“I don’t believe God loves me—not really.” These words erupted from my wife in a season of personal crisis. One of the deep roots of the crisis—not the immediate trigger—was the traditional teaching of the church that women must be subordinate to men and are not qualified for certain offices of leadership. This lie had rooted itself in Debbie’s heart from her childhood years growing up in church.
At the very same time as these words came forth from my wife’s lips, a sliver of glass, the result of a moving accident when a mirror slipped and crashed on my head early in our marriage, made its way to the surface of my forehead. I picked out this irritating sliver that had been working its way to the surface for some time. I thought at the time the wound had been all cleaned out, yet this tiny sliver had been deeply embedded—but now was out.
Something else was going on during this same season. I was leading my congregation through a series of teachings to demonstrate that the Bible’s genuine ideal for males and females was full and equal partnership, clearing the path for full participation in the kingdom for gifted women. It was these teachings that my wife found quite encouraging, but which also triggered the deep pain, the result of the lie she absorbed during the formative years of growing up in patriarchal churches. The truth sets us free, but sometimes there is pain when lies are isolated and uprooted. The psychic pain of feeling second-class in the kingdom and somehow ‘less-than’ and disqualified by her gender was surfacing from deep within my wife’s heart.
At the precise moment I heard my wife’s heart cry of anguish and was looking at the sliver of mirror I had extracted from my forehead, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. “This is no ordinary sliver of glass. It is from a mirror. How your wife sees herself is colored by how you reflect back to her the worth and value she carries. Men and women were created for an intimate partnership. The lies she has been told about her status and value in the kingdom have come from men. You can now reflect to her the truth.”
Nothing can replace the power of Biblical truth. That is why it is so important that it is clearly taught that God’s ideal has always been for a full and equal partnership between the genders. This is what the Bible teaches when allowed to speak for itself apart from centuries of traditional patriarchy in the church. But the relational dynamic of the male-female partnership must never be forgotten. The woman was taken out of the man. And it is in the relational interaction of men and women honoring and valuing one another that this truth of full and equal partnership is restored—both for women and men.
This real-life parable is contained in the book, Equally Yoked, by Rick McKinniss.The book is available from the CBE online book store.