Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

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Colin Smothers wrote a piece for CBMW about me speaking during a church service last week and titled it, That Was Then, This Is Now. He pulled up an article I wrote back in 2013 answering a reader’s question about the difference between a woman preaching and a woman writing a blog post. He must have been doing some serious digging! I should thank him for reading through my archives so intently. But he’s right…

That Was Then

That was the good ol’ days when Aimee played by the complementarian rules. She discovered that they hold the subjugation of women higher than orthodox trinitarianism. She found that they value Danvers over Nicene. They demand that she publicly answer questions made by anonymous men, or lose her job. They misrepresent her work in their “academic” reviews. They turn her out of her own denomination by enabling their leaders to openly revile her, leaving her unprotected and traumatized by the whole process of asking for help.

That was then.

This is Now

Now I’m seeing more clearly just how destructive the complementarian system is. It’s all about power and hierarchy under the guise of benevolent care. (Not everyone in it, mind you.) The Bible is read through that lens. I am free from that now. I am free from the label complementarian or egalitarian. I don’t need them. The questions are more complex than that. Relationships are richer. Service and worship in God’s church is more reciprocal. Men and women are gift.

This whole time, I’ve been writing about men and women as disciples. As I said in my talk last Sunday, I struggled to find freedom in belonging as a disciple in the church and the reciprocity that we see all over the New Testament. I wrote freaking books out of my loneliness as a thinking woman. In the church. Many resonated with my struggle.

These vocal complementarian leaders demand me to give my interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:12 as if there is no 1 Cor. 14 or Romans 16. Or Song of Songs. They want us to read all the verses about discipleship in the Bible as if they were only written for the men.

The thing is, biblicism doesn’t get to the heart of the matter in Bible interpretation. We need to read the Bible together with a rich biblical theology. I believe that the Holy Spirit still guides the church to the truth in the unity of faith through our reading of Scripture together (John 16:12-15). The metanarrative of Scripture isn’t that men are in charge and are the only ones we should hear about God and his word from. The Bible closes with the voice of the bride, joined with the Spirit, calling her brothers and sisters to the living waters.

As my friend Anna Anderson puts it:


The prominence of the woman in the Scriptures parallels the Spirit’s. She is present and yet backgrounded. She is visible, yet obscure. However, in the unfolding she comes increasingly into view until she looms as large as day in Revelation, the bride as the final symbol of mankind. Redeemed humanity is a mankind who has become “womankind,” the exalted son’s sister and bride. The final corporate identity of mankind is feminine. So, the woman is obscure in the Scripture not because she is less, but because she is last. She is indicative of things to come, yet she is treasure worth finding as she represents what eye has not seen, what ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for those that love him.

That’s beautiful, isn’t it? And biblical.

And so the Bridegroom continues to say the woman, “Let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely” (Song 2:14). And, “You who dwell in the gardens, companions are listening for your voice; let me hear you!” (Song 8:13).

Biblical Manhood says, “Let me hear your voice.”

This is now.

So What About Preaching?

So, was I even preaching on Sunday? That’s a good question. The pastor who invited me distinguishes the act of preaching from the office of the preacher. And Baptist ecclesiology allows for lay teaching and preaching. Scott Swain wrote something that defines preaching this way:

In preaching, we are heralds of the king, announcing that he has come and that he is coming again. In preaching, we are friends of the bridegroom, wooing the bride to embrace her beloved Lord. In preaching, we are ministers of the new covenant, presenting Jesus Christ, clothed in all the promises of the gospel, and summoning hearers to engage him in covenant union and communion.

I did that. I wouldn’t want to do less during a worship service. But also, I see it as lay teaching, comparable to 1 Cor. 11 &14 worship where women prophesied. I still think there is a lot of confusion in the church about what preaching is. Protestants say that it doesn’t replace the priesthood, as now we have the priesthood of all believers. But complementarians won’t say it replaces prophesying because then women can do it. Some say it’s its own thing but aren’t very clear on what the biblical warrant is for that.

I was invited to come talk about the stories our bodies tell as men and women because the pastor of that church thought his congregants would be edified by it in worship. I got to speak about the rich typology of our sexuality. It’s evangelical. And I ended my talk saying that in a sense, the bride in Revelation and in the Song of Songs reveals that we are all preachers, revealers, story tellers. Each member of the church is gifted and commissioned to use our gifts within the household of God to be heralds of the King, the Great Bridegroom who has come and who is coming again. Like the Revelation Bride, we are to call our sisters and brothers to perseverance, like the bride in the Song, helping our sacred siblings to long for and delight in the One who is notable among 10,000.

What About 1 Timothy 2:12?

