Let’s keep fixing things–with Part 2 with Philip Payne!
This is an exciting week at Bare Marriage! First, our Fixed it for You book launches–30 terrible things that evangelical authors and pastors have said, “fixed” for you (including 10 brand new, never before seen ones), along with discussion questions and discernment tools so you can learn to identify toxic stuff.
And you can bring these conversations home!
It’s available now–and it’s #1 in Christian marriage on Kindle!
We decided to dedicate today’s podcast to fixing things.
Philip Payne is joining us to wrap up the interview we started last week, looking at his book The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood. And then my friend and fellow blogger Ngina Otiende joins us to talk about the process of changing your mind and fixing your public platform when you’ve said things you disagreed with.
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 “Fixed it for you” book is here!
2:00 Philip Payne on 1 Peter 3
9:30 The gospels and Bible translation work
16:50 Ngina’s journey over the years
24:00 Fixing conversations
32:30 Modeling life after Christ
45:00 Closing thoughts and ‘Fixed it for you’ example
Philip Payne brings 1 Peter 3 into a new perspective!
He’s finishing up his interview with us, and honestly, his book The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood is a must-have. He is so scholarly, but he writes in a way that is so accessible.
I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy, and I highly recommend pre-ordering the book now (because you’ll forget by the time it launches, and it’s an important book!). Plus the more people pre-order, the lower the price will go!
The Ten Principles Philip has learned in his work
Philip believes this ten principles are key to proper understanding of gender:
- Male and Female are equally created in God’s image
- Male and female equally received the creation mandate and blessing
- Redeemed men and women are equally “in Christ”
- Church leadership as service, not authority
- Mutual submission in the church and home
- The oneness of the body of Christ
- The priesthood of all believers
- The Spirit gifts all believers
- Liberty in Christ
- In Christ, male and female are equal
It’s so hard to believe that so many disagree with these things! But they do, even if they won’t say it out loud.
I had so many people email me after Part 1 of our podcast saying that they’re so excited that there is support in the original Greek and the original context for seeing women as whole people. If you want to continue that learning, please pick up his book!
We’re allowed to fix ourselves!– with Ngina Otiende
Rebecca and I also had a great conversation with Ngina, who started out, like me, blogging about marriage and how to make it great.
But, like me, over the years she realized that much of what she was teaching was fundamentally flawed. We were ignoring the real harm that was being done to women especially by talking about staying committed no matter what, and how prayer and submission was what really made a marriage work. We realized that you can’t do that without two people trying, and that God cared more about you than He did your marriage.
I love Ngina’s journey, and if you don’t follow her on social media, you’re missing the amazing graphics and quotes she pulls out and shares constantly.
Things Mentioned in the Podcast
- Philip Payne’s book: Pre-order The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood, and listen to last week’s podcast with Part 1
- My new book: Fixed It for You!
- Our book The Great Sex Rescue
- Ngina’s website Intentional Today, plus her Facebook and Instagram
What do you think? Are things changing? Do you see more fixing being done? How can we all be part of it? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila: Okay. I have to get your take on a particular verse because this is something that we run into quite a bit in some of the work that we do is the 1 Peter 3 passage being used to tell women that they must be silent with their husbands, win them without words. So if they have a problem in marriage, they should not speak up and how women are the weaker vessel and just used very poorly I think. But you make a very interesting case that 1 Peter 3:7 actually tells husbands to submit to their wives.
Philip: I do.
Sheila: So I would love to hear that.
Philip: I’ll tell you what. In Greek, there’s a convention that you can set up a pattern, and you use the word similarly. And then in those cases, similarly implies adding the missing verb. So for instance, in 1 Timothy chapter 3, you have overseers must be and then it gives the qualifications. And then verse 8 says, “Deacons similarly.” And it doesn’t repeat the verb must be. It says, “Deacons similarly,” and then gives four qualifications. One, two, three, four. Now interestingly, in verse 11, he says, “The women deacons similarly must be.” And he lists the same for qualifications in the same order. Slightly different wording but the same order and the same qualifications. And in both cases, the word similarly implies similarly deacons must be, similarly deacons who are women must be. Now here in 1 Peter, we have a series of imperatives to submit. 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit to the governmental authorities.” Then verse 18, again, you have the submit to this. 1 Peter 3:1, submit. 1 Peter 3:7, “Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands.” And then it appears—that’s in verse 1. Verse 7, “Husbands, in the same way,”—and it doesn’t repeat the verb, but it doesn’t have because he’s just given a series of three submit, submit, submit imperatives. “Husbands, in the same way, to your own wives. Submit to your own wives dwelling together wisely, recognizing her as a weaker, feminine, precious vessel, and assign them the honor they deserve as coheirs with you of the gracious gift of life so that your prayers will not be hindered.” So you have this coheir. This is a financial term. Someone who inherits the property. And so in the context of women being affirmed as coheirs—and, by the way, heir is—it’s an authority term.
