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Bernadine Tillman

Bernadine Tillman lives in Birmingham, Alabama where she has been functioning as pastor/teacher of Body of Christ Church since 1997. Bernadine was saved at the age of 19 on April 17, 1981. She spent the first 10 years of her Christian life in bondage to the traditional teaching regarding women. In 1993, a friend gave Bernadine a copy of Katherine Bushnell's book God's Word to Women. This would be the beginning of a journey to find her place in the world. In 1997, Bernadine began a Women's Bible Study with Katherine's book. After 18 months of study, the Holy Spirit commissioned her to write a small practical guide to help other women realize their place and value in God's heart, the church, and the world. Many lives have been radically impacted by the truths contained in A Woman's Place. Bernadine's prayer is that, every person reading the book will realize that only TRUTH sets us free.

INTRODUCTION

This book was birthed out of a search for my own place in the Kingdom of God. For many years, I had experienced much physical, spiritual, and emotional abuse, which was justified by misuse of scripture.

I had been taught many things that did not agree with what I believed God was saying about me. So, I went on a journey to find out what my heavenly Father felt about me as a woman. You hold in your hands the fruit of that journey.

On the pages that follow, I address those issues regarding a woman's place. I know that much of what you are about to read will probably challenge your theology. It is intended to confront the traditions of men which have "made the commandment of God of none effect." (Matthew 15:6). It may be painful for you to read. It was certainly painful for me to write. Each page was forged as my husband and I were being tried in the fire of fresh revelation of God's word.

I need to tell you that I am not some angry wife seeking vindication. Believe me, what I have suffered to write this book would not have been worth it. I am just a Christian woman who went searching for the truth and when I found it, I could not go back.

When I realized what God was saying about women and how far from the truth the church had strayed, I was terrified. Suddenly, I had visions of Dr. Martin Luther King giving his "I Have A Dream" speech on the eve of his assassination. Just like Dr. King's stand for racial equality was opposed, it dawned on me that this truth of gender equality would also be opposed. This could not only cost me my reputation, this could cost me my life! Then, I understood what Dr. King meant when he said, "like anybody I would like to live..." But like him, I too had been changed. It was as if I had stepped over into something, and a door had closed behind me. All of a sudden, I knew that this revelation was much bigger than my little marriage, my little family, or any ministry that the Lord would entrust to us.

Please know that I do not make myself equal with Dr. King. I simply use him because his struggles for freedom and equality of the races paint a vivid picture of the struggles that women must face for their freedom and equality. Based upon this comparison, I knew that this message had huge spiritual and natural implications. Everything around me was pulling against this truth. Yet, I knew that God was requiring me and my family to walk in the light of the truth that we had been given. Even though we had lived in a curse-motivated marriage for many years, it was often a challenge for us to trust that God had a better plan for our lives. It was not easy for us to break away from our old mindsets and traditions.

It has taken us several years to get here. Now, we are finally able to share what God has revealed to us. I pray that the truth contained in these pages will truly make you free! It has certainly brought freedom for my family and me. I can now say that my husband and I love and appreciate each other more than ever. We are experiencing a greater anointing in our ministry than ever before. Every single one of our relationships has been positively affected. We can now say that what we suffered to get here was worth it.

I truly believe that when the church grasps the revelation of a woman's place, we will become a formidable enemy to the devil. Satan knows that already. My prayer is that all of the Body of Christ would come to a full understanding of what it means for both males and females to stand together in their true God-given dominion or authority.

As you read, I ask that you lay aside every thing that you thought you knew about men and women as it relates to God's plan. I challenge you to search out every scripture. Do not take my word for anything. However, I suggest that you get a Bible dictionary, a concordance, a copy of the Septuagint, and several Bible translations. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you into all truth. I trust God that your life will never be the same. May God bless you as you seek Him.

A Woman's Place In God's Heart
by Bernadine Tillman

The following is a true story of a Christian wife, who like many other Christian wives, did not understand a woman's place in God's heart.

"It was 1993. I was elated! Finally, I had married the godly man that God had promised me. Now my life, ministry, and family would be complete. Right? Wrong.

A deadly seed regarding a woman's place and value had been planted deep within. I did not know it but, all of the traditions of men that I had received in the soil of my heart were about to yield a destructive crop in my life. I barely survived... physically or spiritually.

My relationship with my husband began to deteriorate almost immediately. My husband had made it clear that there were no Christians holy enough for him. So, he isolated me from fellowship with other believers. At first, I told no one about the sexual and verbal abuse. After all, I had been told by pastors and prophets alike that I was not to defraud my husband sexually. I finally informed them that once during our intimate time together, my husband screamed, "I am Jeeeeesus!" Still, I was told that refusing to have sex with my husband was a sin.

I was taught the traditional doctrine that submission meant unconditional obedience to my husband. They said that God would protect me if I submitted to my husband and obeyed him in everything. Unfortunately, the abuse continued... only now, the church sanctioned it. My spiritual counselors blamed me for the problems that I was experiencing in my marriage. Everyone knew that God would not allow any thing bad to happen to me as long as I was a "submissive" wife.

Then, the crucial test came. Two days earlier, I had been in a car accident and injured my back. I felt very tired and my body ached all over. My husband was very angry as usual. He yelled, "I'm going to beat you. And to prove your loyalty to me, you will not resist me!" Every fiber of my being screamed, "No! This is wrong! Run, run!" Yet, the false teaching about a woman's place and the fear of displeasing God kept me cemented to that spot. All I could think was that "God won't allow him to hurt me because I've been a submissive wife."

