In this thought-provoking book, male and female writers tackle important subjects: What does the Bible say about gender? What does it mean to live in a female or male body? How do we create homes and relationships that value men and women equally? How does gender intersect with race or age? How do we raise children in nonsexist ways?
When we read an obituary in the newspaper, we see the visible side of a person’s life — his or her church or organization memberships and accomplishments in life. What we don’t read, however, is how the person touched others in some special way. I’d like to share how Mom spiritually touched the lives of my sister Wendy and me.
When the news of my mom’s death spread throughout my congregation and the naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif., I began to learn about the kindred spirit that exists among women who have lost their mothers. These women cried with me and told me, “There is something deep that happens in our souls when a woman loses her mother.” All of these women talked of mothers who loved them and modeled that every woman can be all that God wants her to be.
The struggles of Christian women with sexuality, food, and their bodies reflect the Church’s historic ambivalence towards the body—particularly the female body. The embodiment of God in the Incarnation, Jesus’ embrace of lepers, prostitutes, and women, and Jesus’ bodily resurrection establish a radical foundation of body affirmation. Yet the history of the Church demonstrates a decidedly negative view of the body and sexuality.
Imagine yourself a teenage girl, strolling through your local Christian book store, when a small book that sounds too good to be true catches your eye. Someone actually wrote a book that claims to expose the workings of teenage guys? “It’s the inside scoop you’ve been waiting for! You’ll come to not only understand him, but also know what he might really be thinking about you,” the back cover reads.
Among responsible and useful methods of promoting egalitarian thinking -- writing about it, supporting organizations like CBE that promote it, seeking out churches that put it into practice -- my favorite is what I call the “auntie model”: consistently giving loving ideological nudges to those in my closest circle, especially the little ones.
Before you were born, your father and I chose not to learn your gender. We knew we'd love you and raise you with the same values and opportunities—boy or girl. When the doctor announced that you were a girl, we were overjoyed.
Today women and girls are bombarded with messages meant to persuade us that we’re not really acceptable the way we are. And even though we’ve been told, at church, that “God thinks you’re beautiful,” we’re not feeling the love. Because it’s much easier to believe what we receive from the media, we end up feeling stuck, ugly, and ashamed.
It can be disorienting to grow up with such strong messages about men, women, and “biblical” roles. At times it feels like an inescapable pressure. Because very little is overt, the pressure feels phantom.