Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Thinking of attending an If:Gathering? Please read this, it’s eye-opening

By Elizabeth Prata


Seven years ago I wrote a series on the IF Gathering. (2014). Four years ago I did an update. (2017)

The organization reports that in 2021, there were 6,648 IF:Local events in 66 countries. Because this para-church organization is still growing so much, it’s time for another reminder in discerning love and care for women everywhere, to avoid IF:Gathering.

The IF:Gathering and its women have only embedded themselves deeper into the faith and are tainting even more women with their brand of liberal theology, shaky hermeneutics, usurping lifestyles, and their idol of social justice. After 8 years of watching this organization (since its inception in 2013) we can see by now that it is essentially a female takeover of the church as a feminist, para-church/social justice/liberal organization, where women are drawn out from under their pastoral authority of the local church, fed false notions about Jesus and about our own identity, and reinserted as thorns and weeds to infect the local church with these modernly false ideas, only to turn around and recruit more women to do the same. It’s a multiplying movement that fulfills several scriptures about how false doctrine gets into the church.

Source and video below.

PROBLEM #1: Their premise is based on doubt.

The title “IF:Gathering” comes from their motto, “If God is real, then what?” The purpose statement on their IRS forms is to equip women by having them share their feelings about Bible passages posted online, and the by-product is to instill or institutionalize doubt. Their IRS tax form statement of purpose states:

If:Lead: equipping women to share and learn through Christ-centered discussions

IF:Austin: a two-day gathering that brought thousands of women together in Austin and at local gatherings across the globe. The gathering is a fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question: if God is real… then what?

If:Equip: a holistic, strategic, deep way to connect online with a like-hearted community and relevant resources. We hope to prepare women around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes by sharing comments and feelings about daily passages posted online.

PROBLEM #2: It’s based on feelings we have, not on biblical truths revealing who Jesus is

Did you notice the ‘like-hearted‘ community? The Christian faith is not about feelings, but about what we know about Jesus. It’s supposed to be like-minded. This is an organization that calls their homes ‘spaces’, their local communities ‘contexts’, and their goal is to ‘change the world’. Its mission is to wrestle with the notion IF God is real. Using this amorphous, non-specific language helps cultivate the doubt, which is the opposite of the certainty we are supposed to preserve and promote as believers. We’re believers, not doubters. It’s Good News, not Maybe News.

The ‘gathering’ part is actually brilliant. They aim to disciple women in gatherings at homes, dorms, and other locales, sometimes churches. It’s not public, nor it is under the authority of local churches or of men. Participants know where to gather through social media, which is employed in a major way. It’s why this is a stealth approach to infect the church. Galatians 2:4 and 2 Peter 2:1 said this would happen. Yet discipleship is supposed to take place within and around the local church.

PROBLEM #3: Secretiveness

There aren’t any posters, advertisements, billboards, pamphlets that one can see. They don’t normally make known who will be speaking at the annual large Gathering ahead of time. That’s allegedly so that people don’t come for the personalities but for the fellowship and learning. But would you want to spend time and money to go to a conference without being able to vet the speakers? Or your own pastor helping you vet the speakers?

Instead, there’s texts, social media whispers, person-to-person promotion, all of it done in a way that is more subterranean than any other generation’s Christian activity (apart from the actual persecuted church.)

IF:Gatherings are ongoing in living rooms and lawns by the thousands. There are A LOT OF GATHERINGS. Look. This map is four years old and their gatherings are only increasing in number:

The idea to disciple women is a good one. However, that is an activity that the church is responsible for. These gatherings take place outside of the auspices of the local church and its pastoral authority and is based on curricula that has shaky scripture interpretations at best.

PROBLEM #4: Founded on direct revelation

The gatherings were born from the mind of a young woman named Jennie Allen. At the first Gathering, she revealed that she had heard God whisper to her, and after a few years decided to step out from her church to enact this so-called God-whispered “vision to gather, equip, and unleash women to live out God’s calling on their lives.”

“together with a team of friends, formally established IF:Gathering. … Some of the first friends to believe in her vision put aside their own individual ministries to leverage their collective influence for the glory of God and the good of His Church.” (Source, source).

So they abandoned their local ministries to go online for the good of the global church? Exactly wrong. Here is Jennie Allen claiming direct revelation from God as the catalyst for IF.

Video is here, 2 min. Scroll halfway down.

PROBLEM #5: Draws women away from local churches, the place where we’re supposed to disciple

They abandoned their ongoing locally accountable ministries, to follow a young woman who’d heard a whisper, in order to establish Bible studies about a God they doubted existed, in order to equip women to discuss feelings about the Bible, enact social justice, reconcile the world, heal the nations, and disciple a generation. Hmmm. I’m not being satirical. All that verbiage is from their own statements.

PROBLEM #6: Feminist oriented

The constant refrain in the IF material is that these women will “change the world” (source, 2022 promotion). This is why I call it a stealth feminist takeover. I’m not being hyperbolic, it’s actual, from their own vision statement

women out from local authority, changing the world based on misinterpreted Bible verses and their feelings. Not promoting Jesus of the Bible to call people to repentance and salvation.

I wonder how it works to be submitted to a local church, yet to draw away women from other churches to come to your house to discus your feelings about direct revelation, extra biblical Jesus while then returning to church to ‘take initiative.’

IF’s founders are paying lip service to the concept of local church, while the entire movement’s thrust is about taking initiative to change the world, start global movements, heal the world, etc. (SOURCE) Not to return to one’s church, submit to local leadership, and operate in our spheres, nor to find contentment in our roles as wives and moms. There is nothing local about IF:Gathering.

Conclusion- Concerns with IF:Gathering are:

Founded on Direct Revelation: Founder Jennie Allen said she heard a whisper from God telling her to start a discipleship group. (source, also see above). Direct revelation is hazardous to one’s soul. If you test a direct, audible command from God against the Bible and it’s there, you do not need the audible command. If it is not there, it’s a lie and you don’t need it anyway. That’s a paraphrase from John Owen.

Doubting God: The premise itself is based on study of a God that those who gather doubt exist. IF God is real? Doubt is not noble. The Bible says doubt is a destroyer of life. (James 1:5-8).

Lack of male oversight and involvement and severe emphasis on women-led initiatives: Jennie’s husband Zac says he provides theological oversight, but he is listed as working only 10 hours per week at the 501(c) 3 non-profit, and the only other male on the Governing Board is David Willis for 2 hours per week. The 40-hour/weeks are put in by Jennie and Lisa Huntsberry. It’s Jennie’s baby, she is listed as Principal Officer on the tax forms. It’s led by Lisa Huntsberry who’s listed as CEO. The fact is, it operates as a woman-led, para-church organization with little male accountability or pastoral oversight.

The IF:Gathering’s premise is flawed and so are its goals. Again, from their IRS form, it states that their goals are to foment a ‘global movement’ that ‘promotes healing around the world’. Is that what the Bible says women are to do? Unleash movements? These women are mothers. With children at home. The Bible tells us what we are to do: raise the kids, support the husband. Did even Jesus come to promote healing around the world? And just what IS “healing”, anyway?

