The Dumb And Dumber Rule Book for Women

We build fences to keep ourselves from committing certain sins. Soon these fences – instead of the sins they were designed to guard against- become the issue. We elevate our rules to the level of God’s commandments. “
Jerry Bridges


A number of years ago, Pete Briscoe gave an excellent sermon on the book of Revelation.  He presented a variety of views that fit within the pale of orthodoxy.  Then, he gave his view on the subject which was quite orthodox yet, maybe, a bit different from a blow by blow of a Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) sort of  book.  Note that we said just a bit different.  After the service Dee was accosted by three livid women who said, ‘Did you hear what he said?’  Focusing on what she was going to eat for lunch, Dee responded, ‘Huh? What did he say?’  They began to chatter all at once claiming that he made unbiblical statements.  Once again Dee said, ‘HUH?’  They went on to say that Pete’s interpretation was in error.  Dee said that it was most decidedly not in error and in keeping with traditional, historical views.
Well, Dee began to receive a lecture by one of the women who was the leader of their OBW group.  This acronym stands for “Opinionated Bible Women”, which we shall use to maintain some decorum.  She explained that they had studied this book in OBW for the previous number of months, and they knew the correct interpretation.  While surreptitiously looking for the nearest exit, Dee calmly explained that many conservative theologians agree with Pete. Then these women accused her of trusting a man rather than the word of God!!!!
Dee asked them about the method of study used in OBW.  It involved answering some questions each week on a passage of the Bible.  The participants were NOT ALLOWED to consult commentaries or the footnotes in their Bibles to answer any of the questions.  They had to formulate their answers without any outside help.  After discussing the answers to the questions, they attended a lecture where they were told what the passage means.  On the way out the door, they received an OBW commentary telling them what the passage means, along with a set of questions for the coming week.  When Dee replied that said lecturer could very well be wrong in her Biblical interpretation, a cry erupted from the threesome who collectively complained that they were now very worried because based on what they had learned in OBW, the pastor was leading his congregation down the wrong road, whatever that means!  They spied Pete and ran off to save the church.  At that point, Dee decided that Pete was DEFINITELY worth his salary.
Throughout the years Dee had been encouraged to join this group; however, she has always graciously declined.  Participants must follow the “rules” in order to remain in good standing.  Funny thing about all of this is that we have begun to observe that many women’s groups have lots and lots of ‘rules’ for what constitutes ‘correct’ prayer, ‘correct’ Bible study, and ‘correct’ fellowship.
Why all the ‘rules’?  Perhaps women have been relegated to singing nice songs, baking  brownies, and  teaching the kiddos that they felt they needed to have ‘regulations’ just like women decide good and bad behavior from their kids.  Spontaneity is discouraged because, as one prominent pastor’s wife told Dee, ‘You just never know what they are going to say.’  When Dee queried her about the role of the Holy Spirit, she did not respond.  Better yet, when Dee asked her if she trusted the Christian women under her, her face turned red and she walked away.  This pastor’s wife has recently contributed to a book, along with other well-known pastors’ wives, which instructs Christian women how to be quiet and submissive.
Dee has taught children’s Sunday school, attended women’s Bible studies, was once the Director of Women’s Ministries (for one short year), and found that she didn’t enjoy rote, rigid views of Bible study formats and rules oriented fellowship.  She began to feel that women had been given the short end of the stick by men and did their level best to hold up the short end.  It was only when she began to spend time in mixed groups that she found the freedom to explore Scripture and theology openly.  She was also blessed to meet an associate pastor of Pete Briscoe, whose name is Joanne Hummel.  Yep, that’s right, Bent Tree Bible Fellowship, where Pete Briscoe serves as senior pastor, has a woman pastor.  (Grab the babies and run for the hills, the last days are upon us – at least that’s what they believe in Georgia – we’ll be reporting on GBC’s latest power play soon!)   Joanne is conservative, can run rings around most men and women, and except for the fact that she wears lipstick, is one of the best speakers Dee has ever heard.  She does not fit into the category of ‘rules’ that follow.  She lives on the exciting edge of following her Lord every day and does not squeeze herself into a particular mold.
Joanne is different.  Her Bible studies are not rules based. She doesn’t require colored pencils or a particular version of the Bible and actively encourages reading and thinking.  Huh?  For some of you, especially men, you have never had the dubious pleasure of being in a women’s Bible study.  So, let us share with you a couple of actual experiences that have happened to us in various parts of the country.
      Dee was invited to a women’s ‘event’ at a former church.  The leader was going to be the leader of the well attended day Bible study.  Interestingly, a very famous woman in evangelistic circles had previously attended that church.  What really startled Dee is the woman who spoke used the exact same mannerisms of this famous leader.  She would place her finger ‘just so’ on her chin.  She would feign deep thought in the exact same way.  Her cadence and inflections mirrored exactly this famous woman.  She even dressed like her.  It was a little too weird, reminding her of the guys who shave their heads to look like the self avowed Apostle C.J. Mahaney.