What I’ve come to find with complementarians is that the way they read 1 Tim. 2:12 colors the way they view preaching and teaching. For them, it’s all about authenteo, not authority in its plain sense of being authorized to do something—authorized to give, to love, to speak. Here’s the funny thing. The very definition of the Greek word Paul uses in 1 Tim 2:12 is nowhere else in Scripture and shows up less than a dozen times in recorded ancient Greek language by the first century AD. It’s not the same word used for the authority officers of the church have, or the authority wives and husbands have in 1 Cor. 7. It is a more aggressive taking of power. It seems that some women in Ephesus were dressing ostentatiously, lacking decency and self-control, and domineering over men. They needed to hear that is not permitted by Paul. He seems to be using this rare word for a reason.

And in this, he does appeal to creation. Real authority isn’t something that you put on and take from others. This seems to be part of the deception from the beginning. The first woman abandoned her actual authorization in joining her voice with the Spirit’s, and instead joined it with Satan who offered her an alien glory. Paul is saying, don’t fall for that again.

So Are You an Egalitarian Now?

Some are taking to social media, exclaiming this has been my agenda all along. That not only were they right that I was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but now I am the naked wolf. The clothing is off. A presbyterian pastor* actually recorded himself and posted his 50-minute talk on this. Give me a break. They turn me out of their spaces and then come after me for moving on.

Like I said, going through what I went through with these people will cause any sane person to reexamine what they are teaching about men and women.

And I am free from these modern, extra-biblical labels. Do I care about rights and equality? Yes. And egalitarians have shown me much more kindness as a whole—and actual public support. I am thankful for my egalitarian friends and the scholarship of those I am still learning from. So I do not take it as an insult to be called an egalitarian. I think the whole soft and hard complementarian categories are silly. Soft is used as an insult and egalitarian is used as a moral category. It isn’t a moral issue, it’s a matter of biblical interpretation on a second-order issue. But it is important. Just like baptism. And yet you don’t see paedo-baptists telling the other side to repent. Or calling them wolves. Just stop.

I don’t fit nicely into these boxes and I am good with that. I am looking at this all more with a typological/theological understanding. I do see something representational in male and female in worship and church government. It’s not about some kind of power that we put on or pretend to have. It’s not so much about equality and rights. But it is not as prescriptive as complementarians want to make it. I do see the bridegroom as masculine. There’s a picture there for us. As Pope John Paul II says, “The symbol of the Bridegroom is masculine.” And as a man, Jesus dignified women. He was the first to love, the first to sacrifice, and the first to give. That authorizes us to reciprocate. What an honor that is. Is the office of pastor or elder representational of the best man of the Groom? Maybe so. But the Groom is all about his sister/bride, his gift from the Father. He isn’t trying to shut her up. Whoever is in leadership, their calling is affirmed in the way they join with the Son in saying, “Let me hear your voice.”

I will continue to explore these matters. But my so-called agenda has been discipleship. Even in 2013. That was then, this is now.

*Earlier I wrote that it was an OPC pastor who recorded the 50 minute video about me and I was wrong about his denominational affiliation. He is not OPC.

48 thoughts on “That Was Then, This Is Now

  1. jdhutch64 says:

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! This is GENIUS!!!

    The content is rich, the tone is pitch-perfect, and the heart of it is pure love, a love that comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” You are a HERO, as the Avett Brothers sing, “blooming like roses, leading like Moses.”

    Thank you!!!

    Jeff

    >

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    1. Frederick M. Avolio says:

      I just had to watch and listen to your message at Covenant Church. I was blessed by it and have shared it. I am so sorry that you continue to be harassed, but it is clear that our dangerous God thought your work needed amplification. I pray that you continue to feel his pleasure and presence.

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  2. Cynthia W. says:

    I noticed when reading the Gospel recently that Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” I had never previously noticed the “mother” part.

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  3. Isaac Beers says:

    Well that was terrible. Lol.

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  4. Neo says:

    So, are you like the new Beth Moore or something?

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    1. Dave says:

      Think bigger! Dream bigger! Think “Joyce Meyer Ministries” type big! Wow, who but God knows where this will lead!?

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      1. Zing77 says:

        Please do not put Aimee into the same category at Joyce Meyer. Aimee goes above and beyond that.

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  5. janetlynnem says:

    Yes. What Jeff said. This is genius! Keep on thinking, and keep on discipling others. You do a great job!

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  6. A. Amos Love says:

    Hi Aimee

    I appreciate your writings. And your stand.

    One of your challenges is, You are dealing with a whole bunch of…
    UN-Qualified men as overseers….

    These guys seem like… errr… bullies… trying to protect their turf.

    In Colin Smothers piece for CBMW… In his 2nd paragraph…
    He mentions “the role of pastor…” “…is limited to qualified men…”

    “Instead of dismissing the question, Byrd gives a helpful, complementarian answer about the importance of maintaining biblical distinctions between the role of pastor, which includes preaching and is limited to qualified men in the Bible…”

    Over the years, I’ve noticed, most Male elders, who desire to be overseers, pastors, leaders, usually “Ignore” or “Twist” the Qualifications in order to get this position, pastor/leader, that comes with Power, Profit, Prestige.

