Monday, August 14, 2017

The Ugly Side of the Evangelical Church


I am guilty of everything I’m about to write.

I have participated in each and every ugly bullet point below.  And I repent for it.  I was wrong.  I was selfish. I followed Paul and Apollos instead of Jesus.

The following article is not an attempt to shame anyone.  I forgive every person in the Evangelical Church who has hurt me.  This article is a call for repentance.  I am attempting to hold a mirror up to the evangelical church and asking if they like what they see.

I am going to use coarse language to describe my sin.  The Bible uses coarse language to describe Israel’s sin.  But if coarse language offends you – you should stop reading now.

I know that many people have been hurt by the Evangelical Church – personally, I have been hurt and I have also been the one who caused damage.  I am sorry for those I have misled and I ask for God’s great mercy to heal anyone I wounded.

I have attended a total of seven Evangelical Churches in my 44 years.  At different times, I was a Director of Worship, Bible Study Leader, Youth Leader, Prayer Ministry Leader, and Women’s Ministry Leader. I am still an Evangelical.  I hold fast to the Word of God.  It is my foundation.  I also believe in all of the gifts of the spirit.  I am, what I would call, a Charismatic Baptist. 

My husband has helped me greatly in understanding my calling and has fully supported me throughout our 24-year marriage.  When I refer to “husbands” below – I am not referring to him personally.

I don’t always write heavy pieces – I mostly just want to help people become whole from their emotional trauma.  But it is the TRUTH that sets people free.  So the band aid must be ripped off and the veil pulled back - everything in the dark must be exposed to the light.  I am blowing the shofar (the trumpet) concerning the ugly practices of a good portion of the American Evangelical Church. 

---------------------------------------------------------------

Whores

I was a whore.

I was a spiritual whore in several of my Evangelical Churches.

It’s what I was trained to be.  I was a woman who was not truly allowed to have power. My job as a church whore was to allow the men in my life to use my giftings, revelations, and talents to make them look good.  I was expected to have a man approve all of my decisions.  In my home, in my workplace, and in the church, if I did not have the OK from a man - the church considered me “out of order.”  I was trained by the church to believe that a man was always required to have the final say in my life in order for me to be one with Jesus.

So, to have any source of significance in the church, I was forced to be a whore – “one who sells themselves.”

I sold myself and my giftings to the church for acceptance.  My worship leading, my teaching gift, my administration gift – all of it.  I sold it to the men in my Evangelical Churches and took no credit at all.  I thought it was my duty to let them use me.  I just wanted to be holy.

I grew up being told that a woman’s place was to submit to men.  So then – when it came to my giftings I was forced to use them for men’s glory.  In the home – the church said I had to let my husband shine brighter than me.  So when we would go to be with church people, I would beg him not to be an introvert, because I would take the heat for it. 

In the church – I had to let men, in general, shine brighter.  On several occasions, pastors stole my revelations (new understandings from the Bible) for their own sermons.  As the Director of Worship, I would sometimes completely produce an entire Sunday morning with two services all by myself. Behind the scenes – I was the one who made the church look good.  But I would never take credit – nor be given credit for all of my hard work.  I believed the lie that I was supposed to give away everything for free so that the pastor could take the stage and he could shine with his gifting.

I look back now and see how differently I felt when I was working outside the church because the world mostly sees men and women as equals.  There wasn’t the pressure to perform to make my boss look good.  I was given credit when I achieved something or created something good.  But the pressure to stay home with my kids was another way to demand that I conform to the Evangelical Hive Mind.

I wanted desperately to please the Hive Mind (read more here). I wanted to belong.  But to belong I had to play the role of whore:  Make the men in my life look good.  Make men feel good about themselves.  Sacrifice my self-respect.  Don’t make waves.  Just perform.  

In some kind of twisted way, I believed that “performing” for my pastors and elders in my church gave me some sort of power.  Somehow –  if I “performed” well enough they would see my worth and give me credit for my maturity and wisdom.  But it didn’t.  It just inclined them to use me more…

And so… I became a Madam.

Madams

A Madam is one who keeps the other whores in line.  She’s the one in charge of the whorehouse. Did you know that most Evangelical Churches who are “complementarian” have a Spiritual Madam?

It’s a necessary position.

I would correct women who weren’t letting their men shine brighter than they were.  I would reprimand women who weren’t taking a secondary role in the marriage.  I would warn the pastors about women who were “usurping” authority.  

In essence, I was the one insisting that women allow men to be their Masters.

In the complementarian Evangelical Church, if the men are not the Masters over women then they have no “man-hood.”  It is a stain on their masculinity if they are married to a strong willed, gifted woman.  We are directed to serve THEIR calling while ignoring our own.  We are controlled by contrived gender roles.

