Journey's End: Removing "Biblical" Barriers Between Women and Their Destiny
by Kathryn J. Riss, ThM
More than a narrow focus on a few verses, Journey's End applies the entire sweep of Scripture to illuminate passages that have puzzled Christians for generations, and have too often been misused to hurt women. God never intended for his Word to be misused to hurt women! Let Journey's End answer your questions and settle your heart!
·Reclaims Scripture as woman's Magna Charta ·Brings out St. Paul's true meaning and intent ·Sheds light on Genesis, Eph. 5, and I Cor. 11-14 ·Provides a fresh translation of I Timothy 2:12-15 based on Greek grammar ·Spotlights the cultural concerns Paul addressed ·Corrects errors of translation, interpretation, and Bible doctrine ·Liberates Christian marriage ·Sets women free to be all God intends!
The "serpent's seed" has attacked God's daughters long enough. It's time for the truth to set them free! You will be refreshed, challenged and inspired by this thought-provoking book.
Dive into Chapter One
Read the Compelling Conclusion!
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Journey’s End Conclusion
by Kathryn J. Riss, ThM
For a short bio of Kathryn click here
Over the quarter-century during which I have researched and studied the questions surrounding the role and status of Christian women, I have spent much time in prayer. Acknowledging that the exegetical questions are difficult and perhaps impossible to resolve with complete satisfaction, I have turned to the Lord for an answer that would settle my heart. For it would be unthinkable for me either to lose faith in God’s Word as inspired or in His Holy Spirit as doing all things well in the lives of the many women He has called into and gifted for leadership. Both are true works of God and therefore must be in agreement; but how can this be reconciled with Scriptures that seem to restrict women?
What keeps coming back to me during such times is the Lord’s answer to the Jews’ question as to whether or not it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. The rabbis allowed this, citing the Law of Moses, which allowed such men to grant their wives a writ of divorce so they could remarry. Jesus told them, “because of the hardness of your hearts God gave you this commandment, but from the beginning it was not so.”
This statement by Jesus shows that not all Scriptural directives convey God’s ideal, but that some were given as concessions to human sinfulness. Jesus applied this specifically to the relations between husbands and wives.
I believe that the passages of Scripture which seem to restrict women fall into this category. They reflect, not God’s original design for gender relationships as outlined in the Creation narratives, but the division and male domination that began at the Fall. Such Scriptures regulate the fallen state of hardened hearts, but Jesus died to change our hearts! That is an ongoing process, both in us as individuals and in our society.
Jesus wants us to soften our attitudes towards the women He sends to preach His Good News. Mark 16:14 tells us, “Afterward, He appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him after He was risen.” Those who had seen Him after He was risen were Mary Magdalene, Mary Clopas, Mary Salome, Joanna and the other women who had obeyed His command to “Go and tell my brothers that I am risen from the dead.” But the male disciples were so prejudiced against women that “all their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11) Jesus had to appear to them in person to reprimand them for not believing the message He gave them through women. Will He have to do the same with us?
Jesus led the Pharisees who wanted to take advantage of women away from their second-best law written for a fallen people back to Genesis, to the story of the perfect love and unity of man and woman before the Fall. I believe He would have us do the same.
Our Lord’s admonition is a simple one, yet difficult to follow. We must return to Eden if we would truly learn and follow God’s will for man and woman. Yet how can we go there without first being transformed from sinfulness to innocence? A sword of fire surrounds that place! We have inherited all the consequences of the Fall: self-will, guilt, blame, deception, division and pride, to name just a few, and so are shut out by a holy God.
We are so saturated with sin and selfishness that we don’t realize how alien our thinking is from that of Jesus Christ. That is why the greatest saints have fallen at Christ’s feet, begging for mercy. Ordinarily, such people appear holy, but Jesus’ presence shines perfect love upon human sin, revealing its blackness. For sinners saved by grace, trying to imagine sinless Eden is like a fish trying to imagine life as a bird flying in the sky. This is why orthodox Christians have failed so miserably over the millennia, justifying slavery, anti-Semitism, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, witch burnings, and other atrocities. Like us, they failed to realize how utterly deceived we become when we forget the law of love.
In His Great Commandment, the Lord points out for us the way back to Eden It is His way – the way of love. Jesus commands us to love God supremely and to love others as He has loved us. This means to treat others in all things as we would want to be treated. It means withholding judgments and extending mercy, giving others the benefit of the doubt. As St. Paul explains in I Corinthians chapter 13, whatever other gifts, wisdom, education, opportunities or good works we may have, love is supreme. Without it we are nothing.
Those who insist on placing restrictions on women but not men in the home, church and society fail to consider how far this causes them to stray from Christ’s Great Commandment. Like the proverbial Pharisees of old, they have strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. They have made great efforts to enforce peripheral matters of ancient law and custom while forgetting what is truly essential – to love one another. In this case, that means to treat their sisters with the same consideration they themselves desire.
There are many things in the Bible that God has allowed and regulated because of the hardness of our hearts. Wars, slavery, polygamy, and the subjection of women are among the most difficult to reconcile with the loving, holy God Who has died for us. Why would God allow such things? I believe it is because He knew that in a fallen world they would occur whether or not He allowed them and wanted to establish limits to their evil. God commanded that when Israel went to war, they were to spare the women and children and not destroy the productiveness of the land. When they married several women, they were not to favor a new wife over the first, nor bring a woman’s sister as a rival into the household. Slaves in Israel had some legal rights and were to be set free after a period of years. And women were not to be treated as chattel, but to be loved, honored and respected as joint-heirs of God’s kingdom.
