Christian women

You Don’t Need Jezebel for a Role Model

In the midst of all the craziness going on out there, did you notice that, for the first time in history, the United States has a woman occupying the office of Vice President?

It’s been overshadowed a bit by the Covid vaccination, the protest at the Capitol, the “will they or won’t they” impeachment proceedings against former President Trump, the flurry of executive orders issued by President Biden in his first few days in office, and, of course, Bernie’s mittens.

Sorry to rain on your inaugural parade, there, feminists, but it seems like there aren’t very many folks – at least not as many as you’d probably like – celebrating this supposedly groundbreaking moment for women. I guess it’s kind of hard when the tribe you’re joined to has, for the moment anyway, left you in the wallflower line to dance with the “gender is just a social construct”
guys
gals
humans
huwomens

people.

But cheer up. A few gentlewomen of your ilk are out there beating the drum for Kamala Harris to be the Great American Role Model for young girls to look up to. She’s a woman in a position of power, after all, and that’s all that matters.

Or is it?

For Christian women and girls, it takes a lot more than two X chromosomes and a fancy job title to qualify as a role model, and Kamala Harris doesn’t even come close to being in the running.

For starters, she’s not a Christian. But it goes waaaaaay beyond that. You could probably recite with me the litany of the evils she stands for:

  • She promotes the torturing to death of babies in the womb, hopes to expand access to abortion, voted against protecting babies born alive after botched abortions, and votes against every piece of pro-life legislation that crosses her desk.
  • As California’s Attorney General she prosecuted David Daleiden for exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal sales of aborted babies’ body parts.
  • She has voted in favor of banning abstinence-only sex education.
  • She was one of the original co-sponsors of the Equality Act, which enshrines sexual perversion lifestyles into a special legal class, thereby threatening the freedom of churches, Christian organizations, and others to operate according to biblical principles.
  • She is an outspoken advocate for the the sexual perversion lifestyle agenda
  • When same sex “marriage” was legalized in California, she praised the decision and celebrated it by performing the first same sex “wedding” in San Francisco.
  • She has been supportive of Black Lives Matter and many of their protest activities.

…and so much more.

Is everything she stands for evil? I doubt it. I would assume she’s not in favor of kicking puppies or armed robbery or littering, and probably lots of other things. But from a biblical perspective, in her capacity as a governmental leader, she generally advocates for wickedness. And that is certainly not the type of person Christians should look up to as a role model.

Which must have been what got my friend, Pastor Tom Buck, thinking about the evil Old Testament queen, Jezebel, and led him to make this astute observation on Twitter:

And, though he wasn’t actually calling Vice President Harris “Jezebel,”1 he’s absolutely right in drawing the comparison between Israelite women looking up to a wicked queen and Christian women looking up to a Vice President who fights for all sorts of things the Bible calls wickedness.

Do you know who Jezebel was and what she stood for? She was the wife of King Ahab, who, 1 Kings tells us, did more evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more to provoke the Lord, than all who were before him. And his “vice president,” Queen Jezebel, pushed him there.

Hold your nose and brace yourself, and let’s check out Jezebel’s bio:

1 Kings 16:31– Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal (whose name means “Baal is alive”). Idolatry was the way of life she had been raised in- an idolatry that required human sacrifice as a sacrament.

1 Kings 18:4,13– Jezebel “cut off” and “killed” the prophets of the Lord.

1 Kings 18:19– Jezebel welcomed, embraced, and honored the 450 false prophets of Baal and the 400 false prophets of Asherah.

1 Kings 19:1-2– After the showdown on Mt. Carmel in which God demonstrated through Elijah that He was the one true God, and Elijah put the prophets of Baal to death, Jezebel swore to kill Elijah, God’s representative to His people.

1 Kings 21:1-16– Jezebel, in the name of the king, ordered city officials to have false accusations of capital crimes levied against Naboth in order to execute him and steal his land, which Naboth, in obedience to God, had refused to give the king.

1 Kings 21:25– “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.” She encouraged the king toward greater wickedness.