Goals are postmodern and extra-biblical: As Tim Challies said, the words reconciliation and healing have a different meaning to the postmodernist liberal than they do to the Christian fundamentalist:

“…perverts the Biblical meaning of “reconciliation.” The Bible does not use this word arbitrarily, but speaks of the reconciliation of man to God and how this can be accomplished. It speaks of redemption! Salvation! Our ministry of reconciliation is not relational healing of myself to my neighbor (right and good as that may be), but the far more important relational healing of a sinful man to a holy God.

The ‘reconciliation’ the IF-ladies intend is the latter, promoting relational healing. Hence their emphasis on feelings and their activity of social justice.

Very good critique from Lighthouse Trails on IF:Gathering. Please read. Emergent IF: Gathering Conference Coming to a Town Near You (Coming For Your Daughters and Granddaughters)!

Liberal-to-false teachers as partners and speakers. For example- Ann Voskamp. Does she even know how to use the English language anymore? Below is her tweet. I thought teachers were supposed to be ‘able to teach’. (2 Timothy 2:24). Being able to teach presumes a facility with the language so as to communicate truths in a way that will edify the hearer. Voskamp’s gone beyond #babble all the way to to #Babel.

Ann Voskamp (concern, concern, concern)

The list of IF speakers for the recent gathering that concluded in March 2021 is posted but their talks are behind a paywall. Nevertheless, this list is only a quarter of the amount of listed speakers, and demonstrates immediately that the speakers are part of the problem with IF:Gathering leaders’ discernment. Francis Chan, Christine Caine are false teachers, Lauren Chandler and Lysa TerKeurst are heavily suspect, as well as severe concerns with Jackie Hill Perry and Jefferson Bethke (of the ‘Why I hate religion‘ author)

Lysa Terkeurst (concern, concern, concern, concern)

Jennie Allen (concern, concern, concern, concern)

Jo Saxton (Female Pastor. A director of yet another ‘movement’ whose goal is “to CHANGE the world by putting DISCIPLESHIP and MISSION back into the hands of everyday people.” Emphasis theirs.

Rebekah Lyons (concern)

I hope any of this information helps you. IF gatherings are occurring every day in living rooms, dorms, (they are coming for your daughters-)

source from 2022 host guide pdf.

No town is too small, too rural, too citified or too sophisticated to host an IF:Table. The brand of Christianity the women promote is far from the Bible’s call to obedience for women, due to their emphasis on social causes, feminist living and usurping thrust of the IF:Movement, doubting God, and discussing their feelings. I pray you protect your daughters and granddaughters from any and all IF activities.

IF:Gathering says, IF God is real, then what?
Satan says, If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Satan says, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…” (Luke 4:3, Luke 4:9)


Sincere Doubt vs. Dishonest Skepticism

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 1 (What They Say)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 2 (What They Do)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 3, the IF:Gathering

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women Bible teachers. Part 4 (Women Teachers)

Posted in theology

Complementarianism: Or, Being the Help-meet

By Elizabeth Prata

Question from a reader: I’ve heard the word complementarianism talked about a lot, but I’m not sure I fully understand the biblical definition of what it means. I know there are implications for marriage. And what about in the church?

All relationships are in some way hierarchical. Players submit to Coach. Employees submit to Boss. Boss submits to Corporate. Students submit to Teacher. Children submit to Parents. Sailors submit to Captain…who submits to Admiral…who submits to President/Commander in Chief. The President submits to the Constitution, and ultimately, the Voters. Congregants submit to Leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

Continue reading “Complementarianism: Or, Being the Help-meet”
Posted in encouragement, theology

You say potato, I say potato: Feminism and the Younger Teaching the Elder

By Elizabeth Prata

Rachel Janovic (@lizziejank), put out a 4-min video on encroaching feminism, obedience, submission, and loving our homes. She specifically named Aimee Byrd and @BethMooreLPM as bringers of feminism and disobedience to scripture.


Beth Moore snarkily replied with a tweet and a photo.


@canonpress and Rachel Jankovic then issued a 2-minute video reply to Moore’s photo. It was brilliant.


@BethMooreLPM and her feminist hordes will not win (unless they submit to the Bible’s precepts for obedience and women’s roles.)

As for Moore, you say potato I say potato. It’s too little, too late. She has spent a lifetime in her career of writing and traveling. The Atlantic’s lengthy story on her stated flatly that Moore is “obsessively focused on writing”, traveled so much when her children were little that her children “ate a lot of takeout”, and that her husband picked up home duties. They mention her “publishing career” and her “writing career”, but not her ‘mothering career’. Instead, the writers noted that Moore “balanced motherhood with demanding professional ambitions.”

For a biblical women submissive to her designated role, her ambition should be wifehood/motherhood only, and nothing should compete with that. That was Jankovic’s point.

Allowing personal ambitions to encroach into Godly roles and even compete with them means one has formed her own god and succumbed to the Genesis 3:16b curse and Genesis 4’s warning that sin is crouching at the door and desires to have you. A woman’s ambition is to serve God, in the ways HE has outlined, not the ways we personally desire if those desires are against scripture (and scripture tells us those desires will be).

As for Moore, one look at her face and demeanor will show you instantly what a lifetime of rebellion against God will do to you. It’s interesting that a woman like Moore with 938,700 followers, almost a million, knows and cares what a woman with 3500 followers says about her. As an older women, Moore is supposed 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, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)

It’s pretty sad that here the younger is teaching the older, and the older woman is not responding well. It is a serious, serious thing to rebel against God. One of the outcomes is that His word is reviled, as the verse says. Beth Moore has brought reproach upon Jesus every day of her life since she began teaching men and never stopped, and has only added other sins to her growing pile.

Ladies, I know that home life is sometimes hard. Scrubbing, cooking for hubby, picking up endless toys, changing diapers, wiping noses, isn’t the most glamorous job in the world. We often feel marginalized, that we are missing out, and we’re lonely at times. But it is the most important job in the world. It is a high calling, one that doesn’t show instant rewards, but offers long-term benefits for us all.

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. (Psalm 144:12)

Fulfill your ministry, model the role with integrity, love the Lord, serve the home, and reap glorious rewards when Jesus looks you in the eye and says “Well done, good and faithful woman.”

Further Reading

What does the Bible say about Christian Mothers?

God’s High Calling for Women


Posted in discernment, theology

Ladies, here is how to be precious in His sight

By Elizabeth Prata

Phil Johnson has been a discerning Christian for a long time. He noted in a recent Q&A at the GraceLife Pulpit when responding to a question about women teaching and preaching, that he doesn’t know of a single seminary that has caved to culture in installing female Bible professors that hasn’t compromised in other areas soon after. It’s the same with churches and denominations. If you don’t like the clear teaching of God in the Bible in one area you’ll soon find ways to compromise on others, too, he noted. Here is a definition of an evangelical feminist (an oxymoron if there ever was one)- Continue reading “Ladies, here is how to be precious in His sight”

Posted in beth moore, biblical womanhood, feminist, ministry, priscilla shirer

The moth-eaten SBC and the women who did it

By Elizabeth Prata

But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah. (Hosea 5:12)

Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity. ~The Atlantic

I published an essay, part 1 of 3, in 2011, eight years ago as of this date. It was about how the secret feminists laid the groundwork for a later open rebellion. That rebellion has now occurred. They are openly touting egalitarian principles. The takeaway-

  • These rebellious women live for their work, which is usually a corporation, but called a ministry,
  • These women are the main and sustained breadwinners, and the husband supports the wife by adopting the wifely role,
  • These women actively reject rebuke and correction from elder men, thus fulfilling the feminist’s more famous line, ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’

They are feminists.

