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Christian Relationships

I was working on my thesis in seminary. Tired of being asked if I was going to seminary to be a pastor's wife, I had decided to write a biblical theology of single women in ministry that would show God's calling for a woman was not dependent on her marital state. I was talking with my thesis advisor, Dr. Joseph Coleson, the professor of Old Testament Studies. He had looked at my outline and thesis proposal and told me that I needed to add a chapter addressing the Creation Story in Genesis 1:1—2:25, particularly the second creation account found in Gen. 2:5-25, where woman is created to be an ezer cenegdo to the man. If the Hebrew phrase simply meant "helper", then could a woman hold a leadership position in the church, let alone a single woman? But if th... Read more
A few weeks back I was teaching a class on Anabaptist history. I gave my usual spiel about the nature of history and the problems with reductionism. Anabaptist concerns were both theological and economical (among other things); cases of injustice, after all, traverse all aspects of life. Abuses by the church and its oppression of ideas were paralleled by abuses by the state and its oppression of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (in this case, something as simple as the right to fish). To take the Anabaptist cause and bring it down to one simple idea (e.g., baptism), is to ignore the complexity of the situation and the people involved. Despite my caveats, there were still a few students who didn’t yet catch on. “But what was the reason they separat... Read more
Salon has an article on Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church. I was so sad after reading this article. In short they've taken the post-WW2 culture, and they are trying to make it biblical. Following Driscoll's biblical reading of prescribed gender roles, women quit their jobs and try to have as many babies as possible. And these are no mere women who fear independence, who are looking to live by the simple tenets of fundamentalist credo, enforced by a commanding husband: many of the women of Mars Hill reluctantly abandon successful lives lived on their own terms to serve their husbands and their Lord. So if Deborah went to Mars Hill, she would have had to resign from being a prophet and judge, and who would have led Israelite troops to victory over Sisera? I g... Read more
Often the gender debate focuses narrowly on leadership and marriage, at the expense of many. But leadership and marriage are two of the highest ideals in Christian culture, right? Why would this debate be at anyone’s expense? As we live as Christians, what is the normative metaphor for relationships between men and women? Growing up in the church and then attending a Christian college taught me that marriage is a Christian “virtue.” The vast majority of my peers desired to be married and would date according to the various trends for Christian dating. In order to ensure that this virtue be at the center of their futures, my friends “courted,” they “kissed dating goodbye,” they practiced “righteous dating,” they dated with “ag... Read more
When the messiah comes, says the Old Testament, he will “proclaim freedom for the captives.” (Is. 61:1 TNIV) Jesus the Messiah came, but he brought something better than the expected freedom from foreign domination: instead, he was interested in making people’s spirits free. Jesus himself said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:34-36 TNIV) Of all the authors of the Old and New Testaments, Paul speaks most often about freedom. Christ, he says, brings freedom from sin (Rom. 6:18-22; 7:14), freedom from death (Rom. 7:24-25; 8:2, 10-11) and especially freedom from the bondage of the [Jewish... Read more
Recently there was a blog post regarding preferential treatment given to men, even by those who espouse egalitarian beliefs. How can this happen ? It is very evident that the cultural mindset over such a long time is deeper than many first imagined and so it is no wonder than it keeps resurfacing in the most unlikely places. It occurs to me that something that has taken hundreds of years to become entrenched will not go away just by careful exegesis and teaching. Attitudes will change in the same way they developed - very slowly and with repeated statements and demonstrated truth. We need to find ways of "speaking the truth in love" to those who have differing beliefs about gender issues and use opportunities as they occur to encourage a better way to speak and act in compan... Read more
My husband lovingly calls me a “glass half empty” person. “Sometimes it’s even three-quarters empty,” he told me the other day. (It must have been a particularly rough day—sorry, honey!) It’s true. I crave order and balance, and a world corrupted by sin doesn’t offer much of either. My reactions to gender issues are often of the strong negative quality. I get angry, frustrated, depressed by the way people, including Christians, willingly oppress one another. The fact is, I’ve seen some things that would disturb the most devoted optimist. I was going to list some of them here, but based on your comments on Brandon’s recent post, you don’t need me to convince you that the church can be a downer! When I’m stari... Read more
"I would have enjoyed seminary so much more if it wasn't for the women." So were the words of a minister I was introduced to one day several years ago. Mindy and I were together, and both of us were introduced, but he looked right past her and ignored her "hello." She was invisible. He heard I was a Ph.D. student at a reformed seminary and wanted to know if I was enjoying it. "It's been challenging," I told him. "But I'm learning from the best and I'm enjoying it. Where did you go to seminary?" He told me, then added those words that have stayed with me for years. Of course my curiosity got the best of me. “What was it about the women that ruined seminary for you?” “The questions,” he replied c... Read more

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