A Letter: A Pastor and His Daughter

I open this letter for you. Read it and pray.

Several weeks ago I downloaded Junia is Not Alone.  As the only person on staff at a small church, I am also taking two courses so I have not had time to read it.

Until today.

Thank you.

Thank you for being willing to say what so many of us feel and just can’t say. Maybe Paul really meant what he said in Galatians 3:28.  Maybe it doesn’t have to be explained away. Maybe God really is a God of justice and grace who is seeking to redeem ALL his creation to himself.

As a minister [in a group that does not ordain women], and a father of a beautiful daughter with enormous personality, I am afraid.  I am afraid that she will grow up to believe herself to be a second class Christian.  I am afraid that she will be relegated to using her gifts to prepare communion or cook and set up for pot-lucks.

I know that I may one day leave ministry (or at least my heritage) so that my family can worship where my wife and daughter are full members of Christianity.  I don’t always agree with my heritage … but I love it. …

However, I love my wife and daughter more and I refuse to let my beautiful daughter grow up being silenced.

Thank you.  Junia is not alone.  Whatever life my daughter chooses, I pray that she will stand next to Junia and be a voice for God in a world that so desperately needs to know the love of our savior.

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  • Susan N.

    “However, I love my wife and daughter more and I refuse to let my beautiful daughter grow up being silenced.”

    This is similar to some thoughts I began having about my daughter’s future. Even in a church with leadership that I believe tried, with good intentions, to walk a fine line between promoting unity and unnecessary discord due to majoring in the minors (is being “one” in Christ a minor issue, really?), I began to worry that silence on the matter was not a healthy thing for my daughter to grow up in. When no women are on staff in leadership positions, except those which minister to other women or children, that speaks something to the beliefs, in spite of all attempts at refusing to major in the minors.

    There has also been an implicit message (that I have perceived, anyway) that church and its mission is to be given more importance than family. I may be the sinner of all time, but as a parent/mother, I cannot put the church and its doctrines/traditions ahead of my children’s well-being, or “take one for the team” by sacrificing my daughter’s soul on the altar. As a matter of fact, I don’t think doctrines that relegate females to second-class status in God’s economy do any good for my son either. And if I am being honest, it flies in the face of my own sensibilities as to God’s nature and relationship with humankind.

    Pastor ‘X’, I pray that you don’t have to choose between your faith heritage and your daughter and wife’s well-being. Pastors should not have to sacrifice their families on the altar, either. God said ‘no’ to that in the story of rescuing Isaac from Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son out of a misguided attempt at obedience.

    I think Scot is on the right track with ‘The Blue Parakeet’ and ‘Junia.’ What is most admirable to me about Scot’s prophetic voice on this matter is that, according to the backstory in ‘The Blue Parakeet,’ the deep conviction to speak out on this subject came after having been silent during his time at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where it was taught that women should not preach/lead. I admire the desire to right a past wrong, and maybe to some extent atone for it? True repentance means turning around; not just saying ‘sorry.’ If I have misinterpreted or misrepresented Scot’s motives here, I apologize. This is how I understood the situation from ‘The Blue Parakeet’ and I remembered it over the past several years. ~Peace~

  • EricW

    If 1 Timothy 2:13-15 provides the explanation/justification for 1 Timothy 2:12 – and syntactically/grammatically I think that is what the γαρ in 2:13 indicates the verses are doing – i.e., 2:13-15 explain WHY a woman or women:
    – are not to teach a man or αυθεντειν a man, or
    – are not to teach a man in an αυθεντειν-ing way, or
    – are not to teach anyone at all, or αυθεντειν a man
    (I think that covers the main possible ways of understanding 2:12)

    then I would like those who use this passage to prevent women from being teachers or pastors or elders or deacons, etc., to explain exactly HOW 2:13-15 supports the 2:12 prohibition(s), and do so without any eisegesis of the relevant texts re: Adam being formed first and Adam not being deceived.

  • Amos Paul

    I don’t disagree with the theology being discussed here at all. That being said, on the pont of language. When people say things like:

    >I am afraid that she will grow up to believe herself to be a second class Christian. I am afraid that she will be relegated to using her gifts to prepare communion or cook and set up for pot-lucks.

