He was my Baptist pastor in 1972 and he was abusing his teen-age daughter who was in my Sunday school class. “Prosecutors believe the abuse spanned more than 30 years and two generations of children in Jones’ family.” He died in prison in 2006. We didn’t know it of course, but surely his family did. It was a granddaughter who finally told on him that sent him to prison. If you can stomach it, read the full story.
Southern Baptist women have finally had enough. Sexual abuse is a direct result of male domination which demands female subordination.
On June 11, 2019 during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, you have a chance to make your voice known. For Such a Time as This Rally will be held June 11, 2019, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and will be from 5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
The abuse will not stop until women are recognized as being fully human and fully spiritual before God, before man, and before church, and before society.
This is a step forward. There will be other steps. But this is one step. Go to the website and order a t-shirt to help defray the cost, tell your neighbors about it, tell your pastor, tell your Sunday school class. Do your part.
This is for your children. Go back to my pastor. “Prosecutors presented testimony from three of Jones’ victims, both male and female, who vividly recounted incidents of abuse, ranging from fondling to oral sex and sodomy to sexual intercourse with dogs and cattle.”
I never dreamed my pastor was doing this and was continuing to do this long after I had moved away.
Let me tell you a Mother’s Day story about Jesus. No, not his mother. Just a mother like you and me.
Jesus, for reasons unknown, decides to take off one day and go visit a Gentile village. When he gets there, a woman comes to him and asks him to heal her daughter. We don’t know how old the daughter is. We don’t know if this mother is married, or is a widow, or what.
What we do know is that she saw an opportunity and she took it.
Her daughter was sick. You are mothers. You know what it is like to have a sick child and no medicine. But she had heard of the Jewish Messiah who could heal her daughter. She marched right up there to Jesus even though neither Jewish nor Gentile men would normally speak to women in public. At first Jesus said no. He said that he had been sent to the people of Israel. She pestered him. The disciples wanted to send her away, but Jesus wasn’t ready to do that. He said something about giving the food to the dogs, and she told him that the dogs got to eat the same food that the people sitting at the table ate. She said there was more than enough food for Israel. She could be given some and nobody would miss it.
Jesus healed her daughter. Those who know the Bible better than I do agree that this means that Gentiles will no longer be separated from Israel. Jesus healed other Gentiles, but Bible commentaries do not give that the same significance to those encounters.
There is a common theme whenever women talk with Jesus. They argue! They talk back! They ask questions. But most importantly, they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
A friend told me that one Sunday in his church, a little 11-year old girl asked her mother if she could hand out the registration books in church. Her mother said that she could not do that. She asked her mother why and the mother told her they would talk about it when they got home.
Somebody show me where it says in the Bible that girls can’t hand out registration books! We start limiting women when they are still little girls.
This has got to stop. It is not what Jesus intended. In this Mother’s Day story, It wasn’t the daughter who asked for healing. It was her mother who asked for healing for her daughter.
That is what I want you to do. I want you to stand up and speak up! I want you to not give up. Don’t take ‘no’ for answer. There is a healing that needs to take place for yourselves, and your daughters, your daughters-in-law, your sisters. You are equal! No buts!
Jesus in the Garden. He is Risen and now what? Let’s not be too hasty lest we pack Jesus away with the plastic Easter eggs. In the last chapter Destination, the garden, we saw how Jesus went out of his way to tell women that he was the Messiah. As we will see, there was a reason for this.
Jesus has been called “the new Adam.” That first Adam has been the bane of all mankind and so has Eve. But the Resurrection changed everything. Here was the new Adam – a spirit that gives life.
“So it is also written, The first human, Adam, became a living person, and the last Adam became a spirit that gives life.” (1 Cor. 15:45 CEB). In Bible language, this is what is known as typology. It is a doctrine of theological types; especially one holding that things in Christian belief are prefigured or symbolized by things in the Old Testament.
Let’s look again at that garden. There is Jesus and there is Mary Magdalene. Since Jesus is the new “Adam,” Mary is the new “Eve.” She is the first to witness this new Adam. He called her by her name, thus naming her. She is a freed woman, no longer to be cursed by man-made rules and restrictions. She is freed of the stigma placed upon her by mankind. But it won’t last. Because whenever humans can place a stigma, they will, and they did.
