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In that classic Bible passage on marriage (Eph. 5:21-33) so often used, or alluded to in the marriage ceremony, the narrative closes with the admonition, "this is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the Church are one." (vs. 32 NLB) The mystery would appear to be, from the preceding verse, that two married people could somehow become one, in thought, purpose and action. Obviously it is a picture of the complete unity within the Godhead which translates into the unique relationship of Christ and the Church. Further, from what we read here, it is equally the ideal that God intends for marriage. Is it conceivable that two, previously individual persons, especially as products of our pluralistic culture, should, or could, become essentially one? The... Read more
Brad Wilcox is at it again. Chrisitanity Today interviewed him regarding his new sociological study, "What's Love Got to Do with It? Equality, Equity, Commitment, and Women's Marital Quality." First as Megan O'Rourke points out in her article on Salon "this study is based on surveys done between 1992 and 1994." Of course he found that women who stay in "traditional" roles were happier, and that even egalitarian women were happier when their husbands brought home at 66% of the income. I do agree that women want emotional engagement from their husbands--of course we want them to want to be a part of our lives and interested in who we are and what we do. But I do not agree with it doesn't matter how much housework he doe... Read more
The Bible records that humans were made in God's image and however we try to describe what that "looks" like, there can only be one image. God is not fragmented or divided into two "equal but different" parts. God is one God and we have been created to be like God. This surely is a clear statement which shows that all humans are intrinsically the same. There is no mention of a female image and a male image - a female sinfulness and male sinfulness or a female salvation and male salvation. It seems then to be ludicrous to suggest that some human beings were not created in God's image in quite the same way that others were made. Such a speculation makes way for all kinds of prejudice and discrimination which transgresses God's second commandment which is... Read more
I was working on my thesis in seminary. Tired of being asked if I was going to seminary to be a pastor's wife, I had decided to write a biblical theology of single women in ministry that would show God's calling for a woman was not dependent on her marital state. I was talking with my thesis advisor, Dr. Joseph Coleson, the professor of Old Testament Studies. He had looked at my outline and thesis proposal and told me that I needed to add a chapter addressing the Creation Story in Genesis 1:1—2:25, particularly the second creation account found in Gen. 2:5-25, where woman is created to be an ezer cenegdo to the man. If the Hebrew phrase simply meant "helper", then could a woman hold a leadership position in the church, let alone a single woman? But if th... Read more
A few weeks back I was teaching a class on Anabaptist history. I gave my usual spiel about the nature of history and the problems with reductionism. Anabaptist concerns were both theological and economical (among other things); cases of injustice, after all, traverse all aspects of life. Abuses by the church and its oppression of ideas were paralleled by abuses by the state and its oppression of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (in this case, something as simple as the right to fish). To take the Anabaptist cause and bring it down to one simple idea (e.g., baptism), is to ignore the complexity of the situation and the people involved. Despite my caveats, there were still a few students who didn’t yet catch on. “But what was the reason they separat... Read more
A prominent sociologist on evangelicals, Sally Gallagher, has much to say to egalitarians in her article, The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism. She questions, when 56% of evangelical women are employed outside the home and when many evangelical marriages are egalitarian in practice, why evangelicals as a whole have still rejected mutuality and partnership between the genders. One important point she makes is that well-known evangelical leaders have effectively linked evangelical feminism with androgyny. I have personally seen this many times from complementarian writing—statements like “evangelical feminists and their efforts to blur the genders that God made so beautifully distinct.” Complementarians have had definite success in convincing many people bo... Read more
Salon has an article on Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church. I was so sad after reading this article. In short they've taken the post-WW2 culture, and they are trying to make it biblical. Following Driscoll's biblical reading of prescribed gender roles, women quit their jobs and try to have as many babies as possible. And these are no mere women who fear independence, who are looking to live by the simple tenets of fundamentalist credo, enforced by a commanding husband: many of the women of Mars Hill reluctantly abandon successful lives lived on their own terms to serve their husbands and their Lord. So if Deborah went to Mars Hill, she would have had to resign from being a prophet and judge, and who would have led Israelite troops to victory over Sisera? I g... Read more
Two weeks ago, the story of Mary Lambert became major national news. The audacity of firing an older woman from her long held position as Sunday school teacher based on her gender angered many. Since the initial report, the church and the pastor have tried to give a fuller picture of the situation. Conflict between Pastor LaBouf and Ms. Lambert started when he first began serving two years ago. Ms. Lambert was part of a small group of members who challenged the changes he made in the structure and official theology of the church. This disagreement caused a rift in their relationship and, according to church officials, led to her being let go from her position. According to the press release from the church, the reasons for Mary Lambert’s dismissal were “multifaceted and the s... Read more
I've been reading the recent issue of Priscilla Papers (Summer 2006). I have been struck by both Catherine Clark Kroeger and Philip B. Bayne's use of history in their respective articles on 1 Corinthians 11. In Kroeger's article she is looking at what kephalē, "head," means in 1 Corinthians 11:3: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (NASB). She uses a plethora of secular, Jewish, and early Christian historical sources to show that the conventional meaning of kephalē means "source" or "beginning," not a hierarchal understanding of a boss or somone who has authority over other people. Bayne does the same thing in his... Read more
Sometimes the simplest conversations can turn out to be the most complicated. Take for example, the insistence of a relative of mine that a woman should accept her husband’s last name in deference to his headship. Even though I pointed out that the idea of a surname is a relatively recent invention in human history—not even addressed by Scripture—the conversation meandered into several uncomfortable moments leaving him to resolve it by admitting he just preferred it. There was a certain quaintness and comfort in the tradition from which he wasn’t yet ready to part. Admittedly, I understood, even if I disagreed. While egalitarians are often accused by patriarchalists of capitulating to culture and its demands, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a trap fro... Read more

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