Abortion is Wrong…but What About…?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

 

“I would never get an abortion myself because I couldn’t do it. But I can’t judge what another woman decides to do.”

As I listened to a brief YouTube interview that a celebrity political conservative had with a UCLA student, I remembered myself in college, touting a similar message. When I was younger, I agreed with the woman in the video that I wouldn’t want to have an abortion. In my logic, abortion was ending the life of a child in its mother’s womb, since I believed that the fetus was a viable human life. But I wasn’t ready to account for abortion as murder and felt scared to make the judgment call on another woman’s case, especially since I didn’t know her circumstances. I felt like I did not have enough information, whether medically, scientifically, or socially to make that call.

Maybe you feel like this reasoning reflects your thinking, or maybe you have taken the time to develop a politically or scientifically-informed philosophy on the issue. I have appreciated listening to pro-life arguments, such as those provided by LiveAction, PragerU, and Living Waters, that have helped me to consider perspectives from both the political and medical views. However, for the Christian, the abortion debate needs to go beyond purely scientific or political realms. Our argument regarding the terror of abortion must be informed by theological truths – that is, our understanding of who God is and of His creation, as we see in Scripture. Over the years, as I’ve learned more about the value and sanctity of life, as well as grown in my understanding of the condition of the human heart, I see that Scripture is clear about abortion: it is an act of murder, the taking of innocent and voiceless life.

But why can someone say this with such firm conviction? How do we discuss with others the realities of our society, the reasons women give for being pro-choice, the incidences of rape and incest, and even the situations where a mother’s pregnancy has put her life at risk? I believe one of the main reasons we have found ourselves confused or unsure when we encounter these questions is because we have allowed our thinking of self-love and preservation to be exalted above the will and ways of God. In a culture where commercials, memes, jokes, and even cute artwork to place on your desk encourages the messages to think of yourself, pursue what you want, care for yourself, and put yourself first, or you can’t help anyone else, we have come to bow down at the shrine of self-centeredness. Even as women who profess to worship the Creator, we can subconsciously allow those little lies of worshiping self above God to enter in. This posture puts us in a weak position to fight the lies of the world, and we see an example of it with the confused opinions many in the American church have on abortion. Many women feel unprepared to respond to what some might call gray-area scenarios involving unprepared teen mothers, babies who are diagnosed with a genetic disease in the womb, and impregnation by rape. When we think about these situations, we feel unsure because the life of the woman has been sold to us as a higher priority than the life of the child. Yet, Scripture informs our thinking about these scenarios, no matter how dire they are, and it is best to have a foundational understanding of God’s creation and sovereignty over it in order to address these questions and other questions biblically, gracefully, and consistently.

God as Creator

Scripture narrates that we were created by our Creator and that each life He creates has been fashioned intimately and purposefully in His hands. Psalm 139:13 tells of God’s direct care over making each person, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” and continues on in verse 15 with, “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret…”.

In Job 31:13-15, when Job was discussing his servants, who in society would have been considered lesser-persons, “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant when they brought a complaint against me, what then shall I do when God rises up? When He makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not He who made me in the womb make him? And did not One fashion us in the womb?” The manservant is created by God just as his master Job is, and so Job recognizes that both he and his workers share the same value.

Both passages explain that God fashions, knits, and creates each human life with intrinsic value, which is not dependent on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gestational age, or life circumstances. Furthermore, they affirm what we are taught in Genesis 3, with the creation of the first man and woman. Both Adam and Eve were made in God’s image, the only creatures of creation to be given such a fashioning, and are subject to God.

From Scripture, we can conclude that every pregnancy is a life that is formed intentionally and intimately by God and that he or she is a person who is made in His image, who is known even before biological conception. Therefore, even from the first trimester, though this little life in the womb might not yet exhibit personality traits, he or she has personhood. Though he or she cannot contribute to the family or society in the womb, this person still has immeasurable value. And even though we may know nothing of a child during gestation, this little person is of the same made-in-God’s-image worth as a fully grown adult.

God is Sovereign

God is the Author of life, and therefore He rules over it. As Psalm 139 continues in verse 16, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” The Lord ordains and knows of all that has and will happen in our days, even before we are conceived. His plan for His kingdom here on earth and in heaven includes all of mankind and will work in the best interest of the believer.  We cannot have a proper view of God and His care for us in our circumstances without the doctrine of divine sovereignty. As is taught by the Institute of Biblical Counseling and Discipleship, “[Sovereignty] provides hope that [God’s] in charge and you are not a victim of circumstance. When we talk about abuse, it can be a challenging doctrine to grapple with… ultimately God is in charge of whatever happens to you even if you don’t like it. And it’s not yours to be angry with God, but to trust Him in His sovereignty to ultimately work all things together for good even though right now it doesn’t seem so good.” Scripture supports this definition of sovereignty, as we see that the Lord governs both the good and the calamity that His people and the world experience (Job 2:10, Ecclesiastes 7:14), and works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

Considering pregnancy in view of God’s sovereignty, we can see that in all circumstances, God is in full control of what takes place. There is no instance in which God is not aware of a woman or child’s situation, experience, pain, health, difficulty, trial, need, or fear. And though sin has marred even our physical beings, God is glorified as His works are displayed through children with physical or cognitive disabilities.  Furthermore, it is He who closes and opens the mother’s womb, and He who provides for and sustains the life of every living thing (1 Samuel 1, Matthew 6:32, Job 12:10).

What Does This Mean?

How do these truths inform, or even change our philosophies about abortion? Just like Mary in Luke 1 who understood she was a servant of the Lord, Christian women must know that the greatest joy and freedom is not to live for themselves, but to live in obedience to God and to honor His ways.  If we understand that God is sovereign over all pregnancies, then we can have confidence that He sees the suffering of the woman who was brutally raped, the fear of the family who cannot conceive how they can afford another child, the need of the young teenager who hasn’t even finished high school, the concern of the middle-aged mother who is told her child tested positive for a genetic disorder, the angst of the twenty-something-year-old working wife who wasn’t planning on having a family just yet, and the anguish of a woman who is battling cancer and is told she should have an abortion immediately in order to prevent delaying her treatment.  

