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There are several passages in the New Testament that list the spiritual gifts believers receive for the purpose of building up of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4). Much has been written about these lists and their implications, particularly for how we ought to recognize and understand spiritual gifts in the church. We are called to honor and uplift all the different parts of the body of Christ, celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of believers’ spiritual gifts. I believe that these lists are intended to serve as simple reminders to Christians that the purpose of having gifts is to serve God and our fellow believers. In other words, all gifts are meant to be used and used well, regardless of gender. “Each of you should use whatev... Read more
The other day, a good friend of mine was told that she looks like a "pastor's wife." She was a bit confused about how she could possibly "look like a pastor's wife." I assume she was told this because she has a heart for the lost. She helped start and build a thriving youth ministry. She organizes events, preaches, and holds Bible studies. Any man doing the same (or even less) would be told that he could be a pastor. So why the difference? Sexism is lurking in the walls of the conservative church. In subtle ways, the church is telling women that they aren't invited to the decision-making table. There is a quietly oppressive system in place that ensures women know their place (which is not behind the pulpit or in any position of leadership). M... Read more
“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16b The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.  If these realities aren’t horrific enough, women experience more than inequity. They are often in physical danger of assault and gendercide as well. In their book, Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn tell us, “Women ag... Read more
Once in a while it makes me cringe. Occasionally, I argue the point in the rather limited space of a comment box on Facebook. As you can tell, most recently, it has prompted me to write this article for the Scroll. Maybe I should quit taking it so seriously, but it bothers me when people state, as if it were an indisputable fact, that mothers “just have an instinct” when it comes to caring for their children. It’s not that there is no instinct. There might be. I admit I don’t know a lot about the biology that underlies instinctive behavior. But I do know that instinct is too often assumed to be the reason women “just know” what to do for a crying infant or a fussy preschooler when, more times than not, we women don’t have a clue the first sev... Read more
I’ve seen you do it a thousand times. You speak, but you hedge, qualify, and apologize for your words. You backtrack. You surrender. You question your experience and viciously undermine the truth you speak. You tread softy and sit small. And who can blame you? It is what the world taught you to do. It is what the church taught you to do. You patrol the boundaries of your ideas carefully, allowing only the softest, sweetest version of the truth to slip through. You trim the jagged edges of your story away so men aren’t made uncomfortable. You’ve been trained to protect their privilege, so protect it you do. Women are used to suppressing and minimizing their opinions. For many, the instinct to capitulate to men is as natural as breathing. Many have even come to see... Read more
Check out a follow-up list of "Four More Sexist Myths That The Church Should Reject."  We’ve all heard them. Stupid jokes and thoughtless comments. Sexist sayings and caricatures. From the pulpit, at the altar, in school, from boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, parents, and friends. People pass off myths as facts and case-by-case examples as universal truth. Women are like this and men are like that. Women are obnoxious. Men are arrogant. Women are needy and men are emotionally unavailable. These statements are infused with cultural and gendered assumptions. They have no basis in the gospel and what’s more—they are rooted heavily in socialization. And yet, despite Christians’ pledge to reject unhealthy and sinful cultural messages, these pain... Read more
"What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who believes in me will do the works I have been doing. In fact, they will do even greater things. That’s because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12).  Anyone. The word leaped from the passage straight into my heart. Really? Anyone? I quickly checked the Greek word for "anyone" to see if it really meant anyone. Yes, it did. A thrill rose from the pit of my stomach. I'm an "anyone"! Jesus says that if I have faith, I qualify for the work of the kingdom. Faith qualifies me, not my gender. Simple, child-like, mustard seed faith allows me to move mountains for the kingdom. Jesus said with that with that faith, I can do the things he did.  I began to think of all the works Jesus di... Read more
In January, Kristin Rosser wrote an excellent article entitled "The Consequences of Complementarianism for Men." It began with an imaginary conversation between a complementarian husband and wife. The wife expresses frustration that her husband has not prioritized finding a solution to a broken dishwasher, because the burden of hand washing dishes has fallen on her. Specifically, we learn that he does not wash dishes and has been absent at dish time. When the husband perceives that his wife is undermining his decision to purchase a new dishwasher instead of fixing their current one, he ends the conversation by saying that she must support his choice, and she agrees. While this certainly reflects the dynamic in some households who practice one-way submission, it does not reflec... Read more
I could still smell the healing oil on my forehead after the Wednesday night church service. It was a strangely comforting smell. The Wednesday evening Eucharist is a healing service at my church. Each week, the priest invites those present to stand if they wish. She anoints them with oil and places her hands on their heads to pray for them. Healing oil. Healing prayers. Healing touch. Healing presence. I have spent the past year in this church, slowly recovering from the spiritual exhaustion and pain inflicted by those who decided that I, a woman and a missionary, had no real voice in their world.  I arrived on the doorstep of this church as a hurting, angry, disappointed ex-missionary who was questioning just about every component of her faith. Over the course... Read more
We all have a “thing”—a certain issue, cause, or topic that taps into our passion and causes us to climb up on our soapboxes. One of my “things” is building supportive communities for women in the church. So much so that, when my husband and I were at brunch with a group of friends recently and the conversation at my end of the table turned to women in leadership and ministry, it was only a matter of seconds before I was on my soapbox.  I argued that if a male leader in the church believes that women should be in positions of leadership, but doesn’t use his power to actively work toward that goal, he is sinning.  These words were born out of frustration with a system of complacent privilege in our churches. If we don’t see or... Read more