Just as it was not a coincidence that Jesus told the Jewish Mary of Bethany that she was welcomed into the presence of the Master’s teaching; Jesus told the gentile woman that he had also come to be Messiah of the gentiles which included her; Jesus told the woman at the well that he was the Messiah whom the Samaritans had been expecting (believing that they were the true faith); it was not a coincidence that Mary Magdalene was in the garden to see the Resurrected Christ – the new Adam. Everything was leading up to this.
Genesis begins in a garden. And here we are again, in a garden where the Apostle Paul says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The new Adam and the new Eve. And just like the original Eve, this woman Mary Magdalene who was cleansed of all her sins, remained under the curse of man. Not God, but man. So do all of us women who have come after her.
There are no more gardens. We have stepped into the Christian era.
Chaos. Everybody was running here and there. It is no wonder the stories got mixed up. Some thought they saw Peter and John go into the tomb, some thought they had not arrived yet. Some saw angels, or something that looked like angels. Some saw the guards lying facedown and scrambling up with worried looks and making hasty decisions of what to tell the authorities.
“Where is he?” You can hear the determination in her voice as Mary Magdalene confronts someone she thinks is the gardener. “Just tell me where he is and I WILL GO GET HIM!” This is not some weak woman speaking. She has come to the tomb prepared to roll away a heavy stone, but now all she sees is a gaping hole and the body of Jesus is gone. She is crying, yes, but these are tears of frustration and determination. She was going to make this right. Weak people say “help me” while strong people say “I will do it.”
“Tell me where he is! I will go get him!”
Chaos. So many different accounts of this one event. But there was one thing they all were clear on. It was a woman who Jesus first revealed himself to.
There were men around – the guards who were scared half to death – and possibly Peter and John. But they didn’t get the news. It was a woman. Like all of Jesus’ proclamations, male headship played no part in this resurrection story.
So we have finally arrived in the garden and the world has been turned upside down. Where do we go from here? Do we leave Mary and the other women beside an empty grave? Yes, we do. Not as Jesus did, but as pastors and preachers and other women have determined we should do. Mary Magdalene is mentioned 12 times in relation to Jesus’ death and resurrection. After that she is no longer mentioned. Why not? This woman to whom Jesus made a personal appearance – bypassing all the others around the tomb – is left there.
I was sitting in a doctor’s office while both men and women sat around me, using their iPhones or devices. Tears came into my eyes and I wanted to shout to all there “This is the 21st century for both men and women! Why does the church work so hard to keep women in the 1st Century?” Because the Bible says so? Where?
Where does Jesus say that women must submit to their husbands? Where does Jesus say that women cannot be in authority over a man? It is not there, my friends. We are called Christians because we follow Christ and not some 1st century societal customs that empowered men over women.
We have come to the garden by way of Mary of Bethany who was a Jewish woman welcomed to sit and learn from the Master himself. We have come to the garden by way of the Gentile woman who learned that Jesus was the Messiah for gentiles which included her. We have come to the garden by way of the Samaritan woman who believed that hers was the true religion, and here was the Messiah just as they expected. We have come to the garden by way of Mary Magdalene who declared she would go herself and find Jesus until he said her name and she knew he was the resurrected Christ.
We are at the garden. Who is going to stop you from going and telling?
If the first thing you think of when you remember the woman at the well is “the man you are living with now is not your husband,” then you have missed the whole point of Jesus’ visit to this Samaritan woman.
The Danvers Statement Affirmation #9 says: “With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world.”
No matter what shape the world is in, the writers of The Danvers Statement would never have chosen the woman at the well to be the instrument God used to win lost people to Christ.
But Jesus did.
Everyone knows her story. In fact, hers is one of the longest detailed stories of an event in the New Testament. It was her story. She told it to everyone who would listen. This man she had just met at the well knew that she had had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband.
Jesus was not judging her for that. He was offering her something that no man could offer a woman. He was offering her living water—from a well that would never run dry. And he told her that he was the source of this living water.
