The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith. Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.
Disclaimer: AMI, as a consortium of several churches, allows the expression of multiple standpoints on non-essential biblical matters. My views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors. I am also mindful that not every reader will agree with my stances on sensitive and contentious issues addressed in this month’s blogs. Where that may be the case, I invite you to utilize the comment section below, so that we may have an open dialogue; I highly encourage all readers to share their thoughts and experiences. Thank you.
Extended Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Beware of the Two Maxims of Modern Feminism”
1 Timothy 6:7-9
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
Many years ago, once the seniors at Wellesley College (a women’s college) learned that Barbara Bush, then the FLOTUS, was asked to speak at their commencement ceremony, 150 of them vehemently protested. They said: “To honor Barbara Bush as a commencement speaker is to honor a woman who has gained recognition through the achievements of her husband, which contradicts what we have been taught over the past four years”—that “we will be rewarded on the basis of our own merit, not on that of a spouse.” They added, “She does not represent the type of career woman the college seeks to educate.”
So then, what type of women does Mrs. Bush—a mother of 6 children who dropped out of Smith College to marry the future 41st POTUS—represent in these students’ minds? A type who chooses to be a supportive wife and stay-at-home mother; a type who opts out of having her own career for her husband-sake; a type who has no real achievement of her own. Subsequently, these reasons prompted the feminists at Wellesley to shame Mr. Bush and every woman in America like her.
According to modern feminism, for a woman to be deemed successful, first, she must be dependent only on herself—that is, credit to her success is attributed to no one except to the woman herself; second, she must have a career of her own in order to stake a claim to a life of significance. The truth of the matter is that most women who read this blog are prime candidates to experience great tension over these matters. Why? First, they received or are receiving a privileged education that very much fuels their career aspirations. Second, they either are recently married or desire to marry and have kids, eventually. Third, they are caught between the Bible and the ideals of feminism and aren’t entirely sure which way to lean.
Here is a biblical response to the first dictum of modern feminism: self-reliance. Whether it’s a woman or man who depends only on oneself to succeed, such self-reliance is a rebellious disposition of the autonomous self against God. The Scripture tells us to “lean not on your own understanding” and “not be wise in your own eyes” (Prov. 3:5, 7). We “rely not on ourselves but on God . . . On him we have set our hope” (2 Cor. 1:9-10).
As for the second dictum, there’s nothing wrong with women having their own careers. The Bible presents several working women: Priscilla was a skilled tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3), and Lydia was “a dealer in purple cloth” that attracted high-end clients (16:3-5). But there’s plenty wrong when our career is all about us. Instead, the core reason for pursuing a career should be to glorify God and to serve His agendas, and not to satisfy excessive ambition, which always results in discontentment, much like “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare.” That the career of Priscilla and Lydia was to serve God’s agendas is demonstrated by this: Priscilla, along with her husband Aquila, founded several churches (Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19) while working in different cities. Once, this couple let the apostle Paul to “stay and work” with them in Corinth for 18 months when Paul desperately needed some respite from his arduous missionary journey (Acts 18:1-3). Later, Paul, while recounting those days, said, “They risked their lives for me” (Rom. 16:4). As for Lydia, this businesswoman was the first founding member of the Ephesian church known for its generosity (Phil. 4:15-16). And to have a career that is serviceable to God’s kingdom work, a modest lifestyle is both necessary and commanded by God (“If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content”), so that we can readily move when God tells us to “Go” (Matt. 28:19).
Barbara Bush, who passed away last year, was invited to Wellesley College anyway, and she told the future Sheryl Sandbergs and Michelle Obamas this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal . . . You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.” Let me add: “You’ll regret not having served the Lord fully when you had your health, wealth and opportunity and done your best to “bring up children” in the Lord (1 Tim. 5:10).
Prayer: Lord, we lift Your name on high. We ought to be so grateful that we live in a country where we have the freedom and resources to pursue our dreams. But remind us constantly that our dream must come from You and that we are part of building Your kingdom, not ours. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 10
Tomorrow’s Blog: “What Conscientious Men Should Do When Men Act Badly toward Women”
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 12:11-21:
“‘And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.’ Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ 14 But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ 15 And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ 16 And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” 18 And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” 20 But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
This parable works well with the complaints of modern feminism. Replace “someone” with a woman and “my brother” with men. #MeToo movement has shown that women continue to be exploited by men. Economic parity with men isn’t a full reality yet, even though things have gotten so much better for women. So, here, a woman in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell men to divide the economic goods with me.”
Questions to Consider
- I think it is important to note what theme Jesus was addressing when someone in His audience abruptly asked Him to settle a family matter that has to do with money. Was this person paying attention to what Jesus was teaching? What does that indicate about his spiritual condition?
- In light of how you answered the first question, what would Jesus say to a woman who would ask Him to tell the men to give her fair share? Focus on the parable.
- None of this is to suggest that changes are not necessary—of course, much changes are needed. The key issue is at what cost are we going to focus on addressing social justice issues? What is too high a price to pay?
- Jesus was talking about a serious matter: paying a high cost (i.e., being persecuted) for following God. And it’s at this point this man brought in a very personal matter for Jesus to adjudicate. No, this man had no interest in spiritual matters; his mind was on earthly things.
- Even as the concerns of women are legitimate, God wants us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col. 3:2). Social justice is part of “things above” but when we get higher position and salary as a result of having addressed social justice matters, the material benefits that come with it can become part of “earthly things.”
- Too high a price to pay for addressing social justice matters is entirely dismissing and making light of the matter of justice of God. What is justice of God? It’s the gospel that tells both women and men that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
I was saddened to see the passing of Barbara Bush’s husband President George Bush (41). During the week of mourning, I saw a video clip in which Mr. Bush lamented that he didn’t talk about God at all while he was in the office. He said no one can do the job of the president without being on his knees. Mr. Bush said he prayed often on his knees but never talked about it in public. “I was too much of an Episcopalian,” he said.
Why don’t you try it before you go to bed tonight? The truth of the matter is you cannot raise your kids without being on your knees. You can’t do life without being on your knees. Let’s pray on our knees right now.