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.
Do men want to date smart women? This was the question behind a 2015 study published by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.1 What the study learned is that men like the idea of dating women who are smarter than them, but when they meet an actual woman who fits the profile, they suddenly become much less interested.
Training for a marathon, becoming in tune to the world around him and his body, made Tim "[think] often of Paul’s metaphor of the church as a body. We, too, are interconnected in ways we rarely see or understand. Weak theology or a bad habit by one body part can cause crippling pain for another—so much that the entire body is hobbled. Our treatment of women (often reinforced by the church) is one example."
Evangelical tradition places a high value on the biblical text, which is a good thing. But too often, we buy into a myth that our favorite translation is God’s true Word, pure and untainted by bias. Changes are seen as a threat to God’s truth, motivated by a social or political agenda.
Jesus submitted to His Father by actively and freely choosing to yield to weak politicians and wicked soldiers. And now Peter says likewise? Is a woman to submit to God by yielding to ungodly husbands the way Jesus willingly yielded to ungodly men? Yes.
After reading these words from an assigned reading as a master’s student, I began to question much of what I’d learned in the church about the Bible’s teachings on gender. Did the verse this quote refers to (1 Peter 3:1) really mean women should passively submit to abuse? If not, what is it about?
Our challenge is to recognize, understand, and respond to the propaganda of patriarchy with discernment and courage, believing that “in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone and the new is here.” (2 Cor. 5:17).
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.