Yet in each of those cases, and all others, God also sees each child in the womb. He knows each baby by name, and carefully fashions them for His glory and purposes. Though they are being nurtured and developed within her body, the baby is a separate being and body, a creation of the same supreme and full value of his or her mother. What every carrying mother needs is not simply the hope that it will all turn out alright or even the confidence that a person will provide exactly what she thinks she needs. She also does not need to be told the lie that her child is not a human yet, to falsely believe that aborting this child will restore her freedom, or to be convinced that preserving the child’s life will steal her joy. The life of any woman will include suffering, and our aim in counseling one another in the church and outside of it should not be to look to unbiblical solutions as we look ahead at potential or imminent difficulties, but rather point her to the One source of confident hope.

What these women and mothers need is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the true hope that the One who died for them because He loves them has already paid for their greatest need, and will never forsake them. He can be trusted and will address every earthly need according to His will, and not abandon them in their dire situations. God sees their anguish, just as He saw Hagar’s in Genesis 21, and the little life developing inside of them is a gift from God, not an unfortunate accident nor a mere consequence of circumstance. God will show His power through their suffering, and provide grace for their trial. And though the ending may not be as planned, He can be trusted that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

The church can serve as the hands and feet of Christ to bring the gospel of peace to women who are considering abortions, or even struggling to worship God in the midst of their pregnancy. Let us seek God in prayer, asking Him to lead us to serve the women who are immediately around us and share of the hope we have in our Savior and the truth that they need to hear in their circumstance. Even if we don’t live near a pregnancy crisis center, there are people in all of our lives who are hard of heart, and whose thinking has given way to selfish living and pride against the ways of God. We are called to share the gospel with them, teach them of the Creator and His love for each life. We can consider how we might use our time and home to care for those women who might be in need, donate to a crisis pregnancy center near us, learn the implications of “reproductive health” legislation and exercise our right to vote, examine our own hearts towards children and their value, and above all, pray for the for many to be convicted and repentant. As we trust our Creator God and sovereign Lord we will be well equipped to point women considering abortion to do the same!

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Women Pastors Have an Authority Issue

SHOCKED, BUT NOT REALLY
In the past month, I have noticed a troubling increase of women pastors infiltrating theological circles that, even a year or two ago, would’ve shocked me (insomuch as anything shocks me these days, which is to say not as much as I wish they did). Speakers and authors whose ministries I have enjoyed for years have recently come out in support of women entering pastoral ministry, have invited women pastors to speak on their podcasts, shared stories on their Instagram accounts of women pastors being confirmed for the first time in their churches, and so on. Five years ago, if I had read of a woman pastor, I would’ve assumed that she was part of a seeker-friendly, watered-down church at best, and even more likely, a part of a heretical church that taught a false gospel. However, the speakers and authors I am referring to do not come from these circles. They come from churches with extensive doctrinal statements that still hold to a biblical view of inerrancy, salvation, and even theological issues such as sovereignty, total depravity, and other typically more “conservative” issues. Two years ago these positions would’ve automatically implied that they also held to a traditional view of men and women’s roles and the specifics of how those flesh out in the context of a church body. But alas, those days appear to be fleeting. So, here I am, writing a “controversial” piece that only reiterates what has been said for the past 2,000 years, even though it should not actually be controversial at all to anyone who claims to submit to the authority of Scripture.

AUTHORITY ISSUES
But, of course, women have been having authority issues since Genesis 3 (did I just go there? Yes, yes I did!). From the outset I want to be clear: this IS an authority issue. I am not denying that there are people who have not studied this topic, and therefore, would fall into what Proverbs calls the “naive” category. Out of love for our fellow Christians who have not worked through it, it is so important that we be having gracious conversations on the topic as we seek to reflect our God well together to a watching world. I have spent some time researching “the other side”, trying to understand the thought-process, biblical exegesis, and defenses that are used, and have reached one conclusion: this is not really an issue of differing opinions of how to interpret difficult passages of Scripture, nor is it an understandable misunderstanding of what Scripture has laid out as the roles of men and women. The bottom line is that you can come to Scripture seeking to defend your presuppositions or you can come with the desire for your presuppositions to be shaped by it, no matter how counter-cultural or offensive it may feel. Theological camps who are allowing women to enter the pastorate are simply going along with the first option. So, for the purpose of this piece, I will be reviewing God’s authority, the fact that we are all under it, and then call it a day. Because as Al Mohler shared about his own experience of having his mind changed regarding women becoming pastors, “Going to the Scriptures [on this issue], it doesn’t take long. It wasn’t like I embarked on a lifelong study to discover what Scripture says about this. It didn’t take long at all.”

GOD IS THE AUTHORITY
You did not create yourself. I know you know that. If you are reading this on our blog it is 99% likely that you already believe in God, that He made you, and that He has made a permanent claim on your life through His Son’s redemptive work on your behalf at Calvary. The problem is, in our postmodern, existential society, we can have sneaky presumptions infiltrate our worldview at times without knowing it. And one slug is enough to ruin the whole salad, if you know what I mean. A foundational problem to the conversations in Christian circles regarding what it means for men and women to be equal has been that many evangelicals borrow the world’s definition of equality. Because men and women are both intellectually capable of publicly proclaiming truth from God’s Word and encouraging others in the faith, they believe that women must be given space to exercise these kinds of gifts in the exact same capacities and spheres as men, and if not, they are being treated as lesser than their Christian brothers. But we are not to submit to the world’s definitions, and what is more relevant is whether or not Scripture supports this view. Scripture is indeed clear that men and women are inherently equal in value as they image their Creator God, but it is also not shy about the fact that they are called to inherently different roles in the way they image Him. When the Holy Spirit caused you to be born again, your old self, the self that wanted to choose its own destiny, determine its own place in the world, and pick its own path died. You were made alive in Christ, born unto a cross-shaped, sacrificial life that acknowledges God as the authority over every aspect of your being and life on this earth. I say acknowledge, because He always has had that sovereign authority, you are merely now seeking to live in light of the authority that always belonged to Him rather than in rebellion against it. “You are not your own, for you have been bought at a price,” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a).