One time I had a Church Madam come to me and tell me that the Lord wanted me to submit my personality to my husband.  She said that if I would just tone it down a little that it would help my marriage.  So I was not free to be who God intended for me to be, I wasn’t allowed to have the outgoing, fun loving personality God gave me – My husband and I were expected to manipulate our marriage so that we fit into the cookie cutter that was set forth for us by the Church.

There is a lie STILL perpetuated after all of these years that there is something inherently wrong with a woman and she cannot truly lead.

Because – you know what happened in the Garden of Eden don’t you?  It was “That woman’s” fault. (Genesis 3:12)  The perpetual lie is that we are still under the curse from the garden.  So women shall continually have men “ruling” over them… and if men are not ruling and women submitting, then we are not truly one with Jesus.  Never mind that Ephesians 5:21 comes before Ephesians 5:22.  As a Madam, it is important to ALWAYS start in verse 22.

The problem with this thinking is - that if the curse of gender roles from Genesis 3 is still in effect then the blood of Jesus was not enough to roll back the curse completely.

Somehow part of the Evangelical Church believes that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was enough to roll back the curse of death – but not gender roles.

If we believe the lie that men must still rule over women – then a Church Madam is necessary to force the women to comply.

The Good Old Boys Club

The Good Old Boys Club in the Evangelical Church is the one that gets together behind closed doors …and decides.

They decide everything.

I hate to tell you this but most of them don’t seek the Lord.  They are putting their own plan in motion.  Because as far as they are concerned – they are the leaders the Lord has appointed so whatever is in their minds must be from God.

Sometimes it’s the Elder Board who makes up this club and sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes it’s just a few who have the Pastor’s ear.  They have invisible puppet strings attached to the pastor and they use him for their own purposes. 

When the pastor is a peacekeeper – He is never the true leader of the church – the Good Old Boys Club is the one in charge. 

Sometimes the pastor is the leader of the Good Old Boys Club.  When a pastor is overly insecure in his masculinity having this Club makes him feel like a man’s man.  As a woman in church leadership, I let this Club take advantage of me – because I thought it was the righteous thing to do.  I had no idea at the time, that I was being a whore.  I let the Good Old Boys Club use my gifts, talents, and influence to keep their positions as the Masters of the Church.

I will tell you a sad story that illustrates the Good Old Boys Club:   After I came out of my deception of being a Madam, I was part of a church in which it came to my attention that one of the pastors was asking the women he counseled if their sex life with their husband was satisfying.  The women didn’t feel like they could evade the question so they answered and the pastor proceeded to give them pointers on how to make it better.  He told them sexual positions to try and lingerie to buy and even websites to look at… all of this without their husband’s knowledge.

I approached the leadership of this church with proof and three witnesses about what this man was doing in his private meetings with women and nothing happened to this man at all.  He still retains his position.  He was not corrected nor reprimanded. He never asked for forgiveness from anyone.  This is because the Good Old Boys Club protected him.  They cared more for the reputation of this pastor than the women whose marriage beds had been violated.

I have witnessed a few Evangelical Churches where there was no Good Old Boys Club – but it was only because the pastor was humble enough to obey the Word and strong enough to disobey the Club.  Sometimes he survived – other times the Holy Huddle crucified him because he dared to rock the boat.

Holy Huddles

In many Evangelical Churches, peace is to be valued above all things.  It is the highest calling of the church to be at peace.  We believe the lie that if we are not at peace then we are not one with the Lord.  Because Jesus is peace.  Therefore, be quiet.  Do not disagree.  Do not point out flaws.  And especially do not point out sin.  If you point out sin – you will be ostracized and labeled a troublemaker.

I used to be a keeper of the peace.

I would tell people “Don’t rock the boat.  Be quiet about your complaint – it’s actually your issue.  Don’t judge. You’re being critical.  Have you really prayed enough for that person?  You are causing dissension…”

I really wasn’t keeping the peace.  I was forcing everyone to sweep their issues under the rug and be quiet about it.

For the most part, the church doesn’t really value peace.  We value quiet.

We value having our Holy Huddles where everyone pretends everything is all right.  Because peace is put on a pedestal and worshipped, anyone who causes conflict and doesn’t pretend everything is alright is not tracking with the Hive Mind.  Anyone who doesn’t value peace (or the absence of conflict) is put out of the Holy Huddle.

Sometimes dissent is allowed.  Usually only once.  But after that – after you’ve presented your case to the elders – now you are just whining.  Doesn’t matter how much scripture you have to back up what you are saying…  dealing with the actual issue will cause the boat to rock.  And we must have peace – or we are not one with Jesus.

Peace – whether it is real or false – must be abided by at all times!

In many of the Evangelical Churches, you must serve the Holy Huddle – or move along.  Unless you have money, if you have money – we will adapt the Holy Huddle to you.

