Thursday, August 22, 2019

14 week unborn baby claps its hands!

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Being single divorced & formerly abused at church

Article contributed by Connie Smith

I first posted this article in 2013. Since then, there has been some [but still far too little] change in how formerly abused divorced women are viewed and treated in churches, so it is time to re-visit.

My thanks go to Connie Smith for contacting me and having the courage to share her story in hopes that others might be helped.

How single, divorced, and formerly abused women are viewed and treated within their local churches: My Story, By Connie Smith

   I am a formerly abused wife who experienced verbal, emotional, and physical abuse within my marriage. My pastor was aware of the abuse before my husband and I separated, because I had gone to him for help with our situation. After my husband and I finally separated due to physical violence, my pastor told me to drop the restraining order I had been granted and to allow my violent husband back into the house. 

   A few members of my church family were secretly supportive of me after my husband and I separated, but they did not dare let our pastor know of their support as he had made it very clear that the head of the home needed to have his “rightful” and “entitled” place back in our home. 

   I wanted to honor God, but I also wanted to stay alive. I had my husband arrested for his physical violence against me, and then he filed for a divorce, which I agreed to. After that, I tried to put the pieces of my life back together and to remain at my church with the people who I felt were my church family. I had been attending and serving there for all of my Christian life, and my children and I needed our church family’s support and friendship more than we ever had before.

   We did not get it.

   For quite some time after the divorce, I felt as though I had been branded by my “sin” of divorce and was being forced to wear the shameful scarlet letter. Although (to my knowledge) my former husband was not subjected to the same derogatory attitudes from the Christian community as I was.
   Even though I had not committed the sin of adultery, and I was not the one who sought the divorce, I felt a kinship with the woman in the Bible who had been taken in adultery and was condemned to be stoned before Jesus intervened and saved her life. There was no doubt that she had sinned, but where was the man in that situation? He was there, and he had sinned too, but he had not been condemned to death like the woman had been.

   Why not? He had committed adultery too. But, for whatever the reason, his sin had simply been overlooked by the male leadership of his day.

   As a divorced, formerly abused, woman, I found it increasingly difficult to feel welcomed and loved at the church I had called home for eight years. In all the time I had been there, I had never felt pain and rejection such as this. I was hurting. I had experienced a devastating loss. I had loved my husband. The divorce was not my idea, and I fully expected my church family to rally around me and my children with comfort and support. I expected they would weep with me and help me to bear a very heavy burden.

   I have watched as Christians supported those who have lost spouses due to death, but while I was experiencing personal devastation when my marriage ended in divorce, there was no group of caring people gathered around to support me and my children in our loss. Why is it that Christians fail to realize that in divorce an overwhelming loss is suffered, as well as in widowhood? As a psychology major and having gone through divorce myself, I can tell you that divorce is also loss that requires a grieving process.  However, the Christian community rarely accepts it as such. 

     I struggled with wanting to be accepted by my church family but felt condemned by many of them for granting my abuser a divorce and attempting to move on with my life. As I became stronger and more confident that I had done the right thing in leaving my abusive situation and cooperating with the divorce that he sought, I sensed strong attitudes of disapproval coming from my church leadership and from much of my church family. 

   I found myself leaving church services with my “tank empty” so to speak. Instead of being uplifted and encouraged, I felt condemned and discouraged.

   After my divorce, there was no doubt that I was being viewed differently by the leadership of my church than before. And that, in turn, influenced the way my fellow church members viewed me.

   I reached out to a woman in my church who told me that the church leadership was more accepting of her once she changed her “divorced” status by marrying again.            

   Another woman who had divorced an abusive spouse finally gave up and left our church after our pastor directed many degrading comments and jabs at her about being divorced. But I clung to the hope that, for me and my family, things would change for the better.

   After my experience with abuse, divorce, and the resultant decline in the level of respect I received from my church leadership (and from some of the members as well), I felt a desire to reach out and help women who were going through the painful issues of abuse and divorce by starting a support group at a facility associated with my church—both my educational background and personal experience more than qualified me to lead such a group. In a meeting with our all male Board of Directors, I was able to communicate the fact that divorce is just as much a loss as death—sometimes worse—because the lost spouse is still alive.
   I also wanted to help raise awareness of the discrimination directed towards divorced and previously abused women in our church who were still single. I hoped to bring about positive change. I wanted to be a healing link between church leadership and divorced women who had experienced marital abuse.

