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Several places in the New Testament, had ‘headship’ been God's intention, it would have been stated and described. Rather, in those places we find no such direct statement and, in fact, other descriptions of marriage indicating full equality. Two such places are as follow. In 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, when Paul states that the husband's body belongs to his wife and and wife’s to her husband, no distinction is made between the two parties, in spite of the fact that the word ‘authority’ is used. The second, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, concerns itself with the value of staying single in the culture of the time. It talks about a married man being ‘anxious about the affairs of the world and how to please his wife’ (NRSV), and then the same words a... Read more
“In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–-even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8, TNIV). Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what empowerment for Christian service in the church and world means in light of the model Christ has provided us with. Suffice it to say, it’s a challenge. There is nothing assertive or upwardly mobile about God putting on flesh and serving, then dying on a cross.... Read more
Has it occurred to you that, on some level, the current gender debate comes to this--Do women have permission to talk about Jesus or the Bible? A friend of mine is a well-known missionary. Her passion for Jesus is plain to all. A prolific writer and speaker, her research enjoys global respect. When asked whether as a woman she should be allowed to teach or preach the good news, my friend said this: Very few people object when I speak or teach on topics such as writing and publishing, or on missions or gender. However, the more Scripture I engage as I explore these, the more unbiblical I am viewed, and the more criticism I receive. This doesn’t make any sense! The Gospel is something to be shared! And, as our verse for our Toronto conference says, “How beautiful are the... Read more
Lately there has been here quite a bit of reporting of statements from other blog sites, referring to roles and responsibilities for wives and husbands, women and men. The verses being quoted to support such claims have seemed, at best, verses fraught with interpretation or translation issues, and not as clear as some would have us believe. Meanwhile, there are countless places within Scripture where our responsibilities towards one another within the body of Christ are encouraged, and there can be no argument against those plain statements. For example, in Galatians 5:13-14 we have the words ‘For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love, become slaves to one another. For the whole law... Read more
When I got married a year ago, I kept my maiden name - just the way it had always been. It wasn't that I ever came upon a final decision; rather, it was more the result of a lot of indecision. It was assumed, of course, by all of our family and friends that I would take my husband's name. For not long after we had walked down the aisle we started receiving letters and invitations addressed to ‘Mr. and Mrs.,’ and it was frequently in the traditional form of, ‘Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.’ When I received those letters, I wondered where I went in the midst of the addressing process. Suddenly, my identity was completely lost in my husband, and it made me very 'angsty.' The angst, however, was no slight on my husband. I am ineffably in love... Read more
Founded by the forward thinking Mary Lyon (1797-1849), Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts (today known as Mount Holyoke College) was not her first educational venture. Lyon taught for several years along the Massachusetts countryside in smaller, elementary schools (often paid far less than the men in the area for the same amount of work). From 1817 to 1821, she attended Sanderson Academy and later taught there, as well as at the Adams Female Seminary in New Hampshire and Ipswich Female Seminary. Mount Holyoke opened in South Hadley in 1837 with eighty students, and it is Fidelia Fiske (1816-1864) who became its first graduate to enter into international missions. Fiske was said to be a precocious young girl, reading Cotton Mather’s Magnali Christi... Read more
How should the first part of Malachi 2:16 be understood? In the NIV, the first part of the verse reads: '"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself [a] with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty.' (2:16, emphasis added) The footnote to this verse in the NIV says '[a] or his wife.' In the TNIV, the first part of the verse reads: '"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate it when people clothe themselves with injustice," says the LORD Almighty.' There is no footnote reading 'or his wife.' If you look at the ESV, it’s translated this way: '"For the man who does not love his wife but divorces... Read more
Right on the heels of this year’s Sheri Klouda debacle at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary comes yet another example of president Paige Patterson's move to 'establish family and gender roles as described in God’s Word for the home and the family.' This fall, Southwestern Baptist will be offering a new academic program in homemaking, a bachelor of arts in humanities degree with a 23-hour concentration including such classes as 'Clothing Construction' and 'Meal Preparation.' Such classes, Southwestern Baptist must believe, are in keeping with their stated goal of letting a woman (and I mean woman, as no men are to be admitted to the program) 'choose from a variety of programs what is appropriate for [her] own diverse in... Read more
Is a woman’s value based on the shape of her body? How many of us were influenced through our culture to believe that the most important thing about being a woman was her visual appeal to men? In my case, my family was very good in the way it valued women. My father didn’t look at other women, even though my mother was overweight. There were no suggestive magazines around. But even though my home environment was positive, the overall culture emphasized that what was most important about a woman was the shape of her body. Women who dressed suggestively were praised and favored by men. They were celebrated by the culture. I found myself tempted to dress in a manner that emphasized my body. Thankfully, between my home environment and my Christian faith I was able to resist th... Read more
Well the CBE conference is over, like a whirlwind, so I'm catching up with some posts about the last two days. The Saturday sessions we chose were filled with in-depth historical examinations of empowered women in the Church. Starting with Mimi Haddad's excellent lecture on ontology, gender, and women's authority in the church, we looked at Paula, Apollonia, Hildegard, and Catherine of Siena to name very few. These were all women who behaved contrary to the popular ontology assigned to them by the culture of the day. This was especially true from the patriarchal absorption of the church after Emperor Constantine. Also discussed was the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. The church's reaction was a form of anti-intellectualism. This in turn resulted in a fear... Read more