    I am afraid that the women (or men?) who want to utilize their gifts mainly in preparing communion, cooking for potlucks, cleaning, or taking care of children will feel like second class Christians.

    My wife is someone who the modern feminist assertion of equality = being a leader and rejecting all these ‘traditional’ roles of women has actually hurt. At least, the culture that has begun to emerge has hurt her. Because, many times, she’s been told, explicitly or implicitly, that she’s ‘wasting her talents’ or ‘keeping herself second class’ if she actually desires to do those things, learn more about them, avoid the front and center service of leadership or whatever.

    She’s felt both judged by society in her preferances and inadequately prepared to actually pursue those things in a culture that tries very hard to keep her from it. While this is certainly not the experience of all women–I do think that there is a flip side to the movement in today’s society most perceptible to the younger women who have grown up in a ‘post-feminist’ influenced culture.

  • Lindsay

    beautiful!! and agreed!

  • Matt

    After moving to a new city, we began the difficult but exciting task of looking for a church. After the first half of what was otherwise a pretty solid sermon, the pastor (who was preaching on Eph 5), stated something like “men are to be in charge. You don’t believe it? That’s what the bible says,” and proceeded to base the rest of his message on that point. Given some other factors, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but “that’s what the bible says” was what used as the foundation of the preacher’s conclusion? Really? Not even an acknowledgment of/attempt to wrestle with anything else in the biblical witness and/or other understandings of this issue? Having a young daughter, I could not in good conscience attend that church. If my daughter is gifted in hospitality, culinary arts or preaching it does not matter to me – I just want her to be in community where her gifts are affirmed and appreciated and used to the glory of God. I also pray that women and men who are gifted to preach and teach (myself included) will continually pledge before God to disavow themselves from the exegetical, pastoral, and homiletical irresponsibility, ignorance, fear, and laziness that I witnessed that Sunday morning. Junia is not alone. Indeed.

  • Adam

    I appreciate this sentiment (and more importantly agree with the exegesis behind it…), but I have also heard this sentimental, “I don’t want my child to be a second class Christian…” used in the arguments over ordination of homosexual folks. Obviously that’s a different issue to discuss, but I thought this was an interesting (maybe strange) way of affirming our exegesis.

  • EricW

    I also pray that women and men who are gifted to preach and teach (myself included) will continually pledge before God to disavow themselves from the exegetical, pastoral, and homiletical irresponsibility, ignorance, fear, and laziness that I witnessed that Sunday morning. Junia is not alone. Indeed.


    If you’re Baptist, and even if you’re not, support Shirley Taylor and her efforts:


  • Matt

    @ Eric W – Thanks!

  • janie

    @ Adam: The argument is completely different. Most churches who reject homosexuals in ministry do so because of their accompanying actions, not because of their inherent homosexuality. Indeed, most churches who do not allow homosexuals in ministry don’t believe homosexuality is inherent at all but that it is a sinful choice.

    Women are denied ministry not because of any questionable actions they do. Most people claim they believe that a woman can be just as spiritual as a man and that individual women can even be more spiritual than individual men. But they deny that women can be pastors because of their inherent femaleness.

  • Susan N.

    But Amos (#3)…being relegated to using your gifts to prepare communion or cook, set up, serve, and clean up for potlucks implies being resigned to that choice because other expressions of one’s gifting have been closed off to women. Period. End of subject.

    I have heard Gloria Steinem, whatever your opinion of her personally, publicly refute the perception that the feminist movement was about all women pursuing career at the expense of motherhood and home, and beyond that even, to dominate and rule over men in the process. Some who have aligned themselves with femin-ism have distorted and taken the intent of social changes to support women to radical extremes, no doubt. But, the point from the beginning, as I heard Steinem clarify it, was to give women *choices.*

    And then, an unfortunate result of women moving out into the world to pursue education and career, without the hearts of men really having caught up with this change, is that women who are also mothers and wives have pulled double duty. Doing all the work at home, plus working at times harder than their male counterparts to prove their value in the workplace. Leading to more resentment and strife.

    Of all places, I can’t see how this dynamic is appropriate in the Christian community of faith otherwise known as the Body of Christ.