    These pastor/leader/overseers are NOT real enthusiastic when challenged with the Qualifications as “It Is Written” in 1 Tim 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9. Yeah, they say there are qualifications for pastor/leader/overseer, but when you point out these very tough qualifications, all of a sudden “It Is Written” is NOT really what these qualifications are for.

    They like to recite, “The husband of one wife” for an bishop to qualify…
    But “Ignore,” Or “Twist,” Must be BLAMELESS, HOLY, and JUST.

    I have to admit it’s kinda fun watching them squirm and make excuses. 🙂

    If an elder, overseerer, pastor, leader, does NOT meet ALL…
    The 17+, very, very tough Qualifications…
    Shouldn’t they remove themselves…
    And be a good example…
    To His Flock?

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  7. Cynthia W. says:

    The Smothers piece seems to be largely about the definition of “preaching” and other definitions regarding who may “preach.” “Inside baseball” is the phrase that comes to mind.

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  8. Noelle Wells says:

    Thank you Aimee! I am an OPC pastor’s wife and you have been such a ministry to me through your writings. I am discipled by you from afar!

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  9. Jon says:

    I was preparing to talk about Communion this Sunday (we celebrate it every week) and I am mentioning Matthew 26:10-13. You may remember it as the woman who pours oil all over Jesus. And he says, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told…”. And it struck me that I’ve been to hundreds, maybe thousands, of worship services, communions, and gospel presentations and not once did I hear her story told. Thank you for telling her story, and thank you for reminding me to tell it also. Your writings are a wonderful journey of beauty and conviction, inspiration and comfort.

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  10. John Chrysostom says:

    The part where you said this is modern is adorable….almost as modern as being a theologian who transcends all categorization. Dear sister, you are modernism run wild. No one turned you out of any “spaces” you took your ball and went home (even when your church defended you time and time again even at the national level). But you’re perfecting of faux martyrdom is an amazing marketing strategy. Brava!

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    1. meganpdt says:

      You use a pseudonym and speak like this? And twist the term sister? I hope that speaks loudly to anyone reading this comment. Megan Powell du Toit

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    2. A, Amos Love says:

      John Chrysostom
      Do you know many? any? Male overseers? Today?
      Who meet ALL the 17+, tuff Qualifications?
      Given by Paul, and most likly Jesus?
      In 1 Tim 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9?

      Here is a look at just three Qualifications from Titus.
      That many pastors, elders, leaders, “Ignore,” or “Twist.”

      1 – For a bishop (overseer) “Must Be” *BLAMELESS. 2 – *JUST. 3 – *HOLY.

      Titus 1:5-8 KJV
      …ordain elders in every city…
      If any be *BLAMELESS,* the husband of one wife,
      having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
      1 – For a bishop “Must Be” *BLAMELESS,*
      as the steward of God;
      NOT self willed,
      NOT soon angry,
      NOT given to wine,
      NO striker,
      NOT given to filthy lucre;
      a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober,
      2 – *JUST,* 3 – *HOLY,*
      temperate;

      1 – *Must Be*
      Strongs #1163, die. – It is necessary (as binding).
      Thayer’s – necessity established by the counsel and decree of God.
      This *must be* is the same Greek, You *must be* born again. Jn 3:7

      1 – *BLAMELESS
      Strongs #410 anegkletos – unaccused, irreproachable.
      Thayers – unreproveable, unaccused.
      Dictionary – Without fault, innocent, guiltless, not meriting censure.

      2 – *JUST
      Strongs #1342 – dikaios {dik’-ah-yos} from 1349;
      Thayers – righteous, observing divine laws, innocent, faultless, guiltless.

      3 – *HOLY
      Strongs #3741 – hosios {hos’-ee-os}
      Thayers – undefiled by sin, free from wickedness,
      religiously observing every moral obligation.

      Now that’s three tough qualifications for pastor/leader/overseers. Yes?

      How many pastor/elder/overseers today, who honestly examine themselves, seriously considering these three qualifications, can see themselves as BLAMELESS, JUST and HOLY, innocent, without fault, above reproach, undefiled by sin, and thus qualify to be an pastor/leader/overseer?

      If WE, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Body…
      Take seriously the many tough Qualifications in 1 Tim 3, and Titus…
      The number of Biblically Qualified – pastor/leader/reverends…
      Is quite small. 😉

      But, will these UN-qualified, pastor/leader/reverends,
      “Remove Themselves?”
      And be a good example to the flock?

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  11. Annette Christensen says:

    Where in 1Cor 14 does it say that women prophesied? And are you totally disregarding 1 Cor14:33-40? It’s in the same chapter! Yes, women have the same value and worth as men, but there ARE different rules for each that are clearly stated in scripture. Whether or not we choose to obey is telling. Whether or not someone else chooses to obey (even if their disobedience affects me) has no bearing on my responsibility to obey.

