Posted in theology

What can women do on stage during church services?

By Elizabeth Prata

A reader asked about women on stage during church services. During the service different churches allow women to do different things. Some of those things might be-

–preaching the sermon
–leading a confessional or a devotional
–reading of scripture
–leading the choir
–singing solos
–singing in the choir with men
–leading congregational prayer
–giving announcements

It is obvious that scripture forbids a woman from preaching to the congregation, to men, or to teach them. No matter how feminists twist the pertinent scriptures, they always say the same thing. Preaching is a NO. (1 Timothy 2:12)

Ten years ago Tim Challies, book reviewer and at that time a pastor/elder in his church, wrote two essays on women reading scripture on stage during services. The first article was strong on the complementarian nature of the functions of men and women in the Sunday Church service. It generated lots of push back (even ten years ago, imagine if it was published these days!). So he wrote a second article explaining more of his thinking.

He believes that the reading of scripture is a teaching function and therefore reserved for men only. Oddly, he/his church allows a woman to lead prayer from time to time. So here we view the see-saw nature of what a woman can or cannot do on stage during a Sunday Service according to scripture and according to various peoples’ interpretation of it.

It’s really up to the conscience of the elders/pastor and his interpretation of the pertinent verses to make decisions in the gray areas where scripture doesn’t speak specifically. I tend to fall into the narrow interpretation category of interpreting that it’s best not having a woman speak anything on stage during the service. I like seeing only men on stage during Sunday services praying, speaking, leading, or teaching because it’s consistent with 1 Timothy and the headship issue.

the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

Here are Challies’ two articles. I liked his explanation of why he interprets the reading of scripture is a teaching function. That’s why I’m linking to it.

Here are Challies’ two articles

Article #1-

The Public Reading of Scripture

Article #2 responding to push back,

Men, Women & the Public Reading of Scripture

I agree with his articles that the reading of scripture is related to a teaching function (article #2 explains why very well, it’s why I posted it). I agree that preaching is reserved for men according to 1 Timothy 2 and other verses. In that same vein of interpretation, I personally believe that women leading prayer on stage during church service is the also a teaching function because we often pray scripture or pray about scripture, and therefore reserved for men.

I think especially in these days that a woman on stage during the church service speaking to the congregation in any form except to be baptized or share her testimony is a violation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and/or is a dangerous precedent presenting a poor ‘visual’ that will inspire others to follow and enlarge. A picture of a woman standing on stage with a Bible in her hand and a microphone in the other speaking to the congregation thru reading scripture or thru prayer puts the camel’s nose under the tent flap. We know that once you give an inch, satan will take a mile. Soon, I believe, that same church will allow women to preach. It’s incremental.

Here is an example of that incremental creep: …in a church I went to long ago a woman led the choir from on stage during service and sang with them. OK. But then she gravitated to standing behind the pulpit and explaining to the congregation the origin of the song they were about to sing. Hmmm. Then, she gravitated to standing behind the pulpit and explaining the theology and scriptures behind the song, and her explanations got even longer. Uh-oh. You see how it gets incrementally more of a violation of scripture to have a woman on stage explaining anything. Her “explanations” turned into mini-sermons over time. Give satan an inch … he takes a mile.

As for women singing in the choir with men or singing solos, I believe that is different. I believe that is an expression of service to God by using her God-given talent for the glory of God. When a woman leads congregational prayer or reads scripture she is being used as a vehicle to deliver God’s words to the people, that is why I believe it to be a violation of 1 Timothy 2. When she sings, she is using man’s words. She is not in authority over men because the highest authority, the Bible, is not being used as a conduit to express that authority. In that way, I believe singing is a service, not an authoritative leading.

Here is a blog post from Grace To You 2013 on the topic

It’s about headship and submission (And Adam was formed first, then Eve…as the rest of the 1 Timothy 2 verse goes).

