Welcome to Conflicting Love

Welcome to Conflicting Love – I’m using this title to represent the group of ladies and men in this project.  We are growing in love for one another as our ideas and opinions conflict.  If there is anything – but there are many – things I have learned from the fabulous author Jim Henderson, it is to hear others out and love them anyway.  Love them regardless.  Love them in spite…. and pray for the same grace.  Cause I know Jesus does the same!

I hope to hear from you!!  Have a beautiful day because of Christ!

Leigh Gray


Welcome to Conflicting Love — 37 Comments

  1. Hi Leigh, thanks for sharing. I appreciate your honesty and your courage in sharing what, as you said, is the minority viewpoint on women’s roles in ROE. Your input will help keep things interesting around here!

    I love how you’ve expressed your views clearly and directly but yet you’re still in the room with us and want to talk with us and hear what we have to say instead of (as I’ve encountered many times from others) just telling us that we’re wrong.

  2. Hey Hellen – good to hear from you! Thanks for taking the time to encourage me. I find this whole project such a joy and challenge all at the same time!

    I look forward to the day when we can sit and have tea or coffee or Dr. Pepper! ha

    Have a wonderful day! Leigh

  3. Leigh – me too! I’m learning so much (through the book project, and lots of other ways too) to let difference be okay, and not a barrier to love.

  4. I’m like you. I talk so much better than I write 🙂 so I am HEY TELLIN you some thots. You are just the cutest thing! lol…Love ya, Sistah

  5. The only way discussion and debate can occur is when both sides are able to freely express views. Too often one side or both are so set in ways and contemptuous of those who disagree, all that occurs is sarcasm and sniping. Thanks, Leigh, for taking an often unpopular viewpoint and defending it. Well stated and very open and loving in the way you expressed it.

  6. Mr Mike Kelly – thank you for your encouragement! You make me think very often about all sides of the spectrum! I appreciate that I know the Lord does too! Thank you for taking the time to come here and participate!! Good to have your support! Thanks, Leigh

  7. Hi Leigh,
    Oh girl you know I adore you and I love how your heart shines through in this video. I love that though you obviously don’t agree, you are willing to listen to opposing opinions with love and respect.
    It makes me really want to read the book…I had never heard of this project. As someone who has encountered abuse from a church and ministered to countless others who have…I am interested. Though it’s not something I talk about often, I have many people in my life that are disenfranchised with the church (small c) but in love with THE Church, the Bride. I love and respect them and understand why they are in that place. It has been a huge stretching for me over the past 12 years to watch how my life has changed and those around me.
    I will have to check this out.
    Thanks for being real!

  8. Sue,
    I do hear you! Check back in with your thoughts after you read the book… I’d love to hear what you think. I’m so glad to hear that out of your pain you have been able to minister to others… sometimes the healing happens there, doesn’t it?

  9. Miss Leigh 🙂

    I like that you call me Mr. true Southern touch. It took a lot of courage for you to share who you really all with the rest of us. That of course is true for each woman who shared her story in the book. I have this saying that “innovation lies at the intersection of opposites” (think electricity – negative and positive poles) too often we run from difference as if we will “die” if we discover that someone disagrees with me- as if thats the worst thing that could happen. What if Jesus had shied away from “staying in the room with difference” or “comparing his best with our worst” – we would never have had a chance at hearing the good news.

    Leigh- one of the interesting things about your story was that you felt that women gave you more grief than men. You allude to this in your video as well. Can you give us a specific example of (fine to change names to protect the innocent) of when this happened to you and how you decided to respond

  10. Leigh, I am so proud of how you stand boldly without skimping on the love. I’m not in a church, but totally head over heels for The Church and I’m praying that anyone at odds with a church will disconnect that from The Church as a whole. There really are Christ-centered people who want to come together to build the kingdom of God. I believe open minds and open hearts will make for some beautiful conversation. Any change that needs to take place will be to bring churches back under The Church…I think we confuse the two entirely too often. I’m rambling, but just really proud of you and all the women speaking from their hearts and their hurts. Assembling in Christ’s honor was never meant to be men against women. That saddens me, honestly. The Truth will set us free from that pride and animosity and so much more.