YOU ARE NOT THE AUTHORITY
Sisters, with that said, it is critical that we understand that we do not have a right to define ourselves in a biblical role that Scripture has not defined for us. It does not take a Masters in Biblical Languages to understand simple phrases like, “An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…” (1 Timothy 3:2a), “appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife…” (Titus 1:5b-6a), “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve,” (1 Timothy 2:12-13), and “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior…to teach what is good, and so train the young women…” (Titus 2:3-4). Nearly every article I came across in defense of women pastors basically attempted exegetical gymnastics asserting that there was some great mystery hidden in the Greek or using poor Bible translations that deceptively use gender-neutral language in place of explicitly male/female words. It goes against every progressive sensibility to say that women are not “permitted” to do certain things over their male counterparts, even if the language is explicitly rooted in a creational, pre-fall reality (Adam was created first, then Eve). When confronted with the total lack of Biblical examples of women elders or teachers beyond women-exclusive groups, those who defend women in the pastorate pulled a verse about a woman named Junia in Romans 16:7, referred to by Paul as his “kinsmen in the faith” (what?) or how maybe, possibly Priscilla could’ve been one (though it never says she was). These arguments, though fine examples of women using their gifts of teaching, hold about as much water as a holey bucket when it comes to defending women pastors, and expose the bottom line, once again: this stance is not about Scripture being unclear regarding how God wants His church to represent Him to the world. It is that in the midst of this culture that celebrates autonomy, parity, and egalitarianism, more and more people, even those who claim the name of Christ, are rejecting the picture that He is calling us to image through gender-based restrictions in our ministry to the church. God takes His glory very seriously, and as His Bride we should be passionately committed to representing Him the way He desires to be represented rather than creating false impressions of His nature in order to keep up with what the world believes is good or right.

IN CONCLUSION
When I sat down to write this article, I had mild trepidation as I wondered what difficult, hard-to-beat arguments I would encounter in my reading that would make explaining and defending a biblical view of church government and women’s roles difficult. To be honest, I was let down by the lack of persuasive, even remotely Scripture-honoring defenses out there and was reminded that like so many things, this view actually comes down not to semantics, but to whether we want to obey the Scripture on an issue or not. The Bible is clear, so we have to ask ourselves: Do we believe that God is the authority of our lives with the right to draw boundary lines around how we may glorify Him with the ways we participate in His church? Or do we believe its ok to start interpreting what God really means by cultural norms and their ideas about women’s place in this world? If you are someone who wrestles with the idea that women are not allowed to be pastors, my greatest encouragement to you is to go to the Word and simply read it for yourself, attempting to check your feelings at the door and consider, “Are you willing to adjust your life to whatever God reveals of Himself in the upcoming days?” (John Snyder, Behold Your God). No matter how uncomfortable the process may be, coming under the authority of our Father God is indeed for our good. Let us not view pastoral ministry as some kind of forbidden fruit or believe Satan’s lie that we are being kept from some delight. There is a whole garden of delights that are ours, and so many joys exclusive to biblical womanhood. So come, taste, and see that the Lord is good, and His purposes for us as women are good, too.

Passages for Further Study:
1 Timothy 2:9-15
1 Timothy 3:1-7
Titus 1:5-9

Some Articles and Sermons for Further Study
Short and Sweet:
https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA127/can-women-serve-as-pastors-and-elders-in-the-church
https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/should-women-become-pastors

If thinking about something you “can’t” do feels discouraging, check out this article by John Piper that lists out EIGHTY ways women get to participate in serving Christ in the Church:
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-challenge-to-women

This talk by Andreas Kostenberger addresses common arguments surrounding 1 Timothy 2:9-15 from those who hold to an egalitarian view:
http://www.corporis.ca/video-archives/2017/andreas-j.-köstenberger-on-gods-design-for-men-and-women-in-the-church-session-3/

This is part 4 of a great series on Biblical Womanhood from 2 Timothy 2:9-15, with this part specifically addressing verses 12-15 that summarize why women are to not teach or exercise authority over men.
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/54-17/gods-high-calling-for-women-part-4

Some thoughts from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
https://cbmw.org/topics/women-in-ministry/women-preachers-a-fresh-discussion/

The Feminine Mistake

Sometime last year I began noticing an interesting slogan going around on various social media platforms. “Your feminism isn’t feminism unless it’s intersectional,” it said. I found this to be a rather shocking, yet clarifying, statement underscoring what it means to be a 3rd wave feminist in our current cultural climate. (If you are unfamiliar with the first two waves of feminism, see these articles here and here.) 2nd wave feminists, rather than being revered by members of the movement that they have helped create, are now being looked down upon as antiquated, ignorant, and sub-par. Unless they get with the program, their feminism doesn’t count. 3rd wave American feminists are a fascinating breed because unlike the generations of feminism before them, they don’t have any real women-specific platforms to advocate for. Legislatively and sociologically speaking, women have the same rights as men in our country. Women, beyond being treated as equal to men, are frequently exalted, celebrated to a far higher degree for any accomplishments they achieve, more so than men would ever be for doing the same things. But, if you watch feminists on tv at a rally or march these days, you will often find them railing against the patriarchy and a mythical wage gap, or other broad generalities about systematic forms of oppression. So today, let’s take a look at how intersectional feminists view women, what the Biblical response is to that view, and how the church can be on the offensive against feminist systems and their attempts to infiltrate our midst.