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    1. Don says:

      There is so much written about this. There are clear references in other places in the bible to women prophesying. Why don’t you start here?

      https://www.9marks.org/article/must-women-be-silent-in-churches/

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  12. Jane Dunlop says:

    A very sad read! You sound like a very frustrated woman, disappointed with how God created you!

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    1. Cynthia W. says:

      What part of how God created Aimee Byrd to you think has “disappointed” her?

      I’ll go on record: My whole life, I’ve wanted straight hair! Long, straight, black hair like the Mexican-American girls I grew up with.

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      1. Jane Dunlop says:

        She was created woman NOT man.

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      2. Cynthia W. says:

        True, but begs a lot of questions regarding the relevance in any particular situation.

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  13. John says:

    Thank you for such thoughtful and insightful writing. I can see why you would upset those who view church roles as offices of power instead of teaching and shepherding and serving. It will be hard for those used to having power to give it up. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time didn’t want to relinquish power either.

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  14. Zrim says:

    Aimee, could you distinguish between complementarianism and patriarchy? When I read you or Du Mez describe the former it sounds like the latter. I’m not much for these categories, but as someone who used to subscribe to complementarianism maybe you could shed some light for me. (Semi-patriarchy?)

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    1. annaandbrent says:

      As I understand it, there are so many definitions of patriarchy, complementarianism, egalitarianism, and feminism. I can hardly find two that definitions that are the same for any of these categories. Patriarchy tends to polarize men and women, as well as categories they term “masculinity” and “femininity.” Patriarchy is always and only hierarchical. Men are superordinate and women are subordinate. Advocates of patriarcy often believe that the woman is subordinate by nature, because of her natural deficiences she cannot lead in any sphere, whether home, church, or society. They might read Genesis 2 and Eve’s being created second and as a helper as proof of her natural weakness as compared to Adam. Some complementarians affirm everything the patriarchy does, but they do not emphasize the woman’s natural inferiority in the same way. Rather, they speak of equality and dignity of personhood before God. They chose to put the emphasis on the term “differing roles.” Sometimes “roles” reduce to the same things believed by those in the patriarchy (women were made to be “busy at home” and for child-bearing, while men were made for dominion). But other times, there is a recognition that the ways that we differ from each other as male and female have everything to do with something more profound, what God is teaching us about himself and all the things he has in store for his people.

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      1. Bill says:

        I appreciate the tone and clarity your comments add, Anna.

        It seems to me that Jesus directly addressed the problem of men ‘exercising authority’-using that very phrase-as wrong in discussing leadership in HIS Kingdom-in matthew 20; the immediate context is quite humorous as two of His disciples use their mother to ‘jockey for position’ among the other disciples-causing great envy… jesus speaks rather plainly that in His Kingdom, what counts is a love manifested in serving others.

        He models this as one of His last acts, before the crucifixion; and of course, Peter has the greatest difficult understanding why Jesus is the one washing his feet….

        Authority in the Kingdom of God is visible when men given responsiblity to care for the souls of the very sheep Jesus died for, recognize this as an awesome responsibility and LOVE PEOPLE WELL….

        The complementarinan error is more subtle but equally simple to identify. Essentially, it’s not even necessary to look at Jesus and be a complementarian who meets the ROLES quite well. and our culture underscores that manly men PROVIDE well-in strict material terms; that men PROTECT others, too–as manly men like PETER_who was sure to grab one of the TWO swords that were available to the twelve men (noteably, Jesus did NOT take the other one); Jesus then RASHLY strikes off the ear of the LOWLIEST among those who came to take Jesus captive, and once again, we see GOD LAUGHING at this FOLLY of our MODERN VIEW of ‘manhood’-as Jesus HEALS the ear of the man peter so rashly struck in PROTECTING DEFENSIVE POSTURE…

        Peter had to learn the hard way what TRUE manhood in Jesus’ kingdom is-and he speaks plainly to it in his letter, repeating the Words of Jesus in Matthew 20, essentially…

        But back to these ‘roles’…

        rather than REDEFINIGN CULTURAL MANHOOD in terms of roles; why not actually look at the author and perfector of our faith, JESUS, shown us in all four gospels.

        We have a clue given by Jesus Himself, to guide this look. It’s given us by Luke, in the fourth chapter of the gospel of Luke, when Jesus quotes from a long passage that describes the kingdom we now stand in, that He initiated through the blood of a New Covenant. a kingdom begun by our King, who set aside His very GLORY, taking on the lowly form of a man, to become a SERVANT… He came to speak the GOOD NEWS that the promised Messiah has come, not in mere words, but in HIS LIFE and ACTIONS, as He fulfilled the prophesy Luke records:

        Luke 4:17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
        Luke 4:18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,
        Luke 4:19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”
        Luke 4:20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
        Luke 4:21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

        Jesus came and ministered to people; the GOD OF LOVE walked IN LOVE, bringing good news to the poor, actualy releasing captives; giving sight to the blind and healing the sick; and setting free the oppressed.

        when MEN OPPRESS others, they are PLAINLY NOT FOLLOWING JESUS.

        the KING WHO CREATED THE WHOLE UNIVERSE AND REIGNS OVER IT, washed FEET, not ‘lorded it over others’.

