Galatians 3:28 ESV There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I have had a sticky note on my desk to write about this subject for a few weeks now, so I am finally getting to it. Let me start off with this: I don’t like the typical men’s/women’s ministries in local churches. And you already know that I am going to tell you why!
Let’s start with men’s ministry. The approach always calls for the men and perhaps the teen boys, to gather together in some setting. It might be a Bible study or it might be quite a large audience in a conference or retreat. It often will involve using a book or video series by some noted Christian “man for men.” The model man who tells the rest how to be men.
Now, I can tell you what goes on at such meetings very typically. The leader works in comments, if not out and out teachings, about women. The idea, chuckle, chuckle, is that there is secret knowledge men need to know about women, else the women are going to manipulate and control them. That kind of thing. As I say, it enters the picture of men’s ministry gatherings either overtly or covertly, formally or informally. The emphasis is upon how different men and women are and men in particular need to be on guard. Look what Eve did to poor Adam, you know.
Now, here is the surprising thing. When it comes to women’s ministry meetings, what do you suppose you find? Is the subject typically, “now ladies, here is how you can get what you want from you man”? Nope. The normal subject matter has to do with affirming what the men are being taught!! Weird, huh? Here is what a man needs. It is your job to see that he has it. Your role is to see that your husband succeeds in what he does and the way you do that is to be quiet and tend to his every need.
As is always the case, you will find some truth blended into all this mixture, but it most all goes horribly wrong because it is twisted and tweaked. How does it go wrong? It treats men as if they are the ones who really count to God and women as if they only count by working in the background to further the man’s mission.
I don’t need to tell you what all of this is going to do when an abuser gets hold of it.
Let me end by saying how this men and women ministry thing should be handled. Do away with it. Address men and women and youth and children in largely the same way. Teach them God’s Word. Give them the gospel. Get them together – ALL together rather than separating them – and teach them the great truths of Christ.
Sticky note marked “done.”
Part Two – The Damage Men’s and Women’s Ministries Typically Do
I was in so many women’s ministry groups where we spent all of our time studying “how to lift up our man” or “how to help our man be what God wanted men to be”.
Everything was all about how our entire purpose for existing was to support men. We trained our daughters to support their father’s “ministry”, even if their father was not saved and had no ministry. He would be won over by the meek behavior of his wife and daughters, if we just tried hard enough and were humble enough and did not dare outshine him.
My “Bible” of teaching on this subject centered around the belief that women were created for one purpose alone – we were created to “be his helpmeet”.
This teaching goes so far as to say that abuse is caused by the woman’s rebellious spirit, no matter how submissive she appears on the outside, if he is abusing, she must be somehow rebelling. I prayed so many times for God to remove from me the “sins” of my hurt and sadness and fear after his abusive behavior.
I have literally heard women tell other women that single moms deserve to be poor and struggle because they are out of God’s will. God is using the suffering of her children and poverty to bring her heart to repentance. To this day, I sometimes fight with the belief that everything he did and is still doing must somehow be my fault. If Only I would have…….
And of course, the only men allowed to be in Christian ministry are “manly men” with the right type of voice, body type, clothing and likes and dislikes. The ones who “wear the pants in the family”
Many is the time I cringed in church as the preacher started his sermon on some topic made the disclaimer, “Now, Ladies, I know this is going to make you mad, but if you can’t say Amen, just say Ouch.”
Yeah, ouch because the attacks against womanhood are painful lies told by a man, who has no idea what women really think or feel or what it is like to be a woman. Victims sitting in the pews are taking another hit from the man in the front of the room as he explains to them, one more time, their many flaws and sins. And all the while the abusers stroke the victim’s arms or backs of their necks or give them knowing looks to let them know they are listening to the preacher and this new information will be applied at home.
While the men who know better are squirming in their seats and looking down or checking their watches, too afraid to speak out against this evil portrayal of women as malicious usurpers in the body of Christ.
And the young ladies in the pews are squirming in their seats at the thought of the future that awaits them, having to give over their entire life in service of a man, who may or may not be kind and smart and caring. Who may do what he wants with her future while she must submit, no matter what he does.
It is a sad state of affairs, indeed.
Wingingit – You said what I was trying to say and you said it better. Thank you very much
Thank you, Jeff.
Living that life is hell on earth disguised as God’s will.
Grateful for the few honest men like you who speak out.
Wingingit, you have described my church life experience to a T!
“Yeah, ouch because the attacks against womanhood are painful lies told by a man, who has no idea what women really think or feel or what it is like to be a woman.”
This is exactly it! All these pastors, elders and so on are incapable of listening with empathy, attention, and humility to women in their congregation, especially abused women, and learn from them. Reaching out to them like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well is totally foreign to them. They want to keep themselves at some higher male level somewhere and are desperately incapable of understanding the words of Christ in Ephesians 5 about what the role of a Christian man/husband truly entails. Someone who is Christlike, who has the interest of his wife at heart, her wellbeing, especially her spirituality and her salvation.