In my 2011 essay I had focused on how Beth Moore, grandma of the Christian feminists, was Exhibit A in laying a devilish groundwork of feminism in the evangelical church. Worse, she was producing spiritual children to follow in her example, like Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, and Rachel Held Evans, and others.

Back then I called them secret feminists because these women hid their private ambitions from the public, and they used complementarian language even though they privately disbelieved in it. But discerning women and men were not fooled, these women’s lives were forward. The recent Atlantic Monthly interview of Beth Moore (Oct 2018) with the above quote proves their private ambitions were there all along.

At the time, I warned that the groundwork being laid in their feminist ministry and the examples they set would have dire consequences. As God promised the Israelites that He would be a moth to them, it seems that God has used Beth Moore and her spiritual daughters to eat away the garment. Its sturdiness and functonality has rotted. For church leaders and especially the SBC not to have plugged those holes ensured that the complementarian garment would rot. It has.

But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah. (Hosea 5:12)

We can look back and see…where we were and where we’ve ended up, and why.

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” was the feminist motto of the 1970s. The implication was that women didn’t ‘need’ a man at all.

In 2012 when I wrote about this last, there were a number of popular Bible teachers/preachers who traveled widely, filling arenas, marketing their books, selling their products, and leaving the husband at home to take care of the kids. These women had assumed the lead role in the marriage and are the main breadwinner, and the husband is the helpmeet, usually having set aside his career to work in his wife’s corporation ministry. While these women call what they are doing “ministry,” I call it “feminism”.

This is the new crop of what I called Christian secret feminists- but they aren’t as secret as they were in 2012. They live a feminist life inside of Christianity but call it ministry. They are openly rebelling now.

One woman who has much to answer for about this new role is Beth Moore. She was the one who broke new ground in the Southern Baptist Convention, a most conservative denomination, in how far a woman could go in attaining celebrity status, living for her career and not for her home, and promoting gender role reversals.

She showed us how to be the main and sustained breadwinner of the family. She showed us that she could preach in a church and teach anyone in the world, uncensured. Mrs Moore, while speaking conservative values cloaked in all the right Christianese, has lived a very feminist life. You will see more details on this below.

A spiritual daughter of Mrs Moore in this generation of Christian feminists is Christine Caine. Mrs Caine’s language is less cloaked (more open) in her declarations of what women can or should see as their roles in Christian home and work life. Mrs Caine is an ordained minister and part of Hillsong Church in Australia.

For example, in an interview (now deleted from Youtube) from 2010, Caine reassured Pastor’s wives that despite Caine’s visible usurpation of the traditional husband-wife roles, that their stay-at-home role is still viable:

“Predominantly I might teach a little bit and I step out into what would be the more classic leadership gift, so a lot of people say ‘I’m not that, so therefore I must not have a role to play…'”

It’s no wonder that woman are confused when they see peers taking on the ‘classic leadership gift’. And that is one way they cloak their rebellion in Christianese: it is not a role or a job, it is a ‘gift‘. Ultimately, women would not need reassurance from other women that their biblical role is still viable if they themselves were not setting it aside.

Christine continues in the interview by acknowledging that there are “women who are gentle and loving and nurturing”, and there are other “women who come along side and do a bit more “non-gentle prodding help people go to the next level.” But that in “no way diminishes your role.”

Really? Sure it does. It sets up women to be discontent. By justifying herself in the leadership role as a gift from God (and who can argue with that?) and acknowledging that there are ‘levels’ and women need to get to, but at the same time saying it is important to stay at home and be nurturing…she had completely confused any listener as to the clear guidelines of the notion of what Biblical womanhood is. She says one thing (and not too clearly, either) but does another.

Discernment tip: one way to detect if a person is in the Word is to see if what they say and what they do match up over time. If what they say and what they do are different, run away. Beth Moore is a good example of that, see below.

Mrs Caine’s reassurances use a neat scriptural twist. If objecting to a woman’s taking on home or ministry leadership roles, simply acknowledge that the women feel weak or unsure in them, but get around it by assuring them that all they need to do is have courage to step out and let Jesus work through their weakness, citing 2 Corinthians 12:9 out of context (“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”). That’s how Caine works it.

Discernment tip: Once a women steps out of the biblical role assigned to her by God, reasoning becomes confused, because God is the author of clarity and it’s satan who sows confusion. A discerning person will really listen to what she is saying, listen to how she is saying it, and look at the life she is leading to make a decision on whether this teacher is someone to learn from. Is what she is saying clear and easily confirmed by the Bible, or is it confusing?

In that same interview, Mrs Caine said, “The only way I was able to continue in my role is that my senior pastor’s wife stepped into her role and chose not to be threatened or intimidated because the giftings were different.”

Oh, I get it. Women are now complementarians to each other. It’s the height of irony that unwittingly, Mrs Caine acknowledges that these new ‘roles’ set up discontent. It’s so nice that in her situation at least, the pastor’s wife wasn’t jealous of her fabulous gift. A good portion of the middle of the interview is Caine’s description of how women are to be complementarian of each other in church settings. One takes the wifely nurturing role so that the younger ones coming up can step out, so to speak. That’s not complementarianism, that’s rebellion.

Now, female support between and among ministries is a good thing, and it is biblically commanded. (Titus 2:4) but the description in Titus is for elder women to teach the younger is in their biblically defined helpmeet role, not to be a helpmeet to other women who step out into classic male roles.

Priscilla Shirer is another of these new Christian feminists whose life is more forward than their spiritual mothers.

The NY Times article notes that Mr Shirer spends much of the day negotiating Priscilla’s speaking invitations and her book contracts. In the afternoon it’s often Mr Shirer who collects the boys from school. Back home, Priscilla and Jerry divide chores and child care equally.

“Jerry quit his job to run his wife’s ministry. Priscilla now accepts about 20 out of some 300 speaking invitations each year, and she publishes a stream of Bible studies, workbooks and corresponding DVDs intended for women to read and watch with their girlfriends from church. Jerry does his share of housework and child care so that Priscilla can study and write. He travels with his wife everywhere. Whenever possible, they take their sons along on her speaking trips, but they often deposit the boys with Jerry’s mother.”‘

If you delete the name Shirer and substitute Gloria Steinem, and change ministry to job you have a description of a life that any feminist would be proud of.