        HOW BADLY DISTORTED has the gospel become by the patriarchalists and complementarians!

        the CHIEF END OF MAN is NOT TO PROSPER MATERIALLY or DICTATE to his wife and children; but to LEAD BY EXAMPLE, following Jesus.

        what would our world LOOK LIKE of OUR PRIORITY as FOLLOWERS OF JESUS was MINISTRY TO THE POOR, the SICK the CAPTIVES and the OPPRESSED.

        Instead we have men JOCKEYING FOR POSITION and HONOR, just like the DISCIPLES WERE DOING even at the last supper-when Jesus rose, took off his outer garments, and served them as an EXAMPLE of what He was about to undertake-the CROSS.

        Paul calls men NOT TO HOLD UP THEIR HANDS IN BATTLE READY POSTURE-jockeying for POWER, but to lift them in hands held up to the MASTER, hands WILLINGLY OFFERED FOR SERVICE TO OTHERS.

        what would OUR WORLD LOOK LIKE, of OUR FOCUS was on BEING FOLLOWERS-DISCIPLES-of JESUS, who DO WHAT HE MODELLED IN ALL FOUR GOSPELS-came to the BROKEN and HELPED and even HEALED them…

        our culture-america-does a LUKEWARN-mediocre job AT BEST of caring for the poor, the sick, captives and the oppressed-among whom the abused are a very large number; more than 100 million americans alone, struggle with sexual assault-(do the math-the census tells us how many live in our nation and breaks them down by demographics; The CDC and burea of justice track abuse–of multiple kinds-1 in 3 women (1 in 4 girls; 1 in 4 college students) or nearly SIXTY MILLION girls and women struggle with sexual abuse; the number of boys ranges from 1 in 13 to 1 in 6; men, altogether, reach 1 in 4 and the stigma is greater on men, so it’s likely fewer are willing to admit what happened even in anonymous surveys). Abuse-and sexual abuse are truly epidemic in our nation0and the CHURCH is ‘the first place people go for help and the LAST PLACE THEY FIND IT…

        the GOSPEL has been badly weakened by the American church today..

        it’s time for a true reformation, wiht a CAPITAL R…

        one last thought-Luke also mentions that Jesus began His ministry at teh age of thirty. and before that, describes a glimpse of Jesus during the period in which He ‘grew in stature and wisdom, and favor with God and man’.

        Jesus grew in this way-in stature and wisdom and favor with God and man, thorugh the age of THIRTY, when He began His miinistry.

        by THIRTY, Jesus had matured fully-and that included a number of YEARS walkig IN the world; where He engaged FULLY as a man in a VOCATION_of carpenty, BEFORE HE began engaging in MINISTRY.

        I guess we MISS that aspect of Jesus example; in our calling of ‘teaching’ elders-don’t we… we EXPECT ruling elders to meet the qualfications; a casual look shows us that ALL THE MEN Jesus called to be His disciples, were men who had ESTABLISHED THEMSELVES as ‘respectable’ by their standing in the world, all of them men who were engaged in a calling in the world…

        Hmmmm..

        Perhaps we would have LESS CONCERN about JOCKEYING FOR POSITION and SEEKING THE POSITIONS OF HONOR if MORE MEN actually grew to FULL MATURITY by engaging in a VOCATION before beginning their ministry, LIKE JESUS and ALL THE APOSTLES DID….

        Jesus was thirty when He began His ministry….

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  15. Elijah says:

    I mean, you could just come to the dark side. We don’t pretend to be righteous, and nor do we have a divine moral code guiding our behavior, but we do generally value the reduction of human suffering much more than the charlatans defending child molestation and marital rape in the name of their imaginary god.

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  16. annaandbrent says:

    Mark 3:4-5 comes to mind as I follow your story. There are those who love the law to the neglect (and even rejection) of Christian charity, with eyes that have not yet been enlightened to the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people (Eph. 1:18). A true complementarianism rejects a woman holding the office of elder not because of her supposed ontological deficiencies, nor because men disciples are set apart and invested with an authority not shared with women disciples. A qualified man holds the office because God has called that man to uniquely represent the Second Adam, who leads his bride heavenward. And yet, we always remember that what the NT male elder represents was accomplished 2,000 years ago. Christ has already brought us to Sabbath rest. The eyes of the congregation fix on the elder’s person and authority momentarily so that Christ might dawn in their hearts. His goal should be that his congregation see through him to the person, office, and work of Christ, redemption accomplished and applied by his Spirit. In other words, true representation by the elder can never be self-inflating. He decreases so that Christ can increase in the thoughts of his people. He also leads in a way that honors, not denigrates, his congregation, who are betrothed to one Lord and Savior. He values and embraces them as gift because they are Christ’s blood-bought bride, and the Bridegroom desires them. He is ever aware that the true authority lies with Christ and His Spirit, who will consummate the work he has begun in them. There are eyes that cannot see because they are fixed on things below, on earthly power. They miss the glory of what God is revealing to us in the male elder because they are earthly-minded. They live with a fear that cannot coexist with love.

