My first lesson on the dangerous pitfalls of sexual sin and subsequent public scandal came one ordinary day in 1988. I arrived home from church to witness my dad sitting in his comfy chair, mesmerized by something on the television. Popular televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was confessing that he had sinned against God with a prostitute as millions of people watched. He knelt at the podium with tears streaming down his face and beseeched God to forgive him.
Years later in my US government class in high school, I watched Bill Clinton stand trial for lying about his numerous sexual interactions with Monica Lewinsky.
Both of these men marked my youth, shaping the way I perceived men in positions of power. I first learned of the “Billy Graham Rule” in college. The rule was simple: Bil...Read more
Almost every time I read an article or social media post on masculinity and the church, I am struck by the narrowness of the popular Christian prescription for “biblical manhood.” Many articles on the subject conclude that “men stay away from church” because worship music, services, and messages have been “feminized” and do not appeal to the majority of men. We have “stopped relating to and speaking to real men,” one post stated. I disagree, and I’d like to share my thoughts on men, worship, and the church.
Statistics do show that only one out of five husbands attend church with their wives, so this is a real concern. But whose definition of ‘real men’ are we talking about? And, should we change the church to make it more...Read more
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” –JK Rowling
I can think of few quotes more relevant to men who believe in gender equality.
Men, you too face a choice between what is right and what is easy. A choice between risk and comfort, between painful knowledge and willful ignorance. Though you stand at the mouth of a tempting shortcut, you must choose the narrow, trial-heavy road up the mountain.
We do not necessarily have to choose the hard thing. That is the simultaneous beauty and ugliness of free will. We can choose privilege, align with the powerful, and discard stories that threaten our worldview. We can worship at the altar of ease, safety, and comfort. We can embrace a risk-free life. But that...Read more
Recently, I received a couple of e-mails from a few well-meaning friends suggesting that I tone it down with social media posts advocating for women in ministry. These friends suggested that my posts cause tension, make the church look bad, and turn people away from attending church.
I took their words to heart, prayed, and pondered them for some time. I asked myself, do these posts truly have a negative effect on the church, or do some Christians mistakenly believe that advocating for women in ministry disrupts church unity? As a former lead pastor and a fairly new advocate for women in ministry, I hear many unfounded myths like this about the inclusion of women in church leadership. Let’s explore some of those myths.
Myth #1: Advocating for women in ministry will turn people a...Read more
A few months ago, a guest speaker at my church spoke on the Christian obligation to fight and end human trafficking. And his conclusion was right.
Christians should be the loudest voices against human trafficking. I happily lend mine to the fight to eradicate the global slave trade. And yet, in his sermon on fighting human trafficking, the well-intentioned male speaker used the following flawed biblical example to illustrate his point.
The man explained that just as Uriah lost Bathsheba to the whims of a powerful king, so female victims of trafficking lose their freedom to men. Perhaps you also see the problem and inconsistency of this comparison.
The male speaker, in seeking to correct a global injustice against women, reinforced an age-old patriarchal concept—that crimes a...Read more
For a class project, I once spent a semester studying people I disagree with. Initially, I planned to report on atheists because their beliefs differ dramatically from my Christian faith.
I approached my professor with the idea, and he shook his head. “No, you need to choose people who frustrate you. Who don’t you get along with? Who is hard to like?”
Truthfully, I had the least warm and fuzzy feelings toward those who oppose women in ministry leadership. I’d become weary of repeating myself to young men who ignored me in seminary study groups. It was awkward to question when they edited my words out of group papers without discussion.
I wrestled over a male professor explaining to my class that, “men do ministry with a capital-M and women do ministry...Read more
It can be very difficult to know what makes a solid male ally, so I took a stab at answering that question. I’ve created a list of 10 ways men can act on their Christian feminism, with specific emphasis on the church.
1. Ensure the leadership of your church or organization reflects your feminism/egalitarianism.
It’s easy to affirm women in leadership theoretically, because it costs you nothing as a male leader. But if you and your male teammates stand at the helm of the church alone, your feminism is meaningless. A church that has egalitarian values should walk the talk by inviting women to take the wheel.
2. Let women lead the way.
Men have been at the forefront of many social and theological movements. A cultural preference for male perspectives can exist even in...Read more
“For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2:14).
It was the week of my final interview for ordination. I had turned in my paper on pastoral theology, passed one round of interviews at the conference level, and was headed into my interviews on the national level. I was taking a class that same week with fellow ministers, male and female, in various stages of the ordination process. It just so happened that those of us in the final stage in the class were women.
I’ll never forget the moment the entire class surrounded us, laid hands on us, and prayed for our interviews. One prayer has never left my head or my heart.
A brother thanked God for breaking down the wall of hostility that once...Read more
Join me, for a moment, in a thought experiment. Does it seem to you that women are equally, or nearly equally, represented in the ministries of your church? Think especially about activities with high visibility, such as preaching, reading, serving communion, leading worship, teaching Sunday school classes, and participating on boards or leadership teams.
Now that you have your impression, take another step with me. Actually count, as best as you can, how many women serve and lead in visible ways in your church. Do the numbers match up with your impression?
If not, you’re not alone: one of the reasons I loved the church I attended before I moved was because, despite the fact that they did not ordain women or let women preach, women seemed extensively involved in every other asp...Read more
I have gone through some significant theological changes in my twenty years as a follower of Jesus.
I’ve moved from Calvinist to non-Calvinist.
I’ve moved from thinking the church of today knows better than the church of old to believing the church of old might have more to teach us than we them.
I’ve moved from occasionally celebrating the Lord’s Table to longing for it each and every week.
And for our purposes today, I’ve moved from a complementarian view of gender roles to an egalitarian view.
Embracing a fully egalitarian perspective was a long twelve-year process. When all was said and done, there was one final hurdle to overcome. By the time I began pastoring in 2008, I already understood that God gifted both women and men with “spee...Read more