By 2019 Beth Moore is one of the elders in this realm. Moore has been “on the ministry circuit” for almost 30 years. Thus, her rebellious example has been long in view for many women who have watched her since they were an impressionable teen. Later comers arriving on the scene such as Priscilla Shirer or Christine Caine have learned from the best of the Christian feminists in Moore.

Meanwhile, despite the Bible’s instruction to women to be gentle, meek, quiet, and industrious, tending to their homes and children, Moore has become culturally confrontationalPolitical. And since my essay was first published in 2011, we have a helpful confirmation of exactly what I had written about back then regarding the man left at home to tend to the kids while the wife wins the bread, but was vigorously denied and refuted by Moore’s followers. As the lengthy article about Moore in an October 2018 article in The Atlantic reveals,

Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity. Her days are tightly scheduled and obsessively focused on writing. She spends hours alone in an office decorated with a Bible verse written in a swirling font (“I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven,” Luke 7:47). Though she often performs domestic femininity for her audience, in her own life she has balanced motherhood with demanding professional ambitions. She traveled every other weekend while her two daughters were growing up—they told me they ate a lot of takeout. Like other Southern Baptists, Moore considers herself a complementarian

We know she never cared for the Bible’s command to live a quiet life at home. If she did, she would not preach to men. Or leave her children behind. Or obsessively focus on her career. She SAYS she is a complementarian, but she IS a feminist. She always has been.

For example, deliberate misrepresentation:

Beth Moore said to Christianity Today in 2010 that her man demanded a regular home life so she only travels every other Friday and comes right back home the next day.

“We walk the dogs together and eat out together all the time and lie on the floor with pillows and watch TV,” Moore says. “My man demanded attention and he got it, and my man demanded a normal home life and he got it.”

Aww, isn’t that nice. But it’s disingenuous in the extreme. The reality was that Mrs Moore was gone from home at least 20 times per year on her Living Proof tours, which is a lot if you have kids and a husband. Mrs Moore appeared weekly on the Life Today television show, traveled for weeks on book tours, where she expounded on the burning question all women in America are apparently asking, “How can women find validation without a man’s affirmation?” and which her book So Long, Insecurity apparently attempts to answer.

She also spent extended private time for weeks in a cabin by herself in Wyoming to write her book (as stated in the preface to “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”). She is the President of her own company that in 2011 brought in 4.1 million dollars, with an excess after expenses of 1.3M, stated working hours of 40/week. If you think all she does is lay around on pillows gazing adoringly at her man then all I can say is look at what she does, not what she says.  Beth Moore is a Christian feminist because for years she has lived that way, no matter what she disingenuously told Christianity Today.

It’s no wonder women are confused when they see Beth Moore telling us that you can have a corporate career and still be a Christian woman, if you call it ministry. Or like Christine Caine- just call your career ambitions a gift. (c.f. Joanna Gaines).

Feminists like Moore simply misrepresented her life to interviewers and used acceptable language to fool undiscerning readers. Caine twisted scripture to do it, claiming her rebellion is a gift from God that must be used. RHE used the tactic of saying it was all an accident.

Ms Evans also claimed to be an accidental feminist, writing on her blog, “Most of all, if these critics knew me, they would know that it isn’t feminism that inspires me to advocate gender equality in the Church and in the world; it is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“God surprised me with this ministry” Priscilla Shirer said, as if the big oops was all out of her hands nor will she be morally and spiritually culpable on the Lord’s day of Judgment. And I can assure you ladies reading this, that despite what Mrs Evans said those years ago, Jesus did not deliver the Gospel by His blood so she could use it to promote a different role for women than He has already ordained.

Do not be fooled by what they say. Look at their life. Paul advised Timothy to guard his doctrine and his life. he meant to live the precepts, not just know them or utter them. The old saying from the 70s, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” was the feminist motto. Now the only difference for today’s Christian secret open feminist is the logo on her purse.


Posted in missionaries, theology

History’s Single Female Missionaries: ‘Woman’s Work for Women’, or Proto-Feminists?

By Elizabeth Prata

God does a powerful and magnificent thing by raising up missionaries. He not only regenerates hearts but He establishes some to go to the hard places, live a hard life, and some even to die for His name. The selfish will of the natural man would never do that. The self-sacrificing heart of a regenerated Christian, would.

I think of many woman missionaries who lived and died for His Gospel. One of my favorites is Gladys Aylward, missionary to China. We remember the female missionaries of the 1800s and 1900s who first went places, like Lottie Moon, Amy Carmichael, Annie Jenkins Sallee, Mary Slessor, and Isabel Crawford… among many others.

We might be inclined to even think of them like super-Christians, given extra strength or morality or character, or who were extra spiritual. LOL, they were simply women, with the same sins, tendencies, and foibles as the rest of us.

In fact, you might be surprised to find that some female missionaries may have possessed extra doses of foibles and struggles as they considered the mission field. Some of them may have mixed their motives for going, struggling with the exact same issues we do today- feminism and being conflicted against prescribed gender roles.

After William Carey, missionary to India and considered the Father of Modern Missions, died in 1834, a fervor arose among the faithful. He had founded the Baptist Missionary Society, spent 41 years in India (without a furlough) and raised consciousness among Christians of the need for bringing the Gospel to the nations. Missions exploded.

In addition to the missions movement powerfully springing up in the mid 1800s, in which many Christians desired to go, another powerful movement sprang up too- First Wave Feminism. (1848-1920). Whereas previously, the only credible careers available to women were teaching or nursing, now, many women found that a missionary life afforded them a chance at a fulfilling career and even leadership opportunities on the foreign field that would not have happened back home. The Civil War had helped with that, either with women handling the homestead or the business while the men were gone, or serving in the army itself as doctors. Once bitten by the independence bug, many women found that missions offered similar opportunity to lead an independent life.

In 1834, New York businessman’s wife, Sarah Doremus, heard a sermon about the need for women on the field in China, in order to reach Chinese women. She tried to get an organization going, but it went nowhere. By the time of the Civil War in 1861, there was less opposition to females singly joining men on the foreign mission field. Doremus’s organization was finally founded with success: the Women’s Union Missionary Society.

Let’s look at a few of these missions ladies.

800px-lottie_moon-1Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Moon (1840-1912) Missionary to China.

One of the earliest and easily the most famous single female missionary, Lottie Moon, seems to have been a relentless advocate for expanded women’s roles, a proto-feminist.

Lottie was indifferent to the Baptist religion of her parents until age 18, when she experienced an awakening during a series of revivals. She then attended Virginia Female Seminary and Albemarle Female Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia graduating in 1861 with the first master of arts degrees awarded to a woman by a southern institution.

Lottie taught at home for a while, but then responded to a call from her sister Edmonia in 1871 who had already been approved for the China mission field and had been there a year. Edmonia had previously served in the Confederate Army as a Doctor in the US Civil War.

Foreign missions often encountered an issue of gender. In many nations, only women could reach women. Men counseling or giving the Gospel or interacting in general with women presented a scandalous problem. The teaching career having palled for Lottie, she responded to her sister’s call and went to China to “go out among the millions” as an evangelist. Instead she wound up in the same work-situation as she had been back home, teaching what she termed as “unstudious children” in China and feeling like an oppressed class of single women missionaries.