In my beliefs in matters of gray area, I tend to fall on the more conservative side. I know how grabby sin can be, and standing on the line with my toes right up to it would make for an easier fall into sin, in my view. Better to stay on more solid ground. But in matters of gray area it’s up to the pastor or elders’ interpretation and conscience, and then our own as our churches live out their ecclesiology.

Posted in theology

Joanna: Who was she?

By Elizabeth Prata

Luke has this intriguing little nugget tucked in to the beginning of chapter 8.

Women Accompanying Jesus

1Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

We only find her mentioned by name one other time in any of the Gospels or even the rest of the New Testament. It’s in Luke 24:10, where the women were the first to find the empty tomb of the resurrection and went back to tell the apostles: Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,

Continue reading “Joanna: Who was she?”
Posted in theology

The future visiting of us ladies

By Elizabeth Prata

Dorcas Restored to Life

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. (Acts 9:36-41).

As a God-fearer, Lydia used to meet with other women by the riverside. (Acts 16:13).

Continue reading “The future visiting of us ladies”
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 bible study, theology

“Zero Fluff Ladies’ Bible Studies”

by Elizabeth Prata

Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries published a post with the title “Zero Fluff Bible Studies.” I like that title. Sadly, so much of what passes for Bible Studies these days are either an ego-driven study of the author herself, a treatise on hearing from God, or emotionalism galore and not a proper exposition of the word of God in sight.

Thankfully there are smaller gems among the touted studies we see at the bigwig stores. Here are a few ladies I enjoy and who treat the word of God for what it is, a precious jewel given to us to handle carefully and directly- with zero fluff.

–Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries

Introduction to A Zero Fluff Bible Study on the Deity of Christ

This will be a Zero Fluff study. It’s the only way I know how to offer it. This means it will not be like the many studies, books, and teachings that are geared towards women today that are heavy on fluff and light on sound doctrine. We will dig deeply! The focus will be God and His word, not us. We will not be reading ourselves into the story, looking for personal words from God, stroking our egos, or relying on our feelings. I will not be talking about tea or coffee. We are women, but we don’t have to be stirred up by emotionalism or lean on clichés. We have the Holy Spirit, and we can (must) do real Bible study, not shallow book studies with fill in the blank questions. Real Bible study is necessary for our spiritual-wellbeing!

You see now why I enjoy Mrs Lareau! Here is Zero Fluff Deity of Christ lesson 1.

Here are some other ladies I enjoy-

–Betty J. Newman of Newman Farm at Hand to the Plow and Prayerlogue teaches unvarnished. She also has many videos on cooking which are useful and so fun! Here is her blog which has tabs for audio lessons, video lessons, and writings. Here is her Youtube channel.

Naomi’s Table a discipleship table for women also has many Bible studies which I consider solid and zero fluff. Founded by the talented and wise Amy Spreeman, you will find a lot of straight talk and study.

Michelle Lesley Discipleship for Christian Women offers Bible studies on a regular basis. She also has started a podcast with Amy Spreeman called A Word Fitly Spoken. Michelle says that one questions she receives almost more than any other is Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids? Her answer us a surprising no. While the question brings her joy,

That’s the central reason my ministry even exists- I want Christian women to be grounded in the Bible and sound doctrine, and it brings me unbelievable joy and encouragement when I see women seek that out.

It also makes her sad, because

the prevailing line of thought in evangelicalism that has led them to ask the question. Namely, that the people in the pew aren’t capable of studying and understanding the Bible for themselves- they need some Christian celebrity to tell them what it means.

Ladies, I know you may feel inadequate, but don’t give in to those feelings. Try. Pick a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and read it through to the end, taking as much time as you need. You might just be pleasantly surprised at how well you grasp it. That’s because, if you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit resides within you and will help you to understand the Word He authored.

Michelle always steers women back to the straight Bible, encourages women to read and prayerfully ascertain its meanings for themselves, and offers some outlines and guides with studies at her blog, here.