What is the Intersectional View of Gender?
Intersectional feminists view women categorically as an oppressed group, victims of a patriarchal system intended to keep them down and on the outs. Men are perceived as oppressors, who at their worst are physically and emotionally abusive to women, and at their best are apologetic benefactors of a system rigged in their favor. Largely downplaying the physical, mental, and emotional differences between genders, intersectional feminists’ stated belief is that true equality will only be a reality when there is a comparable representation of both genders in all fields of academia, business, and politics. Practically speaking, though, they tend to actually push for oppressed groups to have greater power in these spheres over the perceived “oppressors”. At the heart of it all, third wave feminism hates the biblical definition of gender, gender relationships, and the family and wants to redefine the family while nullifying the “binary” of man and woman. This is the natural conclusion of a worldview that deals in power. If being a woman means having less power, then it makes sense to despise the feminine qualities of loving and caring for the home and looking to your husband’s leadership. And if being a strong, assertive man means you’re signing up to oppress and deny good things to your wife, daughters, and sisters, suddenly being a man who exhibits masculinity and leadership seems like a terrible thing. Elizabeth Corey points out that intersectionalists believe that, “If schools, churches, and families are the primary institutions that have always formed people, and if they are fundamentally shot through with oppression and prejudice, then these institutions must themselves be thoroughly remade. In light of such an objective, the self-conscious deconstruction of what we take for granted makes sense. Gender, sexuality, family… must be destroyed and reconstituted.” With a commitment to destroying God’s lordship over people’s gender and family relationships, intersectionality is an affront to everything the Bible says on these topics.

What is the Biblical Framework for Gender Relationships?
Scripture not only openly identifies men and women as designed with differences, but it also honors those differences and calls them “very good,” (Genesis 1:31). Both men and women were created by God to have dominion over the earth, filling and subduing it together. God made Adam first, to be the head of God’s creation, and then Eve to glorify and help him in that task. Scripture assumes physical differences in men and women: men are created with the ability to do more physically demanding labor and to use their strength to defend those weaker than themselves (Genesis 3:17-19, Exodus 17:9), and women are created to bear children and work hard in and for their homes in less physically demanding, but no less disciplined, ways (Genesis 3:16, Proverbs 31:10:31). In the church and marriage, men and women live out their unique designs in corporate worship and the home. Men are to lead, both in the context of their local church and in their families (1 Timothy 3:2-13, Ephesians 5:23-33). Women are to help and submit, with their husband, to authority in their church, and to their husband in the context of the home (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:22-24, 33). Because of God’s great mercy, bestowed upon us, we offer up our bodies as living sacrifices unto God, our spiritual worship (Romans 12:1-2). No matter how many wrong turns our culture takes as it rips apart and tries to rework gender “norms”, we as the church must continue to stand out as lights in a dark world, pointing to the gospel through our God-designed lives (Titus 2:1-8).

How is the Church Called to Handle Gender Issues?
While our culture is becoming progressively more committed to shaping their ideas about gender and men and women’s relationships on the basis of power, even striving to destroy the biblical definition of gender all-together, it is becoming more and more imperative that we fight that narrative in the church through the gospel and its real-life implications. Making Christ our boast, we get to show off the beauty and goodness of God as we honor Him with our respectively masculine and feminine lives. There has not been a time in our nation’s history where standing out from the culture has been so needed. Men must, “act like men, [and] be strong,” (1 Corinthians 16:13), despite so many assaults on their manhood. Women need to let their, “adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious,” (1 Peter 3:4). This is not to say that men cannot be compassionate, sensitive, and caring towards others, or that women cannot exemplify strength and leadership in their spheres of influence. Rather, we bring the way we live out these virtuous qualities in submission to God’s particular designs for us as men and women. As we do this, we are rejecting the intersectional notions regarding power relationships and what gives a person value.

For us Christian women, in particular, we must reject the lie that our value, dignity, and effectiveness are somehow tied to merely our academic and corporate achievements, or to how much power we possess. One way we refute this is through denying the deceptive narrative that women are only truly equal with men if we throw out the scriptures that limit eldership and pastoral ministry in the church to men. In a question and answer session I listened to recently, John Macarthur made an important observation while maintaining a bit of humor. He said, “How can a woman be an elder, when an elder is called to be a one-woman man (Titus 1:6)?” I had to giggle to myself as I heard this, but unfortunately, the biblical mandate that men are to hold the eldership positions of the church, which has gone unquestioned for nearly two millennia, is suddenly considered up for debate by so-called “Christian feminist” who desire to see women take those roles as well. We must stand up against this incorrect view in a couple of ways. The first is to understand the implications of women’s roles in the church and to live out God’s best for us as we seek to show Him off in that context. Another way we withstand this is to understand the fullness of God’s mission for us as women to lead compelling lives, and to press into that role in a way that sets an example to the watching world that to be a God-centered woman isn’t weak, shallow, or less-than. We don’t need a position of “power” to have significant, impactful, and effective lives and ministries. In fact, we understand from Scripture that it is in the precise moments that we appear to be in the humblest positions that we are being prepared for future glory and exaltation in Heaven (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Final Thoughts
There is a chilling story recorded at the end of Judges in chapter 19 where a servant woman is brutally gang raped and dies, a display of the horrors that ensued because, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 21:25). One of the primary aspects of a society that rejects God is that women are left unprotected and abused. Intersectional feminists today are fighting to gain what they believe women need more than anything else – power – and yet their methods will ultimately leave women more unprotected and powerless than ever. When we look to godless systems to shape our views, understanding, and treatment of human beings, the natural result will be a descent away from the inherent dignity and value that can only come from seeing people as image-bearers of God. Intersectional feminists’ denial of men and women’s inherent differences in design, even to the point of their attempt to destroy the “binary” of man and women, will have dastardly results.

It is in light of these dark times that we must cling to the hope of the gospel and the reality that every aspect of our lives, including our genders, are set-apart for the glory of God! God lays out His unique design for our lives as men and women, and as we bring every aspect of ourselves into submission to His will, we will reap eternal joy and satisfaction in Him. For the unbelievers in our culture who have grown up surrounded by relativism, it is not surprising that they are turning to intersectionality for answers. It, “appeals to people for precisely the reasons that all religions do: It gives an account of our brokenness, an explanation of the reasons for pain, a saving story accompanied by strong ethical imperatives, and hope for the future. In short, it gives life meaning.” But like any and every false worldview or religion, the intersectional movement’s hope is an erroneous one, and it cannot save its followers. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can do that! May we remain steadfast upon the Word of God, allowing it to shape the way we understand our identities and roles in this world.

 

April Recommendations (Resources on Intersectionality)

Hey friends! We worked together to make a list of some of our favorite resources that have helped us in our study of intersectional theory. We hope these will be profitable aids to your own study as you desire to grow in your understanding of this worldview and learning how to respond to it from a biblical perspective!

Intersectional Feminism: What is It?
(Youtube Video)
In an ironic turn of events, the Factual Feminist (Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers) covers how intersectional feminism and identity politics actually is contradictory to fundamental feminism, creating a hierarchy that challenges the goal of women coming together for the good of all women.

Intersectionality May be at Odds with the Gospel
(Article)
Our pastor shared this article with me and I greatly appreciated the succinct way Denny Burk addresses some of the key flaws in intersectional theory. He gets right to the point, making it a great resource to share with someone who has little to no understanding about what intersectionality is. This article is based on a more in-depth article that I am sharing below.

First Church of Intersectionality
(Article)
This is the article that the aforementioned one is based upon. Elizabeth Corey attended an intersectional academic conference in which Patricia Collins spoke, and this piece is a thoughtful, articulate response that was born out of that experience. She is clearly an intelligent, well-read woman who thinks deeply and analytically about the world around her. This piece is the lengthiest read of all the articles we are recommending, but also may be the most worthwhile.

Intersectionality, the Dangerous Faith
(Article)
This article is a great introductory piece on intersectionality and explores the religious kind of zeal that is characteristic of intersectional movements.

An Open Letter to SBC and Dr. Russell Moore & A Second Open Letter to Leaders
(Articles)
Lorine Spratt, a member of the Southern Baptist Evangelical Church, shares an open letter about the necessity to preserve unity in the church, and how recent teachings from ERLC leadership (penned directly to Dr. Russell Moore & SBC Pastors) and is harming that unity. She recently penned a second letter to Beth Moore, Danny Akin, and “others who share their mindset.”

 

Shenvi Apologetics – Review on Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology
(Blog Post Series)
Dr. Niel Shenvi presents a succinct review of Margaret L. Andersen and Patricia Hill Collins’ work on Critical Theory, and presents an accurate view of what Critical theory is and why it is not compatible with Christianity.

Dear Thabiti by Doug Wilson (4/9)
The Racialist Lens Disrupts True Christian Unity: A Response to Thabiti Anyabwile by James White (4/9)
But, Thabiti by Doug Wilson (4/10)
(Blog Posts)
Thabiti Anyabwile, Doug Wilson, and James White engaged in an interesting public blog conversation last week regarding the way the church should be discussing, responding, and handling race issues today. Wilson and White express important concerns in articulate, gracious ways regarding a plethora of issues surrounding the MLK Gospel Conference put on by the ERLC and The Gospel Coalition and responded to some specific comments Anyabwile made on Twitter and then on his own blog.

An Intro to Intersectional Poison
(Sheologians Podcast)
In their typically hilarious and entertaining way, Summer White and Joy Tembe cover an overview of what intersectional thought and critical theory are, and address how identity politics and victim thinking have begun to pervade our understanding of the world around us.

Intersectional Poison and the Gospel Cure
(Sheologians Podcast)
The Sheologians team follows up their introduction by sharing how intersectional thought impacts the church and its unity, and how serious that actually is.

The #1 Toxic Worldview You Need to Know About Today

Sisters, I am concerned. There is a false ideology creeping oh so sneakily into our churches, and few people are sounding the alarm. Last week, I shared a beautiful, newly released song called “Is He Worthy?” by Andrew Peterson in my recommendations post. The lyrics were poignant and God-glorifying, and it was beautifully produced. But sadly, the song was quickly covered in controversy due to the lack of racial diversity in the casting. There were tweets calling Peterson to repent, he shared in an open letter that he had friends who confided their personal hurt to him in which they mourned with real tears, and ultimately he issued an apology. This high-emotion response to his oversight points to something happening in our culture, and even more important to me, in the culture of the church. Tensions are running high, and conversations regarding group-identity sensitivities are becoming progressively more prevalent in the church. Where does this hypersensitivity spring from? There is a worldview that is spreading like wildfire through our country right now, and the church has not avoided experiencing flare-ups within our own midst. This infectious ideology is called intersectional theory, and it is leaving no part of our nation untouched. Intersectionality is a subversive system that is seeking to completely revolutionize the moral landscape of our culture, and so it is critical that we look at where it came from, what it is, and what Scripture teaches in regards to the issues it presents.

Where Intersectionality Came From
In the late 1980’s Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality theory”. A professor known for her studies surrounding critical race theory, she was responding to a lack that she perceived in the feminist movement. While she herself was a self-proclaimed feminist, she felt that feminism had not given enough attention to black women in particular. The complexity of female oppression, she felt, could not be simplified to just their gender, but were rather the result of an intersection of issues surrounding their identities, in this case, race as well as gender. Not long after, black feminist professor and author Patricia Hill Collins built upon this idea, most notably in her book Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. Over the past two decades, this ideology, called intersectionality, has expanded far beyond just feminism and race issues as more and more kinds of oppressions have been identified by intersectional theorist and added to what has come to be known as the hierarchy of victimhood. So how can one define this ideology?

What is Intersectionality
In Intersectionality (Key Concepts) by Patricia Hill Collins, a primary source on this movement that I am currently reading, intersectionality is defined it as,

“A way of understanding and analyzing the complexity in the world, in people, and in human experiences. The events and conditions of social and political life and the self can seldom be understood as shaped by one factor. They are generally shaped by many factors in diverse and mutually influencing ways. When it comes to social inequality, people’s lives and the organization of power in a given society are better understood as being shaped not by a single axis of social division, be it race or gender or class, but by many axes that work together and influence each other. Intersectionality as an analytical tool gives people better access to the complexity of the world and of themselves.”

In Collins’ summary, we see that intersectionality theory is a worldview in which people are understood in the context of the organization of power. People are given varying levels of privilege or victim status, according to a hierarchy based on race, gender, class, and numerous other group identities such as age, physical abilities, and skin color (separate from race) – a sociological paradigm that mirrors neo-marxism. Though referred to as a theory, intersectionality isn’t treated as experimental but rather as the highest truth by which of all life can be understood. The Factual Feminist describes it as an, “all-encompassing theory of human reality, constructed to be immune to criticism.” On a slightly humorous note, she also refers to it as a conspiracy theory, pointing out the broad scope of circumstances, events, and people that are susceptible to be interpreted through what intersectionalist describe as a US matrix of oppressions. She, a very real 2nd wave feminist, is now frequently accused of not being a real feminist at all, simply because she does not ascribe to this 3rd wave, intersectional feminism. While parity of power is technically the stated goal, in a painful form of irony it is not uncommon for people dubbed “social justice warriors” to take this worldview to its logical conclusions and to act out in violent protests on college campuses, equating opposing arguments with hate speech, and seeking to silence the opposition as the result. David French elaborates in his own article on the zealous nature of intersectionalist when he says, “The demise of religion among American youth is greatly exaggerated. It turns out that America isn’t raising a new generation of unbelievers. Instead, rising in the heart of deep-blue America are the zealots of a new religious faith. They’re the intersectionals, they’re fully woke, and the heretics don’t stand a chance.”

Some basic tenets of intersectionality:

  • Privilege is the “original sin” of oppressors. Some examples of privilege are maleness, whiteness, wealth, and physical strength. You can be privileged in one or more senses, for example, being rich and white, but still associated with oppressed groups, for example, being a disabled woman. This is where the multifaceted nature of a person’s identity are intersected to comprise a person’s level of oppressions, thereby forming the so-called hierarchy of victimhood.
  • Victims and oppressed people groups possess a superior understanding of the world through their experiences, thereby having the highest claim on truth as it relates to their group topics. Experience is king (or if I was being intersectional appropriate, probably queen 😉) in this worldview. That is, as long as a person’s experiences affirm the group identity platforms shaped by far-leaning leftists.
  • A form of penance is required of all privileged people to bring restitution for the “moral crimes” of your privileged group’s collective oppressions. No amount of apologizing and virtue signaling (showing how “moral” you are by affirming victim group’s positions) are too much.
  • Change the language, change the culture. The adoption of oppressed peoples’ preferred language as an affirmation of their status is critical. When they’re able many proponents of intersectionality call for the silencing of opposing views, claiming speech can be interpreted as a form of oppression.
  • Allyship. If you are associated with one oppressed group it is necessary that you celebrate and promote any and all other stated oppressed people groups as their “ally”. If you take a peek at the Black Lives Matter or Women’s March websites, you will find affirmations of seemingly unrelated issues, like LGBT platforms, on either of their sites. Conversely, to not align yourself as an ally of any and all oppressed groups, as defined by intersectional theorists, is to make yourself an enemy of every other oppressed group.
  • Stay woke. Woke can be defined as an awareness of social justice issues and a comprehensive interpretation of them through an intersectional worldview. An example of this would be interpreting the higher arrest rates of black males as symptomatic of a system of oppression rather than being linked to local culture or personal responsibility.

There are many layers to intersectionality, but hopefully this brief summary is helpful to you in bringing some clarity and understanding to this view. After looking at the breakdown of this paradigm, what is the biblical response?

The Biblical Response to Intersectionality
You may have noticed that I have made a point of referring to intersectional theory as a worldview multiple times. It is extremely important to understand that it is a framework through which people are interpreting circumstances, events, and people, not simply an acknowledgment that people’s experiences differ. As Christians, we should be interpreting all of those same things through the filter of God’s Word alone. Yet, it is not uncommon for Christians to try to merge a biblical worldview with secular ones, such as Christian feminists or progressive liberal Christianity; or even to think that we can borrow from ideologies like humanism or mysticism to reach a fuller expression of our faith. This, however, is decidedly dangerous, and in some cases even leads to full-blown heresy. It is harmful to the church at best, and destroys a church at worst. I recently finished a bible study on the minor prophets in the Old Testament. There was one observation that stood out to me repeatedly, and that was that God has no interest in syncretic religion. Syncretism is when a person tries to merge two ideologies, religions, or cultures to make one new one. In terms of the Christian faith, syncretism is when we try to sync other religions, ideologies, or worldviews with the biblical one. While it may feel intellectually valid in the moment, it is a dangerous path to enter onto. In Hosea, the Israelites were combining the worship of Yahweh with idol worship of Asherah, or in essence trying to worship the Lord God through a pagan filter. In chapter 8, verse 2 they cry out to God saying, “My God, we – Israel – know you.” But God swiftly condemns them, saying in the immediately following verses, “Israel has spurned the good… with their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction,” (Hosea 8:3a, 4b). To worship God in combination with Asherah was an automatic rejection of God Himself. God is jealous for His people, for their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, and He will not share them with another. May Israel’s example remind us of the terrible risk we gamble when we try to combine any secular worldview with a Christian one, because worldview shapes worship. We are positionally and progressively sanctified, which means set-apart, and we are commanded by God to be holy as he is holy. This purifying process begins in our mind with the way we think, as we process the world around us with either Scriptural truth or the world’s deceptive philosophies.

