May 10, 2012

His Grace is Sufficient

There is a street in downtown Tulsa that for most of my life, was one-way -- northbound only. It has been a two-way street for around 10 years now...maybe more. To be honest, it still kind of freaks me out when I see a car coming towards me on Boston Avenue.

If I worked downtown and drove on Boston every day, I probably wouldn't give it a second thought but as it is, I only drive down that street a few times a year, almost always northbound. I don't think I've driven south on Boston more than half a dozen times in the years since it has been two-way. It just doesn't feel makes me tense and it's almost as though I can hear a voice in my head screaming, "Danger, Will Robinson!" as I see buildings from the "wrong" side.

But just because it feels wrong to me doesn't mean that it actually is wrong. The city determined years ago that it no longer made sense for Boston to be one-way. They did a study -- I suppose they did, anyway. (I'd hate to think they messed with my head without doing a study first.)  They painted a yellow line down the middle of the street. They publicized it in advance and officially declared it a two-way street. But I can't help it. After all these years, a two-way Boston Avenue still doesn't feel right to me.

Driving down Boston causes an internal struggle for me. Being a member of a Southern Baptist church causes an internal struggle for me, as well, and has for at least 15 years. Don't get me wrong.  I agree with most Southern Baptist doctrine. I love my church. That church has been a part of my personal history for over 50 years. Each day as I put on my makeup, I am confronted by a scar over my left eye that has been there since one of the first Sundays I set foot in the church as a 2-year-old child and was injured in the nursery. For many years I have seen that scar as a reminder that God called me to that specific church. 

But it's no secret that many Southern Baptists believe that women are less than men. They don't come out and say it quite that way, but that's their meaning. Most who hold that opinion will tell you that they believe that men and women are sort of equal but were created to serve different purposes, and it just happens that the woman's purpose is to be subservient to men. They point to verses to justify their positions -- verses that were not written in English and that can be translated and interpreted in more than one way. They can read explanations about the different interpretations and still refuse to consider any possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, the interpretation they have clung to all of their lives is not the best interpretation of that scripture. It doesn't feel right to them, just as a two-way Boston Avenue doesn't feel right to me.

Just because allowing women to serve God wherever He calls us doesn't feel right to some people, doesn't mean it's wrong. God is absolutely the same yesterday, today, and forever. His grace has always been sufficient for all of us, men and women alike. But we were not intended to stay the same yesterday, today, and forever because that would be a sign that we're not growing and maturing in our faith. If we are growing in our faith, we will be changed.

Not permitting women to serve fully is not an affront to women. It is an affront to the Holy Spirit who indwells each woman who follows Christ, just as He indwells each man who follows Christ. Women do not receive some diluted version of the Holy Spirit. Women don't function in the power of the Holy Spirit on some kind of pro rata basis. We receive a full measure of the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. To deny the role of that Spirit within women is to deny God, Himself.

We cannot deny God and glorify Him at the same time. Until Southern Baptists figure that out, we will never fully be the church that He has called us to be.

Until next time,

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28


  1. well said. those sweet baptists are missing
    out on wisdom, grace, and wit, by not letting
    you preach on sundays!

    boston avenue is two ways??????

  2. You, too? I realized I still have issues with Boston yesterday morning when I saw video of it on a TV ad and just seeing the video made me tense up. ;-)

  3. Well said! I'm still thinking about your reason for remaining in your church...the mark from the nursery incident...☺

    Boston Avenue is two ways? Well, I certainly can't visit Tulsa again. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  4. Vee, I should have finished that thought about the scar. I see it as a sign that God called me to my church before I was old enough to choose it for myself. I sometimes tell myself that I chose it for myself 30 years later when I returned after a prolonged sabbatical from organized religion, but the truth is that I felt God call me back there. The scar serves as a reminder of both calls.