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Short Answers to Tough Questions

Why can’t Christians just agree? Or, when they must disagree, why can’t they disagree quietly? Many people, both inside and outside the church, feel impatient and frustrated with in-fighting and dissent in the body of Christ—even over critical issues like racial and gender justice or domestic violence. See the recent response to Australian journalist Julia Baird’s coverage of domestic abuse in the Christian church. Many of the initial responses accused Baird of undercutting the church in highlighting the issue. Essentially, because we, the church, are meant to be one body—united in faith and newness in Christ—disagreement is sometimes seen as a threat and a liability. And certainly, unity is the ideal for Christian community. But does striving for uni... Read more
Gricel Medina
Does egalitarian theology have anything to say to people of color? It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. The myth that egalitarian theology has nothing to say to people of color is reinforced by the movement’s tendency to centralize white people. Many women of color have accused the woman's rights movement as a whole of being a white movement. Indeed, the feminist movement has often demonstrated a disregard for the needs of women of color. Although feminism and egalitarianism are distinct ideologies in many ways, both have struggled to affirm, include, and empower people of color. In an article called “Race and Feminism: Women's March Recalls the Touchy History,” Karen Grigsby writes: “The fact that the feminist movement was so white for... Read more
Complementarian/egalitarian discussions and debates can be complex. Some involve arguments from the finer points of Greek and Hebrew. Others may require an understanding of theological themes that span the entire Bible. Still others require solid grounding in the social sciences. Because of such complexities, I find it refreshing when someone asks a question that is easily answered. The question that forms the title to this blog entry is just such a question. Essentially all readers of Arise have heard the claim that egalitarians are following culture. This claim is typically intended to point out that egalitarians are being seduced by feminism. And the feminism in question is usually a reference to the movement called second-wave feminism, which began in the 1960s and lasted for twenty-p... Read more
Below is a very brief glimpse of the inconsistency with which we elevate certain doctrinal issues and specifically, the issue of women as pastors, as things we absolutely must agree on, and ignore other doctrinal differences. But what's at the root of that inconsistency? Two stories. Each about someone in my family. One from more than fifty years ago. One from 2017. Let's start with the old story. A relative in my grandparents' generation once left a congregation because a woman was teaching. He had been at the congregation quite a while and was content to stay—except for this new development that a woman was allowed to teach. Here's what makes this otherwise-unsurprising story odd: He not only switched congregations, but also denominations. That is to say, he was... Read more
We all know about schoolyard bullies—kids who rely on physical strength to dominate others and rule the playground. The strict gender dichotomy some Christians argue for similarly elevates physical strength, furthering the myth that men's physical strength uniquely qualifies them for the role of protector. In this flawed gender dichotomy, men are the protectors of and providers for women. This role is supposedly paramount to their manhood. Women are thus in need of men’s protection and provision, and they passively receive it. Women are not, then, co-agents who help to create a safer and more secure world. Yet, God clearly commands the man and woman in Genesis to rule over and care for the earth together. While there are many examples of men protecting women in... Read more
This is an entry in the recent conversation on authority, women, and online writing. We appreciate all who have contributed to this discussion so far, including the controversial article that sparked the debate: Who’s In Charge of the Christian Blogosphere?”, a Christianity Today opinion piece by Tish Harrison Warren in CT’s new Amplify Women series. We’d love your thoughts and also invite those who agreed with the original article to offer theirs. Every time I fly into Santiago, Chile, I jump at the chance to meander through the public plazas. There, I encounter something that has nearly disappeared in my own Western context: street preachers—mostly men—perched on boxes, waving black bibles, and sermonizing with megaphones. These evangelists find their... Read more
I cannot express how much I appreciated Tina Osterhouse’s recent essay, “Why Christians Can Do Better Than The ‘Billy Graham Rule.’” I have been confronted with this rule growing up in a Christian church, participating in various venues at a Christian college, serving as a youth pastor, etc. And every time, it's baffled me. “What am I, an animal?” Of course, there was no room to ask that simple question, for to even doubt such rank legalism was immediate evidence that I was ripe for the fall, pretending to be “wiser than Solomon and stronger than David.” It was only a matter of months before I’d be “purpling” with some temptress who was also apparently as mindless and indecent as myself.   The rule had the... Read more
A tidal wave of confusion is rocking the world of young evangelical men. Evidently, increasing numbers of men are questioning if gender-based roles are as clear as some proclaim. Recent studies suggest that an onset of doubting occurs in males between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Social scientists suggest a possible link to the age of accountability observed by varying evangelical churches. “What this could mean,” one researcher explains, “is that a boy who reaches the age of ‘manhood,’ as determined by his community, is prone to confusions about what it means to exercise male leadership.” Ralph, twelve, sheds light on questions he faced after reaching the age of accountability. “After a baptism ceremony, the church threw me and... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, I promised to further explore two questions related to a core resource on male-headship theology, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (RBWM): Does male-headship theology have overtones of male superiority?   Does male-headship theology dehumanize women in anyway? (As covered in Part 1, dehumanization requires oppressors to rob the oppressed of their human qualities, personality, and/or spirit).   There is an ongoing debate in the church around the role and nature of women. Two groups aim to answer this question, each very differently: complementarians and egalitarians. Complementarians believe that men and women are equal in value but called to different roles in the home and church, namely that men are called to leadership and women ar... Read more
In Part 1 of my response to Kevin DeYoung's article, "Our Pro-Woman, Complementarian Jesus" I note DeYoung's failure to provide biblical evidence in support of his claim that Jesus intended "only men" to be in "positions of leadership." I argued that Jesus never stated that his choice of twelve apostles was meant to exclude women, nor does the Bible ever clearly teach this. Part 1 establishes that, to the contrary, Jesus did appoint women as his authoritative messengers, and both the Old and New Testaments affirm many women in authority and leadership. DeYoung makes two other assertions. First, he states, "The Jewishness of the apostles is linked to a particular moment in salvation history, while their maleness is not. After... Read more

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