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Christian Relationships

I’ve avoided writing on rape culture for a while, because it’s a difficult issue to tackle from a Christian perspective. In my experience, Christian churches don’t often talk about power and consent, and even more rarely do they truly acknowledge the reach and implications of rape culture for the body of Christ.   But recent events have pushed me over the edge. A woman I know posted a Facebook status about the first time she was raped eight years ago. She’s twenty-five. The first time, friends. Not the one time she was raped, but the first time. I have countless other friends who have been sexually assaulted, Christian and non-Christian women alike. By men at Christian colleges, by male colleagues, by male friends, and even by male authority figures. This doe... Read more
“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16b The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.  If these realities aren’t horrific enough, women experience more than inequity. They are often in physical danger of assault and gendercide as well. In their book, Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn tell us, “Women ag... Read more
Have you heard of the term “helicopter parent”? It is a relatively new expression used to describe an authoritarian parenting style. A helicopter parent excessively protects, helps, and monitors a child’s life, leaving no room for individual exploration, be it failure or success. Staff members on college campuses have reported an influx of young adults who are ill-prepared to join the adult world when they arrive at school. Often, they still have their parents “hovering” over them, making all of their decisions, and taking responsibility where the adult child naturally should. Helicopter parenting is often a reflection of the caregiver’s own egotistical insecurities, coupled with a belief that the child’s purpose is to ease those insecurities... Read more
This is Part 2 in a series exploring the consequences of the Fall on men, women, relationships, and the world. See Part 1.  The post-Fall declarations of “pain in child-bearing” for women and “eating food by the sweat of your brow” for men have real consequences in our everyday lives. Men and women often experience those consequences in unique ways. How do we transcend these realities in a way that is in line with kingdom redemption for men and women? How can we support each other as male and female in living out the joint creation mandate? Personally, I have felt the pain of motherhood in drastic ways, and those experiences have awakened me to the challenges many women face. I wrestle with the all-encompassing nature of this amazing responsibility... Read more
Marriage has become an idol in the evangelical church. What Paul saw as an inconvenience, the church today sees as a necessity. Complementarian theology implies that women can only follow God by following their husbands. But consider the US. Over half of the American population can't relate to this. That's because a little over 50% of American women are unmarried!  The evangelical church has labeled singleness as a disease, something shameful, while exalting marriage to the level of holiness. Don't get me wrong. I think marriage is wonderful if that's what God has called you to, but we are not all called to the same path. Contrary to the stigma associated with singleness, here are three reasons why singleness should be praised. 1. Sing... Read more
“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;     With painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband,     and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you;     through painful toil you will eat food from it     all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,     and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow     you will eat your food... Read more
"What am I doing wrong?" I wondered for the hundredth time.  Yet another friend had announced her engagement to one of the men in our church's sizable group of young adults. I'm good at math, so it didn't take a bout with the calculator to figure out that, in my late 20s, I was well-past the time I thought I'd be getting married. I was active at church. I had been a leader in our young adults group and in the missions department at our church. I prayed. I studied the Bible. I was faithful in trying to live a Christian life. Wasn't I supposed to be able to look around, see who was running the race beside me, and head off to marital bliss-land?   "What is wrong with me?" I wondered for thousandth time. Before long, I was p... Read more
Chivalry The code of chivalry called for men to protect, serve, and honor women as the weaker vessel. Men undertook the benevolent care of women as vulnerable victims-to-be in a hazardous culture. The system relied on a dichotomous understanding of male and female: protector and damsel, agent and victim, giver and receiver, predator and prey, strong and weak, powerful and vulnerable, parent and child. Male protection was fundamental to female survival. So at the root of the original system is the vulnerability and incapability of women and supplemental male power. I fully appreciate the spirit in which the “code” is often performed today. For many men, it’s simply a set of rules that demands control, kindness, and service. But if that’s the case, I think we... Read more
I used to think that submission was passive. It's why, working at the campus bookstore at my university, I ignored the shelves of women's studies books, sure that picking up even one would mean not submitting to God's design for me. It's why, after realizing that women were not allowed to serve communion at my college church, I kept mum about it, shoving aside my disquiet. And it's why I avoided talking about my long-ago experience of spiritual abuse with anyone on staff at my current church. Submission, I thought, meant that I shouldn't ask myself or anyone else too many questions. It meant that I trusted church leadership to handle decisions about women's roles, feminism, and even abuse without trying to become part of the conversation. It meant th... Read more
This is Part 1 in a three-part series exploring power, knowledge, and gender. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3.  When Jessica and I got married, we began to learn a great many things. We learned, first of all, that most of what people had told us about marriage was untrue. The eye-rolling comments prefaced by “just wait to you get married” were found empty, and the endless, grim phrases such as  “it’s a lot of work” and “it’s not for happiness and enjoyment; it’s for holiness,” were likewise inapplicable to us—at least in the way they were often framed.  On the other hand, many of the “traditional” virtues aimed at couples proved to be as good of or better assets than our Christian community contended.... Read more