    I have stayed at home with my children since my 15yo daughter was born. I worked before that, from the time I was 18. I bought into the “I can have it all” pursuit, and though I know that it was a freakishly long-odds occurrence, my first child died in an accidental mishap at full-time daycare. You know what, Amos? Anyone who questions or judges my jettisoning of career pursuits will have to get over it. And, may I encourage you to encourage your wife that if her heart is calling her to home and simple(r) acts of service, she only answers to God in the purity of her motives and actions. Don’t let anyone get you down, sister! (That’s for your wife, Amos.) Do your thing with joy as your *best* offering to God, and celebrate the freedom to choose it.

    The value judgments of who’s better are, in my experience, the result of petty rivalry among women. Shake it off and live out your strong convictions. Most of these comparisons arise from insecurities. How can we as women better encourage each other? How can men, who are in many ways in a position of strength, encourage women in being whole and honoring God with all of themselves/their gifts?

    But again, being told that certain things are off-limits because of a divinely-mandated hierarchical male-led order of creation and Body life is a whole different issue. Do you not see my point Amos?

  • Adam

    @Janie you make a very good point that I fully agree with (this is a completely different discussion), but I think my main point was more about folks who want to affirm homosexual ordination (rather than those who aim to deny it as you reference in your post). Also, historically, I would argue that women have been denied pastorates/etc because of perceptions of their actions/faculties/decisions/sinful tendencies being more questionable than those of men (e.g. I recall Chrysostom saying some things like this in his On the Priesthood). Regardless, my primary point was to reference that I do hear similar lines of argument (“if your child was a homosexual person, you would feel this way too…”); and so it seems prudent to maintain exegetical arguments primarily while allowing emotional testimonies serve secondarily, which is something Scot and others on this blog do really well.

  • As the father of a beautiful, wildly creative, six year-old daughter, this really touched me. Thanks!

  • Dana Ames


    I am sorry that your wife has been hurt by the assertion that equality=being a leader. She’s not alone. I don’t believe that Christian egalitarians have promoted that; rather, they have contended for appreciation of women’s and men’s giftings, whatever they are. And even secular feminists are coming to realize they have wronged women like your wife.


  • It is not easy to change a church that has entrenched in what they see as “biblical” views on women elders/pastors/teachers.

    I ache for the men and women, and girls and boys, that are growing up without learning from people like Scot. If I had had the internet connections then when I was trying to sort out what’s right, as I do now, I believe I would have not felt so alone. So confused and lost. Would not have lived with so much heartache in my own church.

    After ten years of asking/cajoling/bugging I have concluded that my EFCA church will/must take their time changing and they may just wait for the culture to declare itself. It does make one wonder how many people will have to leave? For now, I stay.

    Alas, there are few prophets. And the few bible scholars doing fresh work on these topics, well how do you get pastors to listen to them — to think again? Thank you for your efforts in this regard Scot.

  • As the father of a beautiful, wildly creative six year-old girl, I am very touched by this post. Thank you!

  • Hi
    I have a Daughter too… so does God and Christ Has a Bride… the Church who is cherished and loved beyond all measure… Jew and Gentile, slave and free of men and women boys and girls… The point is that none are second class… but clearly there are differences between us that have to be reconciled through Love. Christ did not die to make me into a woman or a woman into a man… Am I second class compared to my wife who gave birth to my Daughter?. No! the differences are there for a reason and can we not celerbrate our differences… and agree with God that they are good… afterall God Created them Male and Female… and said that they were GOOD!

    The difference is Good!

    Lets pause and think of that!

    There used to be an issue over the gifts and baptism of the Spirit and those who spoke in tongues and those who did not… the irony of this is that whole mess is the passage of 1 Corinthians 13 that said the greatest of all these is LOVE.

    Here is an interesting article “Does Christianity Squash Women?” Rebecca Jones


  • PLTK

    But Mathew (#14) no one is denying that there are differences and that these are good. That has NOTHING to do with this debate and if you think it does, you aren’t listening to us. Please don’t put words into our mouths that are not there.

    The debate is whether women are excluded, by virtue of their sex alone, from participating in leadership in the church.

  • Amos Paul


    The entire premise to my statement was agreeing with the theological point being made. I’m not arguing *against* equality. However, let us not lose sight of what kinds of situations we might create when people become over-zealous about what ‘first class’ citizens do.