2 Kings 9– God was so disgusted with Jezebel’s vile character and behavior that He destroyed Ahab’s lineage and killed Jezebel in one of the basest, most humiliating ways possible. Dogs, at the time, were wild, filthy, and despised, so much so that to call someone a “dog” was an outrageous epithet. And anyone not receiving a proper burial was looked upon as cursed by God. We’re given some hints in this chapter that Jezebel may have been sexually immoral, but Scripture places far more emphasis on her sins of idolatry (often called “whoring” in the Old Testament- indeed 2 Chronicles says “the house of Ahab led Israel into ‘whoredom'”, i.e. idolatry), rebellion against God, and general wickedness than on any acts of sexual immorality she may have committed.

That’s Jezebel. A woman in the second most powerful position in the country who facilitated the murder of innocent human beings, ran swiftly to do evil, and zealously defied the commands of the living God.

Let the reader understand.

You cannot look up at the cross of Christ and look up to Kamala at the same time. She champions the sins that nailed your precious Savior to the tree.

“So who can I point my daughters to as role models?” a reader recently asked me. “With so many false teachers out there, I can only think of one or two well known Christians I can hold up to them as examples.”

That’s OK, because you don’t need to.

Forget the evangelical celebrities, ladies. Teach your girls to look up to the godly older women in your church, and, if God has so blessed you, in your family. And you look to them, too.

Look for the women in your church who are like the godly widows of 1 Timothy 5. The ones who…

  • are deserving of honor
  • “set [their] hope on God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day”
  • have been faithful wives
  • have a reputation for good works
  • have been godly mothers
  • have shown hospitality, served God’s people, cared for the afflicted, and devoted themselves to every good work
  • are faithful to Christ
  • aren’t idlers, gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not
  • give the adversary no occasion for slander.

Look up to the women in your church who exemplify the godly character of the older women in Titus 2. Women who…

  • are reverent in behavior
  • control their tongues and speak of others in godly ways
  • don’t allow themselves to be controlled by alcohol or anything else but Christ
  • are able to teach and train young women to be godly women, wives, and mothers
  • strive to prevent the word of God from being reviled.

These are the women you and your girls should look to – not the celebrities who don’t even know you exist, but the older, spiritually mature real life women you know and have access to. The women you can pour your heart out to, call when you have a question, get wise counsel from when you need advice. That’s the biblical model – personal discipleship, not admiration from afar.

And ladies my age and older – those of us who have been married a minute and have managed to shoot our little arrows out the door and into lives of their own, who have flourished in a life of God-ordained singlehood, who have suffered the loss of a spouse or the loss of a marriage, those of us who have been there, done that, and been around the block a time or two – well, scroll back up there and read those character qualities from Titus and Timothy again, because those are the women we need to be. It’s all well and good to point these younger ladies to the godly older women in their churches, but we’d better be there for them when they show up. We need to strive to be able to say to them, as Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

Younger women need, and older women need to be church “mothers” and “older sisters” who lead by example and nurture those under their care in real time.

Nobody needs Jezebel as a role model.


1Tom was accused by some of using a racial slur against Kamala Harris, because, apparently some consider the term “Jezebel” to mean “a promiscuous woman of color”. This was certainly news to me, Tom, and a host of others who had never heard such a thing before. He was (as am I in this article) strictly referencing the Jezebel of the Bible and her evil character, which had nothing to do with ethnicity, and little, if anything, to do with sexual immorality. Jezebel is an icon of female wickedness just like Hitler is an icon of wickedness in general. When you compare someone to Hitler you’re not saying they’re German or antisemitic, and when you compare someone to Jezebel, all that’s being implied is that she’s a generally evil woman, regardless of race or chastity.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Husbands, pastors, and mentors- Which roles do they play in a Christian woman’s life?

 

I have three questions that are kind of related to each other:

1 Corinthians 14:35 says women should ask their husbands questions at home; how does this fit with women mentoring other women in Titus 2?

Where does a husband’s role end and where does the role of a godly older woman begin in terms of teaching younger women?

