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I periodically hear the accusation that the church is too feminine, and I always find this claim bewildering. As many have quipped, how is it possible for the Bride of Christ to be too feminine? More seriously, only about 10% of churches in America have women as senior pastors, which means that for most church-goers the dominant voice on any Sunday morning is male. Yet the claim persists that the church, and indeed American society more broadly, is too feminine. A recent survey found that among white evangelicals, 53% agree that society is “too soft and feminine.” This number is higher than any other group; 42% of all Americans agree that society is too feminine, while only 30% of religiously unaffiliated Americans agree.[1] And while this survey addressed American society mor... Read more
On January 24, The Gospel Coalition posted a piece by Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin entitled, “How Our Ministry Method Warps Our Souls.” The article probes questions about the nature of power and what it can look like in Christian ministry settings. “We’ve all embraced a certain form of power. The question is not if we’ve embraced power, but what kind of power we’ve embraced.” This, Strobel and Goggin claim, “is perhaps the most pressing question in the church today, because it defines everything we do in ministry.” And the use of power has undoubtedly gone wrong in evangelical churches. “We’d have to be either naïve or simply uninformed,” the authors continue, “to be unaware of power being employed to... Read more
When I was a young sprout and a budding Christian feminist, I had a lot of love for the American suffragettes. Blind love, as it turned out. Years of conversations with women of color and some harsh lessons on intersectional feminism (as well as womanism, mujerista theology, native feminism, etc.) revealed that my feminist history was narrow and exclusive and likewise, so was my feminism. Some of my early feminist heroes, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were not allies to women of color, particularly the black women we honor in February (Black History Month in the US). And in fact, some of those feminist heroes actively held racist beliefs about black people and, in many cases, deliberately excluded black women—from the fight for suffrage and later from the feminis... Read more
Please note that this is a satirical/humorous approach to the topic. In a profound about face, large numbers of evangelical women are turning their backs on male-centered laws and leadership hierarchy. Evidently, they are confused because gender-based roles aren’t as clear as some proclaim. Zooey (name changed), a pianist and vocalist, explains the doubts and questions that began forming in her mind a couple years ago: “One Sunday, while offering a solo of the hymn, "Transcendent God,'" she explains, “I started to worry, and confusion has rocked my faith ever since.” Zooey describes feeling unsettled while singing the words: Transcendent God, Creator Lord— (I know this is a theological statement.) To most a myth, denied, ignored (Doe... Read more
We just saw the end of January, the month of fresh starts and new beginnings. For many Christians, it also marks the beginning of an attempt to read the Bible in its entirety, from Genesis to Revelation, in a year. In light of that, I’d like to cover a few basic egalitarian principles that can help us read and understand the Bible. In the past, reading Scripture was difficult for me because I was taught that Genesis established a God-ordained hierarchy between men and women in which men ruled. This complementarian understanding of Genesis led me to believe that the subsequent biblical accounts were evidence of God’s desire for strict gender roles and male leadership.  I couldn’t reconcile why God would create women in his image only to will that they be ruled by me... Read more
The recent winter issue of CBE's Mutuality magazine was themed, "New Testament Women." Its articles discuss Martha, the Samaritan woman of John 4, the "Chosen Lady" of 2 John, Anna of Luke 2, and others. The forthcoming spring 2017 issue of Priscilla Papers, CBE's academic journal, will be on the same theme and will include articles on various New Testament women. Arise, CBE's blog, has also recently featured some New Testament women (here and here). In addition, I recently purchased Cynthia Westfall's excellent new book, Paul and Gender. For these reasons and others, I've been reading and thinking a lot about New Testament women lately. There is, of course, much to be said about the women who appear in the New Testament. T... Read more
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” –JK Rowling I can think of few quotes more relevant to men who believe in gender equality. Men, you too face a choice between what is right and what is easy. A choice between risk and comfort, between painful knowledge and willful ignorance. Though you stand at the mouth of a tempting shortcut, you must choose the narrow, trial-heavy road up the mountain. We do not necessarily have to choose the hard thing. That is the simultaneous beauty and ugliness of free will. We can choose privilege, align with the powerful, and discard stories that threaten our worldview. We can worship at the altar of ease, safety, and comfort. We can embrace a risk-free life. But that... Read more
Some Christians see logic as the only trustworthy and effective way to communicate and receive knowledge. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in one post to systematically present the origins of this idea. In general, though the topic is a complex one, we can trace this concept from Ancient Greece, which gained momentum during the Enlightenment, through present Western thought. Some critics of Ruth A. Tucker’s book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Violence, have likewise privileged logic over emotion. For example, in their reviews of Tucker’s book, Tim Challies, Melissa Kruger, and Mary Kassian all argue against Tucker’s emotional argument, dismissing it as a weaker approach to the topic of abuse. Challies engages... Read more
If you haven’t yet read Ruth Tucker’s book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife, you should. Full disclosure: I have been reading her work for a few decades. It challenged me to reconsider what it meant to be created in God’s image as a female. While I do not agree with all that Tucker writes in her newest book, her methodology and her argument are important to consider. Further, her personal story is invaluable in informing Christians about abuse dynamics. Tucker raises uncomfortable questions for Christians, and painfully shifts the burden of abuse from the shoulders of victims onto the church. For example, some reviewers of Tucker’s book criticize her for not reporting her husband to the authorities for the sexual assault of a minor who was staying in th... Read more
As a fourth grader at a local public school, I got into a classroom debate over the rights of women, and in particular, the right of mothers to work outside the home once they have children. The other outspoken Christian in my class, a boy hailing from an extremely conservative home, stated with deliberate clarity that a woman’s place once she had children was at home, tending to said children. “What if she doesn’t have a husband to help provide for the family?” I asked. “She should go on welfare,” he said. “She needs to stay home and take care of her family.” We were ten years old and even then, I knew his ideas were unfair and wrong. That afternoon, I demanded help from my mother. “Where does it say in the Bible that women are allo... Read more