Lee Grady Opens the Door for Women
As the father of four daughters, J. Lee Grady realized early on that "God put all those girls in my life because he has a special message he wanted me to give," he says.
Grady, an ordained pastor and Charisma magazine's editor for 11 years, addresses questions of women in Christian leadership and ministry at conferences around the world; his new organization, the Mordecai Project, confronts the abuse of women, and his books address Ten Lies the Church Tells Women (Creation House, 2000), 25 Tough Questions About Women and the Church (Charisma House, 2003), and Ten Lies Men Believe (Charisma House, 2011).
In his new book, Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn From 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead (Baker, 2012), Grady turns his attention to biblical and historical women who challenged tradition, disrupted status quos, and stood up for themselves and others. Each of the book's 15 chapters discusses a woman or group of women whom Grady sees as role models. Each chapter highlights a specific character trait—for example, Miriam, Moses' sister, represents "the courage to lead in a man's world," and Ruth represents "the courage to forsake the past." Short chapters are designed to prompt further group discussion, with a handful of discussion questions and a short "Message from Your Heavenly Father" with the chapter.
Grady talked with Her.meneutics contributor Ruth Moon about women and ministry in the contemporary church.
Some of the women you mention are well-known Bible characters, but others I hadn't heard of. How did you choose them all?
All of the chapters are different messages that I've been preaching on for the past eight or nine years. For example, the daughters of Zelophehad, who are in chapter 2, [offer] a fundamental message, because of the whole revelation of women taking their inheritance. Hardly anybody preaches about them, even though they're in the Bible in five places. It's such a powerful message, yet most women never hear it.
You point out women in the Bible who take charge, some with actions that could be interpreted as overbearing. Is there a model for women today to do this well?
We've done such a disservice to women in the church [by saying] that in order for you to be a good Christian woman, you have to be quiet, demure, and all about domestic duties. That is tragic. I don't want my girls to be that way. I want them to be assertive and to stand up for what they believe and be bold when they need to be. There's nothing brash or wrong with a woman doing that. We've elevated timidity to a virtue. The Bible says timidity is a sin. Why do we think that women are being Christlike or virtuous by being silent or quiet? There's a time to be quiet. There's a time for all of us to keep our mouths shut. But there's also a time to speak, and we have plenty of examples of women in the Bible who were bold enough to speak.