Are there areas where a pastor’s authority trumps a husband’s authority?

Thank you for your help.

These are really awesome questions. I love it when women ask questions that demonstrate that they’re digging into Scripture and thinking deeply about the things of God. It’s so exciting to me!

(Before I begin answering, let me just stipulate, as I usually do in articles about marriage, that the following statements assume a normal, relatively healthy, average marriage, not abusive marriages, extremely aberrant marriages, etc. Also, it’s not my intent to leave out my single sisters, but the reader asked specifically about married women, so that’s how I’m answering the questions.)

So let’s take each question separately…

1 Corinthians 14:35 says women should ask their husbands questions at home; how does this fit with women mentoring other women in Titus 2:3-5?

The first thing we need to do when we’re addressing questions like this is to look at each of these passages in context. This is a very simple study skill that will clear up nearly all instances of supposed contradictions in Scripture.

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. What is the venue for Paul’s instructions in this passage? In other words, is he telling people how to behave at home? At work? At the movies? Look at the key phrases in verses 26 (“when you come together”) and 28,33b-35 (“in church”). Paul is giving instructions for how an orderly worship service is to be conducted. He is not making a blanket statement that any time any woman wants to know anything about Scripture or God or life in general that the only person she can ever ask questions of is her husband. What he’s saying is that in order to avoid chaos in the worship service, women are to sit down and be quiet during the preaching and teaching, rather than interrupting to comment or ask questions (one of the reasons Paul says this is that the women in the Corinthian church were doing just that – interrupting the preaching and teaching with questions and comments). If you read further in chapter 14, you’ll notice he places similar restrictions on prophesying and speaking in other languages to prevent chaos and confusion during the worship service. I’ve discussed this passage in further detail in my article Rock Your Role ~ Order in His Courts: Silencing Women?

Now read Titus 2. What’s the main idea of this chapter? Is it the same as the main idea of 1 Corinthians 14 – instructions for an orderly worship service? No. Verse 12 gives a nice summary of chapter 2: “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” That’s what this chapter is about. “Titus, here’s what your church members (and you) are to do and how they’re to conduct themselves as they go about the business of living as Christians in this world and in community with one another.” The older women teaching and training the younger women in verses 3-5 is not taking place during the worship service, but as these women go about daily life with one another. Today, this kind of teaching and training takes place in women’s Bible study classes, women’s fellowship groups, and in one on one discipleship, not in, nor instead of, the gathering of the whole church for worship.

So as we can see when we examine the context of both passages, 1 Corinthians 14:35 and Titus 2:3-5 are not in conflict, they’re actually in harmony, addressing two distinct ways women are to conduct themselves in two completely different venues.

 

Where does a husband’s role end and where does the role of a godly older woman begin in terms of teaching younger women?

I don’t think it’s really that discrete and linear, i.e. the husband teaches this list of topics the wife needs to be taught about and the godly older woman teaches that list of topics she needs to be taught about, and never the twain shall meet. It’s a much more informal and “whatever is needful at the moment” type of thing. Additionally, it’s going to vary from marriage to marriage. Some women have unsaved husbands. Some women are newly saved with husbands who have been saved for decades. Some husbands and wives are very private about everything, some are very open to others. So the balance between who (husband or older woman mentor) teaches what, and how much, and when, is going to look different in every marriage.

I would just offer a few guidelines:

• After your relationship with Christ, if you’re married, your highest allegiance is to your husband. He should be your best friend and first confidant, not a woman who’s mentoring you (or even your mother, sister, or female best friend). He should never feel like he’s in competition for your time, interest, or affinity with the woman who’s mentoring you, or that you esteem her on the same (or, perish the thought, higher) level of loyalty or emotional intimacy with him. If you’ve gotten that close to your mentor, you’re too close. Turn your attention toward your husband.

• Along those same lines, always keep in mind that God instructs you to submit to your husband, not your mentor. The only time you should ever follow your mentor’s advice over your husband’s desires is if your husband is asking you to do something the Bible clearly calls sin and your mentor is advising you to obey Scripture instead. (But even in that case, you’re not really choosing your mentor over your husband, you’re choosing to obey God rather than to sin.)

