…By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

 John 13:35

Dear Ms. Beth,

Earlier today, my friend Joy asked me if I had read your blog post yet. I said no, but knew by the eagerness in her voice that I should as soon as I could. So I asked my husband if we could read it together. I, like so many other young women, have long looked up to your leadership within the church and even more specifically within our denomination. I have also been deeply encouraged by your outspoken defending of racial reconciliation as a Gospel issue in recent days.

I read your blog “A Letter to My Brothers” aloud in my car today. I began, eager to hear your story. I never thought that I might hear part of my story in the midst of it.

Soon enough, tears were streaming down my face, and my words dissipated behind a lump in my throat. Not because of some big, emotional story I possess. I am just a young girl called to ministry.

But I am a young girl called to ministry who has been conditioned to think that these things are just normal. That it is okay to make jokes of our women while. However, it is “feminist and wrong” to do the same to men. It is inconsistent. I do not believe that anyone in my life has done this purposefully. I just think that we hate the “victim card” so much that we have blinded ourselves and our daughters to the truth of misogyny.

It is normal that we enter and leave a staff meeting feeling small. For the first time, I realized, “Wait a minute. Not cool. That’s not Christ’s church.” For the first time, I am seeing that we have not been loving one another well. Not at all. Not in light of God’s design.

Through your words, the Holy Spirit was urging me, are you willing, daughter? Are you willing to continue to face these things? 

My immediate response is, “Heck no! Pump the breaks, Lord! I’ll be happy to wait.” And still, I know the foolishness and selfishness in that response. I know that my stepping back is playing into exactly what Satan wants. He wants hesitation in Christ’s daughters. He wants us to be defined fear.

Ms. Beth, I know that this was a letter written to our brothers, but please know that tonight, one of God’s purposes for your letter was to encourage your sister.

I am reminded that my passion for seeing people come to know Jesus is not bad or “overly emotional”. I am reminded there is so much more in scripture that should empower and encourage women than that which is used to cut us down. I am encouraged that despite the fact that these things exist in our ministries and homes, our good God uses us. Despite the lies that the enemy tries to sneak in through misogyny and haughtiness, the Spirit is working in His children.

And that’s exactly what is going on. The enemy is whispering. He wants us to be distracted from the beautiful strengths God has granted to us.

I am encouraged by your message to us because it affirms the Gospel truth that our beings are not to be dismissed in the church. And you’re right. We have to call it out as any other sin. I am encouraged by your message because it gives voice to the twinge in my Spirit that something isn’t quite right.

I am encouraged by your message to us because I too have been part of the problem. I have not experienced anything to the degree you have, but I have bought into the lie that we are less than. That any frustration or conviction we might have toward misogyny is just “playing the victim”. I am encouraged because this is not about victimhood.

This is about value.

This is about women in ministry understanding that our value does not lie in the affirmation or belittling of the man who sits across from us in the conference room. Our value does not lie in our “overly-emotional nature”.

We are not defined by our submission, though submission is beautiful in its correct context.

We are defined by the blood of Jesus.

We are loved through the cross of Christ.

He demonstrated that love for women in the way he treated our gender on this earth. He revealed Himself as Messiah to one of us before anyone else. He showed love to us unlike anyone man in that cultural context might even consider doing. He loved us in a way that was unheard of.

We celebrate our different roles as part of the bigger picture of the Gospel. We serve alongside our brothers, bringing our strengths to the table and allowing others to make up for our weaknesses. We joyfully use the gifts God has given.

I am so grateful that by the power of the Spirit, you have stuck it out with fervor. I am eternally thankful that Christ called you down that aisle twice, knowing the theology you might teach me. Through the words you have written, the Holy Spirit has empowered me, and so many women like me, to dig into theology. To know God’s Word. To get up before the sun and pray. To engage in a real, raw, worshipful relationship with our King.

Thank you for your ministry, Ms. Beth. Thank you for the way you call out what is ungodly. But mostly, thank you for being willing to do the uncomfortable. Thank you for following where the Spirit has led all these years. Thank you for voluntarily jumping into the fryer tonight for the sake of calling out sin. Your faithfulness has been used time and time again.

I hope that tonight is not the last night that we address this issue. I am confident that the Spirit is working in His church and convicting so many of our hearts through what you felt led to write.

With love from your little sister,

Lauren

 

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