Don’t Should On Me

There are two different conversations in this podcast. The first is about not shoulding on ourselves or others, spawned by a t-shirt that were given to Brad and Wayne. That doesn't mean there aren't wonderful ways to live that God has revealed, but that conformity through obligation is a very different process than God uses to transform us into his image. The second responds to some blog comments about the twisting of certain Scriptures to validate viewing women as second-class citizens and to justify husbands manipulating them for their own convenience or even abusing them. Jesus regarded women as full participants in his kingdom and overturned society's norms to do so. How can we do any less?

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  1. Hey, I see that t-shirt. I just want to know if you two have left the house with the t-shirts on….. HA

  2. Thanks for the inspiring banter and the LOL’s. I was reminded of this from Tozer:

    “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same [tuning] fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” A. W. Tozer, ‘The Pursuit of God’ (1948), p. 97

  3. Thanks for another thought provoking podcast. Like some others who’ve written to you…I come from a very strong “Calvinist” background. Father has been transforming me gently and slowly over the period of 2 1/2 years. As a woman I was sometimes directed (sometimes subtly and other times very bluntly) to “know your place” or to be quiet. I am learning that there is no “one size fits all” response to such men. Your sharing of your stories of conversations in different contexts and your own learning over the years has given more “food for thought” and it’s always encouraging to know that my confidence will grow as Jesus’ love becomes more of a reality to me. Blessings.

  4. The conversation brought this to mind

    Belief provides answers to people’s questions, so as to find assurance and provide a solution; so as to fashion for themselves a system of beliefs. Faith is not to supply us with explanation, but to get us to listen to God’s questions. Belief talks and talks, it wallows in words, it takes the initiative to explain. Faith listens patiently. Belief brings people together, joined in the same institutional current, oriented toward the same object of belief, sharing the same ideas, following the same rituals, enrolled in the same organization, speaking the same language. It has the social benefit of consensus and identification. Faith individualizes. It has to do with a personal relationship with God in which God confers each with unique identity. Faith separates people and makes them unique, set apart for what God wants to do. Belief is antithetical to doubt. It is the basis of fundamentalism; people unbending in their convictions, intolerant of any deviation. In their articulation of belief they press rigor and absolutism to their limits. Belief is rapidly transformed into passwords, rites, orthodoxy. Faith recognizes doubt. Faith puts to the test every element of my life and society. It leads me to question all my certitudes, all my moralities, beliefs, and policies. It forbids me to attach ultimate significance to any expression of human activity.

    ~Jacques Ellul, Living Faith.

  5. And when the conversation turned to the way women are too often treated by men….this beautiful and at the same time biting observation came to mind.

    “I still crave the extravagant gesture, the woman spilling a year’s wages on the feet of Jesus, the rarest perfume, washing his feet and drying them with her hair, a gesture so sensual it left the other men in the room paralyzed with criticism, analysis, theoretical moral concern – for what – the poor? Or was it just misdirected outrage in light of the glaring poverty of their own imaginations?”
    ~ Linford Detweiler ~

  6. Kent, thank you so much for posting the quote by Jacques Ellul. It led me on a brief adventure to share it on a unrelated forum and I also rediscovered this quote from him:

    “Am I a pessimist? Not at all. I am convinced that the history of the human race, no matter how tragic, will ultimately lead to the Kingdom of God. I am convinced that all the works of humankind will be reintegrated in the work of God, and that each of us, no matter how sinful, will ultimately be saved. Salvation is universal because the love of God encompasses all. If God is God and if God is love, nothing is outside the love of God.” Jaques Ellul (1912-1994) Professor at the University of Bordeaux

