… 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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


by Kelly Pelton (written 23 Jan 2022)

"Men are the head," they said, as though "authority"
is the obvious meaning of the Greek word kephalē,
though the face of the male ancestor or progenitor
was the image used to represent the Roman family.*

The face of the family was its source and identity,
the giver of life to all his descendants; we see
the family resemblance to its paterfamilias
to whom all give honor in their dependency.

The head was the cause of life, the patron who gave plenty,
his descendants the seed, the beneficiary
of this familial relationship in Roman Empire culture,
and yes, the pagan world treated it as hierarchy.

But Paul had in mind a truer concept of family
and uses a metaphor for relative vulnerability,**
the head and body of husband and wife, Christ and church
that communicates the Lord's household interdependency.

Neither without the other is God's community,
and Christ is the source of life abundant and free,
and women were formed from men as Eve from Adam,
and men make wives of women whom they marry.

Husband and wife in Christ share full equality,
and the church is not a male-governed community.
If Christians resemble their true Paterfamilias,
the fear that fuels favoritism gives way to holy intimacy.

*Phrases and concepts in this post are gratefully gleaned from the following book:

Westfall, Cynthia L. Paul and Gender. Baker Academic, 2016, pp. 13-16, 61-105.

**Sumner, Sarah. Men and Women in the Church. IVP Books, 2003, pp. 182-190.


by Kelly Pelton (written 29 Jan 2022)

This is what people do: scramble to be the first.
Why should we be surprised when the Christians do it, too?
Peaceful times of prosperity allow an unassuaged thirst
for meaning and purpose; the go-getters clamber to be the few

who influence and regulate the rest of their particular population.
They designate a class of followers to support the leaders,
a class of people restricted from full and free participation,
serving as the lesser but "equally important," the bottom feeders

who spend their time on the mundane tasks to unencumber
the brightest and best from all that may distract from growing
their empires, some "to the glory of God," though consciences slumber
in failing to notice inequity. History is always showing

that this is what people do, subordinate a type of person 
who's different from you, in skin color, gender, Gentile or Jew.
We study the past because we will repeat it and also will worsen
the sin of mistreatment by denying we do it, denying we devalue.

We think ourselves smarter, our modern minds surely knowing better
than Nazis and southern slave owners and KKK; our way is God's way
with females unequal to males in function, deception a fetter
that holds women captive in this world culture of power play.