The hemiplegic bride

The body of Christ in the West is hemiplegic. Hemiplegia is a medical term used to describe paralysis down one side of the body, for example, after a stroke. The body of Christ is present in our churches, but half of it–the female half–is significantly weakened.

Where are the women apostles? Where are the women who are prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers? Where are the female role models who dare to do great exploits for the Kingdom of God?  I’m grateful to count several like these as my friends, but in general, women in any form of strategic church leadership in the West are conspicuous by their absence.

It’s not that way in other parts of the world.

  • In China, around 80% of house churches are planted by ordinary women
  • In India there is a significant harvest being reaped by women of all castes. Two years ago, I met two women–ordinary, middle aged housewives–one of whom was responsible for starting 2,000 churches and the other, 6,000 churches.
  • In many nations where there is restricted access for the gospel, women are planting churches–they have easy access to homes and naturally share their testimony with others, pray for the sick and demonized and find persons of peace.

If women can do it in other nations, why not here in the West?

Are there women in this country who are willing to break out of the stereotypical role assigned to them by tradition? Who will follow the Great Shepherd into the harvest? Who will dare to break out of their boxes of convention, who will color outside the lines of expectation.

If God is using women in extraordinary ways elsewhere, (and he is) then why not here too.

Photo credit: Vici-Jane

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Cindy Skillman

    Thanks for this, Felicity. I think (what you no doubt have seen too) that women in the USA often have subscribed to the western notion that women aren’t allowed to minister, or at least not to anyone save other women, and children. That’s not to say that ministering to women and children is unimportant, but it does dry up any notion of apostles and prophets, pastors, teachers and even evangelists. That’s seen as ‘for men only.’ Alas, not too many men want to do it, and some of those who do are in for less than ideal reasons.

    You’d think that this outmoded idea would have dried up in all but the most fundamentalist circles, but realistically, I think its ghost is still here, haunting us in our unconscious minds. Women, like everyone else, want to be approved, and stepping up as a woman makes one, it seems, less than feminine. Not true — as anyone can see by your own example. Nevertheless the specter is there.

    Love you always, Cindy

    • felicitydale

      Hi Cindy, I agree with you–in fact your description of the “ghost haunting our unconscious minds” is a graphic portrayal of a sad truth. We’ve been taught for so long that all a woman is allowed to do is to be a support to her husband, that it makes it very hard to break free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pastoranne Anne Sermon Stoothoff

    For many years I hid the calling in my life for fear that somehow walking in my gifting would bring dishonor to my dear husband. Only the imperative call of Christ for the lost and broken He loves was strong enough to compel us forward. Paradoxically, as I step toward God’s calling, my husband becomes a man of greater and greater influence and authority.

    • felicitydale

      Anne, it sounds like there’s a story behind this. I love your attitude, and I’d love to hear more.

  • Erin M.

    The Hemiplegic Bride of Jesus: …. would be better than “The Role of Women: 15 Questions. Or maybe even The One-Legged Bride of Jesus: ….. But here’s my favorite so far … and it’s based on your title from this article and your other book Army – “Half an Army of Ordinary People.”

    • felicitydale

      Erin, thanks. I just saw this after responding to your other comments. Do you think people understand the term “hemiplegic”? The problem with playing of my book “Army” is that I very deliberately chose women as the “heroes” in many of those stories.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.biteler Mark Biteler

    For me this is but one symptom of a deeper problem in the western Church. Church “leaders” don’t allow the Holy Spirit to lead or be part of their services. This isn’t just a problem in traditional churches, it is a problem in house churches as well. The Church as a whole has experienced very little of the move of the Holy Spirit–who is the greatest soul winner the world has ever known. It’s leaders keep both men and women from fulfilling their calling by putting them through endless “training” and then believes everything is “ok”. When the Holy Spirit is not allowed to lead, the entire Body of Christ becomes stunted in its growth.
    When Church leadership actively restricts men and women from both the Spirit and from fulfilling their calling as leaders, they must understand that the Head of the Church will take up the cause of the flock. Praise God that Jesus is the Great Shepherd. Judgement begins in the House of the Lord. Church leaders cannot continually keep the sheep of His flock away from the Lord’s life-giving Water and His Living Bread and expect to get away with it. Jesus will bring out His flocks. He will lead them to Water and green pasture. They will be the great army of the living God–both men and women. It is time to follow the Spirit and align with Him!
    Those He has called to lead will lead–men and women alike.

    • felicitydale

      Hi Mark, some insightful thoughts here. I agree with you that the problem is across the board–house churches are certainly not immune to the issues you describe. We need an utter dependance on the Holy Spirit to lead us and yes, he will use both men and women.

      I personally believe that one of the next major moves of the Spirit will be a freeing of women into their destiny and calling to co-labor alongside men for the sake of the Kingdom. I hope and pray the church responds to the Holy Spirit’s lead and direction in this.

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