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.