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Many of us were raised in churches that taught that women should be silent in the church because of the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:34. When we read the passage, sure enough, we see the following words on the pages of the Bible, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak…” "If women want to inquire about something,” Paul continues in verse 35, “they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

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1 Corinthians was written to a woman. Yes, it was also to the Christians of Corinth. But it was prompted by a woman and her concerns about Christian life in Corinth.

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I was raised in Christian purity culture. I proudly wore my “True Love Waits” ring. I read Joshua Harris’s Christian cult classic, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And today, I’m a psychologist and a vocal critic of purity culture. 

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Does the Bible really body-shame women? Does it exonerate men when they objectify women? Proponents will say they don’t exonerate men. Men are still guilty, but women, the victims of men’s objectification, are guilty too. But there’s a chasm of difference between “men are guilty, period” and “men and women are both guilty.” 

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Last night, Sarah Bessey (we’re fans!) began a conversation about the strange, sexist, abusive, and toxic things Christian women are told on a regular basis. We’ve collected some of the most powerful tweets so far in a list--follow the ongoing conversation happening on twitter under #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear.

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Here are just some of the lies purity culture teaches women and girls that we as the church must work to undo.

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We invite you to journey with our writers as they rediscover Mary through theology, personal reflection, and real-world experiences with those who can give us insight into Mary.

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Christianity began when an angel showed up at a young, unwed girl’s house, announcing that she’d been honored with the privilege of carrying a baby boy—a boy who would become the hope of the nations. God chose a young, unwed mother to be mother of the One who would usher in an upside down kingdom, a kingdom where God esteems people quite differently than humanity ever has before.

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Alan Johnson's work on 1 Corinthians is particularly engaging. His reference notes and bibliography provide an entry into further study if desired, all while maintaining an appealing readable style. He deftly bridges the two horizons of the Greco-Roman culture and American culture.

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The church needs to do better in caring for the mental and physical health of mothers. A thorough understanding of Genesis 1 and 3 will help build a framework from which to act.

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