  7. My wife and I have been married for nearly 15 years. Most of those years have been plagued by baggage I have carried all my life as an adult child of alcoholics. These issues were exacerbated when we became actively involved in systematic religion. At first we were involved with a more liberal tradition. Even then I was quick to latch on to the opportunities to misinterpret scripture to allow me to justify manipulative and controlling behavior. Then we moved into a much more conservative, evangelical/charismatic tradition which gave lots of lip service to equality while frontally teaching male dominated hierarchical order in marriages. (One of the pastors favorite saying was “Some of God’s best men are women”, with a slight chuckle.) We have since left systematic religion to enjoy a loving relationship with Father as we participate in the journey of God conforming us into his image a little more each day, but that is another story! At one point I was even convinced by this pastor and others that I was called to ministry (thank God I only start Seminary, but never finished). Now, as the difficulties in our marriage grew I sought Godly council from the pastor and a friend who was a professional “Christian Counselor”. This council was about some specific issues regarding money and our challenges we were having with my step son. Both men were very fervent in their response on both issues. I received statements like “Cliff, you have got to get control of your family, and be the man God has called you to be”, or “Cliff, you have allowed yourself to be emasculated (castrated) by your wife. You have got to stand up and start wearing the pants in your family.” or “Cliff, God has called you to ministry, and that means he has called your wife too. The Word of God, clearly says that if you cannot control your family you run the risk of being disqualified for ministry.”, or (and get this one – it really ticked my wife off!) “Cliff, you are battling a spirit of Jezebel. You must stand up and rebuke it in faith.” Now I believe all these statements were well meaning and genuine, albeit misguided. Neither of these men realized that, due to my already over-bearing personality and the issues I had as an adult child of alcoholics, they were arming a juggernaut of aggression and dominance. In essence, I was going to try to prune very delicate and tender young flower and these men handed me a chain saw! They were both so fervent and so adamant and forceful in their opinions that I was emboldened beyond reason. The pep rally with the band and the cheerleaders had this player ready to courageously take the field and win! The problem was this was not a “win or lose”, but “love and lead”. I did not understand, for example, that in first Timothy where we are told that church leaders must be able to “control” their families or risk being disqualified, the word translated control or rule is the Greek proïst?mi meaning: to set or place in a balance or to stand by or near (with the nuance of holding up or supporting). A better translation here might be to influence or to encourage. I took this council as a directive to be stubborn and stand my ground, not budging or giving in. Also, because of my professional background and training I inherently begin to “manage” the situation – I started treating my wife as an autocratic manager treats an insubordinate employee – I was trying to manage my wife. Needless to say, our marital difficulties worsened exponentially! As my heart was heavy know my marriage was falling apart, I begin spending much time in prayer begging God for wisdom. God answered that prayer and revealed to me the damage I was causing and that what I should do is encourage and love my wife. I wrote my wife a letter confiding in her about all I had been told and that as a result I had tried to rule over her wielding my “God given authority as her husband” as a club of dominance and oppression against my precious wife whom I should defend and protect. I know now that God forgave my wrong direction here even before I had done it. I begged my wife for forgiveness, telling her that I knew what a jerk I had been. She forgave me, and although our marriage is still not perfect, God’s working on it! Men, regardless of what any pastor or anyone else ever tells you – your wife is not your employee, not your slave, and not your servant, but she is your wife, your partner, and your blessed gift! Love and Cherish her. Most of all respect her as your heavenly father respects you by not forcing his will on you but rather inviting you into a loving relationship with him.

  8. Thank you Cliff, for sharing all you did. Reading it was helpful to me in many ways. As a flower who has encountered the chain saw I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of heavy handed management. I know change is possible in these situations as your post testifies to. Thank you Jesus.
    There are times when it doesn’t change, maybe the saw runs a little more quietly but it is very hard to
    feel safe when you know it’s always there in the background. Or even when it turns off at times and then out of the blue starts up again.
    Fortunately this flower survived, but there was a long period of time I didn’t even look, and certainly did not feel, like a flower. Running to Jesus for my life, so to speak, was the only and the best thing I knew to do. He loved me back to life.
    The chain saw was always in the background and even though the oppression and suppression lessened some it was impossible to live that way. I had one person in my life who knew what was going on, and understood things from my perspective and she was a gift from God. It is a very long story what happened, but when you feel you are going to be put to death spiritually (seriously, I am not exaggerating) you can either die, or find a way to live and thrive.
    The system didn’t change or help me in any way. It didn’t want me the way I was. Father was calling me in love toward Himself and showed me how He wanted me to live and to be. It’s not a fairy tale story ending, there was a lot of “hell in the hallway” until I really saw the doors to freedom and life that I needed to go through. I am thriving spiritually now (thriving not as in it’s perfect or easy but I now have life in me that I and Father protects and nourishes) and yet still come to find deep wounds that need healing, and had some severe flashbacks as I was listening to Wayne and Brad talk.
    As Cliff said at the end of his post, “your heavenly father respects you by not forcing his will on you but rather inviting you into a loving relationship with him” and for me, seeing this and accepting my Father’s invitation has saved me.