  11. I loved Leigh’s honesty and sharing her heart. I have to agree with her that we simply cannot change the Word of God to fit into our lives no matter how we feel about certain issues…

    Jim I just love your heart to honor your Mother and Sisters….however in this book there are alot of discrepancies with God’s Word. Even in some of the biographies I have read..I see lifestyles that are contrary to biblical teaching.

    Nothing wrong with a little conflict or debate but..

    I hate to say this book seems quite devisive. Although some points SEEM to be biblical on the surface there is an under current of negativity that tries to pit men in the church against women in the church..male bashing I guess I’d call it. Women worring that Men are oppressing them. This is very feminist movement thinking not biblical.

    We must not be self serving, but rather decide for ourselves how we will use our gifts and talents to further the kingdom of God and His rightousness. Blaming men in the church is a cop out in my opinion to not live up to everything that God has gifted us with. I don’t believe that any Man can hold God back from working everything according to His will.

    I have to wonder if some of the Godly women in this book didn’t write their stories and forwards before knowing the context of the whole book before publishing.

    • Shari,

      I’m kind of surprised that you feel that this book pits men against women. I know that in my own story (chapter 17) I tried to show how important the men in my life are to supporting me in God’s calling.

  12. Shari Lynne

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So it sounds like you want me to read the bible the way you do or the way you have been taught to read it? Im sure that you are aware that heart felt believers from all sorts of different traditions read the bible differently. When you say Im being divisive and male bashing it essentially shuts down any conversation. It would be just as easy for me to say you are being co dependent and protective of a man created version of Christianity (which is what I actually believe but how helpful is it for me to attempt to start a conversation there?) Leigh I wish you would share with all of us what you told me in the book – you speak to “mixed audiences” when you have permission of the pastor- That seems to many of us like a technical loophole way of thinking (which Im fine with but I doubt many of your traditional friends are)

    • Mr Jim – I had a Middle School dance last night – I know I seem a bit too old for that, but they let me in. Today we played in the State tournament for boys basketball – lost, boooo – and have a family dinner tonight. Tomorrow is filled with the usual and add in a cheer competition as well. I promise I will be back to comment some more, and am not ignoring – just fill to the brim right now.

      Thank you again!!

  13. Just to finish my thoughts here ( I was running for a plane and my internet connection was bad) Shari – One of the things I’ve learned from my work with Atheists (can you imagine trying to find common ground with them 🙂 is that it is more effective to ask clarifying questions than it is to start with assertions or declarative statements. Of course since this is America you can say whatever you want whenever you want however your chances of getting anyone other than those who already agree with you to engage in a conversation are almost nil. Since conversation about difference is what we LOVE to do here you’d probably have more luck asking me or others why we believe, say or do what we do rather than telling us why we shouldn’t. Im sure you can appreciate the fact that I can pretty much guess why you don’t agree with me since I’ve been following Jesus for over 40 years without a break 🙂 Anyway I really hope we can somehow learn something from each other before we “break up” over disagreements (which have BTW been ongoing for hundreds of years) in our interpretation of scripture. I do appreciate your passion for Jesus.