I’m yet to hear a correct sermon on this topic… This is never explained in detail by the leaders and teachers because they haven’t got a clue. Meek Moses isn’t attractive as popular Aaron…
Oh my goodness.
I could tell stories.
Thank you for bringing us the truth.
Yes. Many stories here too.
My wife detests women’s conferences as much as I do men’s.
Best women’s Bible study I was ever in? We did the read-through-the-Bible-chronologically plan. Took us about a year and a half. We talked about Scripture when we met. Fantastic.
Oh the stories I could tell of women’s bible classes and retreats. I never did feel comfortable at any of them, but felt pressured to attend because that is what would make me a better Christian woman/wife.
I remember walking into a new women’s bible class at my former church about a month or so after my then-abusive-husband walked out and the elderly woman who was leading it started the class off by stating how there would be NO prayer requests in that class because we were not there to share our troubles. o.O This was the same woman who stopped me after service one day and whispered, ‘If you ever want to hear about how I saved my marriage, just let me know” and walked away! I was like the woman with the red letter plastered across her chest, except my letter was a D(ivorce)! Few of the women ever asked how I was or if I needed anything, and the night in that bible study class I felt the comment was said directly to me.
At a women’s retreat I attended with maybe 10 other women from my church, I felt so alone and realized that unless you followed the good Christian women model of appearing happy no matter what was happening in your marriage and never ever talked about it, because of course that would be gossiping, you make everyone else uncomfortable and are not one of the pack.
At this retreat which took place about 2 years before my ex walked out but during an extremely painful time in that marriage, there were women from a few other churches that attended it too, and on the last day before we all left we formed a circle to pray. As the leader was praying, I started feeling so sick because I knew I was going back to the lion’s den when I got home and I just started to break down. I tried holding back the tears but once the prayer ended and everyone was starting to say goodbye, I just dropped to my knees in tears and the woman from my church who was beside me tried pulling me up almost in disgust, never asking what was wrong or offering me a hug, just wanting me to get up and stop embarrassing her. Not ONE woman in that room said anything to me, asked if I was alright or needed prayer or anything! On the bus back home, not one of the women from my church sat with me or talked with me, I knew at that moment truly how alone I was. 🙁
I truly always thought it was just me, I was just different, but no matter how much I tried I ,never felt I fit in during any women’s events. The last one I attended was a Mother’s Day brunch on a Saturday afternoon and it just happened that an hour before I left home my then-husband was berating my youngest son over some stupid thing and I can see so clearly now how it was my ex’s way of ruining the event for me as he always did. When I left the house that day to go to the church for the brunch, my youngest son came running out to me, begging me to take him with me. I kissed him and hugged him, and told him I wouldn’t be long. I was sick to my stomach the whole time at the brunch for leaving my son at home. I’ve never forgiven myself for that. 🙁 And as I sat silently, with tears in my eyes at the brunch, not one, not ONE woman asked me how I was.
I never went back to any women’s events after that.
Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for speaking up about the atrocities which happen in the church, you are freeing so many victims of abuse with your words and are helping those in the process of healing to understand the truth.
Thank you Amy!! It is amazing how many “christians” and “churches” are out there who are totally devoid of Christ.
I Woke Up
I hated women’s retreats then and now I understand why. Thank you! Most of the mentality behind men’s and women’s retreats, etc., is disgusting. I was raised in that environment, and I also watched my father abuse my mother emotionally and psychologically in a horrible manner until her death at the age of 53 from cancer. Then I married an abuser because that’s how I thought the world turned! Thank GOD I Woke Up! I am teaching my three boys so differently how to follow Christ than how my brother and I were taught. BTW, I can hardly carry on a conversation with my brother, who still lives in that twisted way of thinking. We are not close! The underlying disdain for women is so apparent to me now!
I seem to read my life story I Woke Up. Like you I went from an abusive father (non Christian) to an abusive husband, yet thinking the ‘husband’ was different because he was a ‘Christian’. Unfortunately it proved worse! 🙁
As for my two brothers, they have many similar traits to our father’s. They cut ties with me a few years ago without any reason given. My dad did a good divide-and-conquer job.
Emotional abuse is a psychological cancer. I read a study somewhere on abuse and cancer which showed the higher number of abused women having cancer. It might not be the first cause but it certainly precipitates it.
But you aren’t allowed to mention anything during those women’s events where it’s about having a good time and everything has to be cosy and happy. All vain and artificial in reality.
I praise our compassionate Father for removing us from that cancerous cycle.
I’ve also seen much heresy introduced in women’s ministry throughout the years. From the blatant new age teachings based off of Shakti Gawain’s ideas, to Trinity-denying Gwen Shamblin. I ended up calling it the Book ‘O the Month Club. Lots of things going on without the pastor’s knowledge. But maybe the pastor knew? Easier perhaps to test out the acceptance of strange ideas before coming out with full-blown support.