In an article titled “The Woman’s Question Again,” published in 1883, Lottie wrote:

Can we wonder at the mortal weariness and disgust, the sense of wasted powers and the conviction that her life is a failure, that comes over a woman when, instead of the ever broadening activities that she had planned, she finds herself tied down to the petty work of teaching a few girls?

That was how Lottie viewed women missionaries teaching children on the mission field. It was “petty work.”

Lottie Moon was in fact ardent activist for women’s rights and a tireless supporter for an expanded sphere for women’s evangelistic work, despite what the Bible said women’s roles are to be. Her specific directive from the SBC Missions Board was to teach women, not to plant churches, evangelize, or teach men. Rebelling, Lottie did all three, loudly. She decided that to make a lasting impact she had to reach the men of the community. So she incited curiosity enough so that the men attended her teaching meeting, and Lottie ‘innocently’ said that she was just mainly preaching to women but would not send the men away if they chose to come. That attitude was similar to Beth Moore’s stance a hundred years later,

Being a woman called to leadership within and simultaneously beyond those walls [of an SBC church] was complicated to say the least but I worked within the system. After all, I had no personal aspirations to preach nor was it my aim to teach men. If men showed up in my class, I did not throw them out. I taught. ~Beth Moore

Lottie wrote,

“Simple justice demands that women should have equal rights with men in mission meetings and in the conduct of their work.”

Lottie did receive criticism from both men and women for her opinions, one of which included women entering the missions field in order to do the “largest possible work,” but other women abhorred Lottie’s “disorderly walk” and called for her to stop her “lawless prancing all over the mission lot.” Lottie didn’t.

She found it easier to advance her expanded view of female missionary work on the foreign field. When no men were available to preach, she did. Around 1885 Lottie decided on her own without permission from the home Board, to move to China’s interior, P’ingtu. Her heart was burdened for the many who were ‘groping ignorantly for God,’ and where incidentally there was also less Board oversight.

By 1886, Lottie had completely abandoned the “woman’s work for women” policy that had she had agreed to in order to receive her appointment as a Southern Baptist missionary to China. Her move to P’ingtu accomplished, she had no male protection, no male supervision, and evangelized as she saw fit, experimenting with various methods.

And of her Field Director’s attempts to redirect her efforts toward the call to which she agreed, teaching, she wrote-

“[His plans] would make him, through the Board, dictator not only for life but after he had passed from earthly existence. If that be freedom, give me slavery.”

Forgoing biblical submission, she threatened resignation. Lottie Moon was an egalitarian who did much to erode the SBC’s stance on complementarian roles for men and women. Her rebelliousness resonates to this day.

Lottie remained unmarried to her death. As regards her death, the common story is that Lottie gave away all her money and gave her food to starving Chinese during a famine, dying a board a ship at Kobe Harbor weighing 50 pounds. Other documents indicate Moon suffered from an infection located behind her ear, which the missions doctor theorized had invaded her spinal column and caused dementia. Part of Moon’s end-of-days dementia included fixations on lack of money and refusal to eat.

Lottie Moon was no doubt a lover of the Gospel and a lover of souls, but was also a fearless and relentless advocate for ‘women’s rights’ within the SBC, spending many years fighting the SBC (once on the field), rights that went far outside the bounds of biblical roles.

Mary Slessor 1848-1915. Scottish Missionary to Nigeria. Mary accepted a marriage

Mary Slessor

proposal from a man 30 years her junior, but decided not to marry him when the Board refused to allow him to leave Duke Town, and Mary refused to leave the interior. Mary chose missionary work over marriage, eventually becoming a revered Judge in native court, something that would not have happened back in Scotland.


Annie Jenkins Sallee American Missionary to China. First woman to receive a Master’s Degree from Baylor U. in 1899. Married W. Eugene Sallee. Not a single female missionary, but Annie’s marriage was a close call. She resisted mightily. In “‘Women’s Work for Women’: Annie Jenkins Sallee in China” by Amanda Sawyer, we read of Annie’s uncertainty about marriage because it conflicted with her goals to the mission field-

Yet Annie remained uncertain. Though she said she loved Sallee a great deal, she also viewed marriage as a personal defeat. And despite this love, she remained uncertain about fulfilling the station of wife.

From Annie’s diary

I didn’t want to marry for many reasons, I had decided on so much work I was going to do. I feel a single woman can do so much more work than a married one with household cares. I feel I could have more influence with the young unmarried. I never did feel called upon to keep house for a man. I want to be in the work myself. As yet I have not been able to find the great importance and “privilege” as some term it of being a “wife”! It seems to me I’d be cut off from everything and shut up to house-hold cares.

Amanda Sawyer continues,

Marriage represented a giving up of the “feminist spirit” which Annie had so eagerly taken upon herself when she received her master’s degree, traveled to Chicago to be trained as a missionary, and set sail to China.

More from Annie’s diary. Annie related how Eugene pleaded with her:

I’ve told him [Eugene] how it seemed to me my education and all the years of training I had put on myself would be useless. He wouldn’t need it, and I couldn’t use it. It hurts him when I talk this way. He says he knows it is asking me to give up everything for nothing; but he loves me…I have learned such things and had such high ambitions for myself as a single woman that I can’t give all these up just now. I know that Papa says that a woman’s highest possible attainment in this world is to be a wife and mother but oh! I have seen the other side…the taste I had of public work, of the meetings with women, of moving whole audiences, and of helping people make decisions for God, of counciling [sic] with people about their work, and helping the discouraged–has taken a bigger hold on me than I thought and I flinch when I think of merging my own self, identity and all, literally losing right of self and all for him.

My how it hurts my pride. I don’t want to be ‘Mrs.’ Anybody. I don’t like married women as a general rule. … I don’t feel I can get used to being Mrs. S, and really don’t want to. I hate to think I gave up my name.

When Annie did eventually marry, she had the officiant take the word obey out of the vows and replace it with the word help.

(Source God Speaks to Us, Too: Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home, and Society By Susan M. Shaw)

It is a fact that God calls some to singleness, and that is OK. However, to choose singleness because there is a greater chance of renown, or of expanding one’s role, or of being independent, is another matter. In that case it would be a mixed motive that we women should be careful to examine before making drastic life decisions, most importantly, of the mission field.

Genesis 3:16 makes that clear that it is within all of us until the glorification to want to rule over a husband. And on top of that there is the general tendency of our sin nature to usurp God’s plan from all quarters, something satan is only too happy to help with. But is developing self or working to push gender boundaries God’s plan for women, or for any of us? We die to self, conforming our identity to Christ’s in a lifetime of submission and sanctification. Is the marriage institution that God created “for nothing” as Annie wrote? Or as Lottie wrote, is teaching girls ‘petty work’? If it is for the Lord, no work is petty. Did Paul deem it petty to make tents?