  14. Hi –
    Having not read this book, I can only base my comments on the summary I read and Leigh Gray’s videotaped comments. I’m a 52 year old, happily married woman who, like Leigh, has had a relatively protected life. Like Leigh, I believe every word of the Bible is Truth, no matter how we “feel” about or what we think of it. I believe we are called to read, honor and follow it by faith – the simple, unquestioning faith of a child. I read Jim’s comment about how different people read the Bible differently, but I’m not sure what that means. If we look at the plain meaning of the text, I really don’t see what there is to debate. It’s God’s Word and is, therefore, without error. To try to manipulate it into what we want it to say or think it should say starts us down a slippery slope. I see that in my friends who want to believe homosexuality isn’t a sin or that non-Christians can somehow be saved and go to Heaven without a personal belief in and relationship with Jesus Christ. What bothers me is “cherry-picking” parts of the Bible folks want to believe and disregarding the parts with which they aren’t comfortable. So the theory is the same here – if you begin to accept only part of the written Word (as it’s written), where do you stop? How do you know which parts to take out and which to leave in?
    So, whether or not I’d feel more comfortable with women taking leadership roles in the church is not an issue I’d even entertain. Why spend time thinking about things that don’t align with Scripture? God’s Word spells it out for us and that is sufficient for me. To be perfectly honest, I’d be very uncomfortable in any church that didn’t try its best to conform itself to the standard set forth in the Bible.
    Leigh stated it much better than I can, so I’ll close. Thank you for welcoming comments on both sides of the issue.
    Paige Szajnuk

    • Paige – Thank you for joining in. Your comment “if you begin to accept only part of the written Word (as it’s written), where do you stop? How do you know which parts to take out and which to leave in” is at the center of this conversation. I hope as we explore it we can “stay in the room with difference” and not “compare my best with your worst” .

      One of the reasons I found Leighs Story (read the chapter in ROE) so interesting is that to me she seemed to be guilty of doing the very thing you worry about. She found a way to teach men even when the way you and she read the bible it says that a woman should not teach men. I wondered how her friends would make sense of her rationale ( if the pastor approves then Im under his authority
      ) which is why I’ve asked her to comment on this issue. She may have changed her position since that time and is no longer accepting opportunities to speak to “mixed” audiences but that begs the question why? I’m curious.

      It also doesn’t answer my dilemma around other biblical passages regarding women that you seem to ignore – such as the passages about not wearing make up or the need to wear a head covering. If you could address those questions I think it would go along way toward abating my feeling that when you accuse me of “cherry picking” the bible it sounds like a case of the pot calling the skillet black.

      Im not attacking your right to hold your view – Im asking how is what we do any different than what you are doing?

      • Jim,
        I’d like to start by apologizing to you. I meant no offense when I used the term “cherry picking” and I certainly did not mean to “accuse” you. That’s just a term I use to describe what I see as folks following the parts of the Bible they like and ignoring or not following the parts they don’t like.
        I really don’t recall accusing you, but you think I did so I’m sorry.
        On the other hand, you stated that I “ignore” Paul’s instructions to women on not wearing make-up and covering their heads. You don’t know me, so you could not have known that, in fact, I do not wear make-up. So I forgive you for assuming that I do. I do not, however, cover my head in church. Interestingly, I have had this same conversation with someone in my family and I’ll tell you what I told her – I think the gist of Paul’s admonition to women is that they should not do anything to draw attention to themselves in church. I try to follow the spirit of Paul’s instructions and dress very conservatively, especially when I attend church.
        This entire conversation is becoming far too contentious. I did not mean to be the pot calling the kettle/skillet black. I was just setting forth my opinion on the issue. Now I feel like I’ve been almost attacked for it by others who do not agree with what I wrote. I do not harbor any ill-will toward any of you and I respect your right to your opinions. I’m leaving this discussion thread now, however, because it is not productive. I don’t think you and the other pro-women-in-church-leadership-roles folks really want to read the opinions of those of us who disagree with you.
        God bless all of you.
        Paige Szajnuk

  15. Paige, thanks for your comment.

    There are Christians who believe the Bible as much as you do, yet who believe it teaches God wants women to lead as much as men. If you’re interested to learn more, there’s an organization called Christians for Biblical Equality which has some free articles on their website here http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/free-articles on why they believe the Bible teaches women and men are to lead equally.

    In one of the articles – http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/basics-biblical-equality-belief-and-practice – it says

    “Do not impugn the motives of those who disagree with biblical equality, but assume that they hold to [their] position because they want to be faithful to the Bible—the same reason that [we] hold [our] position.”

    I think this is wonderful advice for all of us: that _unless told otherwise by them_ we assume Christians who disagree with us hold to their position because they want to be faithful to the Bible.

