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When the church argues for complementarianism (men and women have specific roles that “complement” each other), this empowers men to believe they have a distorted right to treat women in a lesser role.

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A critical analysis of complementarian interpretations of Scripture and the Trinity, as well as its impact and connection to the #MeToo movement.

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For too long, church leaders have failed to see the abuse in the church and failed to hear the women who cry out for justice.

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When a girl is sixteen years old, it seems like life is full—innocent and wonderful—opening up like a book waiting to be storied on fine, white linen pages. The confines of childhood are being left behind while the concerns of adulthood are yet far enough in the future so that the moments of teenage hood burst with joy and possibility. Yet at any time, we are vulnerable to forces both within and outside of ourselves that can both gradually and quite quickly shift the course of our lives in ways that will affect us as long as we live. I say these things as one speaking from my own experience of feeling the wonders of being sixteen, later complicated by life and marriage to an abuser.          

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 An 18-year old, 5'8" famous Brazilian runway model died recently of systemic infection due to her anorexic state. She weighed only 88 pounds. Her problem? She sought to be the epitome of beauty—according to the tastes prevalent in fashion circles.

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The recent news has been permeated with two contradictory “epidemics” characterizing Americans: anorexia and obesity. However, maybe the larger paradox is the way in which the Church has embraced the same standards of beauty that the larger culture has. In many cases, the Church has adopted cultural standards of beauty and views physical bodies as representations of spirituality. This appears to be a modern version of the “health and wealth” gospel in that “Christ is reflected in one’s physical appearance.”

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The hundred people in attendance at the church auditorium on that Saturday was all part of the congregation’s leadership team: choir members, deacons, educators, senior and associate pastors. The focus of this particular day-long conference was on the unique challenges churches face when situations of domestic violence occur amongst couples worshipping within the congregation.

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“Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

This was the question stretched across banners in front of the White House, distributed on pamphlets, and spoken all over the country in the 1910s. Inez Milholland, an icon of the women’s suffrage movement, first uttered them. They were her last words before she collapsed, and soon died, while campaigning for women’s suffrage through the western United States. This is also the question that pervaded my mind as I watched the film Iron Jawed Angels.

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Perhaps one of the most often-asked questions of a child concerns what he or she wants to do or be upon growing up.  While many of us probably did not fulfill our own childhood expectations to be president of the United States, a supermodel, a superhero, a professional athlete, or an astronaut, the topic of one’s calling – of which career is an aspect – still warrants consideration in adulthood.  In the realm of theology the doctrine of vocation comprises such reflections.  Defining this area of study, Nancy Duff states, “The doctrine of vocation affirms that every individual life with its unique combination of gifts and limitations has divinely appointed purpose and that we are called to glorify God in all that we do." Every individual has a divine calling and is to give God the glory in the pursuit of this life mission.  In considering the applications of this doctrine, Christian feminists have a twofold charge, both in understanding their own vocations as well as in service to others who are attempting to discern and fulfill their own life purpose given by their Creator. 

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In 18 years of counseling and 37 years in the pastorate, I have discovered that people tell their counselor much more than they tell their pastor. While I won’t share the confidential information of specific clients, I want to share some insights about what my clients have taught me, about how they have learned to see their world. Many of the statements, by my clients who report abuse in their relationships, demonstrate how the traditional theology of female submission contributes to the prevalence of women tolerating and staying in violent situations.

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