DebbieLynne Kespert has a blog called The Outspoken Tulip and writes frequently about Bible study. She offers exposition in a plain, straightforward way. No fluff 🙂

It may seem like there is only a glut of squishy, emotional studies out there but there are lots of good solid places online for you to turn for zero fluff studies, commenting in community, and ladies of like mind to study along with. Though a lot of what we see on social media is false, the true Bride is beautiful, sterling, bright, solid, and thriving. Jesus is raising up His church and He will not fail in perfecting it.

good morning studying girl1a

Posted in discernment, theology

Big Dream/The Amazing Collection ministry review

By Elizabeth Prata


I received an inquiry asking me to look into the ministry founded in Georgia called Big Dream Ministries which produced a Bible study called The Amazing Collection. Since I’m in Georgia, the inquirer thought I should know about the influence of the ministry, which is large and growing.

I did research it and was surprised at how large the ministry is and how far it has spread. For this essay, I read their web pages, previewed their materials, read the About, read the Beliefs, watched to two of their videos- Genesis and Revelation, and read their Facebook pages. (I believe how a person teaches Genesis and Revelation, two of the foundational books of the entire Bible, reveals their doctrinal stances and hermeneutic).

The ministry was officially founded 18 years ago but has been informally active since 1996. Their About page states,

“Under the direction of Pat Harley, a women’s ministry was initially formed in Roswell, Georgia to provide excellent Bible teaching and encourage women in their roles as women, wives, and mothers. The teaching team of Pat Harley, Eleanor Lewis, Linda Sweeney, and Margie Reuther taught the Bible in a sequential manner, in a study called The Amazing Collection.”

The Amazing Collection’s purpose is to teach the word of God sequentially, going through all the books of the Bible so that women, and the ministry is aimed at women, learn how the entire Bible hangs together. Founder Pat Harley realized that the women in her church were learning lots of bits and pieces of the Word, but not the overarching story. The word of God is the Word of God, and thus worth knowing all of, they say.

The Books of the Bible are an “Amazing Collection”, and people should be amazed by His word. hence, the ministry name. The “Big Dream” of the ministry is that women learn the entire Bible.

Mrs. Harley noticed that though she had participated in many mass-produced studies, some quite popular, she was remembering very little from them. And if she remembered little, she wasn’t translating what she had learned into practical Christian life and pursuit of holiness. She writes:

Why was I unable to recall so little from all of the studying I had done? I began to ask many other serious students of the Word. I would begin by asking what Bible studies they had taken. The response usually included a fairly lengthy list of popular studies. Some of those were considered “light” while others were very detailed and “deep”. More often than not this was preceded by a few words on how wonderful the study was and how very much they enjoyed it. But when I asked the question “What did you learn that you remember?” I was often confronted with a somewhat blank stare. It was then that I realized that I was not alone. Somehow we were learning much but remembering little.

Therefore, I was relieved to read that their foundational motto about the Big Dream and Amazing, isn’t the usual “You go, girl, you have big dreams to fulfill because you’re amazing” kind of motto. Instead, the ministry seems entirely God-focused.

Available materials are the original book-by-book lesson series, and there are additional focused series of topical studies such as the Life of Jesus, The Pentateuch, and a series based on Titus 2 for women which includes “lessons on character, relationships, and the care and management of the home. Practical topics covered include finances, hospitality, meal planning, and parenting.”

The study materials are translated into 4 languages so far, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Russian. The lesson in Genesis I watched on Youtube displayed Arabic captions. There is a children’s series of materials, too. The ministry has extended into 120 other countries via television, and there is a team on the ground in Brazil.

In the Genesis lesson I watched, the following doctrines were covered:

Evolution explicitly rejected
Literal creation affirmed
Literal word meanings in the original language
An emphasis that scripture interprets scripture
Affirmation we all have a sin nature

Genesis is usually a test case for me, because it’s the beginning and all other doctrines flow from that seminal book. That the lesson didn’t wiggle or waver on the above doctrines is a good sign. So is the ministry’s premise, that God’s word is amazing and women should know all of it, because it is God’s word.

