Thursday, August 23, 2012

Legalism Loopholes

My Worship Arts Director/Pastor, Bryan, has invited me to share with our worship band prior to our rehearsal tonight.  My first reaction was to say, "No," because of my legalistic upbringing in a strict Baptist church.  Growing up in this church, I was taught that women should never speak over men due to the 1 Timothy 2:12 verse that states, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."  In this verse contextually, Paul is writing to Timothy and giving him suggestions and instructions on worship and how the church should function.  Therefore, I grew up thinking that women should not be in positions of great authority in the church (where they are, in essence, "over men"), or placed in situations where they are, "teaching men."  I still believe this is a good instruction given by Paul, and that there are reasons for it (which if I shared here would be an entire blog post in and of itself).  Suffice it to say, I don't think anything in God's Word should be changed, altered, adjusted, or disregarded to suit the current times in which we live.  God's Word never changes and neither does He (Malachi 3:6).

This verse (and my legalistic upbringing) also posed a real problem for me when I was asked to begin leading worship for my church (not just singing, but leading) over a year ago.  I had to be counseled and instructed by the male leaders in my church, who were training and encouraging me to lead, to view this verse more accurately and differently than I had from my legalistic upbringing. Since I just sing, pray, and MC a little for the services at church when I lead worship, and I'm not actually "teaching" or "showing authority" over men, they told me I am not insulting God by my leadership in this way.  So in essence, since I was being told by male leaders that this is how I should view this verse, I have decided it is okay with God (I am submitting to the male authorities over ME).  It is an odd thing for an independent woman such as me to be this submissive on a topic like this, and perhaps it even seems silly to some.  But when it comes to pleasing God, and especially for leadership roles that I am given in my church, I don't want to fail or compromise anything in God's Word--no matter how badly I desire to be in the role I'm offered.  It is a serious thing to me to please God, obey Him, and make sure I am walking exactly how He desires in whatever opportunities and ministries He chooses to hand me.

So in praying about this invitation to "share" tonight, and in getting the opinions and counsel of my husband and my Worship Pastor, Bryan, I have decided to say, "Yes."  In Bryan's words, I will be "sharing," not "teaching."  I will make sure to throw the disclaimer out tonight to the men in the group that my purpose is just that--to share from my heart, not to instruct.  Beth Moore, an incredibly successful and popular Bible speaker, author, and teacher from Texas, always tosses out this same disclaimer in her classes that are always geared toward women, but in which many men attend (she is such an awesome teacher that the men want to be in her class)!  I have always respected and valued the way she handles that situation.  I think it is very important to be sensitive to this and respectful of it.  God states clearly in His Word that women are the "weaker vessel" and that men are to be the leaders--gentle, LOVING leaders that is (1 Peter 3:7).  I do not believe this is meant to be a stifling position for women, one in which they are viewed as LESS than men, and certainly not one in which they are ever abused, looked down upon, or mistreated by men.  In fact, Jesus was one of the biggest liberators of women of all time--He (God) even came to earth via a woman, and no man was needed to bring Him here (hence, the immaculate conception).  I just think that God is saying that there are different roles and expectations to which He has given both genders due to their unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Namely, these roles and special positions are important in marriage and in the church (which makes sense, since marriage is a picture of the relationship of Christ and the church, according to God's Word in Ephesians 5).  When those roles and positions get confused or the lines blur, there are consequences that are less than desirable (again, a blog post for another day--in fact, I could write several blogs on legalism, too, and probably will eventually).  But confusion due to mixed-up purposes and roles is not God's design or intention.  He is a God of order, and He has special guidelines and individual purposes for each of us--and some are gender specific.  I want to make sure I am always respectful of that and of His wishes.  The Bible says that ALL Scripture is profitable and God-breathed, (2 Tim. 3:16), so picking out verses I dislike or ordering up my religion how I want it to be is not allowed or appropriate--in fact, it is blasphemy according to His Word.  Many people do this today for many reasons.  But in my opinion, we either believe God's entire Word and try to live by it, or we don't.

But I am looking forward to sharing this evening with my fellow worship leaders and musicians.  They are an incredible bunch of people and have blessed my life more than they know.  We always all go out to dinner after practice together and I look so forward to the fellowship and fun that ensues.  They have shared so much with me and in sharing their gifts and talents with the Lord even more.  Though it invokes some fear and trepidation in me to share with them tonight, I am happy to give back to those who have blessed me so much.  I have much to learn from each of them!  I pray that I am able to share whatever God lays on my heart for tonight, and that I please Him in so doing.