Tag Archives: Jory Micah


Best Christian Stuff of 2015

One thing I have discovered this past year as a blogger: If you want to write, you have to read what other people are writing. No writing happens in a vacuum. We as writers need inspiration, and much of that comes from the inspired voices around us. So, to put a button on the year, I want to take a moment and recognize some of those voices. Here’s hoping they will inspire you too!

The “Embrace the Grace” award

As Christians, we must remember the need to constantly replenish our souls. The world God has given us is wastefully overflowing in beauty, but our part is to stop and drink it in. Scripture exhorts us to spend our mental energy reflecting on all of it (contrary to the prevailing trend in our society of meditating on things wrong with the world that make us angry). So the “Embrace the Grace” award goes to Esther Owen for a beautiful example of doing just that.

Drenched In The Chase — Esther OwenDrenched in the Chase — by Esther Owen

“Eternity is soaked in moments like these. Saturated with wonder.  Lost in a moment so humble in its simple hopefulness. Sometimes whimsy takes practice, but don’t hesitate. Always embrace the chase.”


The “Eye Opener” award (two-way tie)

As a Presbyterian growing up in California, you hear these vague, distant rumors— places where Christian faith is being carried to absurd legalistic extremes— but they’re easy to dismiss. So much of the extreme stuff we hear about is really just media hype (witness the breathless reporting of “outrage” over the Starbucks cups or the lipstick names).

Unfortunately, some of the rumors are true. So my “Eye Opener” awards go to two posts from Amy Buckley and April Kelsey— actual human beings I respect that made me stop in my tracks and say, “Wait a minute… this is seriously a thing?!”

Never Worth Less — Amy Buckley

Never Worth Less — by Amy R. Buckley

“All I knew was women could lead women and children, but never men. But I couldn’t understand why it was honorable for a man who lacked musical abilities to lead worship. And I wondered why on earth God would be offended by the worship of a woman with musical gifting, simply because she used that gift in front of men.”


Silver Dress — April KelseySilver Dress: My Experience With Evangelical Purity Culture — by April Kelsey

“Would my parents approve of this dress? Was the neckline too low? Were my shoulders too bare? My body was constantly sexualized and strictly policed. All I really wanted was some safe affection. But in purity culture, there was either no touch or sexual touch. And I couldn’t live without touch.”

The “Faith in Motion” award (two-way tie)

If it’s to be of any value, faith needs to be practical. We use it to make the world a better place. We apply it to our own lives to live more abundantly. Writing can help us do that: the type of article you want to post on someone else’s Facebook wall. Here were two articles this year, by Mo Morrison and Julia Powers, where I did just that.

Feed My Sheep — Mo Morrison

Feed my Sheep — by Mo Morrison

“Something powerful occurs when you’re talking to someone who’s standing on the other side of what you’re pressing through. God wastes nothing.  As we overcome, we can BE a blessing.”

By Prayer and Petition — Julia Powers

By Prayer and Petition — by Julia Powers

“So, strange as it sounds, a petition emerged saying something like this: ‘I’m stressed. I propose a change in my commitment to self-care and pursuit of social support.’ It was a slightly awkward seeking signatures— anyone from my therapist to my pastor to the college classmate who lent a listening ear.”

(P.S. Julia gets extra credit, because I stole the “Best of 2015 Blog Post” idea from her.)

The “Couldn’t Do It Withoutcha” award

Bible GatewayHow my brain works: I can remember the words of scripture. I can’t for the life of me remember the chapter and verse. When I write, scriptural accuracy is vital to me: there are so many supposedly Biblical claims that are not actually in the Bible. In this blog, every quote from scripture is verified on, and linked to, the source at Bible Gateway. That way:

  1. I know I’m quoting scripture correctly
  2. Readers with questions can verify the verse themselves, read the full context, and see if they agree with my take
Thank you

Finally, thanks to those of you who took time out from your busy lives to read One For Jesus. Just since I started keeping track in August, over 2700 unique visitors have been here. I hope some of your lives have been touched by what you read.

So, to all those recognized and many others, thanks for all the ways that you contributed to  my life. You are truly the ones who make this blog possible. Wishing you all the best, and many blessings to each of you in 2016!

women torn off

For God’s sake: let a woman preach

One day I flew to Texas and I met a cute girl. I asked her to dinner, and that night, my whole life changed. That was the night I learned about Jesus. I’d grown up in a Christian church, but I’d never heard about a Jesus like this. Her Jesus was alive and real and revolutionary and transformative. Her Jesus didn’t nibble around the edges of your life; he was pervasive through the entire thing. That night she spoke words into me that breathed with life like nothing I’d ever known before.