  9. Great sharing, Cliff, of honesty and reality. So blessed your wife heard your apology and you two are still working on finding your way into the fullness of a life shared in love and partnership. Your last few sentences are an incredible conclusion. Thanks for that. And remember that no marriage is perfect, they are all a work in progress until he comes…

  10. I sure enjoyed this conversation! Just this week I feel like God has been saying to me (regarding relationships/issues) “I can do it all by Myself!”!!! I have such a strong drive to fix things, to be careful to not hinder God, to let His love flow through me… and now it is becoming clear to me that I am still seeing myself as too important if I think I can stop the person next to me from hearing God or from feeling loved by Him, by my own failure. He’s bigger than that.
    I hope this isn’t too long of a story… There is a movie called “Big Fat Liar” that has a scene in it where a movie is being made. The lead role is played by a chicken, which is supposed to be a crime fighting cop. The supporting role complains that his performance isn’t good because “I’m not getting anything from the chicken! ”
    Since the Bible says that a husband is supposed to love his wife like Christ does the church/bride, and “we love Him because He first loved us”, my logic takes that to mean that a husband spiritually should lead. It is my personal longing, for my husband to have a thriving relationship with Christ, that he knows what it is to live loved, and I’d sure like to experience the trickle down effect of that in an abiding, daily sort of way, like we have in spurts. Thanks to some of your conversation on here somewhere, I have some phrases stuck in my head…one being something about “owning our own journey” with God.
    I have in times past realized in myriad ways, that I need to let God work in His own way , uniquely – like He is so fantastic at doing with me! – with my loved one/s. My default setting has been such a crappy one! To strive harder to let the love of God flow through me, and I’m starting to see that I’m setting myself up! The spirit of fear (which He has NOT given us!) would say to me… try harder, be more careful… etc.
    To go back to the movie/chicken… I quite clearly got the message from God saying – “I am in the lead role….AND I AM NOT A CHICKEN! Oh, but I’m loving that thought! 🙂 My sister has also been saying to me, that we need to just be the child that does what the parent says… AND THEN GO PLAY!
    So here’s to all of us, the “church” :), just like at the wedding in Cana – Whatever He says to you, that do! No more, no less. His, is the bringing “it” to pass.

  11. I especially appreciated your podcast this week. I have tried most of my life (54 years)to live trying to please others. Especially church leaders put expectations on people in their congregations. I has been a struggle to try to overcome this. Also, I have personally experienced, as a woman in the church, the verses on submission being used to mistreat women. Some men have used those verses as an excuse to be self-centered, demanding , and abusive to women. I have had a hard time trying to get my husband to see this. Things are much better now but we have struggled for many years with these issues. We have not attended a church for 10 years and have searched for simple fellowship with others in the body of Christ. Thanks for your pod casts.

  12. Carol, your welcome. Some additional comments after reading your post – As I said, God continues to work in our marriage, but my wife too has experienced the inability to trust anything I say because she often hears the chainsaw in the background, even though it’s really not there! That’s fair and I must own the damage I have done – and your husband will have to own what he has done as well or you have every right not to trust him. Just as respect is part of love, so too is trust. I have to be patient and wait for my wife to be able to trust me again. I am reminded of Wayne’s analogy from “Transitions” about forgiveness where the man keeps coming to your door at 3:00 pm each day with a ball bat, whacks you with it and then apologizes. You may forgive him, but you would be stupid to keep coming to the door. The only way I can help my wife trust me again is by now coming to the door repeatedly with flowers rather than a ball bat. Eventually, she may start come to the door again. By continuing to love her unconditionally, honor and cherish her, in time I believe that God’s will can be done on Earth as it is in heaven in my marriage! For that to happen Father is working to conform me to be more in his image – and – he is working in my wife to conform her to be more in his image. In his timing (which is always best), my wife and I will be able to enjoy all God has for us in our marriage and our life. It’s a process but Jesus really enjoys loving us through that process!

