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Counseling

I try very hard not to dominate conversations when the topic turns to gender and faith. I really do! But when a pastor came to our home for dinner, joined by a member of his board, I just couldn’t resist. We were discussing the incidence of abuse in among American Christians. Holding court, I found myself citing the research from Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home: Raising Voices for Change (Wipf & Stock: Eugene, OR, 2008). These researchers interviewed pastors and Christians on their experiences of abuse. Here is what they found: According to pastors: 1 in 5 couples in their congregation is violent 8% feel well-equipped to respond to domestic violence 9% have counseled 5 or more abused women in the last year 83% have counseled at least one abused woman 31% have... Read more
Dating Violence Defined According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, dating violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination.1 Anyone can be a victim of dating violence. Both boys and girls are victims, but boys and girls abuse their partners in different ways. Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick. Boys injure girls more and are more likely to punch their partner and force them to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Some teen victims experience physical violence only occasionally; others, more often.2 Warning Signs Here are some common warning signs that may indicate a teen girl or teen boy is in a... Read more
In his book I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, author and therapist Terrance Real describes the interplay between shame and grandiosity in the lives of men who have been relationally wounded by societal gender roles instilled during our earliest development stages as children. This wounding (at a subconscious level for most men) spawns covert depression and a sense of shame, unspeakable and, for many, unnamable, as men attempt to live in relationship with their families and in the larger world of work and play. And for men with little tolerance for shame, the response is to gravitate quickly to the opposite end of the continuum—grandiosity. Evidence of this in men’s lives can be seen everywhere from the sports and act... Read more
Whenever I talk about androgyny in class, many of my students are surprised to learn what the term encompasses. They have often seen it presented in an unattractive light, believing it to say something about a person’s lack of femininity or masculinity, kind of an elimination of anything that defines an individual as male or female. This is a misunderstanding of the term, however, and I’d like to do my part to clarify its meaning. First of all, androgyny is not an eradication of being female or male. It has nothing to do with your sexuality. It does not dictate the way you dress, or whether or not you wear make-up or have a beard. Being androgynous, rather, means that you have characteristics commonly associated with the female gender as well as those commonly associated wit... Read more
"Do something outside the norms of your own gender.” Those were the instructions for students beginning a gender studies course at the small liberal arts college where I teach. “Notice the reactions of those around you, ” I added. I was unprepared for the creative ways my students completed this assignment. One female student parked in the lot of a local department store, opened the hood, and began looking for “the problem.” She assured each would-be helper that while she appreciated their offers she had it under control. Most believed her; one argued the point. One male student paid for his purchases at a local store out of the purse he was carrying, handing the cashier the money with perfectly polished fingernails. The cashier refused to make e... Read more
I was recently handed a worksheet being used by a well respected marriage counselor in our area. It identified 5 types of troubled marriages and listed characteristics of each as talking points to help couples in crisis identify and address specific failings in their own marriages. The first 4 types dealt with communication, physical intimacy, conflicting values, and finances. The 5th type of troubled marriage addressed was called “the misaligned marriage.” Here is the list couples were to use for a misaligned marriage: Failure of the husband: 1. to be a spiritual leader 2. to be financially responsible 3. to make wise decisions 4. to seek to solve 5. to be attentive to his wife Failure of the wife: 1. by not having a gentle spirit 2. by trying to control... Read more
Tim Krueger
New York Times columnist David Brooks spoke last year at the Aspen Ideas Festival about the narcissism of American culture in a talk called “The Modesty Manifesto.” Lamenting the loss of humility in American culture, he points out a number of social trends. For instance, our math scores have been steadily declining in relation to the rest of the world. Yet, we are persistent in believing we are the best. In another striking example, executives in the “computer industry” (not sure what that means, exactly) were given a test that asked questions about their own profession. They were also asked how well they thought they did. They believed they got 95% of the questions correct. In fact, they answered 20% of the questions correctly. We’re performing worse than... Read more
Finding oneself married to a non-egalitarian spouse, whether male or female, can be a challenging road to navigate. Consider these case studies. Norma and Charlie: It was love at first sight. Norma and Charlie’s eyes, in all actuality, met “across a crowded room” at their conservative denomination’s annual meeting. Life for the Browns began, as for most entering into marriage, with delight and optimism. The Browns’ church held strongly to the view that “women should be silent” (1 Cor. 14:34), and that all leadership in the church should be male. The congregation was taught that God was male, as Jesus called him “Father” (John 10:30). And, for the first years of their marriage, Norma obediently adhered to the teachings of her ch... Read more
In the final panel discussion, each author reflected briefly on how the pain and suffering that many women feel when their gifts and callings are muzzled can legitimately lead to correcting our reading and/or application of Scripture. Perhaps the concluding remarks of Professor I. Howard Marshall, from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, will sum up some of these contributions: Much anguish is felt by women whose God-given talents have been denied expression. This is due to: The inability of complementarians to provide any coherent and persuasive reasons for denying women these positions in church—women are asked to accept a scriptural command simply because it is God’s will even if they cannot understand why it is so. The irrationality of the traditional position.... Read more
People seem to be obsessed with beauty in all the wrong ways. I easily find beauty in nature—in sunrises, changing leaves, and rain. Most people can see beauty in that. Yet when it comes to ourselves or other human beings we are ready to give harsh critique. I wonder why we do this especially in light of the creation story. On days one through five, God created the beautiful things that surround us and saw that it was good. Yet on day six, God created humans and saw that it was very good. How can we look at ourselves and others and call God’s most beautiful creation “not good enough?” When God knit us together in our mothers’ womb, he didn’t make mistakes. God knew what we’d look like, and God sees something very good, which should be abu... Read more