Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finding Our Harmony in the Chorus: How I Came to Support the FreeCWC Petition

Click HERE to read and sign the FreeCWC Petition

A week or two ago, I wrote to a group that advocates for gender equality in the Evangelical Church, asking them if they would consider supporting and signing the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition's petition at Change.org

 A representative of the group responded to me so graciously to decline, explaining their concern over what they described as the demanding tone of the petition. 
 I wrote the following email to them, for they were a little concerned that I might not understand. I understand their position well and humbly respect it. Many people feel strongly that it is quite wrong to demand anything of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), especially if they believe that supporting the petition will jeopardize their own ministry efforts.

We all do our part in the Kingdom, and I wanted to convey that. I also wanted them to know that going to Seneca Falls 2 Evangelical Women's Rights Conference was no small matter for me. Though I don't fit the gender paradigm established by CBMW, I did not relish any association with their pejoratives. I don't wish to identify myself as formally egalitarian because I don't fit that mold, either. As I've noted before, my “comp” friends think I'm quite egalitarian, and my “egal” friends often consider me too complementarian. I wish to reject both labels, but motivation for participation in the Seneca Falls 2 effort was not understood by quite a few. Personally, I lost the support of many people who felt that it was far too bold of an action. Overnight, I became untouchable by many old acquaintances who were uncomfortable with the Letter of Demand that I signed in 2010 as well as the conference itself.

But... I did it out of conviction, not out of self-advancement or to gain favor with anyone. I did what I believed God required me to do, and the conviction that I felt was strong. I offered the following in an email to by acquaintance in ministry.


My Response (with minor editing)

God gives each of us work to do, and we all must be faithful to it.  I wouldn't ask any more or less of anyone, though I usually feel confident in taking the risk to pose the choice.  I do what I believe God has laid on my heart to do, and I trust Him for the outcome.  (Well, I aspire to that, anyway.)

Cindy with Pastor Doug Phillips!
I don't know if you read anything about the history of that petition.  It was first presented at the Seneca Falls II Conference held in 2010.  It was not my type of conference at all, but I was intrigued by the name of one of the speakers:  Doug Phillips.  I'm an outspoken critic of the Doug Phillips associated with Vision Forum and was among the first group of them.  But this other Doug Phillips was a Church of God minister in Ft. Pierce, FL.  Were it not for that name, I probably wouldn't have even entertained any thoughts about the conference or the petition.  But something inside of me began to stir.  There was that little voice that begs me to listen, crying from inside my heart, like hope in Pandora's Box.


I started talking to my husband about it, and I was surprised when he said, "I think you should go."  I had not even entertained the idea when I mentioned it to him.  I laughed and said that I would go if the conference host would let me sing right before this other Doug Phillips was scheduled to speak, and then I could introduce him.  I wanted for all there to pray that I might see the day when I might share the dais with that other Doug Phillips.  And I'd love to see it on this side of the veil. In that moment when that idea occurred to me, the prayer was like a mighty fountain, bursting up from my belly and filling me and the space around me.  It was wonderful, but even then, it was just an idle thought.

My husband is usually more of a curmudgeon -- one of those geek scientist types with a grizzled beard and a sweater.  I was shocked, because he was almost ebullient, and he is rarely if ever so.  He encouraged me to ask if I could sing.  I dismissed it, and he said, "Cindy, I really think that you need to go.  I believe that you need to be there. I think it will be really good for you."  I thought that it was a silly idea, but there was something – that tiny tugging in my heart.  Before the day was through, just a month before the conference, I ended up agreeing to be the first speaker of the day.  There are times when you just know that you're walking in the steps that God has ordered. This was one for me.

A part of me was mortified for agreeing to participate.  I don't even really like to refer to myself as egalitarian in the formal sense.  I don't have a passion for the subject of the gender debate – certainly not enough to agree to speak at a conference bearing a name that can only be seen as feminist.  But that fountain was flowing in me, almost tangibly, renewing and changing me.  I had to be obedient to it, and the conviction I felt compelled me to keep moving forward.  I kept reminding myself that peace was a counselor.  At each step on what was like a golden path, as I watched each one appear before me, I followed conviction and peace.  At one point, I felt like God was parting the Red Sea for me.

I followed what for me was God's unmistakable call.  A few weeks ago, the same sweet, little, familiar voice started bubbling up in me again.  "Hmmm.  What if..."   What if we really could turn that Letter of Demand that we sent to CBMW in 2010 into a petition in 2014? From tenderness, holy boldness sprang in a resounding "Yes!"  Without that strong witness contained in that still, small voice, I would never have chosen such a path.  I would have written a different letter, too, had it been up to me, but this is the one that God bid me to sign. Out of love for my Savior, I could do nothing else.

As I follow peace, my wise counselor, so should everyone do the same.  We should all be obedient to the Word and captive to our conscience, standing there where God bids us.  

This is all the Holy Spirit's gig anyway.  We are members of the same body -- and I just find myself in the demanding tone section.  I always did identify with the wiry prophets who said the things that no one else would say.

I'm honored that you've taken the time to read and consider the petition, allowing me to pose the question and the choice.  We have need of every member in the Body, and I rejoice.  To God be the glory as He works to will and do of HIs good pleasure.  Faithful is He who has called us, and He will do it.  I will continue to pray that God will work all that He wants for your endeavors, especially in reaching pastors with the message of hope and truth.  May they love the truth and hear Him through you all.  Be blessed abundantly, exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think.

Love in the Lamb,

Cindy


Recalling the Story of Pandora's Box

The creatures stung Pandora over and over again and she slammed the lid shut. Epimetheus ran into the room to see why she was crying in pain. Pandora could still hear a voice calling to her from the box, pleading with her to be let out. Epimetheus agreed that nothing inside the box could be worse than the horrors that had already been released, so they opened the lid once more.

All that remained in the box was Hope. It fluttered from the box like a beautiful dragonfly, touching the wounds created by the evil creatures, and healing them. Even though Pandora had released pain and suffering upon the world, she had also allowed Hope to follow them.


Lyrics that I Intended to Sing at Seneca Falls 2

Keep in mind that this is the song that rang in my heart as I imagined myself singing – before I ever uttered a word about it to my husband and before I knew much about the conference. It was the basis of my prayer against deception in the Body of Christ and for all of the women who find themselves in the Baca of complementarian beliefs. 

 I prayed specifically for Doug Phillips as well. In fact, the conference became a wonderful reminder and burden to pray for him and for those who followed him.


(Baca refers to a “valley of weeping” after a characteristic of the Balsam tree and connotes a gloomy and sterile place. It became associated with a region that is thought to be in Lebanon.)


You're the Rock of my Life

from Spiritual Freedom (Janny Grein)

Walkin' in the desert where the wind blows hot
Feel like I'm dyin' but I know I'm not
Standin' at the borders of the Promised Land
No more waitin' 
LEAVING BACA!
I'm going on in

Tired of walking this trail of tears
Tired of being captive to all these fears
Tired of wallowing in this lack
I'm leaving Baca, and I won't be back

Now I cry out
Now I cry out on Your Name
And You will deliver

You're the Rock of my life
The only One that I will trust in
You're the Rock of my life
You alone are my Salvation

If ever I stumble on any stone
Whenever I feel all hope is gone
You hold me up in Your mighty hand
You move heaven and earth
Just to help me stand

Giants livin' in the Promised Land
They're no threat from where I stand
They bow their knee come great or small
The bigger they are
The harder they fall

Now I cry out
Now I cry out on Your Name
And You will deliver

You're the Rock of my life
You're my strength and my high tower
You're the Rock of my life
You deliver me from mine enemies