• There are some things that are private between a husband and wife that shouldn’t be shared with anyone, including a mentor. Which things? Again, that’s going to vary from marriage to marriage, but a few no no’s might include the private details of your sex life, your finances, and anything your husband would be embarrassed for someone else to know. Talk with your husband and ask if there’s anything he would rather you didn’t share with your mentor.

 

Are there areas where a pastor’s authority trumps a husband’s authority?

It really depends on what you have in mind when you ask that question.

If you’re talking about personal decisions made between a husband and wife, let’s say, for instance, whether or not to move to a certain part of town or whether or not the wife should take a part time job, it is not the pastor’s place to step in and overrule the husband’s decision, nor should the pastor have any expectation that the couple would obey any edicts he issues. If the couple goes to him for counseling or asks for his advice, he can certainly give it, but we never see any place in Scripture where a pastor has authority over another family’s decisions. The husband is responsible before God for leading his family, not the pastor.

But if you’re talking about a situation in the church, then yes, a pastor’s (or the elders’) authority – assuming he’s abiding by Scripture – trumps a husband’s authority, and pretty much every other church member’s authority as well. For example, a husband does not have the authority to walk up to the pastor and say, “I’m going to let my wife preach the sermon next Sunday,” or “My wife is going to take over this Sunday School classroom and use it as her personal office.”. If a husband were to say something like that, the pastor is well within his authority as shepherd of the church to say, “Oh no she’s not.”. The buck stops with the pastor when it comes to how the church runs, and he is responsible before God for making godly decisions for the church.

I’m aware that there are aberrant, fringe “churches” (many of them are some stripe of New Apostolic Reformation or extreme legalism/fundamentalism) out there in which the “pastor” has ultimate authority over every decision a family makes: where they live, how many children they have, what to name their children, whether and where each spouse should work, etc. If you’re in a so-called church like that, leave immediately and find a doctrinally sound church to join. A church doesn’t plunge to that depth of spiritual abuse without succumbing to other dangerous false doctrines along the way.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ Discipleship Requires Relationship

Originally published September 30, 2016

discipleship-relationship

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

You probably know the verses above as the “Great Commission.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples after His resurrection and before ascending back into Heaven, and they are still our marching orders as Christians today. It’s an action-packed passage, wouldn’t you say? Go. Make. Baptize. Teach. We are to be about the Lord’s business, not sitting around doing nothing or busying ourselves with other things to the exclusion or neglect of the task to which Christ has called us: sharing the gospel with the lost and training the saved to follow Christ.

But how do we put shoes on the Great Commission? What does it look like to “Go ye therefore” and carry out this action plan of making and teaching disciples of Christ in our day to day lives? Like so many other aspects of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, there is no one size fits all checklist of specific, “do it this way” tasks to choose from. Why? Because God created you as a unique individual with a particular background and placed you in a certain life venue. Yours doesn’t look like mine, and mine doesn’t look like yours. And that’s a good thing. God has woven all of those elements together in our lives to place us in the exact spot He wants us in to glorify Him, grow in our own faith, and make the disciples He has specifically assigned us to reach in the way He wants us to reach them.

But while you may be counseling a fellow church member about her marriage and I might be teaching my children the book of Colossians and another sister might be praying with a hospitalized co-worker, there’s one thing that’s foundational to all these divergent discipling situations: relationship. You can’t disciple someone unless you have a relationship with her.

Now let me stop and clarify something here. I’m not saying you have to have a relationship with someone before you can evangelize her. We should absolutely be sharing the gospel with lost friends, family, and others we already have relationships with, but we can (and should) share the gospel with complete strangers we’ll never see again as well. When Jesus first called His disciples and said, “Come follow Me,” He didn’t, humanly speaking, know any of them, as far as we know.

