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Abuse

Over the last few years, I’ve met a lot of people who have begun thinking about biblical equality—either as a result of academic study or through their own experience with the disadvantages women face in the church and world. I am so grateful to the many egalitarian theologians who have painstakingly searched through the original Greek and Hebrew texts to provide academic and scriptural justification for the belief that women are indeed able and called to be leaders in the church. I am also grateful to the women and men who have created spaces for women to be encouraged in their leadership gifts and call. To those who have given their time, energy, and finances to create spaces for women in the church, thank you. To those who have worked to deconstruct the obstacles women fa... Read more
This is Part 2 in a two-part series on the ten myths we often believe about domestic abuse and the reality checks that prove them wrong. Here are the second five myths. Check out Part 1 and the first half of the list. #DVAM (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) Abuse is the choice of a person, usually a man statistically (but not exclusively), to undermine the personhood of his partner, girlfriend, wife.[1] This may include putting her down and devaluing her, isolating and controlling her, making her feel she is going mad, scaring and intimidating her, using her children against her, lying to her and possibly having affairs, exhausting her through making her do all the housework or all of the paid work, raping her, and hurting her physically in any way. This is not an exhaustive list.... Read more
This is Part 1 in a two-part series on the ten myths we often believe about domestic abuse and the reality checks that prove them wrong. Here are the first five myths. Check out Part 2 and the second half of the list. #DVAM (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) Most Christians agree that abuse [1] is wrong. Don’t we? Rarely (it does happen) does anyone decree, at least blatantly, that a person should endure abuse by their partner, and if they do, most of us look reasonably horrified at the suggestion. The majority of Christians agree that abuse should not happen. And yet, abuse continues to happen in our neighborhoods, friendship groups, families, and churches. So, we have to conclude that our theology on abuse is often either misguided, toxic, or both.  Years ago, I s... Read more
A few nights ago, my husband turned me down for sex. He pleaded fatigue and fell asleep at 8:30pm. I know that’s not the typical narrative of one spouse declining the other spouse’s offer of sex. My husband usually enthusiastically consents to sex with me, but on occasion, he hasn’t been in the mood. That’s okay. I also turn him down for sex sometimes. I have Crohn’s Disease, and sometimes I’m in too much discomfort or even pain to want sex. That’s okay too. Our freedom to say “No” to each other makes our frequent "Yes’s" all the better. I know that for me, my right to decline sex makes me all the more willing and enthusiastic to say “Yes” most of the time. But what if you can’t turn down sex? Wh... Read more
If you want to expand your knowledge on the subject of violence against women, Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women by Elaine Storkey is a must-read. It is an engaging, investigative book packed with history, research, stories, outcomes, and possible solutions to the global issue of violence against women. It covers the past, present, and future of this violence that has many faces in all societies across the globe. Storkey is respectful and offers perspectives from many different groups and cultures, yet she always defends and makes her point of view very clear. This is not just a good book to read, it is an important book to read because "violence against women is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or even to particular... Read more
I was recently perusing the comments on a blog post by complementarian Tim Bayly. Two female commenters were sparring over feminism’s simultaneous assertions of female strength and female subordination through socialization. The women went back and forth on the supposed contradiction of asserting that women are, by nature, capable of “standing up for themselves” and at the same time, arguing that many women don’t have the tools to do so as a result of patriarchal socialization. The complementarian commenter felt that feminists contradict themselves by saying that women are strong, but arguing at the same time that they are still victimized by patriarchy. I was sad to see this argument leveled like a feminist Catch-22—like it is the trivia question that egalita... Read more
It was after 10 pm in Athens when the phone rang. My husband and I were looking forward to our weekly call with our daughter. It was morning in California and she had already sent her husband off to work, fed the baby, and was getting ready to take our grandson to his preschool class. We loved the updates and a chance to hear their voices. Obviously this was before Skype and FaceTime calling! At the end of the call, she asked a seemingly disconnected question, feigning a casualness that wasn't typical of our firstborn. "So, Mom and Dad, how much longer before you retire from missions?" We laughed and responded that we were still going strong. We served for ten years in Athens. During that time, our daughters went to college in California and our older daughter marri... Read more
In July of last year, my husband and I went on our first ministry trip to Ghana. The country of Ghana is afflicted with wide scale poverty--road surfaces are often poor and food sellers are everywhere.Yet, the landscape is striking, untamed and unkept. Still, the true beauty of the country lies in the hearts of the gracious people who live there. It was within their hearts that I found powerful stories of both hope and sorrow.  Ghana is situated in West Africa, and for 150 years, it was the epicenter of the British Slave Trade. Some twelve million slaves were shipped from Ghana to the Americas and over 7 million of them died before ever reaching the new world. Today, Ghana is committed to the abolition of slavery and many Ghanaians turn with shame and pain away from their... Read more
I try very hard not to dominate conversations when the topic turns to gender and faith. I really do! But when a pastor came to our home for dinner, joined by a member of his board, I just couldn’t resist. We were discussing the incidence of abuse in among American Christians. Holding court, I found myself citing the research from Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home: Raising Voices for Change (Wipf & Stock: Eugene, OR, 2008). These researchers interviewed pastors and Christians on their experiences of abuse. Here is what they found: According to pastors: 1 in 5 couples in their congregation is violent 8% feel well-equipped to respond to domestic violence 9% have counseled 5 or more abused women in the last year 83% have counseled at least one abused woman 31% have... Read more
In May, I attended my first International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP) conference. Serving the sexually exploited, Christians affiliated with ICAP are well-acquainted with evil. Their ministries are nothing short of a head-on encounter with brutal forces that prey on children, the poor, and the defenseless. Their work exhausts every imaginable human resource! For me, it was utterly amazing these leaders had the energy to travel to Green Lake, Wisconsin—ICAP’s U.S. host. Yet, it was the Holy Spirit that drew them together for renewal. Through prayer, worship, and shared learning, the power of Christ in Christianity community had its impact. Day by day, their appearance began to change—their backs straightened, the color returned to their cheeks, and their step... Read more

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