cry from within my heart to see the broken lifted, the pure in heart encouraged and God’s Love prevail in His Church! To know you, and the depth of your Mercy and Grace… Come Lord Jesus, Come!

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