He pulled a large plastic coat hanger from the closet and began to beat me mercilessly. As the blows began to fall on my already injured back, I remember thinking, "Dear God, where are you? Please, please make him stop." My back, my bottom, my thighs, and even my calves were black, purple, and swollen. Then, he demanded sex.

I don't remember much after that. My heart was numb. I felt confused and alone. I was disappointed that my Heavenly Father had not protected me. I had come to a crisis in my belief and my identity.

A few days later, I recalled the words of Job, "though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." I gathered all of the courage that I had left and I approached God. After all, I figured if He killed me, I would be no worse off.

I asked, "Lord Jesus, how could you allow this beating? I thought Your Word said that I was supposed to submit to and obey my husband as if he were You; and if he was wrong, You would protect me." I began to cry. Then, Jesus spoke to my heart. His voice was sad, but firm. He said, "That's the problem daughter, you thought My Word said... I only watch over My Word to perform it... not what men say that I have said. You had better find out what I am saying and obey me."

From that point on, I began to search the scriptures. For the first time, I decided that I would stand only on God's word. I was convinced that I had somehow been deceived concerning the issue of submission, obedience, sex, and many other things regarding a woman's place. I also realized that I had a warped view of what God really thought about me as a woman.

Several days later, I heard the Lord say, "Submit to God. Resist the devil. Daughter, you must resist the physical abuse in my name." That day, I had the opportunity to prove that I had really heard the Lord's voice. My husband pinned me to the floor, straddled me, and slapped me. He was purple with rage. As he began to draw back his fist to punch me, I felt no fear. I immediately said, "In Jesus' name, you will never strike me again!"

My husband was shocked that he could not throw the punch. I was shocked too. He jumped off me in a rage. He cursed me, but, he could not hit me. Glory to God! He had indeed watched over His Word to perform it. Many years have passed since that incident, but my husband has never again struck me. God showed us both that He did not approve of this kind of treatment for wives."

Wanda

Finally, after hearing stories of abuse like this one; and after my own "hellish" experiences, I started asking God some tough questions about a woman's place. Then, in 1997, the Lord led me and my prayer partner to teach a Bible study called God's Word to Women, so named because of the book we studied by the same title written by Katherine Bushnell.

I share this story so that you may know that every person, whether male of female, is special to God. He has not ordained men to be kings, lords, or gods over their wives. I would like to say that this story was a rare case. The truth of the matter is that I hear stories like this all the time from women, especially Christian ones.

Katherine was a Greek and Hebrew scholar and a medical doctor who had been called to preach in the early 1900's. As you might expect, this was not a popular time for women preachers. She told the Lord that she would preach if He would prove to her in the word of God that preaching was acceptable for women. The book, God's Word To Women was the result of Katherine's encounter with the living God. I am deeply indebted to her for her diligence and research. I look forward to meeting her someday in heaven.

Still, teaching this class with Katherine's book was only the beginning for me. As we prepared for the Women's Bible Study, we prayed and asked God to show us which women to include in the class. The Lord handpicked twelve women of varying racial, denominational, economic, and marital backgrounds with a deep passion for the truth.

On the first day of class, I asked the question, "how many of you now feel or have ever felt that God loved or valued men more than women?" Much to my surprise, every hand went up. Each woman tried to explain. You see, they did not believe that this feeling was in harmony with scripture. However, their experiences with men along with their religious teaching had caused them to question their value in God's Kingdom.

Each one of us had been treated as if we were second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God. Although, we felt that this second-class status was wrong, our various religious teachers had taught us that this was God's will.

This class was about to become the biggest challenge of our lives. We would have to let go of our old mindsets, wrong teaching, fears, and everything else that we thought we knew about a woman's place.

While I had taught many Bible classes over the past fifteen years, this class was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. As God began to give revelation, I felt as if my whole world had been turned upside down. We laughed; we cried; we repented; and sometimes we just laid prostrate in the presence of God.

Surprisingly, we found that every one of our relationships had been negatively affected by our misunderstanding of a woman's place. We had no idea how drastically this class was about to affect our lives. We had a face-to-face encounter with the living God, and there was no turning back. What you are about to read is the result of that encounter and what we learned about a woman's place in God's heart, in the home and in the church.

A Woman's Place by Bernadine Tillman There are scores of books that deal with the theological aspects of a woman's right to preach or lead, but I had not found many books that adequately answered the questions that I had concerning a woman's place in God's Kingdom. I found even fewer books that adequately dealt with the everyday issues of a woman's place in the home.

My husband and I wrestled with the practical application of what we had been taught concerning a woman's place. I must admit to you that this revelation totally upset the status quo of our household. There was much pain and suffering associated with the change that was required of us to line up with the revelation. There were days when I wondered if we would make it.

As you read this book, I want you to understand that this is not a compilation of some theological mumbo jumbo. Every page was tried in the furnace of real life. While it was not easy, it was worth it. After years of living in hell, my husband and I now have a happy marriage, a blessed family, and an awesome ministry that the Holy Spirit is allowed to direct.

Let me warn you that what is contained on these pages will probably challenge your theology. But, I know that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you into all truth. I pray that as you continue to read, you will begin to see yourself and others in the light of God's word. I trust that you will come to realize that both women and men have a very special place in God's heart. After your discovery, I pray that you will be bold enough to respond to the Holy Spirit's call to action.

A Woman's Place can be purchased directly from the author, just send $10 plus $3.00 shipping to :

A Womans' Place, P O Box 12, Dolomite, AL 35061.


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