  13. Thank you Carol and Cliff for the chainsaw analogy and your crystal clear commentary. Looking back quite a few years ago, it seems very odd that the top down chainsaw model in the IC that harped on Hebrews 13:17 and Ephesians 5:22 conveniently left off the third leg of that teaching tool, Ephesians 5:21. That must be why it never stood up in real life conditions. It was unbalanced and top heavy.

    And then later on in life, I learn that the original Greek that has been translated “submit” in the English (Ephesians 5:21) is best translated and understood with this sentence, “Yield the right of way to one another with an open heart that is willing to be persuaded”.

    Easier said than done but what a difference it can make, especially in marriage when two agree to yield to one another. It can’t be forced and it is voluntary to be sure, more of a get to and not a got to. There are still some ups and downs to navigate and it does take time for emotional wounds to heal but after many years the ups seem to out number the downs. And for that, we are very thankful.

  14. Dave, your welcome! Glad to hear my portion of the dialogue was clear – I tend to ramble if I’m not careful. I also notice I need to proof read more 😉

    After reading Carol’s and Wayne’s comments, I went back and reread my original post. The events of that post are about 2 years old. Even now, When I read my post tears still well up in my eyes to this day when I consider the verbal and emotional brutality with which I accosted my beautiful, loving, precious wife. But more importantly, that shame is immediately replaced with tears of gratitude and immense thankfulness for the immeasurable mercy and grace that Father has poured out on me, and at the miracle he has authored in our marriage!

    Final editorial comment: I often hear pastors quoting with disgust, the statistics on divorce rates among professing Christians. Reportedly, the D-rate among Christians is no different than that of the general population. Typically, the message then shames Christians for being such “sinners”! Due to the abuse and manipulation that is commonly taught in systematic Western Christian traditions, its a wonder the D-rate among Christians isn’t double that of the general population!

  15. Just had another thought – Sorry!

    Guess the reason the D-rate among Christians isn’t double that of the general population is because the countra-message that is taught is “You better not seek to divorce that abusive tyrant we have created or you’ll go to Hell!” Okay – I’ll shut up now 🙂

  16. Everyone is being so open here – this thrills me and yet I know it’s not always easy to be so open.
    I don’t think Cliff rambled, but I do wonder if I do! When you want to express something so deep the words are not always easy to choose, and usually these topics represent years and years of difficulty and what part of the saga to share isn’t always clear in one’s mind.
    I wrote my post from the view point of marriage, but also some from the experience of particular churches I was involved in. Both has some serious effects on me, and tons of things to work through with God.
    I kept it vague when I wrote about the doors God had me walk through. Hey, this is online and I am a very private person! But in all fairness, due to some more very open comments…I will share a little more. My marriage did not survive and it was NOT ONLY because of what I wrote about. There were a number of serious problems, and I absolutely contributed to some of those. If the chainsaw had been the only problem and IF that chainsaw had ceased, there were still many things that we couldn’t work out. If the other things had gotten worked out and it was only the chainsaw situation, I don’t think I would have made it. Know I wouldn’t have the way things were. Yeah, there’s been shame being a Christian who is divorced, but only God knows the story behind it and He is what matters. I grieve a lot about it, but I know that God is not condemning. Cliff, you talked about your wife needing to learn to trust you again. Everyone goes through healing and restoration in a different way and on time table. For me, I have had a lot of healing, but it will never totally be over…it’s ongoing, and the FIRST place the healing began was to truly see the character and attitude of a loving God toward me. It was when I began to see how he saw me, and that HE is safe and not demanding and controlling that glorious freedom began. I also went through a time or repentance that, even thought “they” (Husband, church, pastors) were saying all sorts of false things about God, it was ME who believed it. I ran from God so fast for a while because of wrong teaching, and I had to come to the place that I realized it was wrong. And then I saw that it really came down to God and me. Not God and them. At first, it felt scary, but I opened up to Him and His love and said, God I have not believed or known the truth about YOU, I was the one who ran from you, and I am coming to you to get this worked out between you and I. At that point, the others (people, teachings) didn’t matter as much and the focus was on what was going on with God. Trusting God seems to have to come before we can begin trust people. And there again, it takes time.

