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Personal Stories

Dear Friends, Seminary can be a mixed bag for women. You likely encounter a confusing blend of support, apathy, and even downright hostility—perhaps all in a single day. I can't imagine how tough that must be to navigate. I will never forget a female student who, after a class discussion on the theology of gender and ministry, tearfully shared her struggle with this confusing reception. She was about to complete her MDiv, but a troubling reality was settling in: the vast majority of the jobs posted in her conservative denomination were explicitly designated "for men only." No mixed message there. Along with the bleak outlook in certain vocational areas of church ministry, women seminary students can regularly experience forms of oppression, whether striking or subtle,... Read more
From the very beginning of our ministry life together my wife (Liz) and I have had an egalitarian approach to both marriage and ministry. Way back then we were unaware of the extensive body of literature available that supports such a stance and so it was more of a preferred and personal way of doing things. Even though I am more naturally an expository preacher, I recall having great difficulty preaching with any conviction the apparent 'male headship' referred to in Ephesians 5:23, or offering an alternative, so I usually avoided going there. When our children were small Liz was more restricted to the home which left me to attend to church leadership matters but we always talked about issues at home and I valued immensely her wise and experienced input. We tried to teach and mode... Read more
I wasn't trying to make a statement on gender or gender roles in the church.  Wasn't, wasn't wasn't.  I just misheard the worship leader's instructions. In the middle of corporate worship recently, a tune came along in which one group led and another followed.  You know, one of those echo deals.  About halfway through the song I realized I was belting it out with the "wrong" group.  Apparently men were supposed to lead, women follow.  Oops. My tuneful gusto drew more than a few dark looks.  The experience got me thinking: What does the "men lead out, women echo" tune paradigm tell us about gender roles in worship?  Should gender roles exist in worship? While we're on the subject, what is... Read more
(Movie spoiler alert!) First off, Courageous (the most recent movie release from Sherwood Baptist Church, the makers of Fireproof) is far from a terrible movie. There are very funny scenes. The characters wrestle with real life struggles. It resists the hyper-sexualization of females that runs rampant in Hollywood movies. It touts important values like integrity, deep faith, sacrifice, and, yes, courage. So how could we have anything negative to say about this, a Christian movie? I’ve had people ask me. But, as a wise CBE member shared recently, the fact that it is a Christian movie is precisely why we must hold it to a higher standard. This movie is meant to reflect Christ, and to demonstrate how those in Christ’s kingdom are to live. So it begs our ca... Read more
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
Recently I ran across this article in the Tennessean: "Should wives submit? Debate resurges in some Christian circles." My initial response was to shake my head and think, "Are we really still dealing with this?" My follow up thought though recognized my hypocrisy in that I once held a similar perspective. Being raised in the southern "Bible Belt" of the United States and having attended a conservative Christian seminary, I once was conflicted about this issue. On one hand, it was clear all around me that women were capable, equal leaders fulfilling many responsible roles, and that was a good thing. On the other hand, my narrower cultural milieu told me to uphold the "traditional" roles of men taking the lead, especially in the home and the church... 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
My name is Domnic Omolo Misolo. I'm a Kenyan citizen and ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Bondo. I'm married to Christine Adhiambo and we are blessed with one child, Bill Otieno. I am the founder and coordinator of Ekklesia Community for Advocacy and Peace Initiative (ECAPI). I came to know about biblical equality from Priscilla Papers, which I read at St. Paul's University Library (Kenya) in the year 2009 during my studies for a bachelor degree in divinity. As an Anglican priest, I follow traditional evangelical spirituality that views Scripture (Bible) as authoritative and actual God's breath without criticism. Being molded in the African culture (Luo Tribe) where women are viewed as second to men and rated with children, my attitud... Read more
"Mom, where are the women?" my twelve-year old son asked as he scanned the program for a 9/11 "10 Year Anniversary Remembrance Service" sponsored by the local ministers' fellowship. Josiah saw it immediately.  I was a little slower.  I looked over the program which included a welcome, invocation, pledge of allegiance, six patriotic songs, nine prayers, a video clip and three mini-sermons by area pastors.  The 90-minute service included seventeen separate elements and twenty different speakers or presenters.  Nineteen were male.  The one exception was the Benediction.   Even the Chilean Evangelist who prayed for the "peoples of the nations of the world" was male. As fine an idea as a 9/11 remembrance service was, a... Read more
Father's Day was earlier this month and, like many of you, I attended church and heard another variation of a Father's Day sermon. Over the years my father and I have joked about these messages, because we often feel they do not adequately portray his particular type of fathering. In fact, my dad often feels like Mother's Day sermons are more geared to him. As a stay-at-home dad during most of my early years and as the parent most at home with my brother and me during childhood, my dad has been the cooker, cleaner, washer, and what some would call "nurturer" in the family dynamics. As a little girl, I never thought much of this. He was just my dad, and I often saw him giving his gifts and talents to our family in selfless and caring ways. Yet, as I grew up, the greate... Read more