I was having lunch with a friend at Wendy’s when a gentleman from the community approached and asked if he could sit for a moment to share something with me. I was familiar with his name but had never formally met him. I knew he was a believer, and as he approached us, I could feel the heaviness of God’s presence and a keen awareness that God was about to do something.
As the man sat down, he looked straight at me and said, “The Lord wants you to know that He has called you to break through the glass ceiling for women here in our state. He’s going to bring people to listen to you about political and economic issues. People are going to want to listen.”
This was quite an amazing prophetic word, especially because I was in the middle of a difficult season where I felt like no one was listening to me. I kept running into roadblocks with people inside and outside the church who dismissed what I was saying. For a time, I thought it was my age, but the Lord confirmed to me that people were not rejecting what I was saying because I was young; they were rejecting me because I was a woman.
Later that same evening, a local television station reported that women in my state have never held the office of Governor or United States Senator. They also reported that women are not being paid equally for the same jobs as men. The title of the television report was, “Is There a Glass Ceiling for Women in Indiana?”
Dismantling an Unjust System
The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920, guaranteeing women the right to vote. This was 50 years after African American men gained this right in 1870. It is quite a surprising realization that women in the US have not yet had the right to vote for 100 years in our nation.
When we understand how truly young the women’s suffrage movement is, we can appreciate that we really have come a long way in 96 years; however, we also know we have not arrived yet—there are plenty of places that women have not realized equality with men. I am full of hope, though, that in the next few decades we will reach this goal: in Christ, there is no male or female.
Part of the confusion that contributes to these obstacles comes from the long-held idea that men are called to be the “masters” of women. This misguided belief is the foundation of the patriarchy system America was built on—a family, group or government controlled by a man or a group of men. (2)
We get a peek inside the minds of the founders through this correspondence between John Adams and his wife, Abigail, right before the colonies declared their independence in 1776:
Abigail Adams (March 31, 1776): …I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands…
John Adams (April 14, 1776): …we know better than to repeal our masculine systems. Although they are in full force, you know they are little more than theory…We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat.
Abigail Adams (May 7, 1776): …I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives. (1)
It is this system of patriarchal beliefs that women are still fighting to be freed from. When Christ died, He wiped out the curse that Eve’s sin brought upon women. There is no reason to “desire to control our husbands,” nor is there a need for our husbands to “rule over us” (Genesis 3:16). The blood of Jesus obliterated this curse. We are now free. Both male and female are at liberty to return to our duties as we had in the Garden of Eden.
God gave Eve to Adam to help him rule over the earth, to increase, to be fruitful, to subdue the earth and fill it (Genesis 1:28). Her purpose was not to serve Adam’s calling; it was to serve alongside him and be one flesh as they ruled over the earth together.
God did not intend for Eve to be a second class citizen, to not have a vote. His liberty for women includes allowing them to have a voice in our government, in the marketplace, in His church, and in the home. His call for husbands and wives to be one flesh is a call that is still largely unfulfilled.
Coming Full Circle
I am fortunate to be married to a husband that doesn’t want me to lay down my calling in order to help him fulfill his. We help each other. I support him in what God has called him to do; he supports me in what God has called me to do. We are one flesh, ruling over the earth and filling it with the light of God’s Kingdom. I submit to my husband, and he submits to me by giving himself up for me. We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
There are no “masters” in our home. My husband does not treat me as a weaker partner. I do not attempt to control him. When there is mutual submission in the home, there is no reason for one person to be the “master” of another. There can be two powerful people in the home without emasculating the man or defeminizing the woman. The two become one, and in a one flesh relationship, patriarchy is overcome by love.
I have hit my head on the glass ceiling plenty of times in my 43 years. I have endured some pretty ugly insults from men who should have been my spiritual fathers. Instead of encouraging me to pursue the gifts God has given me, they showed me the boundaries in which they would allow me to use these gifts.
In spite of the discouragement from my church fathers, my Heavenly Father kept encouraging me to climb toward Him, no matter what they said. I never disobeyed the church fathers; I simply kept growing in my gifting, even if they refused to let me use it.
It was during this time that God gave me Ezekiel 3:8-9: “I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them…”
When I first began to encounter these obstacles, God gave me a vision of climbing on the wrong ladder. His Spirit spoke to me and said, Tisha, you don’t have to climb on the ladders of men. You can climb on the ladder I give you, and you will never hit a ceiling. Simply follow My lead.
I am no longer frustrated by the glass ceilings because I know they have no true power over me. My heavenly Father opens and shuts doors for me (Isaiah 22:22). Despite what men say, I choose to keep climbing and following God.
Since the prophetic encounter I described at the beginning of the article, the Lord is beginning to open doors for me, and I am seeing things He promised begin to come to pass. I am now holding political office as a state delegate, and I am discipling people out of poverty through a program called Pathway to Purpose. It stirs hope in me and affirms what I have learned through challenges over the years—God’s purposes stand, and no one can get in the way of what He has planned.
I encourage women to not feel powerless about the patriarchy system. Don’t rebel against it or rage against it. Submit to God instead; He will open doors for you that no man can shut.
Be encouraged, women of God; suffrage for women is alive and well. God gave women the right to have a voice and so much more back in the Garden of Eden. He will not stop fighting on our behalf until our full liberty is restored!
"Patriarchy." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
“Abigail Adams and John Adams Letters; Abigail Adams Letter to Mercy Otis Warren (1776).” The Adams Family Correspondence, eds. L. H. Butterfield et al. (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1963), vol. I, 29-31. Web. http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/171/175199/06_abagai.HTM. 12 May 2016.