Dangerous Cliques: Domineering Old Lady Club

In the book of Galatians we have the account of Peter being confronted by Paul because Peter decided to be a part of a clique. He was eating with the Gentiles when there were only Gentiles. But as soon as other Jews showed up, he quit eating with the Gentiles and only ate with the Jews. Paul immediately confronted Peter in front of all those there. He had to do this for the sake of the gospel.

The very idea of a clique is antithetical to the gospel. The gospel is not only intended to bring men into a right relationship with the Father by dealing with our sin against Him, but also meant to bring people together united in Christ’s blood. Cliques in the church like the one Peter was joining undermine the gospel for at the heart of the clique is pride and a belief that while we are all saved by grace, some are not worthy of the fellowship that was purchased by the blood of Christ.This very attitude needs to be confronted and dealt with because it also grieves the Holy Spirit.

If we are all justified by the same Christ, where is there room for a clique in the body of Christ? I began thinking about this when I was preaching that it is Jesus Christ who establishes His church and the gates of Hades will not stand against it. The church belongs to Christ, not to men and their cliques. As those called to be faithful, we must fight against the temptation to join cliques and to ignore them in the body of Christ. They are there, and like Paul, we must stand against them.

In looking at this topic, it also helps to realize that cliques are nothing more than a manifestation of sin in the body of Christ. We can all fall into one or many of these categories. The hope here is that as we look at these different groupings, we see the greater need for humility in our own lives. After all, when all is said and done, we are all in the body of Christ because of God’s grace toward us, not because of anything that we can use to prop up ourselves a superior fashion. That is all a clique really is, a means to prop oneself up in a superior fashion over others and this is a sinful attitude.

While writing this, I realized that I could actually fall into a clique as well: those who point out the problems of the church clique. That is not my goal. It is easy to point to the faults of others and ignore our own faults. This is why I should plan on writing about the theological accuracy club, a clique that is centered upon God’s word, but is just as heinous as the rest of the cliques.

The only true group we belong to is that group in which our Savior began some 6,000 years ago with Abraham and sealed it with His blood 2,000 years ago. It’s a group made up of sinners. If we have anything to boast about, it is the grace of God toward us, and even in that, we must set our own pride aside.

Where to start? Today I’m starting with the Domineering-Old-Lady club, or DOLC. I will eventually cover the Good ‘Ol Boy Club, the Charter-member club, the Bible-study clique, and Education Nazis (This group is subdivided into the  the Private-School Nazis, or Classical Christian School Nazis, or the lesser known, “My children are missionaries in the public school” Nazis, and Home-school Nazis. It includes any group within the church that thinks of themselves as more superior because of how they educate their children and I’m not bashing the ways in which we have been given in this country to educate our children. It’s a matter of the sin of superiority in these groups that is the problem).

Domineering-Old-Lady Club (DOLC)

This clique is one of the worst cliques imaginable. It is made up of older women who like to think of themselves as the matriarchs of the church, sort of like Sarah in the Bible. However, this is never the case.

The true matriarch in the fashion of Sarah is not the woman who is getting her way by being demanding, manipulative, conniving, forceful, ugly, rude, etc. The true matriarch in the fashion of Sarah usually goes unnoticed. Everyone loves her, because there is something worthy to be loved in her. She is a desire to be around because she is sweet, kind, nice, gentle, long suffering. You know those fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22? These qualities saturate the true matriarch and are never found in the members of the Domineering Old Lady Club. The DOLC deceive themselves by thinking they are like Sarah.

Every church I have had the opportunity to pastor has had their fair share of DOLCs. Their names are everywhere and on everything. Other members of the church and DOLC wanna be’s hold up these women as something to aspire to. However, they lack any real submissiveness towards those in leadership. If you notice, they get their way and will do what it takes to bring it about. In doing so, DOLCs reflect their true spiritual mother, Eve, not Sarah. Instead of deferring to Adam, as she should have done, Eve wanted to display her leadership ability. That wasn’t her role. Yes, Adam was failing in his role as well. We will get to that in a subsequent post. However, I’m covering the DOLCs because they are the most dangerous.

