Jesus compared himself to a gate, saying that whoever enters through him will be safe, will come in and go out and find good pastures. This is post 1 of 3, where I discuss what a gatekeeper is, what gives people authority as a gatekeeper, and why some churches and individuals close the door to certain freedoms for women. A gatekeeper controls access to something or someone, usually to someone with power. A gatekeeper could be a receptionist who decides where to route a message, a security guard at the entrance of a residential building, a bouncer who decides who may enter a bar, or a religious authority deciding who may enter and play a role in leadership. In post 2, I provide examples of good gatekeepers and in post 3 I discuss the impact of bad gatekeepers.
Jesus said that he came that all may have life, and have it to the full. Jesus opened the gate to all people, so that all may participate in life to the full. He authorized all people to participate fully in life, use their gifts and follow their calling. All people, regardless of race, marital status, sexual preference or gender. All people.
In the novel I am writing, Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold Mara is broken by abuse, Joanna by racism. Both take active steps towards wholeness. It is not about being passive as Jesus swoops in and makes everything rosy. Jesus opens the gate and it is up to us to come in for shelter or go out to find good pastures. We are not usually the passive recipients of miracles. We need to take active steps and reach out for solutions. Thankfully, God gave various gifts to people who specialize in helping in various areas: financial planning, mental health, physical therapies or treatments. Those who come in and go out of the gate show faith in action.
Jesus compares those who do not go through the gate to thieves who hop the fence and steal, kill and destroy. Do you know of any leaders or authorities who steal, swindle, or manipulate others to get rich from their followers? Do you know any public speakers who hurt or destroy their followers by insulting, maligning, and belittling them? Any influencers who condone racism or sexism? Are any religious institutions complicit with emotional, spiritual or physical abuse? Jesus said that a corrupt person will bring forth evil fruit and that we can identify them by their actions (Matthew 7:17). We can know who is a good gatekeeper and who is a thief who hopped the fence.
Some have said we need to get rid of gatekeepers because so many bad gatekeepers have silenced people and blocked them from living life to the full. Social media has few gatekeepers, and we can see that giving everyone a voice can either work for good or harm. Censorship is a form of gatekeeping that limits messages that someone considers to be false or harmful. Having a good gatekeeper is better than having no gatekeeper.
Gatekeeping is an enormous responsibility. How do you decide who to limit or censor and who to allow to speak and lead? In churches, the authority to decide comes from the Bible. However, some say the Bible limits women's freedoms while others say that it does not. Those who say women are restricted from certain roles generally believe in a male hierarchal system, sometimes called complementarianism. Those who say the Bible does not limit women in any way are usually called Christian mutualists or egalitarians. There is biblical backing for both extremes, and I introduce the biblical rationale for each in my book The Sword: A fun way to Engage in healthy debate on What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Role.
Some people are too hurt or broken to be able to enter on their own. They need an advocate to open doors fo
r them. The Bible tells husbands to "Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life." (1 Peter 3:7 NLT). This verse asks men to set aside their advantages because women and men are equal heirs in God's kingdom.
Many biblical stories show Jesus empowering women and men both as students, followers, patrons, disciples and apostles. As a gatekeeper, Jesus opened
the gate to those who had previously been excluded from studying or public speaking.
Do we need a gatekeeper? Yes, if it's a good gatekeeper who follows Jesus' example, and welcomes people so that they may have life and have it to the full.
Note: This post is a theological discussion and addresses church gatekeepers. I am not an expert in domestic violence and recommend you speak to others on that topic. If you are wondering if you are in an abusive relationship, check out these resources:
Natalie Hoffman offers the first chapter free of her book Is it Me? Making Sense of your Confusing Marriage
Domestic Violence Resources from The Recovery Village:
Explore the connection between addictions and domestic violence here:
The government of Canada provides these resources for family violence: