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For years, the Proverbs 31 woman has been held over the heads of women in the church, a caricature of singular perfection—making them feel inadequate and less than holy. “Look at all the things this woman does!” books and Bible teachers remind women. “Why can’t you do those things, too?” they ask. Many Christian women have been hurt and diminished by stereotype-driven, culture-biased presentations of the Proverbs 31 figure. Is it any wonder, then, that many women have come to dislike this chapter so much? I believe, however, that it is possible to go beyond the stereotypes and impossible standards of "biblical" womanhood to redeem the truth of this passage—without adding an additional burden onto women’s shoulders. "An excel... Read more
My friend’s father is a godly man. She credits him, along with her mother, with the development of her Christian faith. Yet, this amazing example of faith is often not validated or welcomed by the body of Christ. Even worse, he cannot be “at home” with himself and his gifts in the church. Here’s why: Her father is a man with creative and artistic gifts. He has expressed these through many vocations—in creative advertising, as a talented painter, and even as a wedding planner. His paint creations and wedding designs are exquisite and help tell a beautiful story. They provoke emotion and delight. I remember when I graduated from seminary, my friend gave me one of her father’s works. In the painting, a man and woman walk along a beautiful pathway through... Read more
I’ve known for a while that I just don’t fit. I don’t fit the prescription for biblical womanhood. I’ve squirmed and I’ve stretched, impatiently, hoping to slide easily into the mold. And even then, after years of barely squeezing myself into the category, I’ve still found the box too constraining. My womanhood is messy. I think many men and women can relate to that realization. Most of the time, our personalities and gifts don’t fit into the neat little categories of masculine and feminine. People are messy. And, it’s a beautiful, messy world. So, when I see men and women struggle to squeeze into the compressed vacuum-storage box stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, only to find that they just can’t make themselves fit, I feel... Read more

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