I especially liked the founder’s thought process as she described. She realized that the canned studies she was going through were not giving her an overall biblical worldview, but were only fleetingly giving her a sense of purposeful study, but she was not retaining it. She then went one step further, and did something about it, developing the lessons from which we now have the Amazing Collection. All 66 DVD lessons have recently been completed.

The ladies listed as teachers are all teachers of women or otherwise active in their home churches. I appreciated that they seem grounded at home and in church, rather than gallivanting all over the world solving social justice issues, making sales on book tours, or preaching at conference events, as so many of the women’s ministry teachers do nowadays.

From what I’ve seen and read, the Big Dream/Amazing Collection seems solid. Thank you to the sister who brought it to my attention.


Big Dream Ministries (includes links to Bible studies, Leader resources, materials Previews, and their online store.)

Big Dream Ministries Facebook


Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Act your age

old women youths
Our church has a healthy demographic of college kids. The other day I was watching an Instagram video story a young friend posted of a bunch of the youths in high spirits romping around the college campus at midnight, then heading to CVS for sodas, laughing and pushing and giggling.

I smiled, remembering my own hi-jinks and clean fun- road trips and loud laughter and silly fun. Ahhh, youth.

Those kind of memories are satisfying because that is how youths act, college or no. They’re boisterous, they’re lively, they’re carefree, they’re happy.

Kim Shay at The Upward Call blog published a good essay a few days ago about older women not being a trope. (In TV or Movies a trope is a common overused theme or device). In many TV shows, the older women is depicted as silly, or a gossip, or a busybody. Think Hyacinth Bucket (Bou-quet) or the sanctimonious Church Lady of Saturday Night Live by Dana Carvey. Or Mrs Bridgette McCarthy on Father Brown, a church secretary, gossip, and often at odds with and acerbic toward other characters.

It was a look at how older women should act according to Bible verses that command reverence and sober-mindedness.

I’m an older woman now I’m almost 58 years of age. I have completely white hair, overweight, a lumbering stiff walk, and oh my achin’ back. All the things that come with old age, including sagging skin, age spots, and general droopiness.

old women 2
Not me. Yet.

I remember being a teen at a friends’ house listening to the latest music laying upside down, college road trips, my car stuffed with gangly youths, a young adult with my posse playing bar trivia…it was yesterday. Ladies, age creeps up on silent cat feet (with apologies to Carl Sandburg). The boisterous hi-jinks no longer suit. If I were to gadabout at CVS at midnight with pals, they’d lock me up for being crazy. Why? That’s not how older women act.

They line the wall at dances sitting in folding chairs, purses firmly atop lap. They tut-tut at the beauty and litheness of the young ones sailing by. They cook and serve the meals with a knowing nod and quiet hospitable satisfaction. They accept collect calls from grandkids at midnight when the car breaks down on the way home from hi-jinks. They rearrange the potlucks on the sagging table, they form the cleanup swat team afterwards. I should say instead, we. I’m a we now.

I know some of these are a writing trope in themselves, but they are tropes because they are true.

Kim wrote: “My husband once asked me with regard to the women who have spoken at my church’s women’s conferences: “Why is the speaker always young and beautiful instead of old and plain?”

old women
I was noticing that, too. So many of the speakers at conferences now are younger women (in addition to all ages of men). Do younger women have something to say? Yes, but so do older women. And the elder females have been at it longer.

So since we have been at it longer what do we say about how to conduct ourselves? Well, whatever the Bible says about our conduct. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of biblical behavioral standards, I’ll mention that whenever I discuss behavioral standards, particularly applied to false teachers, these comments receive the most negative feedback of all the kinds of comments I make online. People hate to be reminded that the Bible endlessly outlines behavioral standards of any kind. There are general calls for certain kinds of good behavior, there are specific calls for individual demographics, and there is a reminder that we will be judged on how we behaved as well as what we believed.
old women 3.jpg
In one set of verses we read about how we are to act, and the reason for it-

as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, (2 Corinthians 6:4-7a)

Why? “so that no fault may be found with our ministry” (2 Corinthians 6:3b).