Any historical person will have had a blending of truth and myth attached to their name. We are all used to the mythologizing that surrounds Lottie Moon or Amy Carmichael (she will be looked at in a separate essay). There’s no doubt that these women mentioned and many others did have the Gospel and souls in mind when they embarked for the mission field. In the 1800s and early 1900s life was rough for these women (as it still is in many places). They endured hardships for the Lord’s name, but some of them also intentionally or perhaps unintentionally used the situation to advance an agenda that was not totally consistent with biblical roles for women.

It’s clear that single female missionaries were not all feminists nor did they all use the field to advance extra-biblical boundaries. The hard life, relentless cultural opposition, and some martyrdoms make it clear that God was first priority. Yet their mixed motives are not out of bounds to examine, nor is is unwarranted to say that the sometimes lack of rigorous oversight may have later incited some of these women to overstep, bowing to a natural tendency to usurp.

As in today’s times, with woman founding organizations, gallivanting the globe for social justice, or heading out on book tours (leaving husband and children behind), and calling it ministry, these subterfuges simply indulge the Genesis 3:16 tendency in women who knowingly or unknowingly want to live a role that seems more attractive to them than “wife”, a moniker that missionary Annie Jenkins Sallee actively chafed at.

This essay is not meant to impugn the good work of these women, but to warn and advise ladies who want to strike out for the mission field, to examine one’s own motives for doing so. It is also a call to examine everything with clear eyes, not to be clouded by mythologizing or romanticizing missions. It’s especially important to be clear-eyed about these more famous missionary women when using them for role models.

Here are some helpful articles-

Learn How to ‘Adult’ Before You ‘Missionary’

Many conferences rally young people to do extraordinary, counter-cultural, radical things for kingdom. High school, college, and seminary students are exhorted to do anything but settle for a predictable, cozy existence. The drumbeat, intentional or not, is risk, run, burn out, and die for Jesus.

What Does It Mean That Women Should “Remain Quiet” in Church? (1 Timothy 2) By Denny Burk

“Quietly” does not mean that women are never to utter a word when the church gathers for worship. This would completely contradict what Paul says about women in 1 Corinthians 11, where he tells the women how to pray and prophesy in church. His assumption is that they will pray and prophesy, which means his assumption is that they will speak during church services. We may note that the term for “quietly” in verse 11 is similar to the term for “quiet” in verse 2. When Christians are commanded to pray for a “peaceful and quiet life,” that phrase does not describe a life in which no one talks. It aims rather at a life “without turmoil.”

A letter to young women interested in going overseas

 As a wife, I am designed to help my husband be the best man he can be as he lives out his calling to make disciples. So this means that if I am married, I can be confident that I am following God’s calling when I support my husband in his calling. If you are called to singleness, you are still created to be a helper in a general sense to the body of Christ, but you are also able to maximize your giftedness in a unique, devoted way (1 Cor. 7:32-35). So if you are single, I would encourage you to find a ministry that you love with leaders that you can work under and help.


Posted in theology

Overheard in the Coffee Shop

By Elizabeth Prata

Picture the scene. It’s a festive coffee shop at your favorite spot. You’re there sitting and sipping and savoring being alone for a few minutes before heading home. You have your hand curled around a warm cup of coffee and you’re enjoying the hum and din of the throng, the twinkling lights, and the strong beverage warming its way down to the bottom of your toes.

As you settle and your body relaxes and your mind clears, you begin to pick up snippets of conversation around you. The guys over there mention the Super Bowl. The teen at the table by the window is on her phone. And next to you there’s a table of four women, laughing and talking rapidly, as women do. They have scarves artfully arranged on their necks, slim fingers play with their mugs, dancing along the rim, and a couple of them twiddle their shiny new wedding rings. They laugh full body, open mouth, showing all their teeth. They are relaxed with each other, friends for a long time, even if some of them are newly married. They’re young.

They’re talking about boyfriends and husbands. As you smile to yourself and glance away, you hear one of the young women with a new looking ring on her finger say this:

“I always do what pleases him.”

The other women still, and look at her mouths agape. You don’t know what preceded this half sentence, but clearly the other three women are startled. One of them furrows her brow, and suddenly the entire room seems to quiet, the table in the middle of the coffee shop becomes and island, though the rest of the customers don’t seem to notice. You do, though.

“Laura!” exclaims one of the women loudly. “You can’t mean that!” The lady by her side chimes in, “You’ve never been a doormat!”

Blushing and looking down, ‘Laura’ says, “Well…I do nothing on my own authority, but only what I’ve heard from him. He is the authority in our home.”

The conversation now twists on a dime, pivoting on her words, and suddenly there is a gang of three against a lone woman of one. They argue and fuss and exclaim, insisting that marriage is 50-50, that she is her own woman, that women’s liberation has come a long way, baby, and all that. The relaxed atmosphere at that table is gone, and an adversarial one has swept in. The tide is against the woman they called Laura.

You decide it’s time to go, sadly and creakily arising from the table. You leave the din behind as the door swings shut behind you, shaking your head, pondering the lives of the young, which to you was so long ago.


What the imaginary woman in the hypothetical scene was talking about was submission. It’s a dirty word these days, and by these days I mean since about 1966 when the second wave of women’s liberation, or the feminist movement, came to the fore. The S-word. Today it’s a synonym for doormat, mouse, enslavement, even.

But submission is simply a yielding to a higher authority. Men and women do it every day in other spheres. We yield to the Boss, the Lieutenant, the President of the Company. We yield to the Officer, to the Judge, to the Guard. We yield to the velvet rope, to the law, to the policy. We para-professionals yield to the teacher, the teacher to the assistant principal, the assistant principal to the principal, the principal to the superintendent, and the superintendent to the school board. Hierarchy exists, and women submit to their place within it every day.

It’s the notion of female submission in the home that galls. It galls the unsaved to the degree that they are willing to march, yell, overthrow in aggressive and passive-aggressive ways. It even galls the new Christian, perhaps raised in a storm tossed bowl of feminism, waves upon waves nearly choking and drowning them but the struggle to stay afloat in it remains after conversion, hopefully for only a short while.

It is IN us to rebel. Genesis 3:1-7 shows it and Genesis 3:15 declares it:

To the woman he said, I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.

John MacArthur explains it this way

Just as the woman and her seed will engage in a war with the serpent, i.e. Satan and his seed, (v 15), because of sin and the curse, the man and the woman will face struggles in their own relationship. Sin has turned the harmonious system of God-ordained roles into  distasteful struggles of self-will. Lifelong companions, husbands and wives, will need God’s help in getting along as a result. ~MacArthur Study Bible, Gen 3:15

Our marriages are patterned after the relationship Jesus had with His Father. Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, as Philippians 2:7 says.

We submit every day to everyone else, except when it comes to the husband. Then, we rebel against the thought of submitting to him. Yet the Bible says,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24).

That’s the pattern. Oh, and the woman in the hypothetical coffee shop that said the provoking words…’for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him’? That was from John 8:29b, and it’s what Jesus said that HE does.

And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.

It seems OK when we read that same phrase in the Bible, that Jesus only does what pleases the Father. If we put those words into a woman’s mouth, though, it seems incendiary. But that’s only because we might have lost the awe that Jesus chose to remain submissive to His Father.

