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When I critique oppressive systems and ideologies, I generally ask two simple questions: Does the system or ideology give one group unearned power over other groups, and especially over others who already have less social power? If the answer is “yes,” then I ask a question I already know the answer to: Is the system safe for the less powerful? Naturally, social hierarchies are safe for those at the top. They’re designed to preserve the existing social structure, which already prioritizes the needs and perspectives of the group with power. Social hierarchies don’t make less powerful people and groups safer. Rather, they exacerbate any vulnerabilities and pose danger and harm to marginalized people. If a system relies on the powerful group behaving rightly and n... Read more
The Western sexual revolution brought renewed emphasis on consent, body affirmation/confidence, female pleasure, and women’s equal (and enthusiastic!) sexual participation in marriage. We should celebrate those gains. But it also brought a slew of toxic, oppressive ideas about female sexuality. When we consider God’s holistic vision for human sexuality, we see that some of the things women are told will be “liberating” are actually exploitative. God calls women (and men) to see through the bluster to a corrupt system that only wants to use us. Ironically, the world tells women that we will find our power in men’s desire for and sexual use of us. Some people even claim that women are empowered by the Fifty Shades phenomenon, hook-up culture, and porn. And the... Read more
Women often underestimate themselves. We minimize our abilities and authority because we’re conditioned to think that to be a woman is to be passive and insecure. We accept the lie that confidence is worthy of censure in women and cause for praise in men. Assertive women are often accused of being vain, proud, or deliberately rebellious. Observing this, many of us censor our words and actions to avoid appearing too aggressive or assertive. From a young age, bold girls are shamed for being “too bossy.” Strong women are punished for defying the patriarchal model for submissive womanhood. Tragically, some Christian women defend and bolster patriarchy and some even persecute strong women, labeling them arrogant and sinful. Some women choose to strengthen the existing patria... Read more
Many girls and women find models of subversive, change-making women not in the Bible or the pulpit, but in popular media and secular culture. Lack of representation in the church matters, and it has wide ripples in the body of Christ. Have you heard of the Black Madonna? Black Madonna statues and paintings—images of Mary with dark, brown, or black skin—can be found all over the world from Asia to South America to Africa. But in the West, Mary is often erroneously depicted as a white, European woman. We co-opt Mary—erasing her dark skin, masking her non-European features, claiming her as a symbol of our story and experience. For many Christians of color, accurate images of Mary as a woman of color are restorative and liberating. These portraits confirm that people of co... Read more
Genesis 1 perfectly illustrates God’s mutual design for men and women: Then God said, "Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be master over all life—the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals” (NLT). We were meant to reign together and yet, the world subjugates women of all colors to men, stripping them of their authority, power, and influence. And it can all be traced back to a misinterpretation of God’s good vision for humanity after the fall. God's original design was mutual; it gave male and female shared dominion over the earth, not over each other. God commanded the first humans to co-exercise their power—to responsibly rule and care for creation. The... Read more
“At the heart of every woman,” a pastor once commented on Mother’s Day, “is a God-ordained desire for beauty, marriage, homemaking, and motherhood. If you doubt it, check out the covers of women’s magazines at the grocery store.” I chafed at his generalizations. I couldn’t deny that magazines marketed to women tend to cover beauty, decorating, recipes, and finding the perfect [insert project, costume, snack, etc.] for kids, among other stereotypical topics. Some women I know relate to them, while others just roll their eyes. But I wondered if that pastor would have a different perspective if he could become a beetle on a wall at a women’s retreat. Would it surprise him to learn that most of us don’t sit around curling our eyelashes, v... Read more
Recently, the Barna group came out with the news that 61% of Christian women “love Jesus but not the church.”[1] Why is that? Could it be because women have too often been denied influence and access?[2] Something is wrong with how we are (or aren’t) partnering together in our communities of faith across gender lines. And, without question, truly equal partnership has been a struggle in the church for centuries.  Which is part of what makes the story of Boniface and Lioba so remarkable.  Boniface, a seventh century Anglo-Saxon monk, was by all accounts a gifted leader. His achievements included founding monasteries, church reform, and promoting the Benedictine rule. Toward the end of his life, Boniface followed Jesus’ call to share the gospel in dangero... Read more
One of my recent tweets was liked 618 times and retweeted 145 times. Male pastor tears up, others applaud warmth Female pastor tears up, hears "Women are too emotional to lead"#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear — Dawn (@dgentry1905) April 19, 2017 I don’t mention this because the tweet itself was so significant, but only to call attention to the widespread interest in the hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. Arise recently ran a whole series on this hashtag and many other pieces have appeared since then. Below are just a couple. "55 Things Only Christian Women Hear" "Christian Women On Twitter Unload About Misogyny In The Church" Now that a little time has passed, I want to reflect on some of the negative and/or unhelpful responses I o... Read more
As a child, my family celebrated the beginning of summer by watching the Wizard of Oz. Everyone had their favorite scenes, and mine was Dorothy’s final encounter with the Wizard. Victorious over a powerful foe, Dorothy enters the Wizard’s sanctum expecting him to honor their bargain—the witch’s broom for her return to Kansas. But the Wizard shouts at her through flashing light and smoke, attempting to scare her away. Despite her fear, she spies a curtain and pulls it back to find that the Wizard is only a man. Dorothy exposes the Wizard for what he is—a farce. He pretends to be powerful but in reality, he's nothing but smoke and mirrors. Male headship is portrayed as God’s ideal, a position imbued with theological strength, by complementarians like... Read more
“The 21st century agents of change—across the world—are women,” Dr. Salim Munayer announced in a slow, deliberate, hear-this-if-you-don’t-hear-anything-else voice at a conference. Dr. Munayer is an Arab Christian who grew up in Israel, a renowned missiologist, and an authority on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and reconciliation. Such an audacious and unforgettably empowering declaration from such an impressive man sent a shiver down to my toes. Not of trepidation; it was rather a jolt of conviction, responsibility, and courage. Boom! At the time, I was in the thick of nurturing a fledgling congregation. Talk about serving as a change agent! Women church planters are still a very, very small group amongst pastors, but there are at least five reasons the wor... Read more

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