But what specifically of elder women? If we are married to a overseer, act in ways that aid him in keeping order in the household. (1 Timothy 3:4). If married to a deacon, the same, (1 Timothy 3:12. Additionally, deacon’s wives must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11). I am assuming that wives of pastors and deacons aren’t entirely youthful because the qualifications for pastors are not to be recent converts (1 Timothy 3:6) and to have built up a good reputation- which takes time. (1 Timothy 3:7).

If we are a widow, Paul in 1 Timothy 5 described real widows as: “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” Which reminds me of Anna at the temple in Luke 2.

A widow could be put on the list for church aid if she had behaved in the following way-

A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

An elder married woman is not to be contentious, as Syntyche and Euodia were. (Philippians 4:2). Titus 2 is the famous verse that outlines how older women are to act-

Older women likewise are 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.

Reverent in behavior. Self-controlled. Kind. These are not hard to understand and not unreasonable to ask. When I write about behavioral standards other women rush to scream and rant, but really, what is there to rant against? They want to lose control? Be irreverent? Unkind?

Anyway, the Bible outlines behavioral standards for all ages. As I pass through the aging eras and enter the golden gate of elder womenhood, I’ll try to be mindful of how the Bible expects me to behave, so as not to discredit the ministry. Plus, I’ll try not to be a trope!


Further Reading

This makes a nice companion piece. Jared Wilson, that whippersnapper at age 42, not only muses on growing old, but provides some helpful tips to grow old gracefully.

Growing Old Gracefully


Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Why every woman should be a theologian: The Master’s University Table Talk

womenThe advent of the internet has afforded Christian men and women opportunity to learn from many credible teachers and pastors, and to access a variety of different theological resources.

For example, all of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writings are online. John Owen is online. Pilgrim’s Progress is online. John MacArthur’s sermons, over 3000 of them, are online. Martyn Lloyd Jones, S. Lewis Johnson, BB Warfield sermons and materials, online, Valley of Vision, online. Blogs, podcasts, courses both free and paid (i.e Mt Zion Chapel Library, free; Ligonier, affordable paid), books, pamphlets, art work, lexicons, concordances, and more are available tot he  believer as resources.


In some ways, this period of time has given people, women in particular, opportunity to become deeply involved with the Word, especially if (other than her pastor) she has no males in her life, such as a Godly husband or brothers, father, etc. It is a rich time.

Alternately, the potential for deception among women has never been greater, either. Women are especially vulnerable to false teaching (2 Timothy 3:6, 1 Peter 3:7) and we must guard ourselves by all the means available to us. While many online ministries are solid, many other ministries online promote false teaching. Even church sermons posted on the internet can contain false teaching, as well as the false doctrine perpetuated by ministries that exist online only. So much falsity.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared… (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4).

While it is true that the Bible prohibits women from operating in some roles (teaching men, pastoring), the Bible encourages all believers, women included, to be theologians. Being a theologian simply means you study God in His revealed self, via the Bible.

To that end, this Table Talk discussion from The Master’s University was helpful. The topic was Why Every Woman Should be A Theologian. Professor Abner Chou facilitated, and several other professors answered questions as the discussion went on.

The opening question was asked:

In light of complementarianism, we often emphasize things in light of what women cannot do; she cannot teach (men) she cannot preach or be a pastor. But let’s turn this around and ask what does the Bible encourage women to do? How can women can be active participants in the church?

One of the Professors answered (I’m sorry, his introduction was not contained in the tape):

Every believer is a theologian. Theology is simply asking and answering, ‘Who is God?’ Every time we ask ‘Who is Jesus’ we are engaging in theology. Believers should be about understanding who God is and how He has revealed Himself. Pursuing who He is is a key aspect that should fill the lives of every believer.

