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Christian Relationships

On Friday, three women were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their commitment to women’s rights. Two of those women, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were from Liberia, the country I called home for most of my elementary school years. I haven’t stopped grinning since I heard the news. See, it was in Liberia that I first witnessed the true ugliness of gender injustice, first understood that a tiny seed of pride and superiority dropped into the heart of a man would blossom not into a sheltering tree, but into an ugly, invasive weed that choked the life out of everything around it. My “Damascus road” experience happened when I was nine years old, peering out the window of our second-story apartment in Monrovia. Just outside our gate, a woman wa... Read more
As children, we are unfamiliar with our voices. We don’t always know what to say, how to carry expression, and what volume to use when talking. When I was young, adults told me that there are two kinds of voices: an “outside” and “inside” one. It was not until I was older that I learned this philosophy had translated into churches and Christian culture. It seemed as if other Christians had assigned women “inside” voices—softer, less valid ones. Men were encouraged to speak, booming with authoritative tones, as if they were the only ones that had something to say worth listening to. For years, I learned a way of silence. In the churches I grew up in, there were no female leaders. Women could participate in other ways such as Sunday school... Read more
Dealing with the emotions that swirl around the gender debate in the church today can be very challenging. The discussion often touches upon beliefs that are very core to us as Christians. Few remain truly “neutral” on women’s leadership. This is exciting, but it also warrants caution and wisdom. It is exciting because people are intensely interested in the topic of gender, authority, and the church. They are eager to explore the biblical material on gender, prayerfully looking for opportunities to study and examine the Scriptures with others. People are digging deeply into Scripture and they’re asking others to join them. It is fantastic to see so many thoughtful Christians studying the Bible with vigor and in community with one another! The interest in gend... Read more
I’m very much an Egalitarian, but for me the issue is really more about giftedness. We can tend to get caught up in who should be behind the pulpit or at the lectern and miss all the other giftedness around us. When I worked at a bank’s call center, helping bankers with computer problems, I really wanted to be somewhere where I was helping people in need. Now, I’m at a Legal Aid office where I do intake and  reception work. I’m happier about my work because I’m really helping people. But, there was a fundamental flaw in my earlier reasoning - bankers are people too. However, I’m more interested in working with the poor because God has given me more empathy for them. So, the work is more related to my giftedenss. Churches and other Christian... Read more
“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11, NIV) Recently I read a poignant reflection on Colossians 3:11, which argued that Paul’s vision expressed in this verse erases all social divisions within the church. When we look at others in the church, ran the argument, we don’t see race, age, economic status, etc.—all we see is Christ. What made this argument remarkable to me was that it was written by a well known complementarian scholar and posted on a well known complementarian website. So I asked the author whether gender should be considered one of those social divisions that are erased in the church. And then it became clear that like things w... Read more
It's Stephen Covey, I believe, who's credited with the quote, "The important thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Like most aphorisms, it's simple to understand, but challenging to apply. Christ is the preeminent example of pretty much every life principle, and this one is no exception. But I have to admit, for quite a while I was mystified by his summative declaration from the cross: "It is finished." Weren't there other people to heal, disciples to train, Pharisees to annoy? The answer for the evangelical is that Christ's substitutionary death on the cross was his ultimate goal and essential action. Another question, perhaps more practical, is how did he know. An answer comes from the intriguing, John 5:19, "Jesus gave... Read more
I just read a beautiful quote in the book “Reconsidering Gender.” The author, Craig Blomberg, is somewhere between the egalitarian and complementarian perspectives. He observes, “Let us agree to disagree with one another in love where we must but give each other as fellow evangelicals the benefit of the doubt when we are all trying to understand God’s will as best as possible on this topic and, once we have understood it, to follow it faithfully.” I believe we egalitarians are right. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be one. However, I recognize that people on both sides of the issue are basing their beliefs on Scripture which they are trying to understand as hermeneutically and exegetically accurately as possible. We should all want to love God and eac... Read more
Summer is the season of weddings! Many of us will have the pleasure of celebrating with family and friends as they join their lives as husband and wife. Though we have all enjoyed countless weddings over the years, there always seems to be that one moment in the ceremony where we are hit by the immensity of the occasion—when the two become one flesh! As bride and groom are joined as one, before God and their community, we experience an ecstasy we've encountered before—in the early chapters of Genesis. Standing amid the countless wonders of Eden, Adam's aloneness is the only "not good" in a perfect world. Among the many astonishing animals, Adam cannot find a suitable companion. What is missing? Adam needs a creature like himself, made of his substance... Read more
Lean and lanky, the thirty-something teacher probed the congregation with a practiced eye as he wound down his presentation.  Ezekiel "Zeke" (pseudonym) teaches at a secondary school in another country.  Backed up by a carefully constructed PowerPoint presentation, Ezekiel shared his passion for sensitively pouring truth and grace into the lives of his students, particularly the girls.  His blue eyes blazed as he asked if a woman in the Community Christian Church (not its real name) congregation would be willing to come forward and pray for the women of his host country. No one moved. Thinking his request was muddled or unheard, Zeke repeated it.  He was met with crossed arms, averted eyes, and the creaks of bodies shifting uneasily in the pews. ... Read more
I've known Jack for many years.  He is married to a woman named Geraldine, whom I have known since I was ten.  Jack is what people consider a man’s man.  He loves football, action movies, video games and would totally run in the opposite direction of a romantic comedy if it weren’t for his love for his wife.  And he’s a stay-at-home-dad.  The decision was made for them as Jack lost his job right before they were about to have their first child.  Geraldine has a stable, well-paying job, and it just made sense for her to continue working and for Jack’s work to be staying at home.  He cooks and cares for their child, and she goes to work — and it works for them.  Jack has told me that it’s hard for him, though,... Read more