   I felt I was getting nowhere with the Board members. It was like I was speaking to a brick wall, and it hit me like a ton of bricks, that not only was I considered unfit for leadership at my church because I was divorced, but the mere fact that I was not married was also being held against me!

   They did finally agree to allow me to start the group with the stipulation that I use approved materials. That was a standard, reasonable, request. But I was stunned when I was told that in order to hold the meetings, a married woman had to co-facilitate with me.

   This was outrageous to say the least, especially coming from a denomination that has traditionally ordained women as pastors and leaders. Being married, to my knowledge, had never been a requirement for church leadership—certainly not among the male leadership. It seemed strange to me that the only qualification the Board of Directors was concerned about in the matter of my co-leader, was that she be married.

   It was a sad day, for me, when I felt forced to leave the place that had been my church home for so long. But I felt as if I had been spinning my wheels and there was no more tread left. It was time to go.

   I visited a new church where I was welcomed with open arms.  I felt grateful that there was a church in my city where functional equality between men and women was taught and practiced. No one there condemned me for protecting myself and my children by granting a divorce to an abusive spouse.

   This season is all about Jesus, our Redeemer’s birth, and I want to pass on that same support, that I am now receiving from my new church family, to hurting women where ever you may be. I want to encourage you not to give up on the promises that the Lord has given in his Word, and to remain faithful to His promises that are encased in love.

   Have you experienced the horrors of abuse and then added to that the pain of rejection from brothers and sisters in Christ who were supposed to be there for you in your time of trial? Remember, you are redeemed through the birth of that small baby who was laid in a manger, and his hands are reaching out for you today!  Yes, YOU! 

   If someone has branded you with a scarlet letter, rip it off! Remember it is the scarlet life-blood that totally redeems you. Let no one keep you branded. There is a confidence that comes when we realize that the Lord has redeemed us. We often will not even have to speak, and the nay-Sayers will see that we are changed. Sometimes our silence is stronger and more convicting on their hearts than words could ever be. 

   And remember that whatever has happened to you has happened to Him. Our Lord was abused and rejected. And like him, we were meant for victory. We were made to glorify Him!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Eve's Name was not Eve

The name of the first woman was not “Eve” but rather the Hebrew name, Chavvah [pronounced Kavah]. God did not give her this name. It was given to her after The Fall by her husband, who was never commanded or commissioned by God to name his wife.  

Portions of this post are excerpts from the Hungry Hearts Bible Commentary.

The name “Eve,” comes from a Greek transliteration, which transformed the Hebrew name, Chavvah [meaning "Life"], into a series of Greek letters forming the word, Ava [which has no meaning], and from there, to the English name, “Eve”  [which likewise has no meaning past its historical connection with the first woman].

Eve is generally cloaked with a literary and theological burqa, invisible except for the magnitude of her sin which covers every inch of her and undulates with ecclesiastical breezes in one direction or another, as she moves among us seeking a place of rest and redemption. When her name is paired with that of her husband, as in "ADAM and Eve," She becomes a clichéd misnomer in the minds of many, an ancient legend, a mythical person, her existence is sometimes denied even among professing believers. 

What is difficult to understand, is why Bible translators, scholars who should know better, uniformly and consistently use the Greek transliteration of Chavvah’s name in the Hebrew portion of the Holy Scriptures. This is astounding and can only be attributed to a combination of antisemitism and misogyny. Because of this, the name, Chavvah is largely unknown to English-speaking believers. This is because the name in the Greek texts is **“transliterated from Hebrew to Greek, and not translated. And that, is the short version of how Chavvah meaning "Life" is transformed into Ava/Eve, names that have no meaning

Credit where credit is due, goes to the Jewish translators of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures), these at least translated Chavvah's Hebrew name into a corresponding Greek name--Zoe. Both Chavvah and Zoe mean "Life."

The name Chavvah [Life] was bestowed on the first woman by the first man, because he said she was the mother of all living. At least, that was the reason he gave for "naming" her [just like he did the animals?]. 

Some claim he named her when he said "She is called woman because she is taken from man." This writer respectfully disagrees. He was not naming her in this instance,  She was called woman from the instant of her creation. God called her that and gave the man knowledge of it. No doubt it was an inspired utterance on his part, but the first man did not name the first woman when the LORD GOD presented him with his wife. He was simply stating what was already a fact.

