Podcast Series on Counseling

My pastor, Todd Bordow, and his co-host, Chris Caughey, have a weekly podcast. Recently they’ve been doing a series on counseling, and I highly recommend it. Here are the links for the series episodes so far:

Critique of Nouthetic Counseling: “Staying with our Meredith Kline Applied series, we start a new section on counseling. This week we critique nouthetic counseling. The main reason for this is it was the counseling model that we were taught in seminary. It is also a popular model in Reformed churches. However, we also critique other counseling models as well.”

Counseling Continued: “Though we are not talking specifically about nouthetic counseling this week, we are talking about what Meredith Kline’s biblical theology might have to say to us about how we should counsel people in our churches. First we talk about verbal and non verbal ways of helping each other. Then we talk about some general principles of love, grace, and care.”

The Elephant in the Room: “In this episode, we talk about a very difficult topic. If you have children younger than teenagers who listen to the podcast, this episode is probably not for them. First, we spend some time talking about a general approach to ministering to a local church on the part of pastors and elders. Next, we turn to the topic of pornography. As it turns out, what Kline taught us about the nature of the New Covenant has profound implications for helping those who struggle with pornography.”

Narcissists and Manipulators: “This week we talk about a particular kind of person who is attracted to Christian churches. This episode may be the least related to Meredith Kline’s theology. But Kline’s understanding of the fall certainly helps us to see how there can be narcissists and manipulators.”

Men & Women: “This week we talk about what Meredith Kline’s theology has to say about men, women, and gender roles.  We will focus on Kline’s eschatology.  Hopefully this is helpful for both men and women.”

Links and Notes

I realize it’s been a while since I posted anything here. It’s hard to find the time to blog like I used to. Honestly, since the launch of Beyond Authority and Submission, I’ve found it difficult to write. It’s especially daunting to know that everything I say can and will be used against me. For today, I’d like to share a couple of articles.

First is an article I wrote recently for Modern Reformation, Is There a Place for Priscilla in Our Churches?

Within the conservative, Reformed world, the opinions on whether or not women can teach theology to men cover a wide spectrum. Some believe that women can do anything in the church that a non-ordained man can do. Others believe that women can teach theology to other women and children but not to men in any setting. A few believe that women shouldn’t ever teach theology.

When it comes to writing and speaking about theology outside the church, opinions vary even more. Should a woman speak at a theological conference? Answers include “Yes, but only if the audience is all women,” and “Depends on if she’s teaching theology or speaking from her own experience.” Should a woman write a book or blog or have a podcast? Answers include “Yes, as long as the book/blog/podcast is intended for women, it’s OK if a man comes across it and learns from it,” and “Books provide a separation between author and reader so a man isn’t learning directly from a woman.”

In all these discussions, I wonder what the modern Reformed Christian community would make of Priscilla if she lived today.

You can read the full article here. Predictably there have been some critical reactions to my post. All I’ll say in response is: Women serving like Martha in the church is not the same thing as having room for Priscilla in your church.

Along the same lines, I highly recommend Aimee Byrd’s recent piece, Not a Daughter of Sarah?

Not all teaching is behind a pulpit. And I don’t know what all this “usurping authority” is about. When Scripture calls us to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16), or that by this time we ought to be teachers (Heb. 5:12), to use our gifts of teaching or exhortation (Rom. 12:6-8), to pursue love and spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1), when Scripture calls brothers and sisters to build one another up with a teaching if they have it (1 Cor. 14:26), are we to pretend that this is all directed only towards the men? Is exercising our gifts as disciples in the general office of layperson usurping authority, or obeying the authority of Scripture?  

I am struggling to understand what it is about me that needs putting a stop to. To where there is now an organized effort, with officers in my own denomination—men with spiritual authority—that are organizing offensive and defensive strategies against me. Me? Who the heck am I? I read about my “agenda” and my motivations, and I don’t know this person they are talking about. Talking is a kind word. Plotting, scheming against…slandering. Yes, that is appropriate. Normally, we would just be wise to ignore such people. Unless, they are in positions of spiritual authority. In your own denomination. 

