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Gricel Medina
I was fourteen the first time I rode the subway alone. I remember my parents drilling me about practical safety and how to spot a predator. But in making me aware of the danger and how to respond to it, they trained me to guard myself against abuse. Conversations like these are crucial. They promote wisdom and awareness, and they also arm us against those with predatory intentions. The church would be a safer place for vulnerable people if we had these same conversations on what abuse is and how we can protect ourselves from it—not just with church board members and staff, but also with entire congregations. As a pastor, I’ve facilitated many conversations on how to identify predators and protect young people, especially young girls. Here are some of the principles I use to id... Read more
I’m sixty-five years old. In the time and culture in which I grew up, equality for women just didn’t exist—not in the church and not in the workplace. But I also had the privilege of growing up in a family with strong female role models and three older brothers. I didn’t learn about gender equality sitting in a church pew, but it was always taught around our dinner table. My parents didn’t expect less of me than my brothers because I’m female. Rather, I was taught that my gender wasn’t a barrier to achieving my life goals; I could do anything I wanted. And yet, my gender continued to be a massive barrier in the church for much of my life. For a long time, I saw gender equality in the church as an abstract idea. The issue of women in vocational ch... Read more
To live in the American South is to be connected to Baptists. Raised in non-denominational churches, my own young signature was nevertheless scrawled on the pages of guest books of numerous Baptist churches along the way. While the landscape of Small Town USA is dotted with other denominations as well, it is no secret that Southern Baptists are the self-declared public voice of evangelicals in the Bible Belt. Evangelical Protestants make up between 40-50% of the Southern population [1], and of this dominant demographic the largest portion, 33%, still belongs to the Baptists.[2] Yet it is more than just a numbers game when it comes to the preeminence of Baptist cultural influence in Southern life and beyond. Southern Baptists have been at the forefront of a political and cultural revolutio... Read more
Our expectations for how men should treat women are often stated in the negative—don't abuse; don’t oppress; don’t sexually assault. These are obvious, bare minimum standards for male behavior that shouldn’t have to be stated, but here we are. Sometimes, Christian men will reference their sense of responsibility for women in their lives—mothers, sisters, daughters—to support taking a strong stance against abuse. For example, in response to recently resurfaced comments concerning domestic violence by SWBTS president Paige Patterson, LifeWay president Thom Rainer wrote:  "These are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our granddaughters, and our wives. We thank God for them. And I stand with all who say 'no' to any type of abuse... Read more
Is there a healthy balance somewhere between the Billy Graham rule and nothing at all? Could we, instead of creating a rule that worked well for one man at a very specific time in history, come up with something holistic and inclusive? Could we come up with an ethic that acknowledges the needs and experiences of Christian men and women today? I’ve written on the Billy Graham rule before—on how it makes the inclusion of women in church leadership impossible.[1] As Christians who believe men and women are created and gifted equally by God, I believe we should practice something “other.” The early church wrestled with many ethical questions. The Apostle Paul declared that the law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ; they were now under a new system—the law of lo... Read more
Last week, an audio tape from 2000 resurfaced in which Paige Patterson, currently the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a prominent leader in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), described counseling women to remain in abusive marriages. The unfolding reckoning within the SBC is, on the surface, about a man who was moved by the suffering of a woman—in that Patterson likely does want to see abuse end. But sadly, his advice and his theology only perpetuate the devaluation of women and further endanger them. His response falls far short because it focuses only on the man and sidelines the needs, health, and safety of the woman.  In Patterson’s official statement about this tape, and in his interview with Baptist Press News, he claim... Read more
Women have had an uphill climb in the world of evangelical ministry, and that’s putting it mildly. Any woman who has been called by God into ministry knows that the road can be steep and sometimes treacherous. But God has called women, gifted women, and empowered women to preach and teach the gospel. And although a disrespect, disdain for, and often antagonism toward women in ministry has been the norm among many in the world of evangelical Christianity, the tide will shift. I believe this, because God is always drawing us closer into his kingdom, toward lives fueled by the Holy Spirit, toward the echo of the songs of redemption, wholeness, and equality that ring from his throne. Yesterday, Christian author, Beth Moore, wrote a vulnerable letter to her Christian brothers, describing... Read more
Gricel Medina
Christian conferences exist to serve and edify the church. They provide an opportunity for believers to have community with each other and to learn from each other’s faith and experiences. They also provide platforms to leaders and visionaries who then shape how Christians think about and practice their faith. Christian conferences are a powerful tool. They can be used to engage, include, and challenge all Christians. They can also hurt and exclude believers who are already marginalized in US society and in the Christian family. And, they can confirm the conscious or unconscious biases and attitudes of the more powerful group. As a Latina, I have been hurt by how the church excludes those who look like me from the leadership and theology of Christian conferences. And as a woman, I... Read more
From a young age, our society tells boys they are less than if they don’t fit the traditional mold for manhood. Boys and men who are dubbed too sensitive, too nurturing, or who aren’t driven to pursue material wealth and status don’t make it into the “boys club.” Sound familiar? Women recognize an impossible standard when we see one. We’re never thin enough to suit our culture. We’re never pretty enough to satisfy. Not as smart as our brothers. Not as good at math. Better suited to become teachers than engineers. We don’t have to look deep to see how women are disregarded, belittled, and blatantly abused in our world. A male employee is considered more credible and promotable than a woman employee with more experience. People automatically... Read more
Recently, in the small bowling alley where Shelby works, three immigrant women and eight children came to the counter to pay for their games. After Shelby realized that none of the women could speak English, one of them tried to apologize, saying, “Normally my husband…”  Shelby asked if her husband usually did the talking. She nodded and kept her eyes glued to the floor. Over twenty million immigrant women and girls live in the United States today. Many come to the Unites States searching for a better life, but it can be difficult to fit into US society. Obviously, men are not immune to the challenges of adapting to a new culture, but women often have additional challenges that men do not experience. We wanted to learn more about women's experiences, so we int... Read more