Category Archives: Gender Equality

Patriarchy and the Jezebel Narrative

Narrative is the story through which we view reality.  We all have narratives that help us interpret our lives.  The Bible also is a narrative that helps us interpret reality.  There is a narrative that has floated around Charismatic and Pentecostal circles whenever anxiety surfaces around women co-leading with their husbands in marriage and having leadership roles in the Church and political world.  The Jezebel Spirit teaching comes from a false narrative drawn from 1Kings 16-21. 

Who was Jezebel in the Bible? 

Jezebel was the wife of Ahab who descended from a number of wicked kings who had each become progressively more evil in their ways.  Ahab was the son of Omri who was the son of Zimri who was the son of Elan who was the son of Bassash.  Each of these kings were idolaters, men of violence who did not keep the Torah, in fact this was said of each king:

“Baasha had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” 1Kings 16:7

Of Zimri, “ for he, too, had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight.” 1Kings 16:19

 “Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him.” 1kings 16:25

“Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him.  1Kings 16:30

Ahab had come from a family of wicked kings who had long practiced idolatry with each subsequent generation becoming more and more evil in the site of the Lord.  The intent of the author was to show that Omri was more evil than the kings before him and Ahab even more evil that Omri and all the others before him.

Jezebel also practiced and promoted idolatry in the land of Israel after her marriage to Ahab.  Together they authorized and promoted the worship of Baal and Asherah supplanting the worship of the one true God with the worship of false gods.  This worship included temple sexual activities and sacrifices, some of them human.  Jezebel and Ahab were evil and led Israel astray.  They even murdered the prophets of God.

The false narrative commonly understood about Jezebel and Ahab is that Ahab was seduced and led astray by Jezebel who was the dominant member of the marriage.  She supposedly usurped Ahab’s role. But we see from the Biblical narrative in 1Kings 16 that Ahab was already an idol worshipper who descended from a long line of evil kings and idolaters.  It is clear that both Jezebel and Ahab were evil rulers steeped in idol worship.  They were collaborators and manipulators each one devious in their own way. And both were destroyed equally in the end as was prophesied in the beginning of chapter 16.

Jezebel and the Patriarchal Narrative

 So how did Jezebel get singled out as the leader and seducer of Ahab and how did Ahab become known as the passive “henpecked” husband who followed his wife’s evil demands? 


Readers read with a patriarchal lens that recast the story as the story of a dominant wife ruling over a passive husband.  And Jezebel became the stock image for any woman who might be a leader or have leadership qualities.  More, any woman perceived (emphasis on perceived) as not being submissive enough to male authority is labeled as one having a Jezebel spirit.  The sin of Ahab is that he did not exercise his proper authority over his wife. Jezebel’s great sin was emasculating her husband by not being submissive enough to his leadership.  This narrative is used to show the dangers that occur when men and women do not abide by the “biblical” definitions of manhood and womanhood. 

The entire story of Jezebel and Ahab is reinterpreted from being a narrative about idolatry to being a narrative about the relationship between husbands and wives and whether or not women should be given equal authority in the church and world.   Added is a fear of feminism with the assumption that all feminists are as evil as Jezebel and infected with her spirit.

Jezebel is a reverse exemplar that no good Christian woman should emulate. 

The use of the Jezebel label is often used to keep women under the authority of husbands and silent in the churches.  It is sad and curious that the most evil female character in the entire Bible is superimposed on the marriage relationship and a woman with leadership gifts. It is even used to label women who speak truth to power about the disenfranchisement of women in our country.    

The “sin” of not being submissive, of speaking truth to power and the sin of leading is equated with the most evil woman in the entire Bible.  Let that sink in. 

I have been an advocate for women in ministry and equality in marriage for many years.  Sometimes because of my vocal advocacy it has been assumed that I have a Jezebel spirit. And inaccurate assumptions have also been made about my husband that go against the reality of our marriage.  We believe in mutuality.  We submit to one another doing the hard work of relationship.  My spouse and I seek to validate and support one another’s ministries.  We share household responsibilities because we both give our time to the community and the church.  We are both strong leaders.  Each of us has strong opinions and distinct personalities.   Neither of us fears the strength of the other but values the gifts we each have. We live by the Catherine and William Booth quote, “why would God use half his army?” Our time and energy is for the maximum benefit of the Kingdom of God.

I have seen godly women spiritually abused by prayer counselors who have tagged women being abused by husbands as having a Jezebel spirit.  (especially when they speak up about that abuse). In addition many strong, godly women leaders, some of them with Prophetic and Apostolic anointings have also been labeled as Jezebels.  This characterization of women has to stop in the body of Christ.  Talented, godly and Spirit-filled women are tired of enduring this label when they only want to serve God.  Enduring the label is sort of a “rite of passage” to which only women leaders must suffer. It is shaming and humiliating and abusive.

Jezebel is often described as being controlling, seductive, self-centered, side-stepping responsibility, blaming of others and having no empathy. Her behavior has much more in common with the pathological condition of narcissism. Funny thing how the Jezebel Spirit as it is described sounds more like what we observe in President Trump, which of course many Christians simply overlook. But that is another blog post for another day.

10 Things Christian Women are Tired of Hearing

I still remember my first experience of being told I couldn’t do something I wanted to do.  I was only four years old and my Sunday School teacher asked us to go around the room and share what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Without any hesitation I blurted out “I want to be a pastor.”  My teacher, who was warm and friendly, stooped down, put her arm around my shoulders and said “honey, women can’t be pastors.”  I remember being utterly confused.  I had always enjoyed lining my teddy bears up after church on the steps of my house, singing Bible songs, and pretending to preach sermons.  This is something I liked doing and that my parents always encouraged in their own ways.  Obviously, four was too young to understand the theological implications of such a bold statement – there was no possible way I could have known at the time that this has been a grey area debated over the centuries with Bible believing Christians on both sides of the fence.  All I knew was that I was being told I couldn’t do something that in my very core I felt I wanted to do, that I was called to do, that I was meant to do.