    (As strange as that may seem if the meaning of the Bible seems absolutely clear to us.)

  16. We all “cherry pick” when we get into the mode of trying to prove this or that from the scriptures. We can say all day that we read the ‘plain text’ of the Bible and let that dictate our belief, but if we are honest it’s often the other way around. By the way – which “plain text” are you reading, the Septuigant, the Vulgate, the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek texts, or a certain translation? (you get my point.) How else do you think we have ended up with so many churches who each believe they have the correct understanding of the Scripture? I will leave that discussion to another forum. In my own faith walk, I’m learning to read the Bible backward, through the finished work of Christ on the Cross. I no longer feel I have to defend the Bible. I believe that it is completely reliable to accomplish exactly what God wants it to accomplish. At the same time, I no longer have the ‘need’ to prove to you that my way of understanding the Word is “the right” or even “the best” way. Trying to “prove” the Bible kept me from really understanding the heart of God as expressed in the Bible for many years.
    More to come, I’m sure….

    • Laura, you are right; we all cherry pick. Those who are so quick to choose homosexuality as the first (and usually, worst) sin probably eat shrimp and wear clothes of mixed fibers….

  17. Helen,
    Thank you for the information. I’ve thought about this a lot since posting my comment and have decided there are several issues at play here informing my opinion. One is set forth in my earlier post and is exactly as you stated in yours – I want to be faithful to the Bible -, but others stem from my own personality and experiences. We are all products of our experiences to some extent – as least that’s what I’ve been told. Anyway, the issue of whether women should have leadership roles in the church is simply not “my” issue. As an introvert, I’ve never had the desire to have a leading role in church. I’m much more comfortable serving in the background. Also, my experience is very limited with respect to women as leaders in the church. About a year ago I left a local church for a number of reasons, one of which was the new female pastor that the church conference put in the lead pastor position. She and I had differing theological beliefs and I had no respect for her. I don’t know how much her gender played a part of my lack of respect. I’d like to think it was very limited or even non-existent, but can’t honestly say. Nevertheless, my one experience with a female pastor was negative and as a result I have no desire to see women take leading roles in the church. I believe reasonable minds can differ and I certainly don’t want to appear unloving to women who do feel lead to assume a leadership role in their churches, but I am not interested in supporting them in their quest. There are other issues more important to me personally that consume my time and energies.
    I’m sorry if some women feel marginalized by the church and its policies/procedures. I would encourage those women to realize that God gives each of us different gifts, blessings, skill sets and roles. And as Paul explained, different body parts have different functions, but all are important to the functioning of the entire body. We don’t have to be the brain to contribute and we please God, I think, when we “bloom where we are planted” (for lack of a better way to say it).
    Thank you,
    Paige Szajnuk

    • Paige,
      I’m glad you joined the conversation and I’m sad you are leaving it. I have come to think that not only do individuals have roles in the body, but different groups of beleivers, (sometimes in the form of local churches, sometimes in other groupings) also have particular contributions to the larger “big C” church. Our different ways of seeing life and of living out the gospel will connect with different folks who are far from Christ in different ways. I believe that God allows this. Sure, there are some ‘non-negotiables’. I don’t see the way women minister in a particular environment as a non-negotiable. I do see “love as I (Christ) has loved you” as a non-negotiable. I betcha if we were in the same… oh… quilting guild together we would find we have far more in common than we have dividing us.
      Grace to you, sister… and thanks for being willing to put yourself “out there” on a public forum like this.

  18. Hi Paige, thanks for coming back and reading my post and responding to me. I really appreciate that.

    I respect what you’re saying, that this is not an issue you feel personally called to take up, and also that your own experience with a female leader was negative. (I have had some quite negative experiences of my own with female Christian leaders for what it’s worth)

    I think each woman needs to do what they believe God is calling them to do; for some it is to ‘bloom where they are planted’; for others it is to go find a way to lead as they truly believe God has called them to lead, even if they have to fight for that opportunity.