There are two reasons this group is so dangerous. The first is that men tend to fear this group. The second reason is that so many other women aspire to become DOLCs.

DOLCs like to think of themselves as the women who surrounded Jesus in His ministry (Luke 8:1-3). However, their nature is more like that of Herodias, whose daughter danced before Herod and asked for John the Baptist’s head (Matthew 14:1-12). The degree of their sin may not be as severe, but it is still the same sin.

What these women should be are those quiet women in the congregation that seek to serve Christ in all humility. You can find these women described in Proverbs 31 and Titus 2.

Just look at the Titus 2:3 woman found in the first 5 verses of Titus 2.

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

We see two aspects of this verse for what older women are to be. The first is that older women are to help instruct younger women in what it means to be a godly woman. They are not to rule the younger women, but to come along side the younger women and help them in being godly wives and mothers.

The DOLC usually sees the younger women of the church as a threat or a bother. They will separate themselves from the younger women and make sure that they younger women are not involved in any aspect of the women’s ministries, or other ministries for that matter, when it might challenge the DOLCs control and power. I know of one case where a DOLC actually threw a tantrum because a younger woman in the church suggested a name change to a woman’s ministry. There was no godliness at all in the DOLC, just the kind of tantrum that one would find in say a 4 year old that demand his way.

The second truth to the Titus 2 verse is that the godly woman has her home, husband and children as the focus of her ministry. She helps at the church, but the church is not her primary realm of ministry. Her family is her ministry. She thrives on providing a loving home that both her children and husband love because of the sweet aroma of Christ that is found there. She doesn’t see the home and the work there as a throw back to some forgotten generation, but a delightful ministry that the LORD has given specifically to her. Only she can do what is necessary there and she loves the ministry because it is from the LORD, not something she has been saddled with.

DOLCs are more interested in who they are in the church and running the church than they are in providing homes that are safe havens for their family. They acquiesce to terms like “submission” but only for the sake of looking good to others. The reality is that the word “submission” is not a reality in DOLC’s life. That is what others do to her because of her place of prominence and longevity in the life of the church.

This longevity is part of the problem in that DOLCs see the church as actually belong to them. They get upset when newer couples come along and threaten to change things in their church. This attitude is only enhanced if the DOLC is a Charter member of the church. It just compounds the problem.

As hard as it is the leadership of the church must stand against DOLCs, for they profane the name of Christ and bring reproach to the body. When elders ignore these realities, they are actually affirming the DOLCs in the role. By not doing so, the DOLCs actually begin to inhibit church growth and outreach. Their power is so entrenched that anyone, including a new pastor, becomes a threat to the greater good of the DOLC.

In not resisting this group, the group gains the upper hand in church matters and prevent any type of change that may occur. This leads to the slow and eventual erosion of the body, to the point that if this group is not confronted, the church dies. In fact, the church may already be dead when a group like this is in control. My first church was like this. Nothing moved without the approval of the DOLC. It wasn’t long before I realized the church was dead before I arrived. The best thing to do with a church like this is to bury it. After all, it’s bringing only shame on the name of Christ.

BTW, this is one of the reasons that I believe women should not be placed in leadership in the church. Not that they are not qualified, or capable, but there is a tendency for them to slide into the role of Eve and rule the day, instead of living out the role of Sarah, humbling submitting to the leadership in the church. When women get placed on boards, sessions, committees, etc., they have a tendency to end up running those board simply because men like to play the role of Adam, instead of stepping up to the leadership position that God has given us. When a woman is on the board, men are actually afraid of disagreeing with women because they don’t want to be seen as chauvinistic. And if they do disagree with a woman, they will be seen as chauvinistic. So let us avoid the controversy by encouraging men to shepherd as they are called to do, and let women minister in support roles in the church.

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3 thoughts on “Dangerous Cliques: Domineering Old Lady Club

  1. Maria C

    I agree. We need to see more pastors and male leaders be just that leaders. Not dictators but real shepherds. I believe both men and women need to be taught what biblical submission really means. God Bless! Mrs. MC

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