I recently read a tweet by author Lee Grady that mentioned his book Ten Lies The Church Tells Women. I had read Lee Grady’s wonderful book years ago and really liked it. It was inspirational for me at the time, but it struck me today how those simple ten lies are only the tip of the iceberg. So I decided to come up with my own list of “ten more lies the church tells women.” So I guess this post is in honor of Mr. Lee Grady (which certainly doesn’t mean he agrees with any of my points). Here is Lee Grady’s poignant list of lies:
- God created women as inferior beings, destined to serve their husbands.
- Women are not equipped to assume leadership roles within the church.
- Women must not preach or teach to men in a church setting.
- A woman should view her husband as “the priest of the home.”
- A man needs to “cover” a woman in her ministry activities.
- Women who exhibit strong leadership qualities pose a danger to the church.
- Women are more easily deceived than men.
- Women can’t be spiritually fulfilled or effective without a husband or children.
- Women shouldn’t work outside the home.
- Women must obediently submit to their husbands in all situations. (Tell that one to Saspphira).
Those are some pretty big lies, right? My favorite is “A man needs to ‘cover’ a woman in her ministry activities.” I think it’s my favorite because I personally found it so absurd. (I was in the evangelical church when this was becoming a big thing .) It was like the church was willing to “allow” women to lead IF they officially submitted their work/ministry to a man. The man (or male ministry) would then “oversee” the female ministry (sometimes taking credit where credit was not due) while the women worked their butts off. As long as a man was figuratively in charge — everything was all good.
Now it took me about ten seconds to make my list below which tells me there are probably more lies to come… and yes, more lies are popping into my head right now so I think this will change to Twenty Lies, eventually.
But don’t get discouraged over all these lies because deconstruction takes time. And the Holy Spirit has a purpose for putting us all through this horrifically painful stretching and rethinking — so we can be led to something greater — something new. A stronger faith is emerging within the Body of Christ as both men and women are being led to step into true authority and identity.
So here is my list. Read it slowly as you may not have ever heard of these lies before. And do give me a chance to explain why these are lies; don’t let uneasiness shut you down.
Ten More LIES the Church Tells Women
- Adam is the leader because God gave him the law.
- Eve was created to be Adam’s “assistant.”
- Eve’s “persuasive, seductive words” led Adam astray in the garden.
- Adam ate the forbidden fruit because of his love for Eve.
- Eve’s sin was that she “wanted to be like God.”
- Eve’s sin brought death to the human race.
- Eve’s purpose is to bear children.
- Adam is the leader of Eve because he is the “head.”
- God is male (and only male).
- The Holy Spirit is a “he.”
Okay, so that’s my short list (I have more, so don’t worry if this list bores you.) Now my website pretty much covers everything on the list, but let me do a quick overview of why these are lies:
(1) Adam is the leader because God gave him the law.
I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before — God gave Adam the law so he could “teach” it to Eve; therefore, Adam is the official leader of humankind. BUT… here’s the thing. The Bible actually gives a reason regarding why laws are given. And they are NOT given so people can teach them to other people. Laws are given for one reason: to test the heart. A law is given to reveal the sin that is growing within. So Adam was given a law so that God could test his heart (not because he’s a leader).
“Sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. –Rom. 5:14 (NRSV)
(2) Eve was created to be Adam’s “assistant” (since Adam is the leader, he obviously needs a helpful assistant, right? WRONG).
Yes, it’s true God created Eve to be the “helper.” She is the EZER of God. However, it is our low assessment of women that creates the lie in this one. When we view women as “not able to lead” then they become assistants. But the word helper is actually a revelation of God.
Eve is the revelation of Eliezer (el-ezer) which means the power and protection of the “God of help.” Moses understood this amazing revelation of God; after all, he named one of his sons Eliezer (God of Help). He did this specifically because he had personally witnessed God’s helping power:
[Moses named] the name of the other [son], Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). –Ex. 18:4 (NRSV)
Eve is the “image and likeness” of the God who saved Moses from the sword of Pharaoh. Take a moment to let this sink in. Eve was brought forth from the body of Adam to be a saving help to him in much the same way that God saved Moses from Pharaoh. Eve is a powerful revelation of the God of Help — she is not here to wash men’s dishes or darn their socks so the men can get important work done. Eve has some VERY important work to do herself.
(3) Eve’s “persuasive, seductive words” led Adam astray in the garden.
When God says to Adam in Genesis 3:17, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen. 3:17) we assume that Eve has somehow convinced Adam through her words to eat the fruit.
In our imaginations we see Eve in the garden; she has just eaten the fruit and now she turns to her husband with a seductive smile and says something like (different Christian books come up with various scenarios but they all basically go like this), “Go ahead, dear husband. You should eat this fruit. Do it for me… pleeeeease.”
But take note: throughout the whole scenario with the serpent, Eve says nothing to Adam. Eve’s words are directed only toward the Serpent. And this is what Eve says:
[The serpent] said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’ ” —Gen. 3:1-3.
So the words that Adam hears are the words that Eve speaks to the serpent. Not surprisingly, the words “listened to the voice of your wife” means “heard and understood the voice of your wife.” So here we have Adam, he is there in the garden standing with Eve, listening to the dialog between Eve and the serpent—he hears and understands what is going on. Adam hears and understands that Eve is being deceived — and he does not help her. Instead, Adam watches and allows the deception to continue until his partner falls into sin—and, sadly, he has no intention of pulling her out.
(4) Adam ate the forbidden fruit because of his love for Eve.
You have probably heard this teaching before: the love Adam felt for Eve compromised his guidance and this proves the power of woman’s erroneous leadership skills and/or her somewhat dangerous influence over man. Ultimately, the weak-minded Eve led her devoted husband astray by convincing/enticing him to eat the fruit (*there is no biblical record of any form of enticement taking place) to which Adam can only respond with fierce affection—he must obey Eve because of his love for her, as though his thinking went… “Well, if Eve’s going down this road of death then we’re both going down it together because I love her so much.” Adam’s motive for eating becomes oh sooooo romantic… LOVE.
But (and this is a huge BUT) when genuine love is involved, the first thing we do when a loved one falls into a trap set by an enemy is we rescue them; we plead for forgiveness and mercy on behalf of the one we love–we want to help them to become restored. We become their intercessors. What we don’t usually do is join them in sin.
And if we are deeply in love with someone (as Jesus is with humanity), we might even substitute ourselves with the person who committed the sin, saying “Let me take the consequence instead!” (As Jesus did for us). Jesus does not follow people into sin because he “loves” them.
“Adam followed Eve into sin because of his intense love” sounds like a line, because it is. It’s an explanation that is not sincere nor true. Love rescues people. Love truly helps people. So when Adam didn’t step up for Eve, Jesus did. Adam failed Eve by choosing not to intercede for her. Jesus is the one who did not fail Eve. Jesus is the one working for Eve’s complete restoration. He is our faithful intercessor.
(5) Eve’s sin was that she “wanted to be like God.”
It’s true, Eve believed the Serpent’s words…
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” —Gen. 3:4-5, NRSV
Consequently, Eve’s thoughts were led astray into thinking the fruit would make her become “like” God. My Bible Commentary says this about Eve…
“Eve, who, fired with a generous desire for knowledge, thought only of rising to the rank and privileges of her angelic visitants.” — Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 19).
Eve got it in her mind that eating the fruit would “rise her to the rank of being like God.” But Eve’s sin wasn’t wanting to be like God (she already was like God being one of two God representatives in the garden). Ultimately, Eve was not fully convinced of who she really was. Her sin was not understanding or not believing in her own identity. She became convinced that grasping the fruit could make her like God and so she ate.
Can you imagine if Eve knew her identity and instead of eating she said to the serpent, “I stand on earth with dominion, created in the image and likeness of God–there is nothing you could possibly offer me.”
So I’m going to stop here for now because I’m tired of typing and I have to get the vacuuming done. (I mean, everyone wants to join the rebellion, but no one wants to do the dishes, right?) And we Christian feminists still have to clean our houses from time to time. But I will continue in another post with the rest of my More Lies the Church Tells Women. By the way, Lee Grady also has other books: 25 Tough Question About Women and the Church and Ten Lies Men Believe.