Philip: And I want to make a little aside here because I think it’s really important. When Paul talks, he almost never—and I think he never says, “Seize your right.” He’s not focusing on rights. These are my rights and my power. He’s not telling the overseers have intrinsic power. He’s not saying that we should focus on rights. But when someone is oppressing another group and taking away their rights, Paul is—he’s like a Rottweiler. He goes after them and defends their rights. So just because Paul does not talk a lot about claim your rights, it doesn’t mean that Paul is not concerned about rights. He will defend those rights. But the vision Paul has for leadership is a servant leadership. That’s why the deacon is called a deacon because that’s the word for servant. And so yes. Phoebe was a servant of the church, and it was a humble position of the servant that Jesus took in washing the feet of the disciples. And he says, “You should not be like the Gentiles, whose leaders lord it over them. Rather you should be a servant.” I heard someone state that because some egalitarians talk about rights they’re not being biblical because this equality and having equal rights that’s not biblical. Well, it’s true that the leadership should have a servant humble attitude, and the focus is not on my rights. But it’s not because rights aren’t important, and it’s not because we should let other people take away other people’s rights. It’s because our model should be Christ and servant like. And in this case, when he calls husbands to submit to their wives, it’s the same call he’s making to all believers. Submit to one another. Marriages thrive when the partners want to make the other happy. They listen to the partner. They submit to the other desires. And when they’re both submitting, saying, “No. No. No. This is better for you,” well, they love each other. And it nurtures the relationship. When someone comes in a relationship and says, “I am the head of the house. You must do what I say,” that is not nurturing a relationship. It’s undermining the relationship. So I think that’s really important.
Philip: Now it’s interesting that the passage in 1 Peter 3—read the part before about caring for one another and confronting one another. So that there’s this interaction where there’s mutual involvement, caring, developing, putting oneself at the service of others that is the context for this relationship, husbands and wives. And in that context, it’s not odd that Paul would say, “Wives, submit to your husbands,” and then, “Similarly, husbands submit to your wives.”
Sheila: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I love that. We’re going to have to wrap it up. But I do want to mention just a few other things about your book just so that people know. So I haven’t asked much about the Gospels just because those don’t tend to be the passages that people use to try to limit women. But you do go into a lot of detail on how the way Jesus treated women should inform how we see women. So I really appreciated those sections of the book. I wish I could have gotten into the story about how you actually influenced the NIV to change their translation of 1 Timothy 2. That’s an amazing story. And so everybody, go get The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood. You can preorder it now. But Philip Payne is a big deal. I am really honored that you have been on our podcast because you have done so much work on this over your life. And you are such a respected scholar to the extent that the NIV committee actually did change how they translated 1 Timothy 2:12. I really appreciate that. I do want to throw this last question out at you, and we only have about three minutes. So you’re going to have to be quick. But how do you personally handle it when so many people accuse you of not being biblical and of not following God but of just using your bias to look at the Bible because you’re not listening to the pure reading of Scripture? I hear that all the time. And I’m just curious. Does that affect—how does that affect you? How do you not let that get to you?
Philip: Well, I say, “If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”
Sheila: I love that. I love that.
Philip: He was criticized plenty. And because I began where most of those critics are coming from and because I was in that position myself, I understand it. I understand what it’s like when you’ve grown up in an environment and you’ve heard something. And you thought that that was the truth. That’s why I almost stood up and said, “That’s not true.” Well, because I’ve been there and I’ve done the same thing myself, I can’t really criticize them for going through the same—I feel like when Paul says that I was a man of shubris. And I was persecuting the church. Well, when he got persecuted by these Jewish authorities, he had done the same thing and worse. And so I guess I can be sympathetic. But I’m encouraged because every complementarian who has criticized me in print has changed their own view regarding some of the things that I taught. So for instance, Thomas Schreiner—he wrote a blistering critique of my work. And it was really unfair. 81 times, he said, Payne teaches this when I didn’t teach that. 10 times he said I teach something when I taught the opposite. But on 10 other issues, he said Payne is right that—calling an overseer a man of one woman does not really exclude women. That’s a huge acknowledgement. So even when people have unfairly criticized—by the way, you can see my critique of Schreiner’s on my pbpayne.com. It’s there. But every time someone has read my work they have been changed whether it’s complementarian or egalitarian.
Sheila: That’s beautiful. I want to encourage people to read your work. So The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood is available for preorder right now. I will put a link in the podcast notes. But you’ve got a few other books too. Mutual by Design is a marriage book.