    The question I was raising was what kind of culture does language like that create? My wife, being younger, had the opportunity to be raised in a ‘post-feminist’ environment. I don’t actually think that *a lot* of prior generational adults realize what that’s like. When, in many places today, girls statistically outperform boys regularly in academic, extracurricular, and church participation from elementary age to the collegiate level. A cultural norm has been and is being established in these places to ‘push’ these intelligent and successful girls into a pre-established idea of what a first class modern woman is like. I can’t even tell you how many times I heard my college professors joke about how terrible male students are vs the organized, well-written, and successful female students.

    My wife got into all sorts of ‘top’ positions in school activites because of this. In college, she (originally) pursued a degree in landscape architecture–a nice, “professional” degree. Was launched into leadership in church activities. Etc. Etc.

    Turns out, she hated professional studies in LA. Can’t stand being a leader. Doesn’t like being front and center. Never has. Likes working with kids. Would like to focus most on becoming a mother. Etc. Etc.

    Now she’s in education and, in our few years being married, has dealt with feeling totally un-prepared for the things she actually wants to do in life. She consistently, moreover, deals with feelings of “judgement” from others for not wanting to pursue the things that define a “successful” modern woman. As though she isn’t living up to what people expected her to become.

    I don’t much care for what people *mean* when they use language like women being ‘relegated’ to these traditionally feminine roles and ‘wasting’ their talents because of it. The fact is, that such language can, itself, be just as harmful to those genuinely drawn to such activities. I have yet to meet a young woman from my own generation who doesn’t act like they’re dragging out a dirty little secret when they admit that they’re interested in becoming a stay-at-home mom or are more excited by domestic duties than professional advancement.

    Anecdotally, I actually prefer to use the term ‘equalitarian’ myself. Specifically because I think it avoids some of the baggage that ‘egalitarian’ has earned itself by its usage amongst various proponents.

  • Matt…
    i just looked at the web link http://bwebaptistwomenforequality.wordpress.com/
    that you posted and I am saddened by this woman’s attack on John Piper. Regardless of his views, her reaction to them are the kind of sayings that give the whole debate a bad name. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of men that do it, but her language and use of nick names is unnecessary. And as you posted it here I just wanted to make a reference to it with a quote from one of her posts:

    “If the Pied Piper is not playing games with us, then he is a big time male chauvinist.”

    Is it a revolution… perhaps it is but I hope it is one done in the LOVE of Christ and without name calling and character assinations.

  • P.

    Mathew @ 14 – no one is denying that men and women are different. The problem arises when those differences are used to keep women down and keep them out of positions of authority regardless of what their gifts are.

  • EricW

    @Mathew 19.:

    It was I, not Matt, who posted the link to Shirley Taylor’s blog, Baptist Women for Equality.

    Before you judge or criticize Shirley Taylor here for criticizing John Piper at her blog, I recommend that you first read all her blogposts she has posted there to better understand her. I’ve been reading and following her since she began the blog.

    And also feel free to post a comment to her there re: why you consider her post to be detrimental to the argument. She responds to comments.

  • Susan N.

    Amos (#16) – I’m not unacquainted with the sense of being in “no-man’s land” that your wife has experienced. If our identity is too wrapped up in the cultural ideal that is imposed on us, and then we buck the system, there’s a real potential for losing your sense of direction. What makes the doctrine of women as inherently “lesser” creatures so systemically abhorrent, imho, is that God is invoked as the author of such design. I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that anymore. The system is designed by men mostly for their convenience. Is that too cynical?

    I think the situation you are describing that your wife has gone through is a separate problem than whether women can “rightly” be given equal opportunity to follow their calling/gifting to preach and teach in the church.

    For what it’s worth, I empathize with your wife and am, from what I have understood of the circumstances as you relate them, not that unlike her. Supporting other women who are called/gifted to preach, teach, and yes even lead a church doesn’t, in my mind, take anything away from me in choosing to stay at home with my children and concentrate on that for now. When I was involved with LaLeche League Int’l., the concept of “sequencing” was bantered about among my local mothering support group. There are many ways to be a human, fully alive and glorifying God.