Fact: Before he sinned, it never occurred to ***‘âdâm-**Iysh that naming his wife could lower the status of ‘âdâm-*'Ishshah to an inferior position, thus creating an illegitimate hierarchy that transferred de facto power over the female mortal to himself (and by extension "headship" to all men over all women). It is more than interesting, and more than coincidence, that during the time of his innocence, such a though never occurred to the first man. But it occurred quickly enough after he sinned. The first man's power-grab was the smoothest and most successful in history. 

*'Ishshah: Hebrew for woman/wife
**'Iysh: Hebrew for man/husband 
*** ‘Adâm (pronounced: audawm): The name the Creator called all people (Genesis 5:1-2)
And there was absolutely no resistance from the woman! 


Was the first woman so relieved her husband was no longer angry with her that she failed to notice that allowing him to name her, appeared to place him in charge of her by lowering her status to that of the animals [he had been privileged to name before she was created]? Never-mind that God had commissioned the namings so Iysh could be made aware of the fact that as the animals needed equal and opposite counterparts, he also needed of one].

Following are a couple of proposed reasons for the uncontested coup: 1.) The woman felt relieved and flattered. Flattered by her husband giving her a name that means "Life," (considering her recent actions in precipitating death and ejection from Paradise). 2.) Relieved because the couple had just had a major rift when the first-husband attempted to throw the first-wife under the bus, while trying to save his own skin by volunteering hers. How horrified she must have been when loyalty fled and he blamed both God and his wife for the fact that he voluntarily disobeyed the command concerning the fruit. No blow was too low to save himself, despite that there is no scriptural evidence that his wife pressured him to disobey God or that he resisted the temptation at all. He eagerly tasted the fruit (we know it wasn't the fruit that brought death. It was the disobedience). So, given all the drama and blame-shifting [and no doubt anger and recriminations] that took place after "bite-remorse" set in, when Iysh finally appeared to calm down and give 'Ishshah a name as wonderful as "Life," she must have felt tremendous relief that she was back in favor with her husband

Was ‘âdâm-'Ishshah so relieved that she and her husband had finally "made up," that she either did not notice or chose not to comment on the fact that he had just usurped her name, the name given to her by God [and to the entire mortal creation]. No matter, from that point on, in his eyes, the name ‘âdâm would be applied only to himself. 

God's male creation, co-named as ‘âdâm equally with God's female creation, had now become "ADAM," top dog. The name was his and his alone.
This was the first fulfillment of the prophecy, given to 'Ishshah (Genesis 3:16), about how sin would transform her previously gentle gentle husband into a power-hungry creature Genesis 3:16
Contrast how 'iysh had been content to co-reign-over/co-manage all other creation along with his wife before he sinned. It was only after he sinned, that he chose to dominate his wife and manage her. In order to accomplished this, his first move was to usurp the name ‘âdâm for himself alone. 

He stole it when he "named" his wife, Chavvah. It was a brilliant strategy, a coup d'état of stellar proportions, and a total success.  

Forever after, he would be known as ADAM--the one who the entire race was named after--inaccurate as that may be. And ‘âdâm-'Ishshah would lose even the complimentary, Chavvah--which means "Life."

Chavvah, would never be translated accurately in the Hebrew portions of Christian Bibles. The entire world, throughout history would forever know her as "EVE," a name which means nothing at all. Again, to credit the Hebrew translators of the Septuagint, they did actually translate (as opposed to transliterate) Chavvah into the Greek, Zoe (G2222 which also means "life". 

 Yes, you read correctly. The transliterated word "Eve," does not even have a real meaning. And the very first woman, ‘âdâm-'Ishshah, has been hidden from the collective view--except for her sin (but even that is considered second rate as compared to ADAM's). Chavva has been covered from head to toe in a literary and theological burqa--forever invisible and marginalized.

Literary Burqa: G2096 Eva a word with NO MEANING
 Although online Strong's concordances (such as the one on the Blue Letter Bible website) assign the meaning of "Life" to the name "Eve," this is not accurate. It is done presumptuously, as can be seen in the Strong's original concordance published in 1894 (not the contemporary "Strongest Strong's" or the "New Updated Improved Strong's" etc., et al..). In the Original Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the definition of Eve G2096, is simply "The First Woman."

But Chavvah is a lovely and accurate name, so how could an evil motive be ascribed to it? Remember Caiaphas, who predicted the atoning death of our Savior. God allowed him to say something that was absolutely true, but the motive was absolutely evil. 