God allowed all these practices, not because they were His best, but because the human heart was not sufficiently transformed to eliminate them. Over the centuries of God’s self-revelation to His people, He has been working to bring us more and more into His holy standards and to reform society as a result. The Gospel has worked like yeast in bread dough to raise moral and ethical standards so that now, ancient practices such as polygamy and slavery seem unthinkable. And this process is continuing. Ephesians 4:13 and 15 encourage us to grow up in all things into Christ; that is, to become more and more like Him in all that we do.
Can you imagine Jesus marrying several women or owning a slave? Can you imagine Him Who healed the ear of an enemy who came armed to arrest Him picking up a sword to kill someone? Can you imagine Him Who commended Mary of Bethany for abandoning the housework to listen to His teaching putting a woman “in her place?” I cannot, nor do I think He wants us to do such things, but to love one another, as He did. If we are to follow in His footsteps, let us consider “what would Jesus do?” and do the same.
Let’s stop teaching as the Lord’s will a double standard for the sexes that gives men unfair advantages.
Traditionalists typically uphold the duty of husbands to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church in order to balance the obligation they place on wives to submit unilaterally to their husbands. In what ways has Christ limited the church or kept her down? Has He not rather defeated all her enemies, setting her free to be all He has created and redeemed her to be? Does He not encourage and equip her for her highest and noblest efforts, giving her His own power and authority? And did He not take upon Himself complete rejection, disgrace, defeat and even death so that she might live an abundant life that testifies to His power to liberate?
Restrictions placed upon women do not allow them the abundant life promised by Christ and enjoyed by Christian men. Instead, they rob women of their freedom and authority in Christ in favor of antiquated customs embedded in a legalistic view of what should be our most satisfying relationships; our marriages and our fellowship in the Body of Christ. This yoke is neither light nor easy, because it is not given by Christ, but imposed by man. Nor is it natural; it must be enforced with intimidation, oppression and even violence at times.
It saddens me that so many in the church have abandoned the Golden Rule in order to impose a rigid model of marriage and church polity upon those they profess to love. It saddens me even more that they are unwilling to let God be God and accept His sovereignty in granting spiritual and natural gifts to whomever He chooses and allowing them to be used for His glory.
It saddens me that evangelical churches reject the Holy Spirit’s precious gifts because He sometimes chooses to give them to and through women rather than men. Some men are so proud and stubborn that they would rather die than be healed by God through a woman like Kathryn Kuhlman! While Christ tells us not to put our light under a bushel but upon a lamp stand for all to see, misguided traditionalists tell women to bury their leadership gifts rather than use them for His glory, no matter how rare and greatly needed. This is a waste and a great pity.
Have you ever had the experience of giving someone you love a gift that did not please them? Have you known the pain of having that person criticize or even return a gift you gave in love and great joy? I have, and it felt like more than a rejection of my gift – it felt like a rejection of me personally for having misjudged and offended my friend’s taste. Added to that was a sense of grief – that the one I thought would share my appreciation for something I found beautiful was really not as close to me as I had supposed, but held a different set of values. This placed a rift in our relationship and an ache in my heart.
The pain I felt at that time must be a tiny reflection of the much greater pain we inflict upon Jesus when we reject His gifts to us, including the women leaders He has called and wishes to raise up to serve the church in His behalf. God has a plan and purpose for these women; He has called them and given them special abilities for our benefit. But like spoiled children, we cast away His gifts in search of something more pleasing to our pride and sense of status.
One thing I have learned in my Christian life is that it is impossible to receive anything from the Lord without humbling oneself. I believe the same is true for the body of Christ. We must humble ourselves if we would receive the best He has for us and draw close to Him.
When people really love each other, any token of love is precious. What grandparent will not replace the mahogany pencil cup on his or her desk with the little can wound with string by the loving, patient fingers of a little child? What young woman in love will not carefully arrange the flowers her sweetheart gave her into her best vase, even if they were picked from beside the road?
If a bride to be should judge the diamond her fiancé offers too small, one doubts whether this marriage will succeed. Similarly, when Christians reject the gifts Jesus presents when they come in humble form, one wonders what happened to our first love for Him?
My prayer for those who retain beliefs in gender hierarchy and female restriction is that you will take a moment to consider prayerfully the effects of your attitudes on Jesus as well as on others before taking action. Put yourself into a woman’s position and consider how you would feel as the victim of such views. Then remember the Lord’s words: “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.”
We greatly misjudge and wound the Lord’s compassionate heart when we fail to abide by His great law of love in favor of a legalistic approach to human relationships and Christian service.
Please do not hurt Jesus and His children with words and actions that can never be undone but only repented of. To paraphrase Christ, do not load women down with burdens hard to bear while you will not touch one of them with your finger! Christian women do not wish to take anything that belongs to men; we only wish to have and use what God has given us, just as you do. There is no need for envy or rivalry between the sexes if we work together, encouraging and supporting one another.
Instead of defining what others may or may not do, let us encourage one another to do our utmost in serving Christ. Let’s stir one another up to love and good works of every kind. If we see a special ability in another, let’s pray for its increase and encourage that person to exercise it that it may grow. Let’s not measure our self-worth by our position in a pecking order, but quit pecking one another and look to Jesus! Together, let us “stand fast, then in the freedom with which Christ has set (us) free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1).
I thank you for considering these matters. May God bless you and guide you into all His truth.
 Deuteronomy 24:1-3, Matthew 19:3-12