–       The OBW has been around for decades.  They have a number of rules.
If you miss more than a certain number of times during the year, you are thrown out of the group.  Dee has a friend whose husband was deathly sick and she was receiving calls about her attendance in OBW!  They expected her to be there rather than at her husband’s bedside.
If you are late to your discussion group, you are not permitted to enter the classroom and are sent to the sanctuary to wait for the other participants to arrive for the lecture.  This Bible study is comprised of small groups (around 12 people each) which collectively make up one large group.  Deb had this unfortunate experience of being forbidden to join her discussion group only once during her seven years of participation in OBW.  Why?  Because she arrived just as the attendance sheet for her group was being collected.

Incredibly, it is ‘against the rules’ to show anyone outside the group the questions that are being asked each week? And these questions aren’t just for women, there are also men’s groups going through the very same rituals, so we have OBW and OBM all over the world!

Then, there are the planned ‘social’ occasions.  Participants are NOT ALLOWED to mention where they attend church, and they are not allowed to discuss any Christian books they have read. One acquaintance made the mistake of mentioning a good book she had read during the monthly get-together.  She received a call from the social planning Gestapo and was thoroughly reamed out for doing so.  Was the book, perhaps, pornography?  Nope.  It was a well known, noncontroversial Christian book!  There can be no sharing of this kind of information during discussion group time either.  Over a decade ago, Deb signed up to participate in OBW but didn’t get placed(means there was no room at the inn so she had to wait for a spot) for the upcoming year.  After someone dropped out a month into that year’s study, she was invited to join.  Since she came in after all the rules had been explained, she made the mistake of answering one of the questions during the discussion time in this way:  “Well, I was listening to Adrian Rogers, and this is what he had to say about this passage of Scripture…”  She was promptly corrected during class not to make that mistake again.  She wanted to share the Jesus film (a Campus Crusade for Christ project) with her discussion group leader, and she had to slip it to her secretly so no one would see it.     

Now, who are the group leaders?  Are they spiritual giants?  In most cases, they are women who have been through one cycle of OBW Bible studies which spans just under a decade.  Then, if one is selected to be a ‘leader’ she must attend weekly meeting to review the answers to questions in the upcoming lesson and be given warnings and instructions on how to keep the discussion group under control.  If the group leader is unable to attend the weekly leader’s meeting, she is not permitted to lead the group discussion for the upcoming week.  Someone who did attend the leader’s meeting must fill in for her.  Once again, these Bible questions are not deep.  It boggles the mind why one would need so much training to review such easy questions.