  17. LOL, yes indeed Cliff, when all else fails, drop the H bomb. Been there, done that and had the T-shirt, boots and the shovel. All of that is gone now, thank you God. . . 🙂

  18. Carol, your posts are much appreciated. I do relate to being a private person. That may be why I use pics and quotes so much to convey my heart. In person, a man of few words until I really get to know and be known. This takes time. As far as our failures in life, well. . .as far as the east is from the west. . .they have been removed. In terms of trust, and I have done the word study homework, it is reserved for God. I trust Him. I don’t even trust myself. May sound weird, but it keeps my boat afloat.

  19. Totally get you there Dave, about trust and God. He is the ONLY one totally trustworthy. We can be….some, and very imperfectly. That’s why I posted that in the end it was all about me and God what and was is going on with our relationship.
    As far as your quotes and pics on your posts, they tell a story, and convey a message as much as rambling writings (which I can do). And, being a creative type writer, I can tend to write in allegories, metaphors, and with word pictures…it can make it easier to share.
    But, I’ve taken the plunge here and am attempting to say in plain English what is on my heart. I hit the submit button and cringe for a few seconds. 😉

  20. Another thought, and because Cliff brought up trust initially – II am beginning to have some people in my life I can trust – not like God, but trust is beginning. It starts and ends with God though, as there are inevitably expectations that aren’t met, or someone, or me, messing something up. Jesus is helping me with people, to have more confidence with them, and to do it in the face of it all being very imperfect. I can do that because I know the Rock of my Salvation is holding things together on His part. (Hit submit…I can do it!)

  21. Janelle, I like your comment “God work in His own way , uniquely – like He is so fantastic at doing with me!” Oh yes! He is so very individual and unique with each of us!!!

  22. I know that cringe feeling Carol. But mine has to do with my goal to not offend anyone. As hard as I try not to, there are still some who get offended.

    Janelle, I raise a glass to your wedding in Cana toast. Here’s to the Bride and the Groom. 🙂

  23. A quick note to thank everyone for sharing so openly. I’ve been reading through the posts and although we’ll probably never meet in person, there’s been tremendous encouragement. Right now there’s a lot of “alone” time with Father. There are ppl He’s brought across my path and most often they’re ppl who are deeply struggling and I’m able to point them to Him. Right now there are times it feels like I have nobody I can deeply connect with and have conversations about “things that matter”. I also have seen one of Wayne’s posts where he shared with another person feeling this way “there seems to be a process where Jesus wants us all to Himself for a while”. I’m slowly grasping that and learning more and more to respond by running to Him. Truly these changes are so tremendous that only He could bring them about : ) Just to let you know that as you share your stories there can be encouragement to ppl you’ve never met! : ) Blessings

  24. Sue – I totally understand what you shared about wanting to connect with people about “things that matter” and there are times where Jesus wants us to just be with with Him. I can fight, kick and yell so to speak about being alone too much. On the other hand, it is these alone times that I am really connecting with my Father and there is nothing better. Maybe it’s a launching place for some more “out there” connections. He knows what He preparing us for, and I believe that the times we spend just with Him are the best of all, no matter what other connections that may lead to.
    As you said, Sue, the stories shared here are an encouragement to those reading – and what is shared here many times is not heard elsewhere. Everyone’s sharings and posts are important!

  25. I concur that this was another great podcast. Thank you for making the distinctions between manipulating others to do what you think they should do and the difference of agreeing to work together on projects. Your concluding comments on women centers on this last distinction. I agree with Wayne that Paul was speaking of specific women in their gatherings. But we impose that specific comment on the informal fellowship to the organized gatherings of today. When the Bible speaks of God ordaining governments, it does not mean how governments run but the freedom given to us to organize ourselves to work together as we please. Can two walk together unless they agree applies not only us (Israel at the time of Amos) and God, but man and wife in marriage, believers assembling together, and civil governments with their citizens.

