A few weeks ago, I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a day. I stopped for about twelve hours between night buses to see the sights, including a beautiful, vibrant mosque near the center of town. I did some online research on dress protocol beforehand: cover your skin, wear something on your head, take your shoes off. Nothing unexpected. I had a scarf and a maxi skirt in my backpack for this purpose. I was happy to be respectful, and excited for a new experience. I arrived at the mosque, circled around to the front, and . . . walked away. I felt nervous, suddenly, and upset.
Consent: a word so bland I once found it almost ugly. Why would I base my framework for romantic relationships on a word as flippant and perfunctory as a waiver to have my photo taken? Bodies and relationships are deeply important to me as a Christian. Naturally, sex is also deeply important to me. Even after I left purity culture behind, I still searched for a rich, God-honoring sexual ethic. Consent seemed like a pretty bare standard for behavior.
Despite the positive reviews I had heard of The Nativity Story, I went to the movie prepared to be a critic. After all, I thought, it was my duty to see through the cinematic gimmicks and factual errors to produce a film review. Though I came to the film a bit cynically, I left feeling uplifted and moved.
Coming of Age is a result of the Young Male Spirituality Project, a joint effort of Lutheran Men in Mission, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.) to find out why young men are staying away from the church in droves, a pattern that surveys are showing is increasingly alarming.
In the first recorded crime in the Bible, brother murders brother: Cain slays Abel out of jealousy. The pages of scripture that follow are filled with stories of difficult, often destructive relationships between siblings: Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob, Rachel and Leah, Joseph and his brothers. Certainly the most sanguinary and cold-blooded display of fratricide occurs in the book of Judges, when Abimelech massacres his seventy brothers! From the beginning of human history, one of the closest of family relationships is fraught with the dangers of alienation and violence.
The new TNIV Bibles for women and men promise to help Christians gain an identity and maturity in Christ: the women’s Bible, entitled True Identity: The Bible for Women, includes the cover description, “becoming who you are in Christ,” and the men’s Bible, entitled Strive: The Bible for Men, says, “becoming the man Christ wants you to be.”
Sure, Jesus used farmers to teach the disciples, but chickens? Little did producer DreamWorks and directors Nick Park and Peter Lord know when they released Chicken Run (2000) that their movie would be a modern parable.
While it sounds virtuous, and is appealing to those who would like to believe that involved fathering is the answer to all society’s ills, the idea that any human being, apart from Christ himself, can take spiritual responsibility for another has no place in historic, biblically-based Christian doctrine.
In recovering from anorexia, I had to relearn how to read Scripture, not as separate, disjointed messages colored by the voices of male “authority” around me, but as a whole, creative, redemptive narrative of God’s journey of trust with God’s people.