The Word of God has plenty to say when it comes to the lens through which we should interpret people, relationships, and power. Intersectionality, and even more specifically critical theory, immediately start out on a false premise when they view the world through an oppressor-oppressed framework. The world’s problems are not rooted in power struggles, but rather in the reality that all mankind exists under sin (Romans 3:9). Contrary to the message of intersectionality, a person’s value and dignity are in no way linked to their power or lack thereof, but rather is solely on the basis of their positions as image-bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Our privileges and struggles, no matter what form they come in, are always an opportunity to glorify God as we render every part our identities and experiences to Him (1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Corinthians 7:21-24, Ephesians 6:5-9, 1 Peter 1:6-7). In fact, Scripture even goes so far as to say that our earthly “oppressions” should actually be a cause for boasting, knowing that as we live out a cruciform life much glory and honor awaits us in Heaven (James 1:9, Romans 8:18, Hebrews 6:10, Hebrews 11:26, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). That is not to say that Christians should neglect to care for the poor, needy, and oppressed or that if we are being oppressed in some legitimate way we can’t put any effort into getting away from it (Galatians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 7:21). But we care for the poor, the needy, and the oppressed knowing that their dignity, joy, and future glory are not dependent on a change of circumstances (Genesis 1:26-27, 2 Corinthians 6:10). Beyond a complete differentiation between the way we view the world from a Christian or intersectional worldview, I have also observed extremely unbiblical characteristics within the movement itself.

Proponents of the movement are often extremely unloving and exemplify a complete lack of grace for those whose opinions differ from their own (1 Corinthians 1:4-7, Ephesians 4:29). As Christina Sommers states, “Intersectionalist habitually do to others what they have accused others of doing to them: stereotyping, shaming, demonizing, and silencing others on the basis of their gender, race, etc.” They assume wrong of “privileged’ groups, and assume righteousness of “victim” groups (1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Corinthians 13:7). Because they see speech itself as a form of oppression, they feel perfectly justified in silencing any opposition. There is a lack of care for people as individuals as they prioritize the “groups” over people’s personal needs. If your experience affirms they’re paradigm, it will be accepted and celebrated. If it doesn’t, prepare to be bullied. Another sad characteristic of this movement is that it creates an increased desire for victimhood. When your status is seemingly linked to the degrees to which you perceive yourself as experiencing oppression, suddenly oppressive experiences become very appealing. There is a self-righteous arrogance in the way many intersectionalist carry themselves because they genuinely believe they have the moral high ground when they speak out as victimized people against perceived aggressions. What saddens me as I watch people participate in this movement is that they habitually look to secondary identities (a person’s race, gender, class, etc) for their sense of value and acceptance rather than to the identity that Biblically we understand to be most important. All people are haters of God or lovers of Him, and our eternal destiny hinges on that identity (Romans 1:29-31, 1 Peter 1:8).

Closing Thoughts
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God,” (1 John 4:7). “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind,” (1 Peter 3:8). This is the call of Scripture for believers: that we love one another and exist together in unity through the gospel. As you think back to my opening illustration, you may be wondering how this radically secular worldview has any bearing on the situation I described. Peterson’s video would’ve certainly had a more emotional impact if he had been more intentional in casting a multi-racial cast as he sung lyrics about every tribe, tongue, and nation worshiping God together. But as he elaborated in his letter of apology, it was an oversight rather than intentional prejudice. They issued an open casting call and only white singers showed up. Yet people did not react to him as a man who had made a mistake. Instead, they accused him of “white privilege” and in serious need of “educating” from minority groups. He was called to “repent” as if he had sinned against his fellow Christians of different ethnic backgrounds. He satisfied them with a penitential apology, affirming himself as an “ally” of all racial minorities. He expressed a desire to “keep learning” which conveyed a desire to get with the times and be woke. Peterson acted in accordance with Matthew 18 when he asked forgiveness of his offended brothers and sisters in Christ, but the fact that this was a source of offense in the first place points to a deeper issue happening in the Body of Christ. While I do not think many people in the church are anywhere close to being full-blown intersectional theorists yet, I have detected a subtle shift in language during the past year on popular Christian blogs and in sermons by well-respected pastors and teachers that points to the creeping in of conversations on the basis of group identity and perceived privileges or oppressions rather than on the foundation of the gospel and the Scriptures. This is exceedingly troubling because when we allow experiences to shape the teaching and studying of God’s Word, rather than using our study and the teaching of God’s Word as an aid to understand our experiences, we are in precarious waters. We can expect the world to turn to their subjective experiences, for apart from the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, what else do they really have? But we as the church of Jesus Christ must guard ourselves against any form of false teaching that seeks to infiltrate our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Battles of worldview are actually spiritual battles as the war between truth and deception rages on. We know how the war ends, of course. Truth will reign through Jesus Christ! As servants of the King, we must not grow weary in this fight but continue to look to the Word to be equipped to stand firm against any form of false teachings or deceptive philosophies. Priscilla and my prayer as we embark on this series on intersectionality is that you will indeed be encouraged as you are given biblical tools from the Word of God to be able to detect this view, even in less-obvious settings, and be prepared with a defense (1 Peter 3:15).

Before You Give it a Like: Understanding International Women’s Day

“Happy International Women’s Day!”