The first man, gifted with an awesome intellect, struck the first blow in the war between the sexes. And he did it using the name. It was a stroke of genius. He won the first battle through diplomacy. He gained the ascendancy and conquered flattery. Equal in creation and equal in The Fall, the fact that the first man took it upon himself to "name" the first woman, showed the depth of his new-found contempt for his now-fallen wife.

The fact that she meekly absorbed the blow without argument or retaliation was an immediate and direct fulfillment of prophecy and attested to the strength of her desire for a restored relationship with her husband. Her turning, just as the LORD God had predicted, was in the direction of her husband. This set precedence for traditional-role-religionists and complementarians to adopt that moment in history as their moment and forevermore claim the first man possessed a God-given authority that the scriptures never assigned. 

The first woman, 'Ishshah, (later called, Chavvah), accepted the usurpation of her God-given status and co-title of ‘âdâm. this was sin manifesting in her own fallen life. Her Creator had told her this would be her weakness and the consequences of turning to husband over Creator would be severe (this sin would easily beset all womankind):  Her "turning" would be to her husband instead of to her God, thereby feeding her husband's sin (one that would easily beset all mankind). One of the results of his sin would be a strong desire to dominate his wife

History has shown God's predictions to be true in the case of men and women, and contemporary statistics [on world-wide violence against women/marital violence and abuse], show that little has changed from the day the first couple was ejected from The Garden. 

The first woman's name was never Eve, And the Spirit of the Living God never approved, commanded, or commissioned the literary and theological burqa that men, cultures, denominations, and churches have draped her with and so zealously guard against removal of.

The good news is, that despite the success of ADAM's coup, after The Fall, God, in His Word, continues to recognize the functional equality of both sexes by calling all people--women and men--'âdâm.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Scholarship for the Battered Mothers Custody Conference

Battered Mother's Custody Conference 2018 with Advocates and Protective Mothers.
All protective mothers are not from ethnic or minority groups
There was a diverse group  of protective mothers & advocates at this conference
I just happened to be sitting at a table with these AWESOME women
 The picture above features Yours Truly with a group of AWESOME Advocates and Protective Mother's at the the Battered Mother's Custody Conference in Albany New York (I attended in 2008 and 2010 and plan to send another advocate or protective mother with in 2020!). 

No one knew that I attended one of the above-listed conferences without a penny to my name beyond flight money, conference registration and hotel room. 

 I was flat broke. 

From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, I had zero dollars for food or drink.  

Thankfully, the conference organizers are well aware that protective mothers desperately need the resources presented at this conference but are usually financially devastated from legal fees forced on them by their abusers, so I was thankful indeed for the continental breakfast the hotel served and for the conference-provided late morning coffee and finger food along with the afternoon snack on Saturday. 

With no money for dinner, I was sustained largely by English muffins and peanut butter [carried back to my hotel room from the continental breakfast] .

I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, I was there as an advocate who almost could not attend because I was strapped for cash. I Thank God I was able to go. The knowledge and insights I received have proved invaluable to my understanding and ability to function as a good advocate (and this was after I went through abuse myself and published my book!). 

At the conference I met protective parents from all walks of life (protective fathers as well as protective mothers--but mostly mothers, hundreds of them), I met other advocates, listened to the presenters, met judges, lawyers, social service professionals, and business professionals from outside of the expected legal and social service fields protective parents might need. 

The protective parents I met at that conference desperately needed informed advocates! And trust me, Google cannot come close to achieving what just one of those conferences achieved in opening my eyes and equipping me as an advocate. 

Prior to attending my first Battered Mothers Custody Conference, I began an outreach to the Christian Community that I called The Dorcas Network. My hope was, that every church would have a "Go To" person in their congregation should a battered/abused wife or protective mother approach them for help. The Dorcas Network focus was on Christian response to domestic violence (which includes child custody issues) education and empowerment. To my delight, I received an enthusiastic response from women across the country. To my disappointment, I never heard from any pastor or church leader, and the idea never made it past a single pastor's desk when approached by their church members.

The other reason I share this behind-the-scenes story about my hungry conference experience (Oh my, how the savory aroma's coming from the hotel restaurant and other attendee's take-out made my mouth water!), is that I have a great hope that churches and ministries would see fit to sponsor someone from within their congregations (whether victim or advocate) to attend annually

What a difference something like that would make in so many lives (remember, battered mothers have children)!