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    1. Chris C says:

      I’m gald you’re both beginning to talk a bit about what, typologically, men’s significance might be. It was a big, flashing red light for me. I think you’re worng to say “the bride as the final symbol of mankind”. It is true but what is also true is that Christ himself is also the final symbol of mankind, indeed has been since his incarnation. It’s both and it is a glaring omission. The problem is you apportion all the glory of redeemed humanity to women and none to men. You say nothing of man as typological of Christ. What you say above goes someway to doing this, but what about those men who aren’t elders? Until you say more about men within the same schema of humanity (as well as talking about women and their failure to live up to the typology of the bride of Christ), I’m afraid I’m always going to be very sceptical. This approach threatens to become extremely lopsided, both postiviely and negatively, if it isn’t already!

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      1. annaandbrent says:

        Thanks, Chris, for engaging. As I see it today, God has represented himself both cosmologically and anthropologically. I believe that our anthropology depends on the comsological symbols, heaven and earth (Isaiah 66:1; Neh. 9:6). They come first in Genesis 1:1. Man comes from the earth, and he represents the earth, most especially in its press toward Sabbath rest, and the inauguration of the new heavens and new earth, when the realm of God and angels will transform the realm of men.

        I don’t know if you are Vosian, but in Genesis 2:2, God is seated in Sabbath rest, and from there beckons Adam heavenward through covenantal obedience. All men are types of the earth moving forward in time toward consummation, and of Adam, the first representative of the earth, charged with spearheading its movement toward consummation. As representatives of the earth in space-time, they are prominent (like our literal heads), and they are types of Adam, who was not only the representative of the earth, but the federal head of humanity, us “earthlings.” Head by representation is sometimes referred to as synedoche (See Thistleton on 1 Cor. 11). Because the first Adam failed and sin entered the world, men are also types of the Second and last Adam, who succeeded by continuing in obedience to the command.

        I see that woman represents not the earth, nor the onward and upward press of mankind from innocence to glory by a representative head, but the estate of glory. She is man’s glory as representative of his goal, Sabbath rest in the heaven of heavens. In Revelation 19, 21, she is not only the heavenly city, but the heavenly people of God. As the heavenly bridal people of God, she is militant on earth, and triumphant in heaven (saints made perfect).

        So bringing it all together, woman is: (1) mother-city (heavenly Mount Zion); (2) redeemed triumphant saints, confirmed in righteousness (bride); and (3) redeemed saints that are still being sanctified and led heavenward by Christ (betrothed). In contrast, men’s reprentation: (1) earth in its press toward consummation; (2) the man Christ who has conquered and overcome and is in session at the right hand of God the Father in heaven; and (3) the man Christ whose Spirit today is leading his betrothed heavenward. Both man and woman have distinct glories that magnify not themselves, but the person and work of the self-contained triune God of the Scriptures, both his unity and diversity ad intra, as well as his unfolding works ad extra. So yes, you are right—I should have said, women are the final symbol of redeemed mankind. Men represent the man Christ as the Redeemer of his people (Hebrews 7).

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      2. annaandbrent says:

        Chris, the reason we are highlighting the woman’s symbolism is because it is what is new. It hasn’t been talked about. We find the connections between men and Adam and Christ quite easy. The woman, however, is more difficult for us. Like the realm she represents, she is veiled. She is an enimgma, and so in history, instead of unveiling her, many have veiled her veil. If they speak of her glory, it is only as an earthly glory— to be clear, her earthly husband’s earthly glory. Those without husbands, which is ALL of us at some point (pre-marriage or post-marriage), are at a loss. Especially in patriarchal circles and in some segments of complementarianism, they say that the woman is never more glorious than when she is promoting the glory of her husband, busy at home, bearing and nurturing children. Perhaps God is bringing us as a church to understand that we have missed something very important, and in missing it have caused no small harm. I believe the way we speak about women has led women into idolatry. I don’t say that lightly. There are women beside us in the pews who believe that the success of any day is measured by how well they have met their husband’s expectations of them. There are single women who don’t know who they are. They think marriage is the only thing that can give their lives meaning. Our unmarried women often have no identity. There are widows among us who were encourged to make their husbands their center, ballast, and goal, and now find themselves grappling with a reason to live. I could go on with the harm. We speak about the woman’s typology because it has been overlooked, and in being overlooked has caused suffering. We focus on the women’s typology in hopes that it bears great fruit in all our hearts. I agree, the pendulum can swing too far, but we trust in the Spirit to bring us to a unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God.