But Jesus didn’t stop with the call, just like we’re not to stop with the conversion. He gathered those twelve guys to Himself and they literally did life together for the next three years. They lived together, ate together, traveled together, went to the temple together. Everything. Together. For three years. That’s what turned them into disciples- true followers: time spent together with Christ, learning from Him.

There were three main ways Christ discipled the Twelve: formal teaching (as with the Sermon on the Mount), situational teaching and correction (as when James and John wanted to sit on His right and left in the Kingdom), and setting an example (as when the disciples watched Jesus minister to Zacchaeus), and all of those methods required Jesus to spend time with and bond with the disciples. These weren’t mere acquaintances of His, they were brothers.

Is that what God is calling us to do today? Should we quit our jobs, gather up a dozen ladies, move in together, and disciple them? (Goodness, it almost sounds like a reality TV show, doesn’t it?) Probably not (Especially if you’re married and have children. In that case, your family members are your live in disciples.). But we do need to make sure we’re clearing time in our busy schedules to bond with women or children who need a “big sister” in Christ. Time to disciple them in the same ways Jesus did: formal teaching, situational teaching and correction, and setting an example. Work through a book of the Bible together, be a shoulder to cry on, pray with her when she’s had a bad day, go to the movies together, let her watch while you share the gospel with someone, have a cup of coffee. Develop that close, trusting relationship that creates a safe haven for confession of sin, sharing fears and inadequacies, instruction, rebuke, encouragement, grief, and rejoicing.

And it’s important that we do this, not only at the individual level, but at the church level as well. My church is somewhat large, with a few hundred or so in attendance each week. A few months ago, I hosted a fellowship for the ladies of my class, just so we could have some fun and get to know each other better. During the evening, I asked if anyone would be interested in a weekly women’s Bible study. Most indicated that it wouldn’t work out with their schedules, and we went on with the evening, sharing various things that were going on in our lives, and even stopping to pray for a few of the ladies who were struggling. Later, one of the ladies pulled me aside, told me how much she had enjoyed the evening, and said something so wise I’ll never forget it: “A weekly Bible study would be nice, but this evening is the kind of thing we need. We get good teaching in church and in Sunday School, but we never get to just sit around and talk and share our joys and struggles- our lives.” And she was right.

Yes, sometimes churches can go overboard on fellowship, but we’ve got to be careful not to swing too far the other direction to the point that we’re a group of isolated individuals who happen to be in the same place at the same time each week to receive good teaching and all go our separate ways when it’s over. Good, biblical, corporate teaching and worship are only one aspect of discipleship- the “theory” aspect of discipleship, if you will.

But what about the “applied” aspect of discipleship, where the rubber of the sermon meets the road of life’s circumstances? That’s where relationship comes in. There are women and children in your church who are fairly starving for someone to reach out to them, listen to them, help bear their burdens, explain how the Scriptures apply to what they’re going through today, give them a hug and an encouraging word. Is your church creating space for this to happen between individuals and in small groups? Are you encouraged to get involved in one another’s lives and walk through joys and sorrows together on a personal level?

Making disciples. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes intentionality. It takes relationship. Jesus was willing to invest those precious resources into the lives of His disciples. Are we?

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Sanctification

Discipleship Requires Relationship

discipleship-relationship

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

You probably know the verses above as the “Great Commission.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples after His resurrection and before ascending back into Heaven, and they are still our marching orders as Christians today. It’s an action-packed passage, wouldn’t you say? Go. Make. Baptize. Teach. We are to be about the Lord’s business, not sitting around doing nothing or busying ourselves with other things to the exclusion or neglect of the task to which Christ has called us: sharing the gospel with the lost and training the saved to follow Christ.

But how do we put shoes on the Great Commission? What does it look like to “Go ye therefore” and carry out this action plan of making and teaching disciples of Christ in our day to day lives? Like so many other aspects of working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, there is no one size fits all checklist of specific, “do it this way” tasks to choose from. Why? Because God created you as a unique individual with a particular background and placed you in a certain life venue. Yours doesn’t look like mine, and mine doesn’t look like yours. And that’s a good thing. God has woven all of those elements together in our lives to place us in the exact spot He wants us in to glorify Him, grow in our own faith, and make the disciples He has specifically assigned us to reach in the way He wants us to reach them.