This was a woman experienced in the ways of men, and she knew this conversation was different from any she had ever had. She was certainly not the one who would be expected to announce the news that prophecy had been fulfilled and that the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. No one would even listen to a woman proclaiming this momentous event, would they? But for some reason, Jesus chose her to reveal his true identity.
She took that message and ran with it.
It was Jesus who brought up the subject of living water. He told her that if she drank from the water he gave, she would never be thirsty again.
She wanted that. She said she did not want to keep coming to the well to draw water. She was probably teasing him at that point as she had no idea what he was talking about. Then Jesus did something surprising. He told her to go call her husband, and then to come back.
Aha! Finally Jesus brings male headship into the conversation! “Go, call your husband and come back,” Jesus said.
The woman answered, “I have no husband.”
Was Jesus was surprised at this? Did he ask her to go call her husband just to embarrass her? No, its significance is greater than her confession that she was not married to the man with whom she was living. She was worthy in her own right, as a woman, to be told directly by him that he was the Messiah. They engaged in a theological discussion. This woman was not learning in silence. And Jesus did not rebuke her for it. She talked back and told him that she could see that he was a prophet. She declared “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
And he did explain—right then and there—to the woman at the well, a woman who did not have a husband to tell her if what she was hearing was right or wrong. She heard, she accepted, she told.
This story of the woman at the well is found in John 4:4-42 and begins by saying, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” It is best translated that “he purposed in his mind” to go through Samaria, because the Jews had found a way, even though it was inconvenient, to avoid Samaria. They thought they were better than these poor cousins, the Samaritans, and for a Jew to deliberately go through Samaria was unusual.
There was something in Samaria that Jesus needed to do in order to complete his earthly work.
With this story of the Woman at the Well, we see how the picture of Jesus is coming together.
The Jewish woman, Mary of Bethany, who Jesus permitted to sit at his feet right beside the men, and learn at a time when learning scripture was forbidden to women
The Gentile woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was not sent only to Israel, but to all people, which included her
The Samaritan woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah, who the Samaritans were also expecting, since they claimed theirs was the true religion of the ancient Israelites.
These are pivotal stories because they show that Jesus gives the voice of the gospel to women just as he gives the voice of the gospel to men. These stories also set the stage for the empty tomb where it was women who first encountered the resurrected Jesus and where the full gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus would unfold. So, yes, Jesus purposed in his mind to go through Samaria, because he had something to complete in Samaria.
The completion of this mission was so satisfying to him that he told his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” The conversation he had with this woman had an effect on Jesus that was profoundly different from his other encounters with men or women. This is the only scripture passage in the Bible where Jesus said that what had just happened was so meaningful to him that he felt that he had been fed. In other words, mission accomplished.
Verse 42 says “…we no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” These men first heard the words of Jesus from a woman, and then they heard the same message from Jesus himself.
Jesus is headed to the garden tomb and the final meeting with a woman who steps into the Christian era with the news “He is risen!”
There are four women to whom Jesus tells that he is the Messiah, the Canaanite woman being one of them. Most often we hear of her great faith, but when we concentrate on the faith of this woman, we diminish the message Jesus gave her. She was given the news from Jesus himself that he not only came for the Jews, but for the Gentiles also – and that meant her. Her story is found in both Matthew and Mark.
She asked Jesus to heal her daughter, but for some reason, he was not going to do it. Jesus told her “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” She was a Gentile, and Jesus was telling her that he was sent to save the Jews only. But if that was the case, I wouldn’t be here writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it. So we see that while Jesus said that, it did not tell the whole story. And then by healing her daughter, he is showing her that he is also the Messiah of the Gentiles. That is Big News! We must never forget that this extraordinary news was told to a woman who had no husband nearby, or possibly not at all.
But right now, this woman did not need some idealistic prophecy of what was to happen in the future. Her daughter lay in bed very ill and she needed help now. So she argued with this man Jesus in whom she had placed her hope. ‘Help my daughter! Surely you have enough power within you to give a small portion to us Gentiles.’