He as God-the-Son in the Trinity emptied Himself and was submissive to His Father in all things. God in the form of Jesus is submissive! Jesus was not a doormat. Of course Jesus while in His incarnation on earth had his own thoughts, ideas, opinions. For example, in the Garden He shared those in prayer with God, ‘please take this cup from me’ but followed that plea with ‘thy will be done’. So in all things He submitted his own will by placing the Father’s first.

If it is good enough for our King/Savior/God-the-Son, it is good enough for us in our relationship with our husbands. We have thoughts, ideas, opinions, and our husbands are our partner, and in safety we shae them. But ultimately he is our authority in the home and out goal should be to do all things that are pleasing to him. In the end, this pleases Him.

Posted in discernment, theology

On empowerment

By Elizabeth Prata

We hear so much these days about women being empowered. Needing empowerment. Wanting power. We hear from the feminists that women in today’s church have been oppressed, marginalized, and discriminated against because they do not have the same ‘opportunities’ that men do. Meaning, the feminists are saying women have been denied the equal opportunity to teach men, preach or pastor a church.

This is bunk, of course.

If we go all the way back to Genesis 1:28, we see that God made us male and female. After making humans in 2 genders, God gave both humans a job:

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God said to THEM. Is there any additional power women need than with men as partner to jointly care for all of the creation? And to do so within clearly defined boundaries, which is a gift, not a restriction?

Along the way, as the Old Testament and New Testament progressed, we see women with amazing abilities being used by God, as well as men. Esther, the Queen who saved her people. Mary, the humble servant given opportunity to first share the Good News of the resurrection. Lydia, Asia’s first convert and host of one of the earliest home churches. The Samaritan Woman, who was discipled one-on-one by Jesus, then she shared news that helped convert a whole village.

Challies says in his book review of John MacArthur’s Twelve Extraordinary Women, that the author writes about-

-the high position given to women within Scripture. Women are never relegated to a secondary status and, unlike so many other religions, are never degraded and considered less important than men. From the beginning of the New Testament era to the close of the canon of Scripture we see God granting extraordinary privilege to women. There are countless women in the Bible who stand as examples of faithfulness, integrity, hospitality and every other admirable virtue.

What more do you want, women who demand empowering?

We see the eternal discontent of feminists as a reflection of what happened in the original Garden. God gave Adam and Eve everything, absolutely everything, except for one thing. It was that one thing satan enticed Eve to want.

So it doesn’t matter if the feminists push their way into the pulpit. Their discontent never stops, because there is always that one thing they will want. The Bible says they cannot preach? They want to. Can’t teach men? They want to. Can’t lead men in spiritual authority? They want to. Can’t be master in the home? They want to. We could capitulate and give it all to them and they’ll still want more. That is because sin is a bottomless pit.

Their discontent stems not only from wanting what is forbidden, but from a failure to be grateful for all the opportunities we women DO have. Want to teach other women? We can. Want to raise children? We can. Want to teach children? We can. Want to be hospitable and open your home to others in His name? We can. Want to minister to the brethren? We can. Want to disciple younger ladies? We can. Want to share the Good News of the Gospel? We must.

And so much more.

We have power, power that God gave us. It’s when women step outside the boundaries of that power that our lives go awry. We ladies should be content with the magnificent privileges God has given us. We should be joyful at the stately way Jesus treated women in His day. We should be busy doing ministry in His name within the bounds of the myriad opportunities He did give us.

As for empowerment itself? What IS power?

Jesus has all power. He gives it as He wills. (Luke 9:1).
The angels have power (2 Peter 2:11).
Jesus gave His two witnesses power. (Revelation 11:6).

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, (Revelation 19:1).
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3).
An entire level of angels is called powers. (Colossians 1:16).

When you hear women saying they want to be empowered, they are not pushing for power from the men who lead churches or denominations. They are making demands of God. How do I know this? John 19:11a

Jesus answered, You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.

All power comes from God. So before you might be tempted to listen to women who go around clamoring for empowerment, stop and think of what they are really demanding and who they are demanding it from.

If we are content, we will be doing what Paul advised in 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-11,

But we urge you, brothers, to excel more and more 11and to aspire to live quietly, to attend to your own matters, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you.

If we work hard, attend to our own business, and live quietly, we will be doing much better than the loud women who roar for empowerment and make evil claims against a holy God. After all, we have a co-charge to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth. That’s power enough, don’t you think?

power of god verse

Posted in theology

“Well behaved women seldom make history”

By Elizabeth Prata

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

This was a bumper sticker adorning the car ahead of me at a red light. A long light. I had time to read it and think about it and then get steamed about it. Of course next to that bumper sticker there was a ‘coexist’ bumper sticker. How can those two be reconciled? If a women isn’t being well-behaved, she is being rebellious. And if she is being rebellious, she is not co-existing peacefully with those around her, is she? Illogical.

In any case, I thought that the bumper sticker’s premise was that for women to be recorded in history, they must have had to do something daring or against societal expectations, or had done something ‘out there’ in some way. This, I had mused, is illogical too, because there are plenty of women in history who were simply good at what they did, and that was why they got into the history books. Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marie Curie, Queen Elizabeth II, Sally Ride… Would NASA have chosen a rebellious upstart to be part of their space program? Of course not.

Curious now, I looked into the origins behind the bumper sticker and I was surprised by what I found.

The phrase comes from Harvard Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Ulrich identifies herself both as a feminist and a Mormon. It was her 1976 little-known academic paper published in American Quarterly called “Vertuous Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735” where the now famous bumper sticker phrase was first seen.

Massachusetts, where Harvard is located, was populated in the 1600s by deeply religions Puritans who had emigrated from England and the Netherlands to worship God freely, something they could not do on the Continent.

Ulrich looked into the lives of ‘ordinary’ Puritan women, especially midwives, through their own diaries. The ordinary, the mundane, the repetitive nature of the life, consisting of hard work mainly at home, drew Ulrich’s attention. She expanded her paper into into a 1990 book called, “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812.” The staying power and viral nature of the adage she had coined back in 1976 led to Ulrich eventually write a book in 2007 called by the very phrase she had coined: “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.” Here is an excerpt from the 1976 paper:

Cotton Mather called them “The Hidden Ones.” They never preached or sat in a deacon’s bench. Nor did they vote or attend Harvard. Neither, because they were virtuous women, did they question God or the magistrates. They prayed secretly, read the Bible through at least once a year, and went to hear the minister preach even when it snowed. Hoping for an eternal crown, they never asked to be remembered on earth. And they haven’t been. Well-behaved women seldom make history; against Antinomians and witches, these pious matrons have had little chance at all.

It turns out, that Ulrich wanted to simply promote the lives of the Puritan and the 1800s women which history had forgot.

Ulrich noted that though women were nearly invisible in society, only recording when they were born, married, or died, their standing in spiritual realms was highly elevated.