Philip: Yes. The Mutual by Design is some—Christians for Biblical Equality published book about marriage. And I have the concluding section about what about headship. And it talks about the meaning of head, its use in literature. To me, the Septuagintal use, the Greek Old Testament translation, proves that the meaning personal authority over was not native to Greek.
Sheila: Yes. Interestingly, look at rosh. Is it rosh? Well, we won’t get into all that.
Philip: Well, rosh is the Hebrew word. And 180 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, it means the heads of the tribes of Israel or the leader. But the Septuagint only translates 1 of those 180 with the word head. Clearly—
Sheila: And the Septuagint is the Greek translation that was around when Jesus was around of the Old Testament. So when they were translating the Hebrew into Greek when there was a Hebrew word meaning head of the tribes, they didn’t use the Greek word that we use for head of a wife. So very interesting. Yeah.
Philip: So it’s huge because it shows that they didn’t feel comfortable doing that. And in the few cases where they did, there’s only one case where they clearly use the metaphor. There are other cases where they add as head.
Sheila: So you’ve got Mutual by Design, and you’ve also got a few others. I will put links in the podcast notes. And I will also put links—I found you on Twitter. You have amazing Twitter threads. And when you go into a lot of these details, I think they’re amazing. I will put a link to your Twitter profile as well and to your website. But thank you so much for joining us. This is has been really, really informative. And I hope that it opens people’s eyes to the fact that we are to be mutual by design and that the gospel does depend on seeing us as coheirs with Christ. I love that.
Philip: Amen. Thank you.
Sheila: Thank you, Philip. Well, we are so pleased to bring on the Bare Marriage podcast our dear friend, Ngina Otiende. Did I say that right, Ngina?
Ngina: Yes. You did. Ngina. You did.
Sheila: And we go way back. I know you were following me, and I was following you at Intentional Today, your blog. I don’t know. A decade ago. A long time ago.
Ngina: Yes. It is. A long time ago. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Sheila: And we have both morphed. And we have both changed over the last few years. And we’re in a community online with a bunch of other advocates, and we just have a great time there. And we really enjoy you. And you’re on this journey with us. And so we thought that we could have a chat with you about what it means to fix things. Both things that other people have said but also things that you have said. So do you want to just tell us a little bit about your blog and your journey over the last few years?
Ngina: Yeah. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s just been a blast getting to know you for—you mentioned that we’ve known each other for a long time. So I first got introduced to you, Sheila, at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum when I was a newlywed myself. I’ll be married now this year 15 years. And then when I was newlywed, when I was leaving—because my husband and I are Kenyans. We’re Kenyan-Americans. We were born, raised, brought up in Kenya. So I was in Kenya when I found your blog as a newlywed wife. I think I’d been married a year or so back then. And we were having problems with our marriage. Growth related problems between two honoring spouse. And I was just looking for help. And I think I found your blog through another blogger who gave a link to your blog. And you’re talking about boundaries and things like that, and that just shifted everything for me because what we needed—marriage is boundaries. That’s what we needed boundaries. And we needed to know where does one person begin, where does the other end, so that is how I got connected to you. And then two years later, we moved to the United States. And we connected. Not here. We started talking and all that. So that’s been awesome. So I’ve been just—the last—been blogging since 2009 but seriously 2011, ’12. And I was just talking about regular marriage issues just like most marriage bloggers. And then a couple of things have happened over the years. Specifically from 2017, I fell sick. So went through years of suffering. And there wasn’t quick answers. Like anybody who has had ever had a chronic issue in their body, it’s like you’re—and you’re maybe evangelical, conservative Christian. And you’re wondering, “How—where is God?” You have this idea of who God is until pain and suffering begin to like, “Okay. What I know about God is kind of panning out to my reality.” So that was just one of the things that happened. My personal journey with chronic pain and then having close friends of ours who are in terrible, terrible marriages. But from the surface, they look like normal marriage issues, but they were not. The challenges of 2020, specifically what happened to George Floyd—the murder of George Floyd, and just the light bulb went off for me. Went on for me. It was like, “Oh, so this is what these women who are (inaudible), who are in my personal life—they keep,”—because there was this place where people of color are saying, “This has been our experience. This has been an experience living as a black person, as a person of color.” And everybody else who doesn’t go through that is like, “What? What? What? It’s a long time ago. Come on.” So there are these women in these terrible, terrible marriages are saying, “This is my experience.” And we are looking on from the outside looking in and saying, “What? What? This is normal. I mean come on. Pray more. Have more sex.” And suddenly, the dissonance made sense to me because I was walking through that personal suffering, walking with close friends of mine in terrible marriages, and just the whole racism season of that just coming out to light, and people just being more receptive because they saw something on TV. And suddenly, I was like, “Oh my goodness.” So just things just came to a head in 2021—2022 at the beginning. And just the shift had to be made. So that’s where my shift happened, took down my books, and stopped coaching because I needed to get my health together—personal health as well as my—the kind of help that I put out needed to get healthy. And so that’s the journey I’ve been on the last couple of months since—well, the last year really. And the biggest thing was as well as The Great Sex Rescue, the statistics that came out, and I was like, “Okay. So this is not just my feeling. It’s not just the other women saying this. It is actually—here is the proof that this is the truth. There are things that I said—the things that I’ve said, things we are taught are proving harmful to women.” Everything just coming together. And I guess that has been my frustration as well. It’s like what—well, my frustration with we have everything as the church. We have—the research has been done. Women are in the church. We have so much that has—should be shifting our perspective. And it is doing some in some places. But majorly, there’s been like, “No. We don’t really believe you all.” Yeah.
Rebecca: I know. That’s exactly it. And I love what you’re saying. Everything has been put into place. That the shift should be happening. And I’ve been really kind of meditating on that and trying to figure that out myself as well. And really what I just keep coming back to is I think that we’re in this time period where the church is really going to be separating to those who have ears to hear, those who have eyes to see. And at some point, people have to recognize it’s in front of you. If you have eyes to see, you have no choice. You must see. If you close your eyes, you’re doing that at this point. There’s too much evidence. There’s too much evidence.
Sheila: But I think as Ngina’s story tells us—sometimes it takes a couple of years even though the evidence is before you. Sometimes it takes a couple of years. Or however long it is for different people. And I know the Fixed-It For Yous that are launching this week, that book—the Fixed-It For You devotional—I told you all about it earlier. I tell you more about it later. But it’s a great discussion guide that can start some of these conversations because sometimes you just need a visual nugget for something that is just so horrendously bad. And we’re going to show you what it really looks like. And I know, Ngina, you—I love—what I love is when people take this idea, which wasn’t even ours—we got it from someone else too.
Rebecca: Yeah. It was the Australian or New Zealand—
Sheila: Jane Borman. Australian.
Rebecca: Australian. Yeah. She’s a journalist, who would quote unquote fix headlines that would be like, “Woman raped at age 15. Man rapes 15-year-old child,” right?
Ngina: Oh wow.
Rebecca: She would change them so that it was—so that the onus was actually on the right person. And so instead of using euphemistic language and we’re trying to—and you’re trying to do the same thing. I mean we say you. But everyone should see the text threads. It’s amazing. Between Joanna, me, and my mom with all the Fixed-It For Yous.
Sheila: Oh yes. Every time I (crosstalk) Fixed-It For You, “Is this one good?” “No. Don’t do that.” But Ngina has been doing a bunch of them too. So I love this. Let’s all jump on the Fixed-It For You bandwagon. So I will—
Sheila: – put some of Ngina’s Fixed-It For Yous in the podcast notes. For those of you listening on YouTube, Katie is going to put one up on the screen right now. So you’ve been fixing things as well just to show that hey, there are other ways of seeing this. What do you think it takes to give people ears to hear? Or maybe—I mean—I know that we can’t make people see and make people hear. But—
Rebecca: Well, I guess the question would be like what are the—
Sheila: What are the catalysts?
Rebecca: Yeah. We don’t all have ears to hear. We don’t wall have eyes to see. That’s why Jesus says, “Those who have ears to hear let them hear,” right? But the question is how can we recognize people who do versus those who don’t because there’s always going to be people around us who have hardened hearts. But how can we as the consumers of this media, as the people who are recommending the Bible studies, what is—I guess what we want to figure out together is what is reasonable to expect from teachers? Because instant perfection is not. But what is reasonable before they lose all trust or credibility? I guess. That’s what we really want to work that out a little bit.
Sheila: Yeah. Because when this—that must have been a horrific decision to take down all of your books and blog posts.
Ngina: It was. It was. But before then, I wasn’t kind of sleeping well. And I remember I actually—because—so much was—(inaudible) including my body was just kind of breaking down due to—so there was just so much piling on my plate. But I remember I actually took down the books almost at midnight because we were just hanging out with my husband. And I was like, “I’ve got to do it. I can’t do this anymore. I have to,”—because I not only took down the books and the courses. I deleted immediately over 200 blog posts. And I’ve continued to delete more and probably 100 more. So I was like hours—just clicking, clicking, clicking, cleaning out as much as I could. And it was hard and—on me and then also on my audience, who were used to—I’m sure, Sheila, you went through that. People are used to hearing a certain marriage teaching, and then they feel like you took out the rug from under them. So that was my experience. So the messages. The friendly fire was the hardest. People in our space just really worried and concern. And they might not know. But they might not know that some things are not super encouraging because you’re trying to hear from God. And you’re trying to do the right thing. And just that—you just feel like it’s getting pulled back. It was—I do appreciate people who just checked in and called and did all that. So the friendly fire was the hardest especially when it was direct like, “You are way offline.” Things like that. So it was hard. It was hard. But at the same time, it’s like you’re making big shifts. And for me, the biggest thing was I—one of the biggest—one of the very encouraging things was I was literally following—there was somebody who had gone ahead of me. I could watch you. You and the team had done the research. And you had pivoted. And I had watched you a couple—it had been maybe two years or something since every—you’ve always been vocal in standing with truth for sure. Some things began to shift. That’s how I discovered it because I was looking for truth. So when things just changed—basically, I was not alone. That’s the thing that—yes. There are revolving doors. Some people are leaving. Others were coming in. But those that are coming in was such an encouragement who have gone ahead of me like you. And then there was the advocates, Sarah McDougal, (inaudible), Julie, just so many people that I had already been reading. And I was like—and, of course, there are the women. For me, that was the biggest thing is like, “You all don’t know the people that I know,” who are like, “Oh, things are not as bad.” I’m like, “You have no idea.” Just make the assumption that you woke up and just decided to change. They do not know the personal—the horror, the things that you have witnessed that are driving you. It’s not just head knowledge and you’re—I think you’ve put out the question earlier. What then? It takes years. It takes time to kind of make the shift. But what is that thing that causes people to make a shift? And I think for me—I think I was reading Krispin Mayfield’s book, Attached to God.
Ngina: Yeah. Yeah. I really resonated because he said that—he takes experiential—he takes experience and the connection to your feelings—basically, empathy for yourself, for others to begin. You cannot just—it’s hard to make a change from head knowledge only. It’s hard to make a change from—unless you’re the kind of person who can connect to other people’s experiences which means you need to be able to connect with your own experiences as well. But if you’re the kind of person who is stuffing things down in your own life, it’s very hard to connect with the suffering of others. So for me, it was like I was going through these hard, hard times on a personal level. So it was kind of like, “Okay.” It kind of just softens your heart about what other people are going through. But as well as, you begin to get this knowledge, the research, and just the people around your life, and things connect. So I think some people—to be honest, I was talking about this with my husband because he’s a logic guy. He’s very much of a logic centered person. So it was like—yeah. We were talking about that. It was like, “It is hard.” And he’s going through all that attachment styles and all that to figure out some things. So it’s like—it’s very hard to connect emotionally to the experience of others when you’re not connecting to your experience with yourself. So you tend to look at other things with pure logic. This is theology. This is what God says. And so regardless of how you feel, this is where you should be aiming at. So it becomes very hard to make a shift because you’re set and you’re stuck.
Sheila: This is really interesting because Becky Castle Miller, on a podcast last month, was talking about emotions and how so often in the church we see emotions as a negative thing. And there have actually been blog posts by—I don’t know if it was the Gospel Coalition or Desiring God. I think it was the Gospel Coalition about how empathy is a sin. Do you remember that?
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. Yes.
Ngina: I remember that. Yeah.
Sheila: Yeah. Really, really awful stuff about how we’re just supposed to approach things with logic. And yet, like you’re saying, unless you’re able to connect emotionally, logic alone doesn’t move us. It’s emotion that often moves these really important changes. And I just wonder how—oh, it’s Desiring God.
Rebecca: Yes. I just Googled it because we want to make sure. Yeah. Desiring God put out an article saying the enticing sin of empathy. So not only is it a sin, you might be tempted to be a decent human being who is empathetic. But don’t give in no matter how enticing it is to be empathetic. Don’t give in.
Ngina: Oh my goodness.
Sheila: Because as soon as we try to be empathetic, it means that we are willing to allow someone else’s pain to touch us. And when you start to do that when you allow people’s pain to touch you, it is very, very difficult to remain a bystander.
Rebecca: It is. And that’s what we saw Jesus modeling to us so much. And I think that’s the part of Jesus that, in my opinion, really scares a lot of these guys. I think this is why we don’t hear about the actual life of Christ in a lot of these books. We hear a lot about the death of Christ. Hear a lot about the death of Christ. We don’t hear about the life of Christ. Because you know what Christ did a lot of? He did a lot of weeping. He did a lot of just being around friends. He talked to people. He fed people. He met their needs. He actually did a lot of stuff that actually made people’s lives better because He saw their pain. And He reacted. And it’s not surprising to me that, in a lot of these books, a lot of these sermons, a lot of these places, you hear about Christ’s death. And then you hear about the instructions to the churches. We don’t hear a lot about Christ’s example. When I look at the people who have made shifts, I just see a lot of discussion about what would—this isn’t of Jesus. We can say, “Yeah. Sure. I can find you an Old Testament verse. Or I can find you one verse in one of Paul’s letters that rationalizes what I am doing. But I can’t rationalize it when I am comparing it to the example of Christ.” So if our faith requires that we don’t sit and weep with people who are being harmed whether they’re being murdered or abused or—
Sheila: Or even just told that they don’t matter as much as someone else.
