A vibrant, new, affirming, eloquent, and passionate voice...
(Tim) Troubled by a February 1 piece published by Carolyn Custis James in one of Christianity Today Inc.'s forums, a reader writes:
(In this article, Ms. Custis James) speaks of women finding their "voice" in the church, comparing us to Hillary Clinton and quoting statements such as: "It meant Boaz, through Ruth's leadership, discovered a whole new ever-expanding realm of obedience to God." This causes me concern, as I am not sure where such statements come from.
Titled "When a Woman Finds Her Voice," Ms. Custis James' article is 672 words. Her bio is 100 words. Think about it: One hundred words to tell the world who you are. Her bio's one eighth of her article. I'm assuming readers know evangelical stars write their own ad copy, so picture Ms. Custis James deciding to say this about herself, publicly:
Carolyn Custis James ...is a vibrant new voice with a biblical and affirming message for women. Her vision is eloquently and passionately articulated in her books...
Is there even one reader who would write this about himself, sending in ad copy that puffed his own words as "vibrant" or "eloquent?"
I thought not.
Taking Senator Hillary Clinton as her role model, Ms. Custis James quotes Sen. Clinton saying to her constituents, "Over the last week I listened to you; in the process, I found my own voice.” Ms. Custis James reports she is "personally fascinated" by Sen. Clinton's newfound voice, but also that she herself is "troubled by the notion that it is actually possible for us, like Hillary, to do a lot of speaking, teaching, writing, communicating, not of politics, but of the gospel (sic) without finding and employing our own voices."
Since, like all the other evangelical luminaries, Ms. Custis James is out there hawking her wares, readers must continue to be warned against Ms. Custis James' product while those in authority must consider our failure to expose such self-promotion and rebellion against Scripture. How is it that Ms. Custis James continues to grab for herself such a wide forum within the conservative reformed church?
Is it really the case that Ms. Custis James is in danger of not "finding and employing her voice?" This question reminds me of the many Sundays I sat in worship during my childhood years listening to a solo by a woman who thought she had a voice, but didn't. Her vibrato was wide enough to drive a Mack truck through--and flat, to boot. It was horrid, our church was filled with musicians including some from the Wheaton Conservatory, but the congregation continued to be subjected to this woman's voice year after year. Sunday morning corporate worship was held hostage to one woman's ego, and no one had the guts to yank her off the stage.
Back a few years, Elisabeth Elliot Gren wrote that "the evangelical church is filled with a bunch of emasculated men who can't say 'No' to a woman." How true.
So where on earth did Ms. Custis James come up with the notion that she was in danger of not finding or using her voice? To the man holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And to Ms. Custis James, everything looks like another opportunity to fill the world with women's voices--particularly her own.
It would be an interesting exercise to rewrite the New Testament exhortations to women in a way that brought them into comformity with what Ms. Custis James claims are the true biblical priorities for women. For instance, 1Timothy 5:9,10 might look like this:
A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one husband, having a reputation for good words; and if she has led other women to find their voices, too; if she has been willing to forsake her kitchen and the mundane work of cooking, cleaning, and washing feet for the more needed work of calling women out of such bondage, to speak to the church an affirming message for women, with a new, vibrant, eloquent, and passionate voice. (NOT 1 Timothy 5:9,10)
Ms. Custis James wants women who will give themselves to "tapping into the rich perspectives God has given us as women or drawing out of our personal histories with God."
Tap into? Rich perspectives? Drawing out personal histories? With God? What's needed here is a Scriptural example, and Ms. Custis James has one for us.
Ruth the Moabitess is "a woman who found her voice" and "her 'own voice' emerges out of her richly complex perspective." "(A)nd in using her own voice (Ruth) becomes a powerful agent for change in Israel."
(Ruth's) words reach the ears of Boaz, a man who knows how to listen. He listens to this new voice—this female (and) foreign voice that dares to reinterpret Jewish law. ...Boaz, through Ruth’s leadership, discovered a whole new ever-expanding realm of obedience to God.
It's possible I'm wrong, but this appears to me to be nothing other than an elitist power grab based upon the remaking of every woman of Scripture into a rich, educated American feminist who thinks submitting to her husband, raising her children, and being silent in the church are relics of the past.
It's bad enough that Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Campus Crusade, Christianity Today, Reformed Seminary in Orlando, Covenant College, and a host of others are providing Ms. Custis James her bully pulpits. But it's even worse when one stops to consider all the churches around the country that invite this woman's rebellion into their womens ministries Bible studies, allowing this toxin to poison the sheep under their care.