The talk went on from there. Betty Price, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies; Women’s Ministries, noted :

For too many years women’s Bible studies have been too light and fluffy, and not have been a serious study. It’s really hard to find something that gives much depth at all. They’re always quick little surface study guides that have a Bible clip and a few fill-in-the-blank questions in a workbook. Perhaps women have not been encouraged enough. … [Women’s studies] are geared around fellowship and social times, probably more than being a theologian. That’s not all bad, many of the women are stay-at-home moms and need the social times to come together with other adults. But I’d like to see deeper studies.

Here is the link. The talk is about an hour click here.

Mentioned in the Talk:

Book- To Preach or Not To Preach? By Professor William Varner

A study of the religious role of women in the Old Testament through the New Testament periods. Emphasis is placed on both the privilege and the limitations of women’s ministry in the early church.

Other resources:

Todd Friel’s Drive By series. He titled the series Drive By, and deliberately made the lectures short because the Internet was that student-theologians like you and me could listen to them in the car, even if the commute was short. However, these are also perfect for the stay-at-home mom who doesn’t often have a long, lingering hour to delve into a Bible study, but can find 8-15 minutes to listen to a lecture (and follow up in the Word later).

I’ve listened to the lectures in all three of these, they’re good. There are also other Drive By series, such as Drive By Biblical Counseling, etc.

Drive By Theology
35 Systematic Theology Lessons- Join Todd Friel and Dr. Steve Lawson (Dr. Metaphor) as they take you through 35 short lectures on every theology from bibliology to soteriology and every other “-ology” and you will see that the Bible is exactly what it says it is, “profitable for all of life and godliness.” $24.99

Drive By Pneumatology (Study of the Holy Spirit)
Drive By Pneumatology will provide a thorough, thoughtful and Biblical presentation on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. $19.99

Drive By Discernment
Wolves are leaping over the fence. The sheep seem to be oblivious to their wiles. Drive By Discernment is designed to sharpen your skill to help you separate the true from the almost true. $19.99 – $24.99

Ladies, every woman should be a theologian. Priscilla was. Anna was. Mary was. The Bereans were. We can be too. Being a theologian simply means looking into His word to discover more each day who God is.

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


Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Questions: Preaching Christ from every text?, Muslim dreams, Female submission

Here are answers to some pressing questions I’ve seen asked over the last few weeks.

Should we preach Christ from every text? Answer: no. By Abner Chou, The Master’s Seminary, October 2017.

In essence, the Christocentric hermeneutic attempts to find Christ as the subject or topic of every text. It desires to show that every text relates directly to Christ. Which is why some say it is the only true Christian preaching. The problem ensues when the Christocentric hermeneutic applies that mindset to texts that don’t call for it.


Are droves of Muslims coming to faith in Christ via dreams and visions? Answer: No. Gary Gilley explains by comparing to scripture, in this essay from 2016.

Jesus used a variety of approaches when speaking with unbelievers, depending on the individual or group (e.g., Nicodemus, Rich Young Ruler, Woman at the Well), but typically He identified who He was, confronted their sin, called them to repentance, called them to believe in Him, cautioned them to count the cost of discipleship, and admonished them to take up their crosses daily and follow Him. He didn’t state all those elements in every case, but collectively they constituted the thrust of His message

By way of contrast, Isa [Muslim version of Jesus] typically identifies who he is (or the dreamer instinctively knows who he is) and tells the dreamer he loves him and wants him (the dreamer) to follow him (Isa). Sometimes the dreamer is overwhelmed with a sense of love and peace just by being in Isa’s presence (which was never the case with unbelievers in the presence of Jesus). So the message that emerges is one of believing in Isa and following him apparently apart from the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).


Do women have to submit to all men? How can we demonstrate that although the roles of men and women in the church (and the home) are very different, we are equal in value in the sight of God?

To answer your question, women are to submit to their husbands.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

All church members are to submit to their overseers.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb 13:17)

We are all to submit to God.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 5:7.

We all have to submit to government. Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17

Women do not have to submit to random males.

We believers are all of equal value in the sight of God. This value is from above, it is not attached to man-made standards of who has what role. We do not have to demonstrate this love, God already has.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).

wedding verse