Was she wrong? Should she have done that? Many churches quote scripture that says “I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over a man.” So should she have simply left me where I was for fear of teaching me something?

In reality, most Christians would quote other scriptures to limit, restrict, or reinterpret this verse and make an exception for this case. So why not a larger exception? Why not allow our society’s many well educated, gifted, female writers and speakers an unrestricted hall pass to teach what they know? As a high schooler, best-selling author Rachel Held Evans was once told, “‘Rachel you’re such a great speaker; it’s too bad you’re a girl.” Blogger Jory Micah was told, at age 18, that her desire to serve God as a pastor was sinful.

On the question, “Should a woman preach?” I would submit that such answers :

  1. Result more from evangelical culture than Biblical truth
  2. Are inconsistent with our practice, even in the most conservative of congregations
  3. May turn a blind eye to the actual reality of what God is doing
Culture vs. Truth

The Bible is long, and there’s a lot in there. How do we choose which parts of it to talk about the most? Ideally, our discussion of topics from the Bible would be in exact proportion the the frequency of those topics within the text itself. To do otherwise is to risk a distortion of the actual Biblical message. Christ himself addresses this tendency when he says, “What sorrow awaits you. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith” (Matthew 23:23). We can fall into sin, even in perfect obedience to God’s law, when obsessive legalism  leads us away from the real point.

Yet this is the reality of our time. We attack certain topics with an energy and enthusiasm out of all proportion with the Bible’s text, yet remain oddly silent on other topics of greater Biblical importance. If the need to suppress women’s teaching gifts were an important doctrine, then why— with just the one mention in 1 Timothy— does the Bible devote only 0.016% of its verses to the topic? That would work out to a full Sunday sermon a little less than once a century. Some argue that the particular obsessions of American culture require more frequent responses from Christians in those areas. Yet in this, too, we Christians reveal our cultural biases by what we omit from such scrutiny: everything from covering women’s hair to honoring our leaders to refraining from anger.

Practicing what we preach?

The fact is, even in conservative congregations that would never hire a female pastor, women are teaching men every week. Just walk into the Sunday school.

The injunction in 1 Timothy explains Paul’s resistance to women teaching on the grounds that Eve was deceived, and sin was the result. In Paul’s eyes, we may conclude, a female teacher is more likely to lead us into sin. Yet if we are to protect ourselves from deceptiveness, who is more vulnerable than a young child? If our genuine concern were for sound doctrine, the Sunday school should be the first line of defense. That it is not reveals a different motivation is at work.

The same inconsistency appears in other areas as well. Of the same church where her potential as a teacher was so casually dismissed, Rachel Held Evans writes, “The only time women spoke in church was when they were missionaries. I didn’t understand why that was allowed, but teaching from the pulpit was not.” Again, if our true concern were the validity of what women have to say, should we not be equally passionate for the protection of men abroad?

Rather, it seems to me, our insistence on male pastors results more from simple bias against women in certain roles than from some kind of principled stand on Biblical truth.

Which side is which?

What emerges again and again from women in ministry is the conviction that they are called to it by God, that the scriptures used to dissuade them have somehow been misunderstood. What if they are right?

Misunderstanding scripture is possible. While scripture is infallible, we are not, and in the history of the Church, conventional wisdom has often been wrong. That can happen to us as well. For a non-controversial example, it would be a gross error to read 1 Timothy 4:12 as a blanket negation of the need to respect our elders; in fact, many other places in scripture urge us to respect our elders. What if we have made the same mistake in using 1 Timothy 2:12 to overrule all the many Biblical teachings about the importance of recognizing our gifts and putting them to work for the kingdom?

Consider this thought experiment: imagine a God who might break out of expectations (that has happened before), who might choose a vessel for his message that confounds conventional wisdom (that has happened before too). Imagine that messenger is sent among a people who refuse to listen (also has happened). What would God’s judgment on those people be for their failure to listen and receive? When someone claims she has a message from God, if we dismiss her out of hand because she doesn’t match our expectations, we do so only at our own mortal peril. She may be right; we may even find ourselves fighting against God.