Money Prostitutes

I wish this weren’t true, but it is.  I wish I had not participated, but I have…

Here are the bullet points of being a money prostitute in the church.

The “givers” in the church must be tended to.  Give them special treatment.  Take their phone calls.  Answer their questions. Give them leadership responsibilities.  Name parts of the building after them.

The Church service must not only please the givers it must also reach the young people.  There are rules and regulations about worship.  If they are not abided by, people will withhold their money.  So we listen carefully to the comment cards of those who give more money.

One time at an Evangelical Church I attended, I had taken steps to start a 7 days a week Prayer Ministry.  The pastor had been very supportive, it was growing and people were coming to prayer meetings we would have every single day at the church.  I was excited to actually make some headway into ministry and be able to fill a hole that was sorely needed at this church.  Until one day, I spoke from the platform about something God had laid on my heart in prayer and I offended the Church Madam whose family gave a great deal of money.  She complained to the pastor and I was brought in to his office – not to make peace with her, nor even to face her.  The pastor brought me in and gave me an ultimatum to face Church discipline or to step down from ministry.  I knew I had done nothing wrong and that this pastor was bowing to money.  So I stepped down.

Jealousy and greed are ugly.

Most Evangelical Churches are struggling for money.  So when we cannot raise enough money within the church to do what we would like to do, then we look to the world and use Babylon’s methods like grants and fundraisers to find enough money to keep our Church dream alive.

Because addressing why people aren’t truly tithing would cause waves – and we must have peace above all things.  Addressing why there is a financial famine from the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills might cause us to have to address our own sin.

So we manipulate and find the money to at least give the perception that we have a “Picture Perfect Church.”  Money helps us to keep our veils in place.

Veils

The Evangelical Church believes that the church needs to appeal to the consumers in the community.  Instead of actually being the church, where we REACH OUT and clothe the poor and feed the hungry and offer mercy, we focus on what kind of veils will attract the community to our church.  When you are caught up in the consumerism of church, it is hard to see the truth beyond the veil that God doesn’t consider His Church to be made with bricks and mortar.  He considers His Church to be made with people.

There are several kinds of veils to keep people interested and oblivious to what is actually happening behind the scenes.

There are veils of “niceness.”

We don’t really speak the truth to one another – that would upset the delicate balance of peace. Conflict means that we are not one with Jesus.

So we’re nice.

We either ignore complainers.  Or tell them that they are completely right – but we never change the thing they bring forth.

We placate.  We may wine and dine the complainers for a moment – hoping they’ll be quiet.  We do it in the name of love.  But really we’re doing it so they’ll fall in line.  We’re doing it to placate our own soul.

And then…whether or not the dissenters listen, we have been nice.

We want to be one with Jesus and Jesus would have been nice.

There are veils of “worship.”

Take it from me, as a former Director of Worship…if we can pull of a killer worship service, people will overlook a lot.  If we dress it up and make it sound semi-professional, if we make people feel a little bit lighter because of the worship service, they are willing to look past some of the more unsavory things happening just to get their weekly dose of peace.

This is similar to David singing and worshiping before King Saul.  It brought him a little peace from his torment.  He would get a little relief from his demon but never truly repent.  In a way, this is what a worship veil does.  We give the people a little relief from their torment – but never truly pull back the veil of the cause of their torment, which is sin.

We also used to do a huge Easter production every year and the whole church would be filled with Believers, being blessed by the story they already knew.  When we shifted it to an outreach type of program, no one came.  No one brought anyone.  We were a consumer church with the wrong priorities.

There are veils of “outward appearance.”

Going to a church with a really nice building appeals to the consumerism of the world – so we build really nice facilities to cover up any flaws in the internal structure of the church.

We offer the latest and greatest programs, which again, appeal to the consumers who are looking for a church – but offering them a beautiful building and dynamic programs instead of Jesus causes people to worship their own comfort and peace. 

The veil of outward appearance leaves us with a shallow church who does not truly know the Man they claim to be serving.

In a way, this veil allows the people to accept Jesus, without turning away from the world.  But the truth is –  you can’t have the Kingdom of Heaven without repenting.

Calling people to repent of their sin rocks the boat and disturbs the peace of the status quo – and the Evangelical Church is all about their (false) peace.

Sin is messy.  It takes courage to call people on their sin – especially in this day and age when you will be called judgmental or unloving.  But Jesus called people on their sin ALL. THE. TIME!

When I was a whore to the Evangelical Church, I was more concerned with the appearance of the church than I was with the hearts of people.  I did not want the world to hate us.  I wanted them to want Jesus and think He was cool.  So I helped to create veils that would make Christianity inviting.
I did not preach Christ, nor the truth that accepting Him includes forsaking the world.

