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Christian Relationships

I was following a link from another Christian website and came across the offer of a course for women which is written and taught by a man. Among other objectionable statements was one which says women can (and should) ‘get into and understand’ the male mind!  If I was a guy, I would be offended by that suggestion that men have a particular type of mind and that women need to understand it in order to have a satisfying relationship. Of course, as a woman, I find this whole concept annoying when I read that the reason men ‘stray’ is because their women don’t understand how their minds work about relationships. So many of these courses, books and teachings put the ultimate responsibility on women to know how to pander to the men in their lives. Women who tr... Read more
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth…” This prayer challenges us to live into the gospel and make it real for our own day. In the case of domestic violence, this may mean finding ways that local churches and people of faith can do something that will gently and persistently shape the way members view and respond to issues of intimate partner abuse, whether it be in the community or inside the house of faith. Here is a list of practical immediate ways to make your church a “Safe House.” Always assume that there are persons in your church who have experienced or are experiencing abuse. Be aware of subtle messages in your church that promote the assumption that “everyone here is okay and every marriage and relationship is healthy.... Read more
I was recently handed a worksheet being used by a well respected marriage counselor in our area. It identified 5 types of troubled marriages and listed characteristics of each as talking points to help couples in crisis identify and address specific failings in their own marriages. The first 4 types dealt with communication, physical intimacy, conflicting values, and finances. The 5th type of troubled marriage addressed was called “the misaligned marriage.” Here is the list couples were to use for a misaligned marriage: Failure of the husband: 1. to be a spiritual leader 2. to be financially responsible 3. to make wise decisions 4. to seek to solve 5. to be attentive to his wife Failure of the wife: 1. by not having a gentle spirit 2. by trying to control... Read more
Tim Krueger
New York Times columnist David Brooks spoke last year at the Aspen Ideas Festival about the narcissism of American culture in a talk called “The Modesty Manifesto.” Lamenting the loss of humility in American culture, he points out a number of social trends. For instance, our math scores have been steadily declining in relation to the rest of the world. Yet, we are persistent in believing we are the best. In another striking example, executives in the “computer industry” (not sure what that means, exactly) were given a test that asked questions about their own profession. They were also asked how well they thought they did. They believed they got 95% of the questions correct. In fact, they answered 20% of the questions correctly. We’re performing worse than... Read more
I’ve heard that men won’t ask for directions. I don’t know if this is true or merely a stereotype of the male gender. On the one hand, asking for help in general is often seen as an indicator of weakness so might be avoided in a society that holds men to a higher “toughness” standard than women. Yet, so many statements about supposed gendered behavior have not been supported by research (i.e., contrary to popular opinion, men actually talk more than women). So I asked the men in my Gender Studies course whether they stop to get directions when lost or if they avoid it.  As it turns out some do, some don’t, and I’m still not sure. So to broaden the focus, I asked about help-seeking in general. I posed the following to the young... Read more
Synopsis of the situation: Mordecai, a Jew, is an important man, known to the leadership of the Medes and Persians. His cousin, Esther, whom he raised, is now queen of the Medes and Persians. Haman is a very high official who hates Mordecai and has set up a law so that Mordecai and his entire community will be exterminated. Whether by revelation or just giving him wisdom, God shows Mordecai that Esther must save her people. Mordecai tells Esther this. Esther knows she can be executed for approaching the king without an invitation, queen or not. She’s afraid, but she submits to Mordecai as being a messenger from God. So far, so hierarchical: God tells man, man tells woman, woman obeys. But… Whether by revelation or just giving her wisdom, God shows Esther what she and th... Read more
I read these words from Colossians 3:12-14 as I was preparing a sermon: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Furthermore, we are told of the peace offered to us in Jesus Christ (v. 15). What a beautiful image of the Church: caring commitment for one another, bound together by love, and finding true peace—wholeness in Jesus. Then I read further, beyond the lectionary limits, and came to verse 18: “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in... Read more
Finding oneself married to a non-egalitarian spouse, whether male or female, can be a challenging road to navigate. Consider these case studies. Norma and Charlie: It was love at first sight. Norma and Charlie’s eyes, in all actuality, met “across a crowded room” at their conservative denomination’s annual meeting. Life for the Browns began, as for most entering into marriage, with delight and optimism. The Browns’ church held strongly to the view that “women should be silent” (1 Cor. 14:34), and that all leadership in the church should be male. The congregation was taught that God was male, as Jesus called him “Father” (John 10:30). And, for the first years of their marriage, Norma obediently adhered to the teachings of her ch... Read more
Women in leadership will likely encounter confusing and disappointing relationships. As a conservative, former Southern Baptist woman called to ministry, I am no exception. Last year, I remember having a discussion about advocacy for women with three male colleagues whom I trusted as committed egalitarians. "What should I think about those who say they support my equality and calling, but who hold positions at institutions that clearly do not support women's leadership in the church?" I wondered. "How can they stay quiet just for a job?" I didn't get the answers I sought from these colleagues at the time, but the next day the Holy Spirit led me to Hebrews 11:24-26: By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's dau... Read more
Women are natural communicators. No one doubts this, really, and a quick, unscientific glance at the blogosphere confirms the female desire to enter into the conversation about important issues impacting our world. But why are so many of these bubbling female voices still running underground, or being siphoned off into their own little “women’s quarters” of Christian society? For instance, I watched “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” on Saturday. It was a funny, compassionate movie that all Christians would do well to watch. But the next morning, it struck me: while several women were interviewed for the film, none of the Christian leaders, the ones who spoke more or less on behalf of the establishment (for better or for worse), were female. Even among peo... Read more