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      3. Chris C says:

        (Anna, can’t ‘reply’ to your comments so doing it here!)
        Firstly, I guess I’m not ‘Vosian’ (I’m afraid I had to look it up!). My view of both pre-fall Eden and the eschaton is the combination, the complete harmony of heaven and earth. Not a move towards heaven on the part of mankind, but, pre-fall, a move towards a fuller glorification that involves a fully Spirit-filled (or saturated) existence in complete harmony with God of the kind that Paul talks about 1 Corinthians 15 (as far as it relates to the body and to Christ as the forerunner). I think it is unhelpful that Christians talk about their destination as heaven as it seems to me our destination is the new heaven AND the new earth. God is always dynamic so that we should not ever think of either the garden or heaven as a ‘destination’. There won’t ever be an end to our discovery of God. That being so, the physical typology of women AND men is important.
        As such I also take issue with your view that connections between Adam, man and Christ have been ‘quite easy’. It is true in a sense, but those analogies, while easy, are not, if I may say particularly flattering to men! To be brief, your’s and Aimee’s emphases are ENTIRELY flattering to women and it seems to me this is a massive imbalance, perhaps accentuated by too strong a distinction between the earth (bad) and heaven (good). I am aware of the attitudes of some men in reformed circles which may not be helpful. All I’ll say is, as a man (and this also I’m sure is one reason why some male (and female) complementarians occassionally say some silly things) the view that women are ‘amazing’, the future, morally superior, to be ‘elevated’ or even ‘magnified’ (one suspecvts not justtheir ‘voices’) while men are dispensable, morally suspect, to be consigned to the past, should shut up and generally less than inspiring is something that we as men come across every day in the culture that we live in. You might think Complementarianism in reformed circles is the context into which you both speak but to my mind it’s not really, and when reading you and Aimee it’s hard not to think this is a version of the misandry we hear in the secular world everyday. That may be putting it a bit strongly but I hope you might see where I’m coming from as well as, perhaps, where those utter pariahs at the CBMW might be coming from too!

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  17. Will R. says:

    It’s sad that the OPC didn’t love your soul enough to administer discipline. That would have been loving. Please repent Aimee, stop destroying lives by besmirching the reputation of godly men who care enough to speak out, and stop leading others astray.

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    1. John Green says:

      For me, there is no stronger evidence of the Holy Spirit’s non-existence than “manly” Christian men whining about the disobedience of women to their supposed headship. Can such a state of affairs possibly be more childish? What does that say about your god?

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    2. Zing77 says:

      I would not call the men who “besmirched” her godly. They are bullies and should be disciplined for their behavior. In their power trips, they are leading many astray.

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    3. A, Amos Love says:

      Will R

      You write…
      “…stop leading others astray.”

      If you’re really concerned with believers being led astray???
      Maybe you can begin with Males who call themselves shepherds? pastors?
      And do NOT Qualify as overseers, according to 1 Tim 3, and Titus?

      How often does the OPC “discipline,” and remove, UN-Qualified Male pastors?
      “A dead fish begins to rot from the head down.”

      Was wondering…
      Have you ever warned “godly men,” who call themselves shepherds? pastors?
      About “leading Gods people astray?”

      Don’t know if you ever noticed…
      But – In the Bible, shepherds, THEIR shepherds…
      Have caused God’s people “to go astray.”
      ———-

      Jer 50:6
      “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
      **THEIR shepherds**
      have caused them to *go astray,*

      Notice, it says THEIR shepherds.

      1 Pet 2:25
      For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
      BUT are now returned to
      the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

      {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

      Like

  18. SarahO says:

    Thank you Aimee for all that you have done and are doing! I’m sorry the journey has been rough but know that you are a great encouragement for many. You are truly a sister in Christ!

    Like

  19. Libby says:

    Some scholars think authentein can mean author of and believe this is the correct interpretation of 1 Timothy: I permit no woman to teach she is the author of man, for Adam was created before Eve….

    Others think that Paul is addressing the cult of Artemis and correcting bad doctrinal teachings that taught that Eve was created before Adam and that Adam was the one who was deceived and women would be kept safe during childbearing if they prayed to Artemis.

    Both of these interpretations are legitimate interpretations of 1 Timothy. I honestly don’t know which one is right, but today, you can’t have a conversation about this stuff or you will be called heretic or a feminist or worse. You can’t call out abuse. Women are forced to stay in abusive marriages. Some biblical passages get more weight than others. For example, you are a sinner if you don’t submit to your husband, but men are never called sinful when they don’t love their wives like Christ loved the church.