When I was a whore, I pretended to play church but I really didn't build His Church. I built a comfortable "paneled house" but His true Church was left in ruins. This is why there is a drought in the American Evangelical Church.  We are guilty of the same sin of the Israelites after they returned from exile.  We're building ourselves a house - but not Him.

2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”  (Haggai 1:2-11)

Epilogue

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for playing my part in all of these ugly things.  I’m sorry for insisting on false peace.  I’m sorry for insisting on cookie cutter Christianity.  I’m sorry for being a whore to the Evangelical Churches who had a Hive Mind instead of the mind of Christ.

Women should be completely equal to men.  If they are not – then the fullness of the cross will never be realized.  Jesus paid the price for ALL sin, including Eve’s.  In doing so, the cross wiped out the curse from the Garden of Eden. There is no male or female in Christ.  Women are not second class citizens.  We carry half of the image of Christ – without women in leadership, the Church does not really have the whole picture.

When Paul said women should be silent – he was speaking to a specific group of women who had gotten rowdy.  Jesus told women to speak up – specifically, He told Mary Magdalene to go and tell his male disciples that He had risen.   A woman was the first preacher of the gospel.  So, obviously, Paul did not mean ALL women should be silent and “not be permitted to teach men.”  Jesus told a woman to go and “teach” a new revelation to His disciples.

When the Evangelical Church separates men and women like this they become guilty of spiritual homosexuality.  Spiritual homosexuality happens when only men are allowed to “birth” things in the church.  Only men are allowed to make decisions.  Only men are allowed to do the teaching.  Having only men in Church leadership means that there is only one gender that is allowed to “spiritually parent” the Church.

There are hearts in the Church who are crying out for true mothers.  Not whores, but Spiritual Mothers who have authority to comfort and correct and teach and nurture.  There is a GREAT need in the Body of Christ for the comfort that only Spiritual Mothers can bring.  The only roles that were given to the genders in the Garden of Eden were that of a Father and a Mother.  Both are necessary to create life.  Both are necessary to raise healthy children.  Right now – most of the Evangelical Church is only allowed to have Spiritual Fathers.  True Spiritual Mothers aren’t kept behind their husband as though they are invisible.  True Spiritual Mothers work alongside the Spiritual Fathers and have equal say over the raising of the children.

God’s original intention and Christ’s subsequent redemption was that men and women would be one flesh and rule over the earth together.

God needs us to become one.  We need both male and female to spiritually birth things.  This is not achieved by females becoming invisible so that males can lead.  We need each other.

Once, God used me to correct a young man from his sin and then him free in a miraculous way at an Evangelical Church.  It was truly an amazing thing to witness God’s presence as He led me in using my gift of discernment and my tools of deliverance to set him free from his sin.  But after the amazing awe-filled evening, I was told that I couldn’t take any credit for what happened.  I was told, “God did it… not you.”

I was stunned for a moment that this elder was not even going to give me any credit for what he had just witnessed.  I had taken great risk to call out this young man’s sin.  I had used a gifting that came from God but that I spent years developing my character to use.  I had also trained myself to use tools of deliverance.  Yes, God did it – but He was able to use me because I was mature enough to use them.

I was a Spiritual Mother to this young man because I cared for his destiny more than I cared to upset his sense of peace.  But the elder can’t afford to give a woman credit for setting this man free.  It would upset the apple cart of the spiritual homosexuality that he and the Good Old Boys have so carefully preserved.  I was a better elder to this young man than the male elders had been.  They knew he was sinning and no one was willing to cause conflict in order to set him free.

I know it’s ugly.

But it must be dealt with.  I am sorry for my part in oppressing women in the Evangelical Church. I’m sorry for promoting spiritual homosexuality.  I’m sorry for manipulating people for their money. I’m sorry for creating a Holy Huddle of self-righteousness.  And I am sorry for covering all of it with a veil of “niceness.”   I hope that through this confession that some will see behind the veil and repent.

There is nothing in this life that I take more seriously than Judgement Day.  When I stand before the Lord and bow my knee, I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful one!”

It is for this purpose – wanting my brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Church to hear “Well done!” – that I dare to rock the boat.

Are you willing to give up your false peace in order to take a long, hard look into this mirror?

As a woman in the Evangelical Church, I want to be united with men.  I want to be of one heart and one mind.  I don’t want to be “over” men – I want to rule alongside men, the way the Lord intended.  

I want to be Mary Magdalene who comes and tells you a new revelation that God has given me.  But if you ignore me the way the disciples did Mary… if you steal my revelation from God and claim it for your own… if I’m invisible and you think that women should be silent and only here for the lifting up of men – you relegate me to being a whore.

And I refuse to be one anymore.







4 comments: