The hemiplegic body of Christ

When I worked as a doctor, there was a diagnosis I never liked to make. “Hemiplegic” is the medical term used to describe paralysis down one side of the body that occurs, for example, after a stroke. If the condition was severe, it was potentially a devastating diagnosis for the person involved, who had to come to terms with the fact that they would be weak and unable to fully function and might have to depend on the help of others for the rest of their lives.

The body of Christ in the West is hemiplegic. Half of it–the female half–is significantly weakened, if not totally paralyzed. The whole body of Christ is suffering as a result.

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 Dr. Cho’s church of more than 800,000 in Korea, two-thirds of the associate pastors are women, and 47,000 of the 50,000 cell group leaders are women too.
  • 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? We do not have to remain hemiplegic!

Do you have examples of what God is doing through women either here or in other nations?

Photo credit: Vici-Jane


26 thoughts on “The hemiplegic body of Christ”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I’ve heard many American Christians praise the growth of Christianity in Asian countries. I wonder how many of them know that so much of it has depended on the efforts of female leaders.

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  2. Thank you for this. I have a call of God on my life and recently have been flooded with discouragement over the suppression of women in ministry. This is such an encouragement.

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      1. What if that “sense” does not conform to the written will of God? Should we ignore plain Biblical teaching to follow what we perceive to be our calling?

        O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. – Jeremiah 10:23

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      2. I’m guessing that you are picking out a couple of Scriptures (like 1 Tim 2 or 1 Corinthians 14) to make this statement. There are more Scriptures to support slavery than there are to suppress women, and yet I doubt you would encourage the reinstatement of slavery. The general tenor of the Scriptures is towards liberty and freedom

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      3. I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. To say that God has called me to do something that contradicts His inspired Word would put me in a very dangerous position.

        Instead we are to obey and act by faith (Hebrews 11:7-10). Doing something “by faith” is doing it according to the will of God.

        So what then, am I to say that God has “suppressed” women? This again would put me into the dangerous position of questioning God. This is an issue of roles and submission. Since the creation, God gave men certain roles as He did to women. Am I to question God on the role He has given me? Of course not! With humility and in complete subjection, I submit to His will in the hope that He find me worthy (1 Corinthians 9:27).

        In 1 Timothy 2, Paul states why God has placed guidelines on the roles of women. 1. God created Adam first and 2. It was Eve who was deceived. Then Paul states that if a woman submits to the will of God in faith, love, sanctity with all self-restraint, they will be saved. This is, of course, true of all people.

        Consider that we all must submit to the will of God. Men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance, showing to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say (Titus 2).

        Again, can I say that I’m being suppressed because I have been given restrictions to my conduct? “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?” (Romans 9:20)

        Slavery was not encouraged in the New Testament. Slave trading was condemned as a sin (1 Timothy 1:10). And yet the Bible’s purpose was not social change. When the Bible was written, slavery was common (although it was often not the same as the slavery in America). The Bible did, however, give instruction on how a slave should be treated (Titus 2). Paul pleaded to Philemon that a slave he owned be freed in Philemon chapter 1.

        Furthermore, I believe the principles laid out in the New Testament helped abolish slavery in many parts of the world, including our own country.

        It is unfathomable to me personally to compare the guidelines given to women by God in His Holy Word to slavery. Women are to be to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good. Young women are encouraged to love their husbands, love their children, be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored (Titus 2).

        Their roles are vitally important to God and the spreading of the gospel. In fact, we are to honor women in their roles (1 Peter 3:7). However, their roles are not the same as the roles given to men. Again, it is no less important. We are all equal heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).

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      4. David, Would you be willing to read a book by a theologian who has studied these areas in far greater depth than either you or me? Read it with an open mind?

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  3. I run into a lot of people who don’t understand the mishandled scriptures in the New Testament that seem to prohibit women from exercising public leadership. What resources do you recommend to help clear up this confusion?

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    1. Hannah, the best theological book I know of is by Philip B Payne called Man and Woman: One in Christ. It’s a very comprehensive and academic look at this topic. Jon Zens has written one too called What’s with Paul and Women. It’s a simpler read if that’s what you prefer.

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      1. I’ve read Jon’s book, and it was definitely helpful. But the first one you mentioned sounds like more of what I’m looking for. Thanks!

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  4. Jesus’ birth reminds me that when the Baby was taken to the Temple for the ritual post-partum purification of Mary, the family was met by two Prophets: Simeon and Anna who prophesied over Jesus. In other words: 50% of the prophets who prophesied over Him were women! !

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  5. Actually, I think there are a great many women who are doing wonderful work for the gospel. They’re just not paid or recognized for it. Because…. D’uhmerika. Where women are still seriously encouraged to stay at home and raise children. Or they are not, in all seriousness, considered to be “good” Christian wives and mothers.

    I do not see any other country in the whole world where the Bible is taken so literally, to the point where it’s a big joke. What must other nations think of us?

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    1. Isn’t the Bible to be taken literally?

      Are we not to believe in a literal God, a literal Savior, a literal heaven, and a literal hell?

      Paul warned the Corinthians that even satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) hoping to lead souls astray. What may appear right, “godly”, or even obvious in our eyes may in fact be a manner by which souls can be led astray.

      God has ordained an order. We can either choose to submit to that order or decide that God didn’t really mean what He said. Both choices carry serious and eternal consequences.

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      1. Let me clarify my point.

        You stated, “I do not see any other country in the whole world where the Bible is taken so literally”

        This is simply not the case as I know of many churches outside of the US that take the Bible very literally. But more importantly, the Word of God is absolutely to be taken literally. He “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3)

        The Word gives us all things that pertain to eternal life and godliness. We receive these things through obedience. If the Bible can’t be taken literally, how are we to obey?

        Consider the words of the Psalmist: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

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      2. The Jews didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. Verse 52 reads, “Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

        Jesus goes on in verses 55-57 of John chapter 6 stating that those that eat His flesh and drink His blood will have eternal life.

        The disciples of Jesus were confused as well saying in verse 60, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”

        Jesus, aware of the confusing, asks His disciples if His statement would cause them to stumble (John 6:61). He then goes on to fully and completely explain what eating His flesh and drinking His blood meant in verse 63 when He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

        His words are His flesh and His blood. We can’t simply hear them. Instead, we are to ingest His words as though they are the sustenance by which we live. We should live and breath His words because they are life.

        Remember also that His words are not confined to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His words are the entirety of the New Testament (Luke 10:16).

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      3. Aren’t we told to have a ready answer in 1 Peter 3:15? We’re also told to give the answer in gentleness and respect, which I hope I have.

        However, if I’m in error, I also appreciate it when I’m challenged.

        Here’s my point: If my understanding 1. can be supported with chapter and verse throughout the Bible, 2. does not contradict ANYTHING in Scripture, and 3. conforms to examples given throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, can we say that MY understand is actually sound doctrine?

        How else are we to heed the command of Paul when he wrote, “discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10)?

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  6. Until the Body of Christ repents of its fornication with the hierarchical leadership structure, we will never see the organic structure that God has ordained. That organic structure includes all of the Royal Priesthood, male and female.

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