    A lot of people are looking for the return of Christ, but I don’t think the church is ready. I wonder what Jesus really thinks of the fighting within the church and bullying others who disagree, especially on secondary doctrines. What does the world think when we try to lead them to Christ, but they see this fighting among Christians? Do Christians appear more concerned about power than love? Are we witnessing correctly in a fallen world?

    Easter is near. Whether you are complementarian or egalitarian or anything else, let’s tell the world about Jesus and his love/atonement for us.

    Anyway, Aimee, you have done nothing wrong and don’t deserve the treatment you have received.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Paul K says:

    “Now I’m seeing more clearly just how destructive the complementarian system is. It’s all about power and hierarchy under the guise of benevolent care. (Not everyone in it, mind you.)“

    These sentences stuck with me. CBMW-style teaching on gender is a method of controlling women and men camouflaged as a commitment to Scripture.

    I’d recommend Steven Hassan’s “Combatting Cult Mind Control” in order to understand some of the dynamics. I’m not saying CBMW is a cult. But Hassan does a great job explaining the techniques people use to control others. His book is basically a treatise on deception.

    Like

  21. Cheryl says:

    This is sad on multiple levels. I don’t know the details of what has happened between Aimee and others the last two or three years and can’t know whether anyone has wronged her.

    I don’t care about which labels people use. I am not a fan of patriarchy (I have family members caught in its trap) or of feminism. The primary issue is not labels but what does God say.

    For the nearly 20 years I have been Reformed, I have loved it that the Reformed community is full of intelligent women who care about theology. It used to bore me to pieces to be among women who could only talk about trivial topics, and never topics in which I had any knowledge or interest. That the confessionally Reformed community is full of women with whom I can communicate, and men who take my contribution seriously, thrills me. That my husband is overjoyed to discuss theology with an interested wife pleases me.

    There are sinners and weak people in any community. I’ve been disappointed at times by Reformed elders who aren’t willing to lead or who take the church off on tangents. It’s an imperfect community. But we also have manly and godly elders who are willing to lead the flock, and willing to encourage the (proper) contributions of women.

    A few years ago I was pleased to find women writing about theology and speaking about theology while still accepting the biblical guidelines that restricted the office of elder and the role of preacher to men. As an intelligent and theologically interested woman, such strong yet conservative role models gave me some hope–there was a way for a woman to write about theology and still be faithful. This conclusion is quite a sad anticlimax.

    Like

    1. Cynthia W. says:

      “there was a way for a woman to write about theology and still be faithful.”

      This seems to be saying Aimee Byrd is not “faithful.” If that is the case, to whom is she not “faithful”?

      Like

  22. Bob Mayer says:

    From an older white evangelical who just started following your work. I remember sitting in a Bill Gothard seminar in Long Beach, CA in 1977 watching 9,500 evangelicals (who should have known better) lap up Gothard’s umbrella and hammer illustrations to illustrate hierarchy in the nuclear family. And I remember being appalled and wondering if I was seeing the euphoria that Germans experienced in 1933 when their Fuehrer came to power. Gothard defined complementarianism for me, and I knew that it was foreign to Holy Scripture and since then have not taken these folks very seriously. I like the late Rebecca Grothius’s motto from the first edition of Discovering Biblical Equality: “complementarity without hierarchy.” Exactly. My best to you on your journey. Ignore the complementarian deceit and scaremongering.

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  23. annaandbrent says:

    Thanks, Chris, for your thoughtful response. To engage one thing, when we speak of typology, we are talking about what we represent. The fact that man and woman are both image-bearers, made for union and communion with God, silences all of our exaltation among ourselves. None of use, no matter what we represent, can be anything more exalted than image-bearer, destined to delight in God himself and he in us. So what we represent is not speaking about ontological superiority or greater dignity, but a pointing to what we all share in common now and forever. We are all individually and corporately Christ’s redeemed, men and women, pressing forward to consummation (what man represents). And we are all, individually and corporately, Christ’s elect bride (what woman represents). We all experience and receive it all!

    As far as what man represents, it is not this world as it is now under the sway of sin and Satan, but rather the Genesis 1 and 2 Eden-centered world given to the worship of God, before corruption entered the world. Adam was crafted from the Genesis 2 (not Genesis 3) soil, adamah. We are not dualists that believe that the veiled world held superiority over the unveiled We remember that both worlds, the worlds of angels and men, were corrupted by Satan (Lucifer). He has been (past tense) cast out of heaven, but he has yet to be (future tense) banished from earth. I believe the picture of the eschaton is one in which temptation, sin, Satan, suffering, and death, are finally and forever obliterated from the earthly realm. At that time, the city above will descend to unite with earth, so that God’s dwelling place is among us climatically.

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  24. dondavies686 says:

    I fully support our women pastors! I show my full support for black preachers preaching equality like Keion Henderson, https://www.keionhenderson.com/about-us/ ! We must not be silent in the face of inequality and injustice!

    Like

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