Money is often the only hindrance to someone being empowered by the information and resources that abound at this conference. 

The Battered Mothers Custody Conference (*BMCC) is an annual weekend event dedicated to educating professionals and the general public about the serious legal and psychological challenges faced by battered women who seek protection for themselves and their children from the family/divorce court system. These (primarily) survivors of domestic violence often encounter disbelief of their allegations of intimate partner and/or child abuse by the legal agents involved in their child custody cases. 

*BMCC is a secular event that lots of Christians attend (and lots more need to), but do not expect a Christian environment--sometimes far from it. Do expect an abundance of practical, useful, and empowering information in navigating the difficult and sometimes deadly landscape of marital violence and abuse. 

Despite the disheartening experience of The Dorcas Network so many years ago, I am doing it again! I am putting my money where my mouth is and starting a scholarship fund to send advocates and protective parents to the conference each year beginning with the 2020 conference.  It is my hope that every church, pastor, and Christian leader will do the same. Start your own scholarship fund. If not, join the Network and help me get this thing off the ground .

My lunch-less/supper-less conference was worth it. 

But why should any advocate or victim have to attend a conference hungry?  Contact me through the form in the sidebar of this blog or leave your comment below and share with others what you or your church or organization is doing. Many hands make light work.  Join the Network!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

What an adventure! What a romance!

 What a faith builder! I am so glad the publisher sent me a review copy of this book. I have yet to be disappointed by a MaryLu Tyndall novel! This book will enthrall  Historical Romance, Spiritual Warfare, and Fantasy Fiction fans. I loved the story so much, I immediately purchased the first book in the series (She Walks in Power) which I am reading right now.

Intersex People: Conundrum for Complementarianism

Yes, women are different from men, and intersex people are  different from [and alike with] both men and women.

And they are born that way. 

Fact: Intersex people have characteristics of both male and female and can be considered neither and both. 

Fact: God does not make mistakes.

Fact: All people--intersex, female, and male--are created in the image of God, who is neither female nor male, yet portrayed in scripture as both. Does that make God intersex?

   Some of my ideas have been called "quirky." I get that. I have been told I don't think like "normal" people. I get that too. 

"Jocelyn, will you ever be normal?"

"Uh, I don't think so"

   But ever since I stumbled onto information about intersex people and began to educate myself on the subject, the question simply will not go away, "How does intersex impact the male leadership paradigm of complementarianism?"
   Complementarianism holds that men are created to lead and women are created follow and assist the men. In the case of intersex, what if a person physically appears as a women (is born with female characteristics), considers herself a woman, doesn't want to be anything but a woman, yet is chromatically male, and even though she was born with a vagina and develops breasts at puberty...a body scan reveals that instead of a uterus and ovaries, it turns out she has undescended testes instead. 
   What about the male who is chromatically female?  
What the conducter said to me when I had boarded the train with the wrong ticket!

   What a conundrum for complementarians and traditional-role-religionists. Is God's glorious hierarchical design for the sexes turned on its head by the existence of intersex?
Is it the genitalia that determine who's in charge, or is it the chromosomes?
   The Bible says, all people are made in God's image. I'm sure no human can fathom what the entirety of God's image would consist of. Does the image of God include the sexes? The texts of the Hebrew scriptures exclusively refer to the Holy Spirit as female. and in the Greek texts, the Holy Spirit is always referred to in the neutral, as neither female nor male. 
   The scriptures affirm that "In Christ," no one is either male or female, but we are all one. Does that make all Believers spiritually intersex?
   In the case of intersex people, is traditional-role-religion and complementarianism (the two are close but not synonymous) even possible? How could the male reality of an intersex person exercise "headship" over the female reality of that same person? How could the female reality of such an individual submit to the male reality of herself?


To clarify, this article deals with biological intersex people.  It does not address trans-humanism, transgenderism, nor LGBT issues but focuses solely on people who were born with characteristics of both sexes --hence, they are not "trans" but biologically born with characteristics of both sexes, so can correctly and biologically lay claim to either sex or both. 
   Intersex people are born as such and should be honored for who and what they are. 
   These are a but a few observations and questions I have on this subject. I am open to outside offers to publish a full and more extensively researched article based on the question of how the biological and scientific reality of intersex people muddies the waters of complementarianism and traditional-role-religion even more than they already are.