But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.” He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed. (Common English Bible)
This story is very similar to the story of the first miracle when Jesus turned the water into wine. His mother (remember she had first argued with the angel Gabriel when told she was going to have a baby who would be the Messiah?) In the Wedding story Jesus says almost the same thing to his mother as he says to the Canaanite woman.
When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.” His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. (Common English Bible)
Just as his mother had asked for a special favor “even though the time was not right,” Jesus did as she asked. He does the same with this Gentile woman, showing that his right time had no beginning or ending.
Jesus told women his Good News, and he did not tell any one of those women to go home and ask her husband, brother, or father what he meant. He did not tell any one of these women not to tell the Good News of the Messiah. If he had, we would have never heard these stories. The Gentile woman went home and found her daughter healed. The disciples didn’t see that ending. She told it to whoever would listen.
It is 2019. What stories are you telling about your relationship with Jesus?
Jesus is headed to the garden, this time to the garden tomb of Lazarus, where something very important is about to happen. There is to be a resurrection, a small demonstration of what is to come.
It is a familiar story. You know it well. You know Lazarus died, Jesus wept, Lazarus came forth from the tomb. And you know that Martha and Mary were at odds with each other because Martha needed help in the kitchen and Mary was sitting down and not helping.
“Just the facts, ma’am.” But every story has a back story and that story is most often ignored because the significance doesn’t fit with today’s male headship teaching.
Mary and Martha are the sisters of Lazarus. Apparently they live together. But it is not Lazarus who appears to be the head of the household, it is Martha. The stories in the Gospels do not attribute one word spoken by Lazarus, either before his death or afterwards. He does nothing to indicate he is the “head” of this family. Jesus speaks and interacts with Mary and Martha, and even this resurrection of Lazarus is overshadowed by Jesus’ talking with Martha, and his special notice of Mary.
Most of the people Jesus comes into contact with have only one story recorded in the Gospels. But Mary and Martha have at least four stories about their encounter with Jesus. When we first find Mary and Martha, Mary is at the feet of Jesus and Martha is fussing in the kitchen.
Mary was learning from the Teacher himself which was an enormously big deal in that time. It was said that for women to be taught the scriptures from men was similar to teaching them about sex – it just was not done. But here Mary is sitting at the Master’s feet alongside the men.
She is also the same Mary who, six days after the resurrection of her brother Lazarus, pours expensive alabaster oil on Jesus’ feet and dries his feet with her hair. Jesus rebukes those who seek to stop her by saying she is wasting the oil that could be sold to help feed the poor. He tells them “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”(Matthew 26:11-13).
Mary and Martha send for Jesus, but he waits until Lazarus is completely dead (it was believed by some Jews that the spirit hung around for three to seven days after death). It is Martha who runs to Jesus when he arrives after Lazarus’ death. If he had only gotten there earlier, Lazarus would have been healed but here he was dead and in the tomb and stinking for four days.
The bible makes the point that “when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house.” Mary remained at the house with the neighbors who came to comfort her. We know that Lazarus’ death and resurrection is one illustration Jesus wants to make, and we are going to see that there is one more connection to be made.
Here it is:
“After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here and he’s calling for you.” Jesus was headed to the tomb where Lazarus lay but it was important that Mary who had a hungering for the Scriptures and the things to come, be there when he brought Lazarus forth from the tomb. Thus, he said six days later, “she has prepared me for my burial.”
Just the facts, ma’am. Women had gone every step of the way with Jesus. They did not abandon him at the time of his trial; they did not deny him. Jesus is headed toward the tomb where at least two Marys will be the first to see him after his resurrection.
It is 2019. Jesus has been resurrected and the New Day dawned over 2,000 years ago. Are you still denying women equality in your church or in your home?
(reprinted from my post in 2016 Lent. Destination the Garden series)
You see, it began with the Garden of Eden and it culminated in the Garden of the Tomb and with the resurrection. That is no coincidence. And it is no coincidence that a woman was the one who was there when the Lord was revealed.
It was all leading up to that, of course, but they didn’t see it and I can bet your pastor doesn’t see it either. The scriptures pointing the way have been used for other illustrations if they are mentioned at all. Rarely will you hear a sermon on the four women Jesus chose to lead the way.