  19. Thanks Paige – very courageous of you to jump into this conversation. for teh record my book is not about whether or not women can be pastors but about power. Jesus told us to give it away and it seems to me that we who call ourselves followers of The Lord Jesus could be doing a much better job of that with money, gender and race.

  20. Leigh,

    I loved, loved, loved your video! I am so happy you posted it. Parts of it made me sad (when you were sad) and parts of it made me laugh (when you were so sure about things that I am so sure about exactly the opposite of).

    The best part was how your heart and passion really came through. You made me feel that we could talk for hours even though we probably disagree theologically on just about everything. That’s quite a gift.

    Thank you for taking the risk of putting yourself out here like this.

  21. At the risk of being misunderstood and having my motives for psoting this questioned I’m simply getting too old to let some things go past me withtout “noticing” anymore. With that caveat here goes… Because I’ve been a Christian for a long time I understand why Paige “heard” this as a contentious conversation. Christians have learned from their elders that it’s actually ok to talk about each other behind each others backs but discussing our differences face to face is called contentious. It seems that one of the very worst things Christians can experience is that someone disagrees with them and their assertions. I believe this problem has emerged due to the fact that we have replaced faith with certainty. Christians claim certainty about specific passages of the bible and ignore the other passages that don’t “fit”. Since we all do this we are all cherry picking. This bad habit is because for the most part we have become bibliolatrists (bible worshippers) instead of Jesus worshippers. Jesus and the bible have become so merged in our evangelical minds that the written word has become Jesus.

    The fact that huge segments of Christians have historically disagreed with each other is simply dismissed by saying “those” people are ignorant – idiots or evil (thanks to author Kathryn Schultz for that insight). Frankly the older I get the more embarassed I feel to be associated with this (lack of) thinking.

    Be that as it may I have not given up on seeing if Christians who disagree can learn to love each other. Maybe it’s too high of a bar. Maybe we simply dont want to pay the cost of being disciples.

    At any rate thank you Dorreen for your generous response to Leighs post- Lets see where this goes

    • Thanks for those thoughts, Jim… You captured something that is pretty important to any discussion that might involve the Bible and where folks “might” disagree. I’m beginning to think if there are two of us in the room, there are probably 3 opinions (or when it comes to the Bible, 3 ‘certainties’) on many topics!

  22. Hey MR Jim, First of all sorry for just now responding. Life has gotten away with me. Or maybe I have gotten away with life.

    My story with women – one time the pastor of a church asked me to lead a Bible study. I had just moved to the area and actually had not been a member for too long. Considering it was the pastor that asked me I didnt think there were any other hoops to jump through. I agreed and was excited to be used in my new church.

    Ladies (2) on the women’s committee threw a hissy fit. They had not asked me, the pastor asked me – like he did not ok it with them first – and them approve me – and them ask me…..

    I mean it got bad!!! I was just floored. I was so sad for my pastor, head of our church, shepherd to his people, that it seemed he could not ask someone to teach Bible study without running it through a committee. Where was his authority????? It wasn’t right.

    When you got down to the real ‘stuff’ of the issue it became very obvious these ladies were clearly intimidated and threaten by me – I had not done anything yet to cause these feelings, but i guess it was by what they had heard about me….. I had come from a huge mega church, had done tons of women’s ministry there, i traveled the world as a Christian speaker…………..it was as if they thought i was taking over by teaching 1 class or maybe the pastor didn’t think they were good enough because he asked me this time…. Im not sure!

    It was nuts – My pastor and I find that many pastors shy away from anything to do with women because of the irrationality we go at with some things. They (pastors) get this mindset – it seems to me, I have never heard this come out of any pastors mouth – Im gonna leave them alone and let them do their own thing because I can never please them.

    My pastor handled things Biblically and called a meeting of all of us together. I am not sure much came out of the meeting because they just played the “everything is fine” game. I did not teach. I probably should have! My pastor stood up for me and I was very pleased with the manner in which he handled things.

    I don’t want to serve in a church to be left alone to do my thing, I want to serve my church with His blessing and his blessing.

