(It is impossible to fully share one's heart in a 1200 word blogpost. To get a clear understanding of my take on church leadership and the role of women in it - read THIS article on Patriarchy in the Church first by clicking HERE.)
My husband and I both grew up in “Patriarchal” homes. Our fathers were the “head” of the home in the sense that they believed it their job to be the “boss” of the home. My husband Tom will write about his own journey out of the Patriarch Matrix (the false belief system where men are required to rule over their homes) in the coming weeks.
Today I will share with you my journey out of the Prison of Male Headship.
I always loved music. I grew up taking band and choir every single year in school. I majored in music education and enjoyed teaching general music and choir at a K-12 school in rural Indiana after college.
After my first son was born, I knew it was time to walk away from teaching. At the time, I thought God was calling me to be home with my infant son, but in hindsight that was not His plan.
I began leading worship once a month at the American Baptist Church I belonged to. I simply fell in love with leading worship. It was the 90s and we were just transitioning out of the “all hymn” mode. There was new life in church worship as new songs were being released all the time.
My worship leading turned into an internship and I was soon hired as the Director of Worship at my church. So now, four months after I leave teaching, I find myself in church leadership. I was 26 years old.
Looking back, I understand now that the Lord wanted me to begin to learn about church leadership in all of its beauty and warts. I had zeal back then but not real knowledge. My naiveté was actually a blessing as I made mistakes that were purely out of innocence in not knowing the “rules of male headship” in church leadership.
My father had a glass ceiling for women. There were rules and regulations we were “programmed” with growing up. We were taught that “head of the house” meant we were at his beck and call. He was the boss and had the final say - there were no arguments. We were women. We were beneath men and we were reminded of our place. We were to learn to serve our husbands, this was what we were created for.
I thought to myself –
well it’s just because of how my dad grew up. He’s just not wise to the modern age of women. Surely the church would embrace me and allow me to be free to climb to my purpose.
How wrong I was! My immaturity about the glass ceilings for women in the church was about to be remedied.
In my late 20s, I pursued God with everything that was in me. I prayed. I worshiped. I fasted. I read the word. Pretty soon, I was getting downloads of revelation from God. God would give me scripture verses to give to other people. (This is the Baptist way of prophesying.
My husband did not hit his spiritual growth spurt until his 30s. I remember pondering in my heart that I should put my spiritual growth on hold until my husband caught up because I didn’t want to be out from under his “covering.” The Holy Spirit spoke to me in such a strong way that made me fear the Lord, He said, “Tisha you cannot wait for your husband. You must grow now to receive all that I have for you. I will bring him along in time. But do not stop growing in Me!”
I felt these words of conviction so strongly that I set aside my desire to be one with my husband in order to be one with God. I had several other promises from God that my husband and I would be equally yoked one day but I could not wait for him in the meantime. And of course – we are now more equally yoked than ever and
Well – let me tell you – the church was not at all happy that I was more spiritually mature than my husband. It was just crazy the things people would say to me! I believed some of these lies for awhile, but as God kept calling me higher, there came a point that I could no longer abide by the rules of men and still grow with God. So I chose to go with God and I scorned the shame that was being thrown at me.
“Do you have your husband’s permission?”
(am I a child?)
“You must let your husband spiritually lead you.”
(but he can’t at this stage)
“As a Godly woman, you should desire to be at home with your children
.” (but I am called by God to lead outside the home)
“Tisha, you need to submit your personality to your husband.”
(So I am to lay down who God created me to be so my husband can have the perceived limelight?)
All of these lies come from the distorted view that the “headship of men” makes them the boss of women. This couldn’t be further from the truth. God did not create one gender to be the master of another. (side note: neither should women be the “masters” of men.)
As I reached the end of my 20s, God kept calling me higher than men would allow me to go. There were a few times I told God He was being “unbiblical” about what He was calling me to do. But He kept bringing more and more scripture to light that completely debunked the “accepted interpretation” of the male headship scriptures.
He reminded me that Ephesians 5:21 came before Ephesians 5:22. “Submit to one another out of the fear of the Lord” (v21) came before “wives submit to your husbands” (vs22) But whenever male leaders would quote this passage they would start with verse 22 and skip verse 21.
He showed me that the Proverbs 31 woman did not ask for permission from her husband to buy and sell land. He showed me that Mary Magdalene was the first preacher of the gospel in John 20. She had a revelation of Jesus that his own disciples did not yet have and she was TOLD by Jesus to go and tell them the revelation.
The phrase One Flesh is used in the Bible 8 different times when describing marriage. This is what my husband and I have pursued… a One Flesh relationship. The Holy Spirit has said to my husband that his job in fulfilling “headship” over the home is to be the “overseer” not the “boss.” This brings great freedom to me as I pursue my calling in the Lord.
However, when it comes to the church leadership, male headship is defined as “boss.”
I had a vision one day of climbing a ladder and continuously hitting glass ceilings. There was a ladder far across the room that had a lower glass ceiling than the one I was climbing. I instinctively knew that the ladder across the room was my earthly father’s ladder and the ceiling was low for women. The ladder I was on was the ladder of my spiritual fathers. The ceiling was a little higher than that of my dad’s. I was stuck because the Lord kept calling me higher but there was a big chunk of ice on my ladder that kept me from climbing any further.
I beat on the ice with my fist and said, “God I hear you calling but I cannot climb any higher!”
I then saw a ladder being laid next to the one I was on. All I had to do was step over to the new ladder.
I heard the Holy Spirit say these words. “The answer to the glass ceiling is … get a new ladder!”
There were no glass ceilings at all on this ladder – I knew it was the ladder of the Lord. I did not have to submit any longer to the rules and regulations that “male headship” said I must follow.
I am free to climb at the Lord’s command. Every time I hit a glass ceiling I realize I am not on the right ladder and I do not complain. I do not whine. I know I am not powerless. I simply get on God’s ladder and keep climbing.
As a woman I know stuff. I know stuff about the Kingdom that no one else does. Because, just like everyone else, I have a slice of God that no one else has. I have a message from the Lord for both men and women. They are free to listen or not. I will not be judged by how many hearers I have. I will be judged according to whether or not I completed my assignment.
Male headship is biblical. Man’s interpretation of male headship is a prison for women.