Whenever you write or speak publicly, especially on topics like women anad men in the church, there will be critique and constructive debate. That’s to be expected. However, what Aimee and I (and others) have experienced goes way beyond legitimate debate and discussion. What we see are histrionics, personal attacks, name calling, gossip, and slander.

If you’re on social media, you’ve likely witnessed these kinds of behaviors. I haven’t spoken much about these attacks. In general, I would rather not give any attention to these guys. But sometimes it’s necessary to shine the light in dark places and reveal what’s going on. It’s time to stand up to the bullies who are sinning against us.

I encourage you to read the two articles I’ve linked here. I’ll close with a link for a podcast interview I did with Marcos Ortega and Lisa Spencer of Reformed Margins. We talk about what happens when women write and speak about theology. You can listen here.

Share Your Story

One of the reasons I wrote Beyond Authority and Submission was because of my concerns over what’s being taught about women and men in some facets of conservative Christianity. It’s not an esoteric, academic discussion. There are real world consequences. What we believe about the nature of women and men and how we should interact has wide-reaching effects on us as individuals and in our various relationships.

I’m working on a new project, and I need your help. My plan is to write more about the practical outworkings of prevalent beliefs about women and men. I’d like to use personal stories to illustrate the effects these teachings have had on real women, men, families, and churches. That’s where you come in.

I’d like to hear your stories, and I want to give you the opportunity to be heard. I’m curious what effect these teachings about women and men have had on you as an individual, on your marriage, on your family, on your church, or on your relationships. Whatever you’d like to share.

At the bottom of this post is a contact form. Messages sent through the form are emailed directly to me and do not post to the website. I want to protect your privacy. My plan is to change names and identifying information in the stories I use.

If you’d like more information, feel free to use the contact form to ask me any questions you may have.

Social Media Sabbatical

I wasn’t exactly an early adopter of social media. When I graduated from college in ’97, the internet was still very young. We had email, and there were some websites. But no one was doing much with them yet. Then there was instant messaging and forums and blogs. Those were fun.

In 2009, I reluctantly joined Facebook to keep up with my extended family and friends. I was virtually house bound. Pregnant with my youngest, I had severe nausea and vomiting (hyperemesis). I barely left the house. During that time, I started reading more, and I started blogging.

The social media world was different then. The platforms have changed a lot over the last decade, and sadly I think they’ve changed us a lot too. I’m still thankful for the connections to family and friends that social media facilitates. But I’ve decided to take an extended break from social media.

Why now? Well, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now. I quit Twitter four months ago. With the 2020 election cycle starting, now is a great time to take a social media sabbatical. I’ll still be blogging and updating my Facebook page for this site. I’ll also continue to co-host the Theology Gals podcast with Coleen.

What will I do with my time this year? I’m looking forward to reading more. I’m planning to spend time studying the Word. A friend invited me to join her in a mystery book reading challenge. I’m excited about that.

Lord willing, I want to spend time writing. I have a handful of book ideas. I also have several areas of research to delve into. But what I’m really looking forward to is having time with my own thoughts and ideas, a chance to breathe and to focus on the things that really matter in life.

If you need to reach me, you can contact me through my “About” page or message me on Facebook. I’ll check my inbox regularly. God bless, and I’ll catch y’all on the flip side.

Theology Gals Episodes on Beyond Authority and Submission

As I mentioned recently, I’m co-hosting the Theology Gals podcast with Coleen Sharp. For the last several weeks, Coleen and I have discussed topics related to my book, Beyond Authority and Submission. It’s been great to have a chance to address these issues in greater detail. I’ll link them here in case you haven’t had a chance to listen.

To kick off the series, Coleen and Angela interviewed me about my book Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society. Beyond Authority and Submission with Rachel Miller

1 Timothy 2:11-15 is sometimes used to argue that all women are more easily deceived than men, but is this a correct understanding of the text? In this episode, Coleen and I discuss whether women are more easily deceived and the consequences of this view.  Are Women More Easily Deceived?