Today, your feed is filled with these celebratory posts, acknowledging the women in our lives who are diligent and passionate. And if you’re like me, you probably thought, “Woot! Women are such a blessing, and I know so many strong, intelligent and hard-working women!” After all, I’m sure you can think of at least one woman in your life whose dedication, love, and energy for nurturing those around her has had a positive impact on you. And those women are definitely worth celebrating.

But before you hit the like button or even share a post of your own, it’s good to consider what International Women’s Day is actually about:

  • The first official International Women’s Day in the US, dating back to 1910, was an initiative of the Socialist Party of America.
  • It quickly gained attention around the world and became a global celebration in future years. It was instituted as a global holiday by the United Nations in 1975.
  • Feminism is the foundational philosophy that the modern Women’s Day and accompanying movements are rooted in.
  • The main “oppression” that women claim to be standing up to resist in the U.S. include the “pay gap” and what they perceive to be a system of “patriarchy.”
  • Just a few examples of modern women who represent the belief system of this movement are Gloria Steinem (feminist movement leader), Cecile Richards (director of Planned Parenthood), Elizabeth Warren (democratic senator), and Lena Dunham (actress).
  • Today this movement is rooted in a belief system that rejects the principle of women prioritizing the home and equates equality, not just with equality of opportunity, but with equality of outcome, believing that women will not be truly equal with men until they are represented in every sphere of work in comparable numbers. This is exemplified by the 2016’s theme, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality,” and 2017’s theme, “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.”

On its surface, the intention for International Women’s Day is a celebration of women around the globe and their achievements. However, IWD affirms that their purpose is to, “accelerate gender parity,” not simply the equal treatment and intrinsic value of men and women, but also the equal representation of women in every status and sphere of influence. The general language used to describe the purpose of this day is a guise for beliefs aligned with intersectional feminism and against biblical gender distinctions.

The oversimplified language that http://www.internationalwomensday.com (IWD) shares utilizes the propaganda technique of transfer or association. Transfer takes the positive or negative qualities of one person, idea or entity and projects them onto another to either qualify or discredit the second person, idea or entity. By making general statements about celebrating women’s achievements, IWD projects a positive association to those who support their cause. However, it leaves little to no room for disagreement on particular issues.

This presents a problem: if I don’t agree with a woman’s achievement that IWD celebrates, for example, Liliane Ploumen’s recognition for her international work in advocating for women’s right to abortion, do I then disqualify myself from celebrating International Women’s Day? Furthermore, by celebrating this day, am I inherently showing support for issues that I would not only disagree with but also would have clear biblical reasons to reject and oppose?

I believe the short answer is yes. Because of this logical fallacy of transfer, according to feminist ideology, if you support IWD, you love women. But if you don’t agree with everything about IWD, you hate women, or at the very least you’re taking things WAY too seriously. Even as you’ve read this article and considered your position, you might have thought, “it doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bath water. I support women all around the globe, their health, security, and opportunities, and love the idea of celebrating the equal value of women, so what’s the big deal?” And this is the challenge of thinking critically about these issues, considering the ramifications of what you support, like or share.

As Christian women, we must take caution. With all the information available to us through the internet and social media, we must be careful when liking or sharing about outspoken organizations or public achievements that simply seem positive or encouraging. We should think intentionally about how our support of these organizations aligns with biblical truth. With the ideologies behind IWD, we see that women are encouraged to deny biblical gender roles, as those are seen as oppressive and demeaning. Yet, the Bible teaches of God’s divine calling for all women, a design given by God to women for their greatest joy, peace, and accomplishment to be found in Him. In the church today, there is still much confusion about the role of women in the home and in ministry, and much of this is due to the influence of worldly, and not biblical, thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, we should absolutely value and rejoice in the way God has created women. Looking in scripture, we see that women are greatly esteemed and loved by God and His people. God formed Eve from Adam’s rib, providing a helper for Adam who would bless and partner with him in all God had called him to; with woman being the pinnacle of His creation, God literally saved the best of His work for last (cue here Frozone’s wife from The Incredibles, “I’m the greatest good you are ever gonna get.”). King Lemuel’s mother adjures him to treasure a woman of excellence, who is hard-working, intelligent, accomplished, and fears the Lord. Paul thanks God for and reminds Timothy of the sincere faith of his mother and grandmother, a faith and understanding of God that was diligently taught to Timothy. Jesus Christ did not ignore the many women He came across during His earthly ministry, but instead showed abundant grace to them though they were sinners. And we see that Christ, after resurrecting from the grave, appeared first to women.

So how do we reconcile our thinking? How should we approach days like IWD or the Women’s March? Should we criticize the women who advocate for these movements, some who might sit next to us in our pews on Sunday morning? Not at all! We do not condemn our fellow Christians who speak out on occasions like today, and even acknowledge that the majority do so while lacking information about the history and philosophies behind them.  Even so, we need to take personal responsibility for our own beliefs, and obey the call to action given to us in Titus 2: 1-10, to teach what accords with sound doctrine, so that the Word of God may not be reviled!

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”

God invites us to learn sound doctrine, His will and His purposes for all of man and womankind, through His word. The word of God is sufficient for all things, for instruction and learning of any kind, including what God has called us to as women, and men, while here on earth (2 Timothy 3:16).

This post is not to shame you into going back through all your double-taps in Instagram, nor is it to force you to become a fierce opposer of women’s day. What I really want is for you (us) to think about and search the scriptures to know who God made you, as a woman, to be. I want you to pray for wisdom and discernment that aligns with God’s word so that the word of God would not be attacked or diminished, but instead gloriously upheld in your life to His glory. And I want you to engage your energies and passions in the things of Christ because in Him you are meant to find satisfaction and purpose. Remember sister, that in Christ, there is grace to be found for all, in all things – even our thinking and understanding, culture and upbringing! ∇