    Amos, I’m sure you tell your wife often how much you respect and appreciate her. My husband is learning how important this affirmation is to me. When I help out at church in the kitchen, I choose this service because I enjoy it and because I typically get to hang out with the older generation whom I generally adore. So much collective wisdom in that segment of the church. Nine times out of ten, our senior pastor will be in the kitchen helping, and he always says, ‘Thank you for what you do.’ I hope your wife won’t let anyone get her down. Everyone has their opinions… What do *they* know?

  • Phil

    My wife’s pregnancies were very hard on her. Lots of sickness, lots of pain, and a fair amount of bed rest. The shift in society certainly gave her options, but many of those options ended up being mutually exclusive.

    We both wanted kids, and we wanted them fairly young. When we started having them, the process kind of absorbed her whole life. She found herself torn–wanting to pursue both a career and have children. When it became evident that her career was going to have to be put on hold for a while, it hurt and she struggled heavily with the idea that she wasn’t contributing enough to society, the church, or our marriage.

    Of course we could have kept using the pill… put off having kids, maybe even put off marriage for a while before that–but all of this seemed very disconnected from times past when people were married younger, and had many more children.

    I guess what we have really struggled with is the idea that if it takes modern birth control methods in order for a married woman to be able to maintain a life-path that is deemed equally important, then maybe our definition of equal importance is messed up.

    I would never deny that there have been great women leaders in the Church throughout history, but how many of them have been younger married women with children?

  • Susan, What a painful experience! So sorry! 🙁

    As a Quiver Full mother of 8 children including 5 daughters, I identify with the pastor’s letter to his daughters in the OP as well as with Amos Paul’s comment in #3.

    It was very hard for me to identify myself as “egalitarian” because their concern seems more with “workplace equality” within the church and I really don’t care about that. What I care about is equality within my marriage and the marriages of my 8 children and the marriages of my sisters and brothers who sit beside me in the pews and those who lead from the piano or pulpit. I know two female pastors who are on staff with churches who are not treated as equals in their marriages. Yes they have broken the glass ceiling when it comes to the church job market, but what good it that when the marriage remains a painful place of unequal yoke?

    Women are neither superior nor inferior but men and women are different. I am for equality, not sameness. I long for the day when the voices of women carry equal weight with the voices of men within the church and within relationships.

  • Dana

    Phil –

    Thanks. You are exactly right. Women bear the children and do have particular vulnerabilites because of that fact. Although it is possible to spread the responsibilities of child rearing between parents, most women do have to make choices that men do not.

    Equal importance? Equal regard? Equal opportunity? I don’t know. I will say that even when the child-rearing portion of a woman’s life is over, it can seem that there is no way to “catch up” to those who did not devote a couple of decades to the next generation.

  • Susan N.

    Thanks, Charis (#24) – I understand exactly what you are saying.

    Dana (#25) – “no way of ‘catching up'” – sigh. Yes, I have had to accept that all the energy that I put into my education and professional achievements before 1996 will not be counted for much when I re-enter the job market (after kids are grown.) I will have to start all over from scratch again. I have asked my husband if he recognizes that this is a sacrifice that I willingly made? and continue to make? I heard some weird cliches while in the evangelical church. There must have been some issue in the past with parents holding their children too tightly? So the conversation would go like this: “You have to let your kids go. Just trust God.”

    Few knew my entire story, but I found the irony almost impossible to reconcile…

    There seemed to be a pervasive belief that by letting our kids “go” into the world and learn to fend for themselves, we (parents) demonstrate our superior faith/trust in God.

    I always felt that it took an enormous amount of faith for me to leave the security of my job (decent salary, excellent benefits package including ESOP, financial independence *in case* my marriage didn’t work out or my husband gets sick or dies prematurely.) It also takes a great deal of faith to homeschool. Those who have chosen other path(s) can’t see this side of it. All along, I have made a conscious effort to continually and prayerfully examine my motives and strive to stay “open” to hearing God’s will for my life. Why do other people think that they can *see* and know better than I what that is? I would have been very grateful for a few true friends who sought to know me and my story and were able to accept me and embrace me and my family. I think that mutually-edifying and encouraging fellowship would have flourished in that scenario. As it was, I felt judged all the time, and not in a positive light. I kept a lot of my business to myself for that reason.