Next Coleen and I discuss various views on masculine and feminine in the church. Should churches be masculine? Is there such a thing as masculine or feminine worship or piety? Masculine and Feminine in the Church

In this episode, Coleen and I discuss women, work and callings. Women: Work & Callings

Our next topic was the purpose of marriage. Is marriage for procreation? Is it a parable of the gospel? Is it for our sanctification? Purpose of Marriage

Coleen and I interviewed Dr. Todd Bordow on the topic of divorce. Dr. Bordow is the pastor of Cornerstone OPC in Houston, Texas. He wrote his doctoral thesis on divorce. His paper is linked in the episode notes. Divorce with Pastor Todd Bordow

To finish up this series on women and men in marriage, church, and society, Coleen and I answer some listener questions. Q&A Men and Women in Family, Church and Society

I’m excited about the topics we’ll be covering next. Stay tuned!

Misquoting Wilson?

Editor’s Note: Pastor Jones and others have explained that they believe I misrepresented Doug Wilson’s comments on 1 Thess. 4:4-5. I’ve updated this article with additional context from Wilson’s blog.

When I wrote Beyond Authority and Submission, I knew that not everyone would agree with me. As I mentioned in the last post, I expected some people to disagree with what I believe about women and men in marriage, church, and society. A handful of men have written critical reviews, and I will address some of their concerns in the near future.

In an Amazon review, Pastor Mark Jones questions the accuracy of my research and accuses me of misquoting Doug Wilson and not citing the original sources correctly:

“She also displays a failure to properly read those she is disagreeing with. In some cases the citations do not even make any sense when you check the original sources. It is one thing to think Doug Wilson has bad theology, but you cannot misquote him and attribute things to him that he did not say. She does this a number of times, which shows it perhaps isn’t a mistake”

Mark Jones

These are serious charges to make. I took considerable care in my research to quote and cite sources accurately. In addition to my own checking and double checking of my sources, the editors at P&R Publishing also made sure that the citations were accurate. Mistakes can be made, and it’s always possible that some error wasn’t caught. That’s why I’ve gone back through my book and compared each Doug Wilson citation with the original source.

I apologize in advance for the length of this article. Since Pastor Jones didn’t indicate which quotations or citations he found problems with, I can’t be certain which concerned him. What follows are every quote and citation of Doug Wilson in my book with the original source for comparison.

In this first citation, I cite Doug Wilson as an example of someone who defines masculinity as having authority and taking initiative.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 108

In the original source, Doug Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, chap. 2, loc. 165-67, Kindle

Next, I cite Wilson as defining masculine men as assertive, confident, and not afraid of taking risks.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 108

In the original source, Wilson wrote:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 2, loc. 391-92, Kindle

I cite Wilson here as saying that women have a certain weakness as part of God’s design.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 109

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, 38

Here is a direct quote from Wilson in my book.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 110

And in the original source Wilson says:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 3, loc, 532-33, Kindle

In this quote from my book, I cite Wilson as an example of teaching that if women leave the protection of their fathers and husbands, they put themselves at risk of being assaulted or raped. I use Dinah here as an example of a woman who was raped.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 111

In the original blog post, Wilson wrote:

Doug Wilson, “Courtship and Rape Culture”

In this next selection from my book I quote Wilson as saying men should be “resident theologians” in their homes.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 135

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 40-41 (pg numbers from the revised 2005 ed)

It is possible that this citation is slightly off in the page numbering. I think this is a matter of different page numbers in different editions or versions of the book. If it is an error, I’ll happily ask the publisher to make a correction. But the quote does appear in the book as shown above.

The next quote I used at the beginning of a chapter. It’s a direct quote.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 153

The original source:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 80

Here I cite Wilson as saying men were created to be dominant leaders.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 154

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 24

In this selection, I cite Wilson as one who writes about the significance of the length of women’s hair.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 158

Wilson writes in the original source:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, appendix B, loc. 1994-45, Kindle

For additional context, Wilson has written about the importance of women having hair longer than their husbands in several places. For example:

Doug Wilson, “What Nature Teaches”

This selection is another direct quote from Wilson. In the editing process, while rearranging this paragraph from paraphrase to direct quotation, the word “most” was added. I apologize for the error. I’ve asked the publisher to correct it however possible.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 158

The original source with the surrounding context:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 3, loc. 688-89, Kindle

Here I cite Wilson as teaching that a man has authority to overrule promises or decisions his wife or daughters make.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 159

After a lengthy discussion on Numbers 30 and other passages, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 1, loc. 295-96, Kindle

To give greater context for his whole discussion, here is another brief excerpt from the same chapter:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 1, loc. 173ff, Kindle

In this selection, I cite Wilson as an example of teaching that women are called to help men in the work God gives to men.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 160

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 30 (2005 revised edition)

Here I cite Wilson for teaching that men should control the finances in a marriage, because women will spend too much if allowed to.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 164

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 89

Next is a direct quotation from Wilson.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 164

As the original source shows:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, chap. 7, loc. 978-81, Kindle

This selection includes another direct quotation from Wilson.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 196-97

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Mother Kirk, pg 204

In this excerpt, I cite Wilson as teaching that women weren’t created to be in authority over men.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 232

In the cited blog post, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, “The Creation Order and Sarah”

This selection is another direct quote from Wilson.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 234

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 48-49

Another direct Wilson quote:

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 235

As the original source shows:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, chap. 4, loc. 701-7, Kindle

In this selection, I cite Wilson as teaching husbands to instruct and correct their wives.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 236

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg. 84 (2005 revised edition)

For additional context, Wilson gives similar advice in other books and blog posts. Here is a quote from Wilson’s book, Federal Husband:

Doug Wilson, Federal Husband: Covenant Headship and the Christian Man (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1999), 27.

The last quote from Wilson in my book is another direct quote from his book, Reforming Marriage.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 236

As the original source shows:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 117

For further context, I’m adding an excerpt from Wilson’s blog where he discusses the meaning of “his vessel.”

Doug Wilson, “Preliminary Thoughts on ‘Real Marriage,’ Part Dos”

These are all of the Doug Wilson citations and quotations in my book. I also cited Pastor Jones once in my book. Apparently he’s said elsewhere that I didn’t accurately represent what he wrote. Here is the citation in question.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 168

I cited Pastor Jones’ blog post as an example of someone who considers friendship or companionship in marriage to be a downgrade, a diminishment of the marriage relationship. Here are the relevant sections of Pastor Jones’ post:

Mark Jones, “My Spouse is My Best Friend”

It certainly was not my intention to misrepresent Pastor Jones or his beliefs. I believe my use of his post was a fair representation of what he wrote.

As for the Doug Wilson citations, did I “misquote him and attribute things to him that he did not say”? You can see in these comparisons that I have accurately quoted, cited, and represented what he’s written.

It’s one thing to disagree with an author. It’s quite another to accuse her of mishandling original sources. Perhaps Pastor Jones should retract his public accusations.

When a Woman Writes about Theology

It’s been an interesting month since my book, Beyond Authority and Submission, launched. I’ve heard encouraging feedback from many readers. I’m thankful that what I’ve written has been helpful for so many. That’s an answered prayer.

As I was writing, I knew that there would be push back from certain corners of the Reformed interwebs. I’ve been writing and blogging for over a decade now, and I know what to expect. I even address it in a section of my book on women writing and speaking about theology. The responses are often all too predictable.

The following excerpt is from Chapter 13, “Prevalent Teaching on Women and Men in the Church.”