  23. Leigh – there is nothing in the story you told, for me to be able to see the women were intimidated by you. It sounded like they were angry with the pastor for undermining their authority and responsibility for the program.

    What I read, based on the information you provided, was a failure of leadership by your pastor. It really doesn’t sound like it had anything to do with you.

    Could you tell me more to help me understand your perspective and interpretation of what happened?

    • I would also add – that in a culture that does not allow space for expressing disagreement directly with Authority/power, people are then put in a position of expressing their anger/frustration in unhealthy ways by taking it out on others, talking about it in the hallways.

      In this case, they may not have felt they had any recourse because the Pastor holds absolute authority in your church and that left them to direct their anger and frustration to you.

      People need to be seen, heard, and valued. When their objections are not given a fair listen – but instead the “because I said so” type of response – then it leaves people feeling not seen, not heard, and not valued by the person with power.

      Jesus modeled seeing, hearing, and valuing others. He has all the power and yet, he would engage in difference with others respectfully.

  24. Leigh thanks for sharing your story with women.

    I guess I see this situation rather differently from you, although perhaps that’s because I’m misunderstanding it (and/or reading into it based on my own experiences).

    Thinking of what Jim loves to say, again “When people like each other, the rules change” – I think the best thing your pastor could have done is anything that would encourage the womens committee women and you to get to know each other and like each other (or at least respect each other :)). Then even if they felt intimidated they would be more able to set that aside and give you a role that uses your gifts and experience.

    I think him asking you to be a Bible study leader without even talking to them was unwise and counterproductive. If the womens committee has the responsibility of setting up womens Bible studies and their leaders he should have let them be the ones to decide whether you would lead or not. By asking you himself he disrespected their authority. I don’t think it’s irrational of them to be upset by that.

    And then while him standing up for you was respectful of you, it seems like it perpetuated a ‘you vs them’ feeling which was unhelpful in encouraging them to be friends with you.

    It seems unfair to me to do something unwise that upsets women then blame them for being irrational and decide to have nothing to do with them after that. I would turn what you said about men around (based on my experience of male Christian leaders :)) and say instead: many male Christian leaders lack the interpersonal skills to navigate the interpersonal dynamics of church community and because of this, unfortunately they often cause unintentional harm and perpetuate dysfunction in church communities.

    I think both men and women suffer from the unequal power distribution between genders in many churches.

  25. Hi all,

    I am sorry it has taken me so long to watch your vlog post, Leigh! I love your heart, and I loved the chance to see your face and hear your voice at the same time.

    As a shared on the Cloud Show the other day, this whole experience with ROE has really given me the challenge to think and to consider the heart views of others from different backgrounds than mine.

    I’m in complete agreement with you on several points. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how we feel about things…it’s how God feels about them.

    I, too, I have seen how ugly some women can be, especially when they don’t get their way. Your story about the women throwing a fit didn’t surprise me a bit. While it may have been better for the Pastor to talk to the women’s committee and invite you together, it sounds like their “hissy fit” response stemmed from insecurity. When they had the opportunity to meet and share their views, they clammed up, plastered on the “Everything’s fine smile,” and didn’t take the opportunity.

    Lastly, I want to say that I love God’s Word, and I love God’s people.
    The Bible is my truth, but it will take getting to heaven and sitting at His feet before any of us will fully grasp the whole truth. I suspect we’ll all have some surprises when we get to heaven and find out some of our interpretations weren’t quite right. My bottom lines are: 1. We are sinners. 2. Jesus came to save us. 3. Believe Him! Receive Him! 4. Love God with all you are, and love people as you love yourself.

    I’ve checked off 1-3, and I’ll be spending the rest of my life working on #4.

    My prayer is: Lord, show me what You want from me. Show me how to love. Show me how to behave. Show me when to speak up and when to be silent. Open the doors through which You want me to walk, and deadbolt the ones that are not for me. You are God, and no man or woman compares to You.

  26. Lee

    I loved your story on the Cloud Show- very real, very moving and very very helpful to many of the listeners. I appreciated your humility and courage

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