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Mary Magdalene's life changed irrevocably. Nothing could be done to change what had happened. After finding the tomb empty in John 20, the other disciples returned to their homes. Mary could not leave.

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Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here.

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If God’s design for male-female relationships was unity and interdependence, and if hierarchy in relationships came as a result of sin, perhaps we need to reevaluate teachings on male “headship” in marriage today.

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The ups and downs of being a woman in ministry continue. Not many people want a woman to teach homiletics, despite the fact that my students love my classes. I am beginning to do more teaching and writing on the equality of women and men in Asia. 

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Growing up in a complementarian, Baptist church environment, I thought I knew exactly what God expected a Christian wife to be. I was confident that a good Christian wife keeps her house clean and orderly; it is to be her hard-working husband’s haven. She ensures that her husband comes home to a homemade meal every evening. She stays out of the financial affairs of the home because her husband is the breadwinner. She obeys him without question. She supports him no matter what. She does not complain. She does not rebel. She is her husband’s faithful (albeit often silent and invisible) helper.

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As women clergy and leaders, we understand the pressure to perform. Conform. Please. There is always someone in our ear, requesting this, looking for that, demanding change, suggesting alternatives.

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Seventeen essays explore how the biblical Miriam, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene were portrayed in the early Christian era, also touching on Jewish and Muslim interpretations.

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I was raised in something of a theological echo chamber where my complementarian convictions went undisputed. All diligent Bible readers would obviously conclude that men were to lead, and even more obviously, that women were not to be pastors. What could be simpler?

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When it comes to leadership, the assumptions we make and the stereotypes we unwittingly fail to challenge can have much more far-reaching consequences.

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As I wrote this article, I was en route to a conference for Air Force Reserve chaplains. Only three hours before, I received a call from my baby's pre-school. They informed me that my daughter was running a fever and needed to go home. I rushed to pick her up, take her to the pediatrician, and drop her and her antibiotics prescription off with my husband so I could get to the airport in time to catch my flight. 

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