…this circumscribed social position was not reflected in the spiritual sphere, that New England’s ministers continued to uphold the oneness of men and women before God, that in their understanding of the marriage relationship they moved far toward equality, that in all their writings they stressed the dignity, intelligence, strength, and rationality of women even as they acknowledged the physical limitations imposed by their reproductive role. …  Source 1976 paper, “Vertuous Women Found”

Huh. Go figure. A Mormon Harvard feminist professor who got it right. As for the popularity of the phrase I’d seen on the bumper sticker, Ulrich said that its ambiguity (when taken out of its context) accounts for its appeal. In other words, you can interpret it any way you want. Which is exactly what I had done at the red light when I first read it.

My objective when I wrote those words was not to lament their oppression but to give them a history. … [T]he ambiguity of the slogan surely accounts for its appeal. To the public-spirited, it is a provocation to action, a less pedantic way of saying that if you want to make a difference in the world, you can’t worry too much about what people think. To a few it might say “Good girls get no credit.” To a lot more, “Bad girls have more fun.” … Source: “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History” (Knopf, September 2007)

Well there you go.

There’s one more thing. The premise that ‘well behaved women seldom make history’ is supposed to spark a knee-jerk reaction that it’s a bad thing not to make history. Like, “Hey! I wanna get into history! Why can’t I be in the history books?! The biblical worldview would have a response to this in several respects. First, woman already are in the only history book that matters, the Bible. Well-behaved and rebellious women are both recorded throughout the pages of that holy Book. From Jezebel to Esther, from Mary to the Woman at the Well, women are recorded in biblical history doing what they do as humans.

Secondly, women already are recorded…in the Lamb’s Book of Life. There is NO OTHER book than that precious book one should aspire to have our names written.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12).

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27).

If you have repented and believed in the risen Christ, then us well behaved women are all set with names written in the Lamb’s book. All other books will fade away. But not Jesus’ words, those are the only words and the only history that matters.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35).

well behaved

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Strong women, who can know?

Alistair Roberts wrote at Mere Orthodoxy about the need to dispense with the strong female character. It’s a well-written, if long, article. He made some excellent points. Then he followed up with another article at his own site, Alistair’s Adversaria, reacting to some push-back, here.

I want to include a few excerpts from his good original article and then continue with my own thoughts. We may need to dispense with the ‘strong female character’ as Roberts suggests, or as I propose, we may need to redefine what a strong female character is in the first place.

Popular culture is the focus of some of the most determined attempts to shift attitudes on a host of issues within society at large, and such forms of representation are an important dimension of this. While popular media and the various ‘messages’ within it may often appear innocuous, they are frequently anything but. Behind them lie concerted efforts to change the public’s thinking and perception on key matters and some carefully calculated agendas. The supposed shallowness of pop culture is deceptive: It is a realm where brilliant and talented people go to try to shape minds at their most unguarded and impressionable. It is on the ground of entertainment media that the so-called culture wars have largely been lost.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Entertainment is never innocuous. What we absorb in entertainment has an agenda, a worldview, and a purpose. It’s not merely to entertain you and me, it is to change our perceptions, and this happens more easily when we are at our most unguarded.

RE more recent portrayals of Disney Princesses:

Yet, despite their likeableness and roundedness as characters, these new princesses betray some concerning anxieties about women’s place and agency within the world. Within the kickass princess trope lurks the implication that, to prove equality of dignity, worth, agency, and significance as a character, all of a woman’s resolve, wisdom, courage, love, kindness, self-sacrifice, and other traits simply aren’t enough—she must be capable of putting men in their place by outmatching them in endeavors and strengths that naturally favor them, or otherwise making them look weak or foolish.

That is very well said!

His article becomes tremendous toward the end. The section titled The Heroism of Lady Wisdom recounts the strong female through God’s eyes. The woman at home, raising children, is where the real strength is-

Our failure to see the heroism and the strength of such a diligent and active woman is a failure to see the world as God does. The strength of such a woman is not that of conformity to more typically male forms of strength, but rather of the reflection of the work of the master creator, Lady Wisdom, within her own world of activity.

Women can be trained in martial arts and sword play. It takes strength of the physical type to perform those feats. Of course, women lack the same upper body strength as men and cannot replicate male feats of warlike strength exactly, but thanks to animation and CGI, we can overlook that fact.

If you do a Google image search for ‘strong women’ you get photos like these:


But truly, who is stronger, Mulan, or Lydia? Lydia hosted a home church. (Acts 16:40). She was a working woman, but she also prepared endlessly for guests, cleaning and readying the domicile so that the main concentration could be on studying the Word and fellowshipping with one another. Dorcas/Tabitha sewed endlessly for charity. (Acts 9:36). She made garments and sat among other women, edifying and speaking and loving. It’s harder to unfailingly love through the years than it is to swing a sword once or twice.

Jael swung a hammer and drove one tent peg for a few minutes. (Judges 4:17-22). Yet Leah was used by Laban her father and unpreferred by her husband, but submitted to them both, uncomplainingly raised 6 boys, and was faithful to God all her days. Which takes more strength, a few moments of physical exertion, of a lifetime of putting God first? Who is the woman of valor?

Hannah was barren, a devastating indictment in the culture’s eyes. She was tormented by her husband’s other wife. She asked for a son and vowed to give him back to God- and then did. Which takes more strength, the woman of Abel-Bethmaach who negotiated a peace treaty, (2 Samuel 20:16-21a), or Hannah? Could you give up your son and only see him once a year? Withstand insults and torment from a competing wife and turn only to the Lord for comfort and petitions? I know my answer. I’d complain and gossip and plot against the jealous other wife. Hannah showed strength of character not just in one Bible event like the wise woman of Bethmaach, but maintained Godly character for years. What woman is “stronger”?

Mary is to me one of the strongest women of the entire Bible. As a virginal teenager (probable age) betrothed but not yet connubially married, she was told that she would conceive and bear a child by the Spirit. Adultery was a crime for which people were stoned. Mary faced it and said to angel Gabriel, ‘let it be done to me as God wills.’ She gave birth in the cold and among animals. She lived with the whispers of adultery and attendant humiliation and doubts about her character all her life. She was told at His birth she would see Him die horrifically. And she did see her Son die horrifically. She was obedient, she bore it- and praised God through it. Isn’t that strength? Could you do as Mary did?

Our culture sees external fighting as strength. Feminists create women who appear in movies and shows, proficient in martial arts, wars, battles involving swords, knives, or guns as ‘strong’ women.  It’s the trope that’s constantly pushed in front of us. Rapunzel, Merida, Elsa, Wonder Woman, Rey, are all presented to us in entertainment as the external female strong ideal because they wield weapons. They’re called strong because of their derring-do. They’re lauded because they make men look foolish. But the REAL battle is not with swords, but is the internal fight against sin. Truly strong women wield the sword of the Word. (Ephesians 6:17). Truly strong women help their husbands, support and care for them, (Genesis 2:18; 20b) not make them look weak or foolish.

There are so many named and unnamed Godly women in the Bible who fought their own sin-nature and demonstrated quiet strength for years. Real strength is obedience to God, submission to our roles, and resisting sin always. Be strong, women, be strong.

Further Reading

Essay: Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women)

Sermon: The Proverbs 31 Woman