    Back to Pastor ‘X’s heartache and dilemma. I pray that this comment thread hasn’t further muddied the water for him. I sincerely pray that God will bless him in his desire to honor his church faithfully and ALSO honor his wife’s and daughter’s dignity as equally loved and reflecting God’s image. Such a rock and a hard place. I feel for pastors in this predicament. It is easy for me to chuck my loyalty to any church that is not edifying not only to me but also to my husband and children. A pastor’s sense of duty would make that decision so much harder.

    I am also touched by Melody Hanson’s (#14) loyalty to the EFCA. I admire your strength, Melody. I cried with one dear friend on our last Sunday at an EFCA church, who also has stayed in spite of some hurts. I cried because I do not have that strength of faith that she has had. She did not condemn me (rather, blessed and embraced me to “go in peace”), but I condemned myself anyway. Really torn for a long time over it… Much of my past comments here at JC would reflect that.

  • You know something is significant when you find yourself tossing and turning about it overnight.

    Amos, I got to thinking about your wife’s feelings about being a SAHM. I have been so conflicted about this! I became an accidental SAHM and I have to say that in my experience our culture simply doesn’t value that job. It is a job, a hard often challenging one, (sometimes extremely mundane) but I spent ten years resenting it and what I gave up.(That’s a long story which I’ve written a lot about, so I won’t detail it here.)

    “I have yet to meet a young woman from my own generation who doesn’t act like they’re dragging out a dirty little secret when they admit that they’re interested in becoming a stay-at-home mom or are more excited by domestic duties than professional advancement.” Sums it up perfectly. But the other side of the coin, though, is that it will ruin your career if you give up working to be at-home. Aside from the fact that there is a recession on, a woman so far out of the marketplace is at best starting over. This is something women must contend with and it’s startling, depressing and confusing when one faces it.

    Lastly, I simply would say that caring for children and a home is not a female’s job. That is old-fashioned, patriarchal thinking and you don’t have to be a feminist to realize that. It is an excuse for many men to think they can “bring home the bacon” and then sit on their butts while their wife waits on them… You know I’m right.

    One day, some day I hope and pray, the Church will become a place that welcomes anyone to do anything. I believe that’s the way it has always been intended. It is our broken power structures, set solidly in stone, that need to be shattered. Only then, will justice prevail. Then, pastors like this one won’t need to leave their church, they can make the change they want. The change they believe in.

    Like I said yesterday, we/the Church needs prophets. Needs people of courage and strength to stand up and reject these ideas which may be in the Bible but were for a time and place and culture so unlike ours.

    Some of you may be interested in a book recently written by Jim Henderson, titled “The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib was no long willing to be the church’s backbone.” Read that only if you have the courage to face what these attitudes are doing to women in the Church. And why so many of them are leaving.

  • Susan N.

    “One day, some day I hope and pray, the Church will become a place that welcomes anyone to do anything. I believe that’s the way it has always been intended. It is our broken power structures, set solidly in stone, that need to be shattered. Only then, will justice prevail.”

    Amen, Melody. A beautiful prayer. ~Peace~

  • Fish

    I do not understand how any man would subject his wife or his daughter to a church where men are solely in power because they believe God ordained it. It might be better to not raise your daughter as a Christian; she will find her way to God later in life, absent the childhood indoctrination.

  • @Fish: You have a point, as I “subject my children” to a church where men are (mostly) in power … The truth is there is so much more to a church than simply the women’s issue (though it’s up there!).

    but if we all left, well, … I don’t know that change will come if we all leave. And changing the denomination, because it is the right thing to do, is what matters to me long term.

    I live something different at home with my husband and we have the opportunity to talk about these things with our kids. We teach our children to think for themselves and (you are right) they will find their way. Either way we cannot control the outcome. I pray that they understand the complexity of these choices, some day. I pray that they understand what it means to be a bridge person. To stand in the gap between what is and what you hope it will become.

  • Tyler

    “I am afraid that the women (or men?) who want to utilize their gifts mainly in preparing communion, cooking for potlucks, cleaning, or taking care of children will feel like second class Christians.”

  • Wow, what an amazing father! Pastor X, if you’re reading here: I suspect you daughter will be okay.