    As the God Journey has said (in different ways) before, the kingdom of God is not hierarchical, with top down control, but is lateral in a central (Christ the center of each heart) voluntary response of love. There is no head but Christ. Elders are merely mature followers of Christ who allow the life of Christ to live through them. As such it makes no difference if it is a woman or a man. But the heated arguments are based on the worldly hierarchical concept of the kingdom as applied in gatherings, whether in organized home gatherings or professional clergy systems.

    To escape this confusion means to remove the hierarchical paradigm in the gatherings.

  26. Sue, when you talk about a lot of alone time with Father, I understand. I know that He wants some alone time with me but I kick and fight to avoid Him. I don’t know why. I think that I still look to people to fill the emptiness that only He can fill. I also am not able to have deep connections with people and have good conversations about our relationship with God and I think that is because Gods wants me for Himself for a time. I have some real trust issues and I know He wants to express His love to me in a real way, not with all the religious talk I have been fed all my life. I have recently left a church that was very condemning and manipulative. I went to another church, then to a house church but it just didn’t click. I realize that I need some rest with my Father. I hear you Carol about fighting and kicking and yelling so to speak about being alone so much. I just haven’t connected to the Father yet, probably because I am fighting Him still.

  27. As a divorced and remarried man, I resonate with most of the comments here. I’ve had the orders to “rev up the chainsaw” once or twice from church. But one can only “manage a household” so much when the other parties buck any management but their own, and my first marriage failed.
    With that as context, my second wife and I have had a lot of talks about this dynamic. The first time she mentioned that she aimed to “submit” to me as my wife, I nearly had a meltdown precisely because I didn’t know how to deal with it! I finally had to sit her down and explain that my idea of “submission” meant that I was going to take her wants and needs fully into consideration before I made decisions on ANYTHING. It’s a learning curve for both of us.

  28. I am getting massively shoulded on.

    I have a friend. He’s affiliated with a denomination that I won’t name. He is currently very concerned about God’s Law and is railing about Saturday Sabbath practice, unclean meats etc.

    Now, I would like to not approach this with the typical reaction, shouting “legalism!” or trying to disprove that the laws apply to Christians today bla bla bla. Let’s just say he’s right, that I’m sinning when I eat a pork taco. How do I carry on in the relationship with this friend, if I continue to eat said pork tacos?

    • Kiel–if you look at some of Paul’s epistles, he advises simply to enjoy your tacos when your friend isn’t around to rant on you. Papa has bigger fish to fry than pork or no pork. Enjoy your freedom and quietly live it out, hoping your friend will get the picture.

  29. Tina – I have a close relationship with God, but I think there is still resistance in me that He can really totally meet my deepest needs. I struggle with wanting friends, and have a few, but recently a few have abruptly walked out of my life and I feel very sad. Than I wonder if I am not trusting God enough, and yet I know He made us for Himself but for relationships also. Sometimes there are no easy answers. But there is always God. Enjoy your time resting with your Father!
    Mike – God will certainly be with you on your learning curve! It does a take learning and growing process.
    Kiel – Maybe you can still be his friend, but with some changes. I would spend some time asking the Lord for wisdom and how to proceed. Relationships need wisdom only God has I am sure!

  30. Sue again…thanks for the encouraging words Tina and Carol. Yes there seems to be a process where I would like to tell God “how to fix this”. His focus right now is that I leave it in His hands and watch with how much insight and wisdom He can work things out that I find myself overwhelmed with. I confess that often a “default” position of mine has been to equate His love with things going smoothly for me. Learning that His love is bigger than that and is there even when things “fall apart” around me has been a real change of heart for me. I am watching to see how Father builds this relationship with me and how He will knit together other relationships.

  31. Thanks Mike.

    I’ve been reading Galatians and Ephesians, did you have any specific passage in mind? I’d love to gird this with some scripture.

  32. Thank you Hendrik I needed that. The verse that sealed the deal was “for this end” Christ came.

  33. Keil and Rick,

    This friend must be dealt with gently , the Church he attends and the beliefs that work for him , are his . Bless him in your prayers , don’t argue the point , his views are his views. Pray for him . But most of all Set Boundaries for your friendship . Just don’t go there. He will respect you for it!

    Blessings, Stephen

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