But first, we must go back to that first Garden. This is a story the Jewish leaders and every household knew very well, just as we Christians know it and teach our children.
Man and woman were banned from the Garden. The man was to till the soil and the woman was to give life. Her name was now Eve which means “life” or “life-giving, or “mother of all who have life.”
Tears come into my eyes for all the Eves of the world. Eve wanted knowledge. She would be the one giving birth to future generations, but those same sons and daughters would curse her. God did not curse her. He cursed the snake and the ground that would be tilled, but he did not curse the man or the woman.
In this series “Destination, the Garden” we will see how Jesus, the “second Adam” demonstrates redemption to the woman. And we will learn that yet, again, those sons and daughters still curse the woman who gave them life.
(this is a repost of my Lent February 12, 2016 Destination, the Garden series)
My latest book is now published on Amazon in print and ebook. I am not a biblical scholar and most people I know are not either. But we are all touched by death, and we all have some belief regarding what happens.
What happens to our bodies and souls when we die presents the biggest dilemma that Christians face. It would appear to be simple, but it is far from that. In addition to the Bible, Christians have incorporated theology, cultural beliefs, songs, movies and mysticism into what is believed about heaven and hell.
We are reading the same Bible, but what we accept as truth varies from one church to another, from one person to another, and from one generation to another.
This book is written in a conversational style by a church secretary. It has a little bit of humor, and a whole lot of scripture thrown in. You will discover 5 commonly held beliefs about death, and 5 distinct beliefs about hell. You will learn that Christian theology about what happens after death continues to change. You will be challenged to fire the devil.
Most of all, this book will give you hope and help you come to terms with death and dying. You will find God’s love spread throughout these pages.
Many years ago, I sat in my best friend’s home, and she said, “last night my husband got so mad because dinner wasn’t ready when he got home, that he threw the pot of chili against the wall.” I was horrified and could not imagine how someone could throw food and make such a mess and then walk away from it as if nothing had happened while she cleaned it up. My friend stayed with her husband and I am sure the chili incident was just one such event in their many years of marriage. Eventually he had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair and she had to take care of him for years.
In the 10 years I have been working for women’s equality, I have heard many such stories. It could just as easily be blood splattered against a wall. Christian families are as prone to these abuses as those who never attend church. The bible is quoted and used against the wife when she speaks up for herself. She is accused of not submitting to the husband. She lives on tenterhooks not knowing what the night will bring when he walks through the door.
Shirley Fessel writes about spousal abuse in her workbook Redemption from Biblical Battering (available on Amazon and on Kindle). You can find more on her website www.shirleyfessel.com.
Married to a minister who abused her while quoting scripture for over 10 years, Shirley writes of her experience and deliverance from the marriage and her personal journey to finding freedom. The book leads the reader in examining what is happening to her and how she feeds this emotional abuse. I think of my friend with the chili against the wall. He knew she would clean the mess up and make him another pot. This book will show women how to change their reaction to such behavior.
This subject is hard to read about, but there is a pattern that abusers take, and there is a pattern that those who are abused follow. This book will help you recognize what is happening. Understanding how the abuser works and your natural response to this abuse will lead you in your path toward wellness and eventual redemption from biblical battering.
While Shirley Fessel does not outright recommend leaving the abuser, I do. Children grow up and can leave an abusive home, and a wife should be able to do the same. This book will help her as she grows in wisdom and maturity.
I highly recommend this book Redemption from Biblical Battering. Those who are currently being abused should read this book (I recommend hiding the book and reading it in secret). Children who were raised in a home where their mother was abused should read this book as it will help them recognize what was happening. Those who have family members who are being abused should read this book as it will help them understand how a wife can stay with a husband who is abusing her. Pastors should read this book and acknowledge what is happening in Christian homes and make every effort to help women who are being abused. Counselors should read this book and even though they know it already, they need to see a new perspective on it.
I am not a counselor and have no knowledge of the course women should take when being abused. What I do know is that the Bible was never intended to be a hammer over women’s heads.