But while you may be counseling a fellow church member about her marriage and I might be teaching my children the book of Colossians and another sister might be praying with a hospitalized co-worker, there’s one thing that’s foundational to all these divergent discipling situations: relationship. You can’t disciple someone unless you have a relationship with her.

Now let me stop and clarify something here. I’m not saying you have to have a relationship with someone before you can evangelize her. We should absolutely be sharing the gospel with lost friends, family, and others we already have relationships with, but we can (and should) share the gospel with complete strangers we’ll never see again as well. When Jesus first called His disciples and said, “Come follow Me,” He didn’t, humanly speaking, know any of them, as far as we know.

But Jesus didn’t stop with the call, just like we’re not to stop with the conversion. He gathered those twelve guys to Himself and they literally did life together for the next three years. They lived together, ate together, traveled together, went to the temple together. Everything. Together. For three years. That’s what turned them into disciples- true followers: time spent together with Christ, learning from Him.

There were three main ways Christ discipled the Twelve: formal teaching (as with the Sermon on the Mount), situational teaching and correction (as when James and John wanted to sit on His right and left in the Kingdom), and setting an example (as when the disciples watched Jesus minister to Zacchaeus), and all of those methods required Jesus to spend time with and bond with the disciples. These weren’t mere acquaintances of His, they were brothers.

Is that what God is calling us to do today? Should we quit our jobs, gather up a dozen ladies, move in together, and disciple them? (Goodness, it almost sounds like a reality TV show, doesn’t it?) Probably not (Especially if you’re married and have children. In that case, your family members are your live in disciples.). But we do need to make sure we’re clearing time in our busy schedules to bond with women or children who need a “big sister” in Christ. Time to disciple them in the same ways Jesus did: formal teaching, situational teaching and correction, and setting an example. Work through a book of the Bible together, be a shoulder to cry on, pray with her when she’s had a bad day, go to the movies together, let her watch while you share the gospel with someone, have a cup of coffee. Develop that close, trusting relationship that creates a safe haven for confession of sin, sharing fears and inadequacies, instruction, rebuke, encouragement, grief, and rejoicing.

And it’s important that we do this, not only at the individual level, but at the church level as well. My church is somewhat large, with a few hundred or so in attendance each week. A few months ago, I hosted a fellowship for the ladies of my class, just so we could have some fun and get to know each other better. During the evening, I asked if anyone would be interested in a weekly women’s Bible study. Most indicated that it wouldn’t work out with their schedules, and we went on with the evening, sharing various things that were going on in our lives, and even stopping to pray for a few of the ladies who were struggling. Later, one of the ladies pulled me aside, told me how much she had enjoyed the evening, and said something so wise I’ll never forget it: “A weekly Bible study would be nice, but this evening is the kind of thing we need. We get good teaching in church and in Sunday School, but we never get to just sit around and talk and share our joys and struggles- our lives.” And she was right.

Yes, sometimes churches can go overboard on fellowship, but we’ve got to be careful not to swing too far the other direction to the point that we’re a group of isolated individuals who happen to be in the same place at the same time each week to receive good teaching and all go our separate ways when it’s over. Good, biblical, corporate teaching and worship are only one aspect of discipleship- the “theory” aspect of discipleship, if you will.

But what about the “applied” aspect of discipleship, where the rubber of the sermon meets the road of life’s circumstances? That’s where relationship comes in. There are women and children in your church who are fairly starving for someone to reach out to them, listen to them, help bear their burdens, explain how the Scriptures apply to what they’re going through today, give them a hug and an encouraging word. Is your church creating space for this to happen between individuals and in small groups? Are you encouraged to get involved in one another’s lives and walk through joys and sorrows together on a personal level?

Making disciples. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes intentionality. It takes relationship. Jesus was willing to invest those precious resources into the lives of His disciples. Are we?

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