Saturday, 22 August 2009

Suzie Brock from Wave Of Life Ministries discussing the recent article by Jimmy Carter ( "Losing my religion for equality" )

Not My Fight

Eph 1:7, Romans 12:2, 2 Cor 3:18

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter recently wrote an article titled: "Losing my religion for equality" it had to do with him leaving the Southern Baptist Convention because he felt that they were discriminatory against women.

( The Jimmy Carter "Losing my religion for equality" article is listed below ).

At first glance of the title I thought to myself "here we go with another feminist article and no-doubt anti -God.

"Hey, as a card carrying woman I'm totally fine with the order of God, after all there has to be order, someone's gotta be at the head right?

Personally I like the door being opened for me, being served first at a restaurant, being ushered along with the children off a burning plane or a sinking boat, fine by me.

So there we were, my husband Tom and I sitting in a restaurant ready to feast on an omelet the size of my head (generally against my policy). I paused to check my e-mail on my phone and the article popped up having been forwarded by a friend. My skepticism immediately kicked in and I began to read out load to my captive audience. Well I had not even reached the end before I burst out in tears right there in front of all the other patrons! Not sure what happened, I guess in that brief moment I felt a connection with the suffering that has been for so many women for far too long.

Tom looked at me in complete bewilderment, not that I don't occasionally cry in public but he couldn't figure out why this made me cry. I'm not discriminated against, oppressed, or held back in any way, I really don't know what it's like to truly be suppressed or treated as a lesser person. Sure, there have been the occasional moments where I have been questioned for speaking up front or for 'teaching' the word. Once after stepping down from the pulpit having just shared a message there was this crazed ex-marine who lured me into a conversation with him debating the 'right' I had as a woman to speak up front. This after the pastor of the church (the official covering that day) had invited me up to speak and my husband (my official covering everyday) encouraged me to do so. This guy actually got so enraged that he had to be surrounded and ushered out of the building! He was near striking me!!

Wow, all I did was get up and bring a word of encouragement about the faithfulness of God in my life, honestly, is that a crime?

What drives a person to that kind of prejudice and hate? To that question I am sure there are many answers, but the saddest reality is that there are women in this world in almost every culture who are today and everyday oppressed, suppressed, abused and shamed for no other reason than their God given gender.


And yet this brings me back to the title of this article.

This is not my battle. That is not to say that it is not a battle worthy to be warred, it's just not mine.

It is said that you should 'choose your battles wisely' and I believe that I have.

I have taken the Bible at its word when it says that our wars are not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness that cannot be seen.

I have but one war, the battle to see God established in the hearts of every man, woman and child. Then and only then will the spirits of oppression and abuse be conquered. Until God is in his rightful place in the hearts of these there will be no freedom.

A man's heart must be changed from the inside out...otherwise we fight uphill constantly having to convince unconvinced hearts that God meant for men and women to walk in peace and unity and beside one another.

The woman was chosen from the beginning to be 'one equal to the task'.

It is the commission of ALL to be tenderhearted, forgiving, to prefer one another above ourselves. To follow the example of Christ the supreme model. To serve all and to become the 'least', we are to submit ourselves one to another and to live our lives in constant sacrifice for each other.

To fight cultures birthed thousands of years ago, to wage war against hearts of stone and to plead our cause to deaf ears is truly to fight a war that cannot be won.

It is the presence and completeness of God living in man that changes man. It is the acceptance of His being in our hearts that forever transforms a human being into His image and gives him the ability to carry out and walk in His truth.

His ways are just and kind, full of mercy, empowering and releasing.

For man to hold God in his heart is for him to walk in a truth that gives freedom....freedom to all.

"He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding." Eph 1:7"

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think, then you will learn to know God's will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image." 2 Cor 3:18

Suzie Brock
Co-FounderWave Of Life Ministries

Losing my religion for equality - Jimmy Carter ( July 15, 2009 )

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

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