Rebecca: Yeah. Even just carrying unnecessary shame or something. No. When someone is hurting and instead of us sitting and weeping with them, we just go, “Well, this is why you should be grateful anyway. This is why you should always—see? See? You should always rejoice. In everything, rejoice. See? You should give thanks in everything. See? With everything, by prayer and petition, bring your requests to God.” We just hit them with a Bible verse instead of actually entering into their experience. And that stops us from ever being able to get close enough to someone to allow them to change us. We’re comfortable in the evangelical church giving orders from on high. We’re not as comfortable in doing what Christ did and actually getting down and washing the feet because washing the feet means you actually have to look up at what the person is. You can’t just bark orders from far away.
Sheila: Yeah. Exactly.
Ngina: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I like that, Rebecca, because I—it’s literally—people are comfortable. And I come from the conservative—evangelical conservative Christian molded with the Kenyan culture. So it’s so easy to bark order. But also it’s like people don’t want to model their life after Christ. It’s like we have this whole book that we throw at people. What it’s not talking about who is Christ really. That’s why people are very comfortable talking about we need to follow the Bible. We need to have a Bible-centered life. We need the Bible. But start talking about a Christ-centered life—like who is Jesus? What did He do? How was His day? How was His interactions? Because for me, the reality when the light went on is like, “Oh, wait a minute. Jesus is God with us.” It’s like God saying, “Okay. I’m coming. I’m going to show you who I am versus who millennia—people have told you I am,” because all the filters are coming through human beings. The middle eastern culture. Everything has been—God said, “I’m coming,”—as in from the time, He said, “I will come. Flesh and blood. And I will show you who I am. Then it won’t be so hard to connect who I am versus what the word of God says or what things.” It’s like, “Okay. Now look at me. This is who I am. This is how I love. This is how I treat people. This is how I do My day. Now shape your life after Me.” Everybody still wants to go through—it’s like we skip the Emmanuel, God with us, and talk about Him. It’s kind of like how people will talk about you in a room. And you’re like, “Hey, I’m here.”
Ngina: (crosstalk) Somebody is famous—(inaudible) and is like—God is like, “Hey. Are you talking about Me? I’m here,” because that’s what we throw at women and at people in terrible situations. But also generally, even as Rebecca was saying, in marriage, it—or was it you, Sheila? You’re saying it doesn’t have to be this horrific situation. It can be just general marriage issues where we are putting the pressure or the burden on the wife to be the mature one. But kind of like me and my husband at the beginning where there was an imbalance of who is doing what and all we needed was like, “Okay. This is the baseline of marriage. This is how,”—and then the moment you identify the base line, it’s like everybody owns up to their stuff because they actually do love their spouse. They’re not operating from a pattern of abuse or destruction or vindictiveness. They just were taught bad. Once they see the truth, they accept it. But if we don’t talk about this truth—I’ve had so many women since I did this shift, they’re like, “Oh my goodness. I have been carrying so much weight. And my husband is a great guy. But we literally operate like—we just do the old African thing or the old American thing of the wife is the burden bearer. The husband is the provider. He makes decisions.” But something is missing. The wife is feeling the pressure. So teachings like what you did and even when people begin to—myself and other advocates begin to say, “Okay. This is abusive. This is kind of normal, and this is abusive.” So the women are like, “Okay. I know what to work on.” And the good-hearted guys begin to like, “Okay. Because I love my wife, I love my family. I’m going to pull up my socks and just be a good, decent guy.” So it helps for both to literally be like Christ as opposed to the Bible says, but actually model our lives after who Jesus is, who He taught us He was. And we have Christ-centered marriages as a result.
Rebecca: Yeah. I know that there are a lot of people who have been listening to the podcast or reading the blog or reading your blog, Ngina, and—
Sheila: Which, again, is Intentional Today.
Rebecca: Yes. It will all be linked in the podcast notes. And you’re wanting to have these conversations with your spouse. Or maybe you guys are starting to kind of see things are like we’re okay. But we’re not okay being like this in 10 years. So how do we get onto a better path? And honestly, the Fixed-It For You book is fun for that. It’s a little bit like—it’s hard to have these deep theological conversations about what do we believe about gender and God and marriage and these really heavy things that literal tomes have been written on. And if you’re looking for an easy way to talk about it so that your marriage can start to have that change—or maybe it’s you and your friend group or maybe it’s you—
Sheila: You and your small group.
Rebecca: Yeah. There’s just this one little section in each of the Fixed-It For Yous where you might want to do it at home with your spouse instead of the in the group, but that will work great. But this is just such a great opportunity for—like what Ngina was saying. When you have the goodhearted, good willed spouses, when they see the truth, they start walking in that direction. You don’t automatically teleport to the end of the line like one second. But you start walking in the right direction. And so the Fixed-It For You book can really just help you get those conversations started so that you can start walking the right direction together. And frankly, if they aren’t willing to, that also becomes a little bit more clear.
Sheila: Yeah. And what I really appreciate to about Ngina—because I think we’re really similar. We’re in lots of groups outside of this with abuse advocates and everything. And I love them. I love them to death. But I think you and I are similar in the sense that we’ve got good marriages.
Sheila: The reason we pivoted was not because we were in abusive situations or because our husbands were awful. It was because we knew that this isn’t God. And even that view of marriage, it wasn’t just hurting my marriage or keeping my marriage from being everything it could be. It was actually hurting my view of God. And that really affected me and the thought that God doesn’t love me as much as He loves my husband. Or God is angrier at me than He is at my husband.
Rebecca: Or He doesn’t trust you as much.
Sheila: Or He doesn’t trust me as much as He trusts my husband.
Rebecca: He doesn’t view you as competent.
Sheila: And that was really tough. And I went through a lot of this when I was younger and processed this when I was younger. But it isn’t only about our marriages. It’s about the whole picture. And often, marriage is one of those felt need areas where it’s easiest to switch because marriage is so personal and so emotional. And so this is often where I think God gets us is when we’re talking about marriage. But it affects everything. It affects how you see God. And when you just get that breakthrough and you see it doesn’t need to be this way and understand what it means, the Emmanuel, God with us, to understand what it means to live that out. It really is life changing. And I so appreciate that about you too because you went in this whole—whatever the word is—
Rebecca: Whole hog?
Sheila: Whole hog. Terrible expression.
Rebecca: Terrible expression. Jumped in both feet first. That one’s better.
Sheila: That’s better. Even though it wasn’t about you being abused, it’s like no. If someone else is being hurt, this matters. This matters. And that’s what keeps me up at night is people are being hurt by this. And how can the powers that be not see it?
Rebecca: Well, and it’s what Paul himself talks about in 1 Corinthians, right? “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am but a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have faith that can move mountains and if I have wisdom that can understand all prophecies or something like that, but I have not love, I am nothing. And I have nothing.” Just read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 at some point.
Sheila: Yeah. We always quote starting at verse 4. But those first three verses—
Rebecca: There’s a reason we don’t quote the first three verses. They call out a lot of authors, a lot of pastors, and a lot of theologians. Okay? There is a reason they skip those first three verses.
Rebecca: God doesn’t care if we have nice words if we don’t love people. That’s throughout Scripture. And I’m just so grateful that there are so many people who are modeling what it looks like to care about people even at personal cost, even at cost of personal pain and inconvenience and so—yeah. From all of us, of course, as always, we love to hype you up, Ngina. Thank you.
Ngina: Oh, thank you.
Rebecca: You’re such a source of encouragement for so many.
Sheila: We really do appreciate having you on, Ngina. And again, why don’t you just tell people where they can find you?
Ngina: Yeah. So I also have so much fun hanging out with you guys. You guys are such—you’re such fun and such a source of encouragement for me. So you can find me at intentionaltoday.com. That’s my website. Or you can find me on Facebook, Intentional Today. Again, that’s where I am. And on Instagram, I am Ngina Otiende. That’s N G I N A O T I E N D E. And Pinterest and Twitter but those are my two main ones. Instagram and Facebook and the website.
Rebecca: And those will all be in the podcast notes as well, so you can find her.
Sheila: Yes. Yes. So thank you very much. I am sending you a copy of the Fixed-It For You book. I hope you love it.
Ngina: Oh, you’re sending it? Oh, man.
Sheila: Yes. Yes. So you can see—
Sheila: Yes. I’ll even give you an early copy, so you can see it.
Ngina: Oh, I will love it.
Sheila: All right. Take care. Bye-bye.
There are many things to talk about on this page, but I’ll just address two for now.
It makes no sense to me that God would create an entire race of beings (humans) such that one half of them exist only to serve the other half, and that the first half has no worth, value or consideration other than that service.
To paraphrase JoR from long ago (and to add to the definition above of NOT wife)…
“Wife” does not mean a submissive caretaker, enabler, maid and emotionless nanny sexbot of an immature, entitled and abusive husband, who bears the blame for all of his sins. (This can go both ways, of course, but in some evangelical communities, it often goes only one way).
Very good, Nathan!