Other recommended posts:

Photo credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Foter.com / CC BY

9/11 cross and flag— a Christian nation?

This 9/11: We should be a Christian nation and shouldn’t

I am a Christian. I believe in Christ’s teaching to “love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

I am an American. I love my country.

Two separate things, or one and the same?

Every year, on the anniversary of the horrific September 11th attacks, I memorialize the lives lost in my own small way. I post the image you see above on my Facebook page.

It has a cross, which to me stands for hope and faith and God’s resurrection power over sin and death and destruction.

It has an American flag symbolizing my country.

One of the things I love about my country is that I am free to practice my faith in the way I live my life. The laws of my country protect my ability to do that.

In some parts of the world, there are religious extremists— some of them the spiritual successors of the 9/11 terrorists— who are fighting to establish “sharia law” in the countries where they live. Most Americans agree that this is wrong. But we differ as to our reasoning.

Some of us see America as a Christian nation, and so we oppose sharia law because we favor laws that reflect Christian values, not Muslim values.

Others make a careful distinction between our faith and our nation. We oppose sharia law because in our view, the establishment of religious beliefs— any religious beliefs— into society’s law is destructive both to the religion and the society.

Which view is right? It matters, because there are grave implications in how we stand against extremism. To the first group, it is by enacting laws, in our own country, reflecting our own values, taking a stand as Christians. To the second, it is by protecting our diversity of religious faith, taking a stand together as Americans, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or None Of The Above.

View #1: The case for a “Christian nation”

When it comes to separating religious views from secular laws, there is a fundamental problem: while easy to state in principle, it is nearly impossible in practice. This is because, for each and every one of us, our values are shaped by our “worldview” or our “set of beliefs” or our “religion” or whatever you want to call it, informing our decisions about right and wrong, which is inseparable from the creation of law.

Even in seemingly cut-and-dried areas, we cannot agree because our worldviews are different. Take, let’s say, murder, everyone’s favorite example of a moral absolute. We all believe murder is wrong, but! here’s the snag: we also believe that self-defense is OK. Which one is which? The polarizing debate over what killings are right and wrong is front page news every week.

Without some set of shared values, without some kind of moral compass, there can be no agreement as to law. Given our nation’s history, the closest thing we have to a shared barometer is Judeo-Christian values. Last February, a spate of editorials trumpeted atheist parenting skills, yet even there, the ever-present measure of good parenting was teachings central to Christianity: the sanctity of human life, the value of morality, the centrality of empathy.

When we come to the table to reason together, seeking the consensus which is indispensable to legitimacy in law, we could do a lot worse as a starting place than “do unto others as you would have done to you” and “love your neighbor as yourself”.

View #2: The case for separation of church and state

A recent issue of The Mission Society’s Unfinished magazine said it all. An article called “Living missionally in a post-Christian context” made the following point:

Christianity has certainly influenced American culture. But that is quite different than saying it is a “Christian culture.” If US missionaries believe their home culture to be Christian, the line between Christian faith and American culture can become indistinguishable.

When we imagine America as a Christian nation, here is the problem: we, the imaginers, are not perfect. Parts of what we imagine are biblically inspired, yes, but parts are shaped by our own personal and cultural biases. Those parts are, in fact, not God’s will at all. Putting it bluntly: we are fallen, we are sinful, so part of what we imagine is wrong. We just don’t know which parts.

There is a bigger problem with our efforts to enact Christian values into law: it badly distorts our notion of what Christ taught. Christ did not come to reveal a set of rules for all to obey. He did not. They had that already; that was what he came to change. To focus our efforts as Christians on making rules for everyone to obey… that is the very “yeast of the Pharisees” that Christ warned us against. The seeds of our own destruction, of the American Church’s destruction, are sown when we scatter to the chamber floors and the courthouses; instead, Christ would much rather see us at the homeless shelters, hospitals and prisons.

The genius of the “and”

Should America be a Christian nation or shouldn’t it? Both.

It should be, because to so many of our society’s ills, Christ has the answer. As it says in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” That is what we need to be putting into our society. If we could be a Church of self-sacrificing true Christians, I can’t imagine that all our other problems wouldn’t find their way to a solution.

It shouldn’t be, because if we think that our Christian faith needs to be about bearing the weight of law to make our society behave, we have missed the entire point.


Also recommended:

Letting go of America being a Christian Nation — JoryMicah.com