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I begin this discourse with a disclaimer, since the title suggests far more than one can deliver in a limited amount of space. It suggests far more knowledge about this topic than I actually have—indeed, it is safe to say that there is much more that we don’t know about these things than we actually do. What I hope to do is to offer a few probings into the cultural background of this passage—which has become such a crux for people on both sides of the issue of whether there is a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home, based on gender alone. Read more
The Christian egalitarian woman is in a difficult position. If she truly believes God calls women to engage in the same types of ministries and offices of the church in which men engage, and if she is also committed to living a life that reflects God’s character, she is faced with a quandary. Read more
Once again we shake our heads, laugh, and roll our eyes at the Southern Baptist Convention. The boys who run that outfit never seem to tire of doing silly things. This time, when a few thousand of them [met] in Orlando in June [2000], they [made] all 15.9 million Southern Baptists reject female preachers. Read more
In 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention made headlines around the nation with the addition of the words “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband” to the Baptist Faith and Message (B F&M). It seemed that everyone, from talk-show hosts to the person on the street, had some commentary to offer on the statement. Many were tempted to dismiss it as an archaic example of a denomination safe and secure in the eighteenth century. Others affirmed the words as a return to “family values.” All were, at the very least, curious as to why such a statement came from such a body of believers at such a time as this. Read more
I have a confession to make. I used to hate being a woman. And I hated God for making me one. But it wasn’t always that way. My parents brought up my siblings (a brother and two sisters) and me equitably, with absolutely no sense of privilege based on gender. “Aim for the stars, and you’re sure to hit one,” was Dad’s constantly quoted axiom. So throughout my school years I competed favorably with my peers, male and female, and felt inferior to no one. My girlhood fantasies alternated wildly between becoming President of Nigeria and performing adorably before millions of fans—movie star, sports champion, politician, whatever—I just knew that I could and would be great. Nothing was beyond my reach. Read more
There are many others more qualified than I to represent a theological and philosophical apologetic for an “egalitarian” or “mutuality” point of view regarding women in the church. As someone who a decade ago experienced my first wife leave me, leading to divorce, I realize my personal life could also be seen as a less than-convincing egalitarian argument. If anyone talked with Carol, my wife, who loves me despite my blindness and insensitiveness, I would be further exposed as a very imperfect example of an egalitarian husband. Read more
Last night I waited at Starbucks until it was time to pick up two of our teenage daughters after a home Bible study under the auspices of our conservative evangelical church. While nursing my Coffee of the Day, I could not help overhearing a young adult woman, with Bible open at an adjacent table, discipling four other university-age females. Their informal conversation ranged over a number of topics, and on each one the leader had a forceful and confident opinion. I winced especially when I heard her advise them that the Bible was very clear that a woman should remain silent and never teach a man. As far as I could tell, the group simply nodded assent to this insight and scribbled it down in their journals. As I drove through a darkened suburban neighborhood to pick up my own daughters a few minutes later, I could not help wondering whether the teaching my kids were receiving was any different. Read more
Only by the grace of God, say Russ and Amy Jacks Dean, has their dream come true. It’s the same for Mark and Mary Driskill, for Bill and Mary Dell Sigler and for Steve and Carla Street as they pioneer a new model of ministry for many churches: married couples serving together as pastors. Read more
It’s not what most pastor search committees are looking for when they begin: a husband and wife who want to be joint, equal pastors of the same congregation. Yet, it is proving to be a successful model — both for the churches who take the risk and for the couples willing to work to make it happen. Read more
He just wasn’t hungry. It was a magnificent triumph that night when I got him to eat some sautéed chicken and pasta along with his usual bowl of fruit cocktail, but that was a charade for my sake. The meals my aunt Kathy brought down every night were left untouched in the fridge. His previous diet of canned chop suey and ice cream bars was beginning to look healthy to us; after all, some calories are better than none at all. But he didn’t want to live anymore, which was why he didn’t want to eat anymore, either. The facts added up, but that doesn’t mean they made sense to me. Read more

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