Thank you so much for the work you are doing. I have been so blessed by your ministry. I am unlearning a lot of bad theology and working on renewing my view of God and gender roles. Your encouragement has been so timely for me.
As a member of Bethlehem Baptist for 25 years, my eyes have been opened to a lot of harm certain teachings have caused. However I still found it hard to believe they would teach that empathy is a sin, so I looked up the article you mentioned in your podcast and read it.
It seems the writer of this article was attempting to write like CS Lewis’s screwtape letters where Satan is addressing a demon in training. So the title of the article (“The Enticing Sin of Empathy”) is what Satan would say, and not what Desiring God would teach (but rather the opposite.)
Am I reading this wrong? Can you do a “fixed it for you” on this?
Thank you again for your work!
Per the usual time is of the essence. Will listen later for sure. In the mean time, I-need to acknowledge that there is always room for fixing and correcting myself. I am not always right. I had to explain myself to Grace last night after my 2 little blow-outs. She gives me such GRACE.
Agreed. I like to think that I’m a good person, and I hope I am, but I’m a long way from perfect.
Aw, shucks, Nathan. 😊 😊 😊
Maybe the reason why women gaslight one another so much is exactly what Ngina said. We have so dissociated ourselves from our own feelings and experiences that we can’t connect with other people’s, and especially other women’s, experiences either. So we say, “Just pray harder, just submit more. Your experience isn’t as bad as some women’s, so why are you complaining?”
Ngina’s comment about head knowledge ties right back into what you said a couple weeks (or was it months???) ago, about believing the right things being more important than doing the right things. There has been a whole lot of emphasis on head knowledge over most of my thirty-five years as a Christian, and lots of involvement in church ministries was highly encouraged, but the vast majority of that ministry was on other people already in the church. In OUR church. We were really not encouraged to be out ministering in the world, unless, of course, it was to bring those outsiders TO the church. No real ministry to others was ever a focus. 🤔 🤔 🤔
Ngina’s graphics and blog are amazing! I love how bold she is with truth. Her perspective is refreshing.
Woah woah woah . . . that essay you mentioned (the sin of empathy). That really caught me by surprise. I looked it up and holy crap it exists: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-enticing-sin-of-empathy
I just don’t have the right words.
The mental gymnastics to justify something so heretical are terrifying. And I can easily see people in the community I grew up in believing this and preaching it with no reservation. It’s phrased so prettily so it sounds like a good thing (don’t get so pulled into someone’s emotions that you can no longer help them and lose your own identity in the process) but then it makes claims that sets all empathy as evil and completely erase a truly loving response (so feelings are now a manipulation tactic . . . huh. Also, who decides what is proper care and what is too much? This guy?? Who died and made him king?? And how is he suddenly the mind-reader who knows what people in pain are thinking???)
This is heresy. This isn’t Christ at all.
I completely agree with you.
🤯 I’m gaining so much knowledge and really digging into my word because of your last two podcasts. My husband and have had some very good conversations. Have you discussed spiritual leadership on your podcast? That would be a topic I would like explored. I know I’ve been taught one thing in the church but it seems to cause too much discourse and resentment. I was taught that the man is supposed to decide what church to attend and read the devos to the kids and lead prayer etc but I constantly feel as of I’m overstepping when I suggest or nudge him to do things.
It’s based on a misunderstanding of headship! You’re definitely not overstepping.
I’d check out Philip Payne’s book! You can pre-order it. Also Marg Mowczko’s site is a treasure trove.
I’ve also been told some of those same things about “spiritual leadership” (If you saw me talking, I’d be using air quotes here) such as the husband picking what church to attend, leading the family in devotionals, and initiating prayer. Now, if he initiates these things, I am not against it. What I am against is the belief that he is the only one who’s allowed to initiate spiritual things. I’m also not against him being the one to choose the church, but it would not be out of the attitude of “I’m the man, I decide where we attend church.” It would be more like, “I hear there’s this church that has a great kids’ program or there’s someone I know who is preaching at such and such church this weekend. I’d like to go, how about you honey?”
Currently, I’m going to a church that I’d never really been to except for women’s Bible studies in the past. I’m going to this church because a guy I am seeing invited me and I have not had a home church in several years due to COVID and deconstructing from organized religion. Now, I’m not going because I think he’s the one who gets to decide. I’m simply going because he invited me and it’s a way to spend time together. Plus, I’m getting more acquainted with different people.
Here is what I am for: BOTH spouses taking turns initiating family devotionals and prayer. A certain set of genitals should never dictate who leads in spiritual matters or any matter at all.
I may have missed/forgotten it, but I don’t think these podcasts addressed 1 Cor 14:33-36. If you see this, I’d be really interested to hear Philip’s/your take on it.