Here’s the real problem in our estimation.  We know a number of women who have gone through this OBW series.  Yet, there appears to be little depth to their Scriptural understanding.  Deb believes she knows the reason why this is the case.  Participants are so focused on answering the questions each week that they are not allowed to think outside the OBW box or wrestle with God’s Word.  They are to answer the questions, be on time, keep the name of their church anonymous, and never, ever mention Christian resources (i.e. DVDs, books, other Bible studies, etc.).  What a shame.
–       Just so you don’t think this nonsense is relegated to a single group, we have another example.  A former church had a women’s study on a particular book of the Bible.  This study had been around for years and was led by one of the pastor’s wives.  We had a friend who attended this study for a few years.  Well, one year she had a difficult, legitimate family situation that would necessitate her being 15 minutes late each week.  She received a call from an underling who said the pastor’s wife had determined that God obviously did not want her in that study that year because she would have to be late and that was ‘against the rules’.  So, no Bible study for you, dearie!  Can you imagine Jesus doing this?  These ladies should be ashamed of themselves!
      There is a well-known national prayer organization that encourages parents to pray for their children.  These tend to be focused on a particular school.  Now, this is a national organization that has developed guidelines for such groups.  There was a woman in a school who had graciously volunteered to lead the prayer group for years.  She is a kind woman who ministered to those who came to intercede for their own children and for school concerns.  One year some new members became upset that she didn’t follow the prescribed formula at all times.  What was she doing wrong?  She didn’t include a Scripture verse each week that was to be prayed over all of the attendees’ children in rote form; furthermore, the group dared to pray for the health of a woman whose children used to attend the school.  Why were the wasting their time praying for a former member?  Because this mom was dealing with a life-threatening illness.  And, if a woman has several children, the rules specify that she is only allowed to pray for one of her children each week, and they have to be enrolled at that particular school.  Since this kindly woman wasn’t “following the rules”, a letter writing campaign ensued to have her removed from leadership.  Thankfully, some equally strong-willed women stopped the ‘hostile takeover’ and joy and peace reigns once again.  The woman who wrote the complaint letter against the prayer leader did apologize in writing for what she had done.  How many of our readers know that you have to pray using an exact format in order to get God to do our bidding?

–       Perhaps one of the more embarrassing websites in Christian women’s circles is the Sovereign Grace Ministries Girltalk blog
     The GirlTalk motto is ‘Conversations on Biblical womanhood and other fun stuff’.   Since this website is endorsed by all of the Calvinistas, we thought we should mention it.  Mrs. Apostle C.J. Mahaney (Carolyn) and her three daughters, who have all married pastors and/or leaders in SGM, contribute to the blog.  

This blog spends much time talking about shopping and decorating.  One daughter said her favorite activity is cleaning!  Did you know that they had a decorating crisis?  One of the daughters put acorns in a glass jar to decorate for the holidays and was overrun by bugs.  This was an entire post!   And this is Biblical womanhood?
    –   One lady approached us and told us she was praying for our blog.  Dee asked her what she thought of it. She claimed that she couldn’t read it because, as a woman, she was to focus on only that which is good and lovely.  When Dee asked her whether confronting evil is good, she changed the subject.
As we look around the littered landscape of women’s ministry, we are concerned.  As women become relegated to the back door of church ministry, we believe churches will reap the consequences of the ‘dumbing down’ of women.  Perhaps that is exactly what some of these men want.
Women have the God given ability to add their unique perspective to church ministries.  We both believe that if there were women in church leadership, many of the pedophile situations would have been quickly discovered and confronted.  When God made Eve as a helpmeet, He did not create her just to make brownies and teach the small children (although she does these things).  He gave her a brain equal to that of a man.  If he didn’t want her to teach and think like a man, why did He create her with the ability to do so?
We believe women must begin to develop truly thought-provoking ministries that deal well with the issues of the day.  Legalism in ministry needs to be avoided at all costs.  If not, we may lose the next generation of women.  Women today are well-educated and appear in every level of academia and public life.  Soon, we may have a woman President.  The church lags far behind, continuing to produce dumbed down material to promulgate a dumbed down view of women.  Perhaps this is why we see our children fleeing the church when they leave the nest.  Their moms have been treated disrespectfully by Christian leaders.  Is this the kind of faith young people want to embrace?  The statistics speak for themselves.
Christians, especially women, consider this your WAKE UP CALL!


The Dumb And Dumber Rule Book for Women — 5 Comments

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    And Kunsman is a complementarian by the way. She gives some GREAT insight though into the theological grounding of and historical origins of the extreme excesses characteristic of the patriarchy movement. Highly recommended.

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    Thanks for sharing the link to Cynthia Kunsman’s presentation on patriarchy. I watched this video quite a while ago when it was on YouTube. I guess there were six 10-minute installments. I look forward to seeing it again in this format.

    What Cynthia shared on patriarchy was so disturbing to me that it’s one of the reasons we began The Wartburg Watch. I had done quite a bit of research on Doug Phillips prior to viewing her presentation. It’s strange to remember that I didn’t know who Bruce Ware (Mr. ESS) was at the time. I have come a long way since then…

    All of this is extremely alarming and must be confronted.

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    Extremely insightful, Radiance! We’ll be looking into what appears to be a growing trend of focusing on reformed women…