Since then, I have occasionally faced discouragement as a woman in other areas and I know that I am not alone.  Thus, when I was asked to write this blog for PCPJ, I opened up my Facebook by posting an open question: “To all my Christian Women friends, what are you tired of hearing?”  The results poured in and surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) nearly everyone said the same things but in different ways.  I also took this offline by asking Christian and non-Christian women alike what they were tired of hearing, and I discovered that these very same issues often permeate into the lives of even those who are not religious.  That is to say, culture and tradition, often overshadow the truth and sometimes churches lose sight of what is Biblical and historically accurate in favour of what has simply been passed down to them or what they have been taught without further investigation.

Although this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most common themes that women addressed when asked this question: Continue reading 10 Things Christian Women are Tired of Hearing

Shifting Our Focus from Rules to Mission

1On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.  Luke 13:10-17 

Is the main point of this passage about healing?  Is the main point of this passage about our focus and mission as God’s people?  These are two of the many questions I puzzled about as I reflected.  And the answer is yes… This passage is about healing and yes this passage is about the focus and mission of God’s people.

Continue reading Shifting Our Focus from Rules to Mission

Let’s be frank about the abortion debate

Upfront, I need to state that I am not for abortion, I believe in life and life abundantly. I believe that the Bible teaches the infinite worth and value of human beings which includes unborn children. And I believe unborn children are human beings.

I also recognize the gray areas of abortion and I acknowledge the wide disagreement about when life begins. I don’t claim to know all of the science around this debate but wish to speak to some of the Patriarchy surrounding it. I also acknowledge that at times women are faced with difficult decisions around birth, illness, and other medical situations that threaten the lives of mothers–I offer no judgement. And finally, I acknowledge how political abortion is and how it is used to bolster power and how it is co-opted by politicos to target our fears and moral anxieties in order to gain our votes.

I feel a little nervous about entering this sphere of discussion because it is heated and can at time be filled with lots of angry words. But I am speaking up because I believe that Patriarchal thinking is embedded in much of the pro-life dialogue. And that bothers me. Continue reading Let’s be frank about the abortion debate


In the mid-60’s Bob Dylan sang a song which was not only prophetic in its insights at that time of massive cultural shift but continues to be as relevant now. The words are below and you can hear his dulcet tones in this video:

The changing times are nothing short of astounding, for two reasons. One is that we in the West never expected to see in our lifetimes such thinly disguised hatred, cruelty and the normalising of heinous policies coming from ordinary members of society, (although there are enough precedents – see Nazi Germany, the slave trade operating out of Great Britain and the southern states of America, and the Spanish Inquisition to name just a few) to disenchant us of our illusory state of niceness. 

The emergencies of our world are too numerous to write but among the most prominent are the way in which multiple nations refuse to accept refugees – ‘we are full and our economy can’t sustain helping refugees, plus, they’re different to us’ being the most common reason given by the more prosperous countries. An even greater crisis is the blind refusal of governments to acknowledge that the delicate ecology of our planet is being trashed, driving us to the destination of a world we will not recognise. 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.


The Challenge of Followership

Leadership! It’s a fraught word, describing an even more fraught set of ideals. Leadership, in the final analysis, is neither good or bad. It is amoral. Like the notes on the musical scale and the letters of the alphabet, the essence of leadership, according to John Maxwell, is influence. When people are gifted as leaders, or in some way attain a leadership title, they walk in positions of influence. 

And therein lies the rub, because a culture is set according to the heart of the leader and those they surround themselves with, for good or evil, for strength or weakness. Someone whose influence leads people where they otherwise may not have gone, be it morally just or morally reprehensible, is setting or changing a culture for the duration of their leadership and beyond. That is, technically, good leadership, be it ever so terrible in its outcome. Nations, churches, organisations rise and fall on the way in which they’ve been led.  In 2019 the various modes of leadership across the planet denote that we, as citizens of the world, are in serious trouble.

In the face of drastic climate change in which the earth is vomiting the symptoms of its travail in torrents of floods, droughts, bushfires, cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, mud slides, volcanic eruptions and other ‘un’natural catastrophes across the planet, one group stands as the voice of reason, crying out for the influencers of the world to pay attention and change course before it’s too late. The other group, like the people in Noah’s day, keep working, consuming, using, spending and playing as though there’s no tomorrow – which one day may be true. Continue reading The Challenge of Followership

Atonement and Sexual Assault: Redemption for the Sinned Against

The spate of recent headlines about sexual abuse and victimization in the Church have made clear the prevalence of these crimes. The revelation of decades of abuse by Southern Baptist pastors and complicity by denominational leaders is only the most recent example. Willow Creek Community Church is still addressing the reverberations of trauma surrounding accusations of harassment against women. Sexual abuse is rampant outside the church as well. According to statistics compiled by the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN), one in six women in the United States “has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).”[1]Much-needed discussion surrounding prevention and accountability in leadership is beginning to take place. Churches must also address how they treat women who have been sexually abused, both within and without the church.

In addition to these needed reforms, Christians must examine how our underlying theology may continue to damage victims rather than offer redemption. If what is preached from the pulpit, embodied in song and worship, and internalized by the congregation does not offer a message of hope and healing for those who have been abused, it is not the good news of Jesus Christ. In particular, our understanding of atonement—how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus brings us into reconciliation with God—must be examined carefully.
Continue reading Atonement and Sexual Assault: Redemption for the Sinned Against