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In Matthew 26, Jesus visits the home of Simon the Leper. While he’s there, a woman enters and anoints him with expensive perfume. His disciples are indignant. They object to her actions and claim that the money spent on the perfume could have been used to help the poor. As I read the story, I almost expect Jesus to agree with the woman’s accusers. But Jesus has a way of defying our expectations. Instead of condemning the woman, he criticizes the disciples for their inability to perceive either the woman’s intentions or the spiritual significance of her actions. He tells the disciples, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13). As I’ve spent time reflect... Read more
One of my best friends doesn’t have much interest in history. In our twenty years of friendship, we’ve good-naturedly teased each other about being the history nerd and the science geek. But she has also made me ask the question: why does history matter? And in the context of Women’s History Month in particular, why does women’s history matter? We all know the cliché that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. But as we see women making enormous strides in the last century, the cliché may not seem very true: why focus on the oppression of the past, on women whose lives were constrained by patriarchal beliefs, when we have so many inspiring examples of women winning the right to vote, shattering glass ceilings, running Fortune 500... Read more
It wasn’t until 2017 that TIME Magazine honored women silence breakers as their “Person of the Year.” Truth be told, women have been breaking the silence on abuse and harassment for centuries. They have often been God’s hands of compassion and liberation, working to expose evil and topple systems of oppression. Reflecting on women’s history of silence breaking is a spiritual discipline that nurtures our souls and forges bold leadership across time and culture. And who better to contemplate than Esther, whose silence breaking opposed the powerful and prevented a genocide by standing with God and the vulnerable! Then and now, holy leadership is often the best resolution to wicked and unjust rulers and regimes. With every retelling of her story, a godly force is... Read more
Yesterday, Desiring God published an article (by staff writer, Greg Morse) lamenting the hit Captain Marvel movie, and specifically its “feminist agenda.” According to Morse, feminist ideology “contrasts so unapologetically with reality” that it can only be sustained in an alternate universe. Morse writes:  “Verse after verse, story after story, fact after fact, study after study, example after example dispels the myth of sameness between the sexes. The alternative universe where an accident infuses the heroine with superhuman powers, however, seems to stand as a reasonable apologetic for the feminist agenda.” This is a classic strawman argument: studies say that men and women are not exactly the same. Therefore, the feminist agenda is mythology o... Read more
When I recall the day my grandfather held open the door, inviting me into his treasure trove of genealogical information, I smell pickles. At our family gatherings, we’ve never lacked for a variety of briny vegetables—olives, pickles, and lupini beans, collected in an assortment of glass dishes and jammed alongside sticks of carrots and celery (which replaced the harder-to-access fresh fennel, present on special occasions). Growing up, I thought of this as the Sheild way, the way of my father’s family. The spare bedroom at his home was crowded—boxes stacked haphazardly, papers poking out of drawers or piled high and tilting precariously. Despite the chaos, the clutter of the room, combined with the smell of pickled vegetables, was nothing but pleasant to me. My fa... Read more
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on difficult Bible passages entitled “What to Say When…” “The Bible says wives should submit to husbands, because men are the head of women.” Sigh. Some of us have heard this overly simplistic and frankly convenient interpretation of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18-32. But are we taking the “household codes” seriously enough in their own context? Is there more to this passage than meets the eye? The Household Code and the Paterfamilias Ephesians 5:22-6:9 is often referred to simply as the “household code.” The household code was a literary form for rules about behavior in the household. They used very wealthy families as an idealized model. Everyone in these households... Read more
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on difficult Bible passages entitled “What to Say When…” 1 Timothy 2 is a tricky passage to interpret well. Verses 11-15 alone contain four biblical “buzz phrases” often employed by those who oppose women’s equality in the church. Paul writes:[1] 1. Women should learn in silence (2:11). 2. I do not permit a woman to teach or dominate a man (2:12). 3. The woman was deceived and became a sinner (2:14). 4. Women will be saved through childbearing (2:15). These troubling verses form, for many, the foundation of the case for women’s submission to men and against the legitimacy of women’s preaching and teaching in church and/or to men. Though it would appear those opposed to women... Read more
Last Sunday, The Houston Chronicle broke news of credible claims by over 700 victims against more than 250 abusers within the Southern Baptist Convention. Horrifying as it is, this story must not be met with shock. We don’t have time for shock. In these last few years, wave after unrelenting wave of church abuse cases crashed into us, first by the dozens and then the hundreds. They now number in the thousands, and the count grows every day. At first, it was seen as a “Catholic problem”—until cases began piling up in evangelical churches as well. After two plus years of #ChurchToo stories, the church can no longer say, “this is not a problem.” And yet, the next iteration is already echoing: “This is not our problem.” For years, anti-abuse ad... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! “Your pastor is a woman?!” I was seventeen years old when I first heard this surprised remark. The askers looked at me with such disbelief when I told them “yes, my pastor is a woman.” I looked at them with similar wonder, dying to ask in return: “You go to a Christian church, right?” I grew up in a Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God church. It was normal to hear a woman preach there on any given Sunday. We called them pastoras—pastors. We didn‘t give them any other title because pastoras is what they were. Much to my surprise, few English-speaking churches I’ve encountered allow women to preach, much less give them an official title.... Read more
You’re at a holiday event and you mention that you’ve been asked to guest preach at your church. Your grandpa or your aunt or cousin brings up 1 Corinthians 14. In your college theology class, you mention that your pastor is a woman and a male student cites this troubling verse. You mentioned your egalitarian beliefs at Tuesday night Bible study and several of the members invite you to explain or defend your position. What do you say? How do you explain your egalitarian interpretation of this complex passage? Here’s a few ideas: The book of 1 Corinthians is all about how to be in a mature community of people who have the Spirit of God. Paul begins with a famous verse: “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27). People do not... Read more