EVE WAS DECEIVED

by Kelly Pelton (written 07 Aug 2022)

It's not only men who are deceived, but Eve --
not Adam, who shared in her sin although he knew better;
the Bible records a history of deceptions
which helps scripture interpreters to unfetter

first Timothy two from Greek notions of women
as being more easily deceived. Let's always ground
our understanding of deception in holy scripture
where examples and warnings of being deceived abound.

Isaac was deceived by Rebekah and Jacob, 
Esau was deceived by brother Jacob twice,
Jacob was then deceived by Uncle Laban
but Jacob struck back; Laban paid a price.

Israel was deceived by the Midianites and also
the Gibeonites; Saul was deceived by his daughter.
Ephraim was easily deceived, per Hosea;
the leaders of Memphis were deceived. Let's slaughter

the argument - that women are more gullible -
with the Spirit's sword, God's word; let us follow
New Testament warnings that all human beings are vulnerable
to deception. This lie about women, we'll no longer swallow.

STEERING CLEAR

by Kelly Pelton (written 09 Mar 2022)

I cannot be complicit in a culture of abuse.
Individuals make mistakes but now
that God has brought about a final truce
between our corruption and the punitive to which we bow,

we don't reject each other as people of God,
bearing with one another in love, but still
we dodge those fellowships that have always trod
upon the women as though it is God's will.

Abuse can be so institutional
that many fail to recognize it as such;
it's always been like this, imperceptible,
until we feel the Holy Spirit touch

that nudges us to see what's in His word
and read with conscience sharpened by His light
and study prayerfully what we have heard
to tease out what is wrong from what is right.

For those in unrepentant congregations,
I pray for moral quickening and boldness;
let them not fear the top-down condemnations
that spring from cautious legalistic coldness.

THANKS TO….

… the authors and scholars whose diligent work has made the Rhymes possible. Theirs are not quick and superficial internet answers, but careful and methodical exploration of what the Bible truly says about women. I had to pause to give credit where credit is due before continuing to post more entries.

IF WOMEN CAN’T SPEAK FOR GOD

by Kelly Pelton (written 20 July 2022)

If the value of the vessel is the greatness dwelling within,
the value of the vessel to others is greatness expressed;
we speak for God by the indwelling Holy Spirit,
unless by the church our voices are repressed.

If women can't speak for God, they are worth less
than men for the building up of trust in God,
worth less to the church though not to Him
upon whose daughters His sons have long trod.

Intrinsic worth is ours, ladies, equal
to the worth of men, but when kept from using our gifts
to edify all of the congregation, our value
to others is lessened by this culture of gender rifts.

LOVE DOES NO HARM

by Kelly Pelton (written 17 July 2022)

"I'll pass," they say, these women who walk away
from so-called patriarchal God to find 
a fairer world outside the church's walls
where giftedness expressed helps humankind.

"I haven't thought about it," say the girls, 
intimidated by the preaching of men;
young females have no confidence to question
if scripture's being distorted due to sin.

"Their roles are lesser, not their value," they lie,
those Christians who make God out to be like man,
those self-proclaimed intermediaries 
who speak for God a patriarchal plan.

The scripture judges thoughts and attitudes,
how we use it to subordinate,
how we use it to confuse, to treat
our sisters in the church as second-rate.

Love does not deceive, discriminate,
dishearten or devalue, or entice
entire congregations to subjugate women
all the while pretending to be nice.

Love does not harm; it causes none to doubt
God's goodness or the value of all souls.
It never will claim equal worth of women
while keeping them from filling equal roles.

CONTAINMENT

by Kelly Pelton (written 03 Feb 2022)

Containment, at first glance, seems safer than confrontation;
the captivity of women on the screen means they can't hurt you.
Pornography's substitute intimacy keeps them distant,
serving you sexually as you repeatedly view

their nakedness, all feelings removed except for craving,
attraction with no attachments, no messy reality
to interfere with your carefully crafted universe,
this secret insatiable world of relationship fantasy.

"Adult entertainment" is containment, but churches
also control their women in different ways;
no confrontations occur with the utterly disempowered
who do men's bidding as men avert their gaze.

Tell me, do you make eye contact with church sisters
or only seductresses who want nothing from you but you?
And as lust illustrates, is anything more potent than desire
to make you come alive, even if the love is not true?

THE HEART IS DECEITFUL

by Kelly Pelton

"The heart is deceitful," he quotes. "Don't trust your heart;
only believe the word of God," he urges,
"which I am called to preach to men and women,
I a trustworthy Bible teacher who merges

a passion for truth with a zeal for God's morality.
You can trust me to uphold the strictest version
of God's law; man are the guardians of orthodoxy."
These claims I have heard in my lifelong cultural immersion

(until I left) in gender hierarchical churches,
always with tacit assumptions that we can trust men,
the seminary-trained males who strongly enforce
all moral behavior, the culture wars to win,

whereas female pastors, they would not tow the line
of biblical standards, would not discipline sinners,
would let the church drift toward heretical doctrines.
Men are strong, they say, and fight as winners

on God's side. But the vast majority of church heresies
were begun by influential men, in fact,
for men have had the power to influence many
for good or evil, as from mixed motives they act.

Thus heresy is a sinful human tendency,
not a female-specific vulnerability, but hearts corrupted
and causing harm even as we do good,
our Spirit-led path by fear disrupted.

We need accountability from both genders,
not male controlling female out of fear
that women will lead the church astray from doctrines
that the worldwide body of Christ holds dear.

Our hearts all color our intellect when interpreting
God's scriptures, and many Christians disagree
on what the Bible says about issues of our day,
what is off-limits and what's wide-open and free.

Since each heart is deceitful, and we trust God above ourselves,
and each heart is discerning God's will on what is true,
should I trust the hearts of you who restrict your sisters?
Since we all are fallible, I'm going with me over you.

UNSHAKEABLE CONVICTION

by Kelly Pelton (written 09 Mar 2022)

This conviction did not develop overnight.
After decades of prayer and thinking, careful study,
thorough healing from second-guessing-fight-or-flight,
I have discerned by God's kind Spirit something muddy

in church culture that is worldly and pervasive:
subordination of the weaker by the stronger 
using scripture - handled wrongly, but persuasive -
to keep women out of power ever longer.

The whole structure of church power needs reform,
each voice valued, no restrictions based on gender.
Let our sharing in decisions be the norm, 
no controlling of another, trusting our Mender.

DENIAL

by Kelly Pelton (written 17 Feb 2022)

Denial, the great encapsulator of abuse, asserts,
"women are equal in being, unequal in function"
(excluded from teaching or preaching elder roles),
affirmation/subordination a conjunction

of opposites in this gaslighting word play,
this culture of defending gender hierarchical
practices. Abuse is ineffective without denial,
present in male-run oligarchical

fellowships, persuasive sincerity
protecting religious power from feminine influence,
speaking for God, deliberately misinterpreting
scripture with certainty, a confusing confluence

of righteous indignation and deception.
Denial - unhelpful, unconscious - is willful unyielding
suppression of truth, extremely convincing to those
who sense something's not right in the wielding

of power to restrict half the body of Christ
from church-wide leadership contribution.
Denial questions the hearts and motives of others
but never itself, freely engaging in the attribution

of selfish ambition as cause for questioning the hierarchy,
using fear of this to distract from its own ambition,
projecting its own flaws in the form of accusations
to intimidate those who would voice opposition.