Some conservative Christians debate whether women should blog and write about theology. Some say that it’s fine. Others say it’s appropriate only if they are writing, blogging, or podcasting to a female audience. A few say that it’s inappropriate, because men shouldn’t learn theology from women.1

Some are also concerned about women bloggers and writers correcting or addressing false teaching. That kind of confrontation is considered by some to be contrary to a woman’s nature as yielding and submissive and to put her in a position to judge or lead men.2 Women who write or speak publicly about theology, especially if the topic involves false teaching, are likely to get one of two responses. Those who disagree with them will often tell them, “You can’t correct a man—especially a pastor/ teacher as respected as So-and-So. You’re a woman!” The response isn’t much better from those who share their concerns. From those people, women may very well be told, “I appreciate the work you’re doing. But you shouldn’t be doing this, because you’re a woman.”3

In these ways, women in the church are being restricted beyond the boundaries that the Bible sets in place. Instead of being respected for their essential contributions to the ministry and life of the church, women are being treated as unnecessary accessories when they follow the extrabiblical rules and as rebellious troublemakers when they don’t.

  1. See Emilio Ramos, “Why We Do Not Allow Women Bloggers on RGM,” Red Grace Media, May 19, 2014, http://redgracemedia.com/allow-women-bloggers-rgm/.
  2. See Tim Bayly, “Rachel Miller and Valerie Hobbs: Where Is the Apostle Paul When We Need Him?” Baylyblog, September 4, 2015, http://baylyblog.com/blog/2015/09 /rachel-miller-and-valerie-hobbs-where-apostle-paul-when-we-need-him.
  3. I’ve heard this personally

Giveaway Winners and an Announcement

Wow! Thank you all for your help in getting the word out about Beyond Authority and Submission. Launch week has been a great success. Congratulations to giveaway winners Casey Maura and Alissa Hollander. Please check your email for a message from me. I’ll need your mailing addresses.

I’m pleased to announce that Coleen Sharp has asked me to be the new co-host for the Theology Gals podcast. I’m looking forward to being a regular part of the podcast. You can listen to my interview with Coleen and Angela in this week’s episode. And because she guessed correctly on Twitter, Brianna Lambert has also won a copy of my book.

Thank you all for your encouragement. Happy reading!

Launch Day! Win a Copy of Beyond Authority and Submission

I’m pleased to announce that my book, Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society has been released today! There have been some glitches with Amazon about when the book will be available, but there are plenty of opportunities to purchase the book today.

To celebrate the launch of my book, I’m giving away two copies!! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this blog post. You’ll be entered extra times for sharing this post on social media. Just let me know in the comments where you shared. Winners will be announced early next week. Thanks!

Note: Amazon is currently backordered, but more copies are on their way. WTS bookstore and the other links here have plenty of copies ready to go.

Amazon (and Kindle) link– if you buy a hardcopy from Amazon, you can download the Kindle version for free.

P&R Publishing

Westminster Theological Seminary Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

Christian Book Distributers

Qualified Ordained Leadership in the Church

In this last excerpt from my book, Beyond Authority and Submission, I want to discuss the importance of our ordained leaders being qualified. While the Bible limits ordination to qualified men, not every man is qualified or called to ministry. What happens when all men are treated as leaders and potential leaders?

Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society will be available September 3. You can click the links to pre-order on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. A Kindle version will be available on the release date.

A focus on masculine authority in the church diminishes qualified male ordination rather than promoting it. If churches consider men to be leaders simply because they are male, it can lead to the ordination of unqualified men or of men who haven’t been called to leadership. As we have discussed, the Bible restricts ordination to qualified men, but that doesn’t mean that every man is qualified to lead.

Besides the ordination of unqualified men, other types of damage are done when disqualified church officers aren’t removed and when unordained men do the work that only ordained leaders should do. Certain aspects of church life should be done by our ordained leaders, such as preaching the Word, administering the sacraments, and performing the disciplinary function of the church. The attitude in our churches shouldn’t be “These are roles for the ordained leaders, but any man can do them in a pinch.” When just any man, ordained or not, is allowed to carry out these roles in the church, it undermines the importance of ordination and the ministerial work that ordained leaders should be doing. It also contributes to a masculine culture in the church—one in which men are prioritized over women in the church’s work.

When churches focus on training men, they often pay little attention to what the women are learning. Some think that it doesn’t matter too much—it’s only the women. And so false teaching creeps into the church by way of poorly trained and neglected women.[1]

[1] See Aimee Byrd, No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2016), 31.