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If you want something ironed really well in our house, don’t ask me, ask my husband Malcolm. Trousers are perfectly pressed, shirts and blouses beautifully crease-free — even towels are ironed so they’re extra fluffy. Why do I mention this? Ironing is one of those things that men are not supposed to be able to do. So I’m amused by the proliferation of popular books like Why Men Don’t Iron and Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, which argue that differences between men and women are due most often to biology and are thus fixed and unalterable. Malcolm is far more proficient than I am at ironing, but I’m better than he is at reading maps, and, as he often has to remind me, he is much better at listening. Read more
Christian leaders often subscribe to stereotypes and myths about men and women and their sexuality. Most of the time, emphasis is placed on Christian women needing to dress modestly and for men to avoid the temptations of their “visual nature.” By proclaiming sexual myths, a “gendering” of sexual sin occurs which enables some and adds an extra level of shame for others. Basically, women are seen as less sexually motivated, and therefore issues such as female sexual addiction and pornography go unaddressed in many churches. Read more
Someone has said that one of the biggest problems with pornography is not that it shows too much of a woman, but that it doesn’t show enough. It doesn’t show that she is an individual with a soul, who has a right to be valued as such. It doesn’t show that she has the right to privacy and honor and respect. It doesn’t show that she is a person of worth, created in the image of God, fully human.  Read more
“Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8). The baby is fresh from his mother’s womb, naked, blinking in the unaccustomed light. He lies peacefully cushioned on the warm, bare skin of her now flaccid abdomen, just below and between her breasts. Her hand rests gently on his bottom as she speaks softly to him. Read more
“I made an A on my math exam!” your child exclaims.  “Great! You are so talented!” you respond. Or you might say, “That studying really paid off. You’ve worked hard!” On the surface, both sound like compliments. Both congratulate the child on a job well done. Both convey your pride. Yet, they are different in ways we often do not recognize. The first response praises a quality that is inborn and not subject to change—something that is part of the essence of who the child is. An inborn quality is likely to endure and be replicated the next time she or he takes an exam.  Read more
“God is a woman,” my son, Micah, announced one day last summer when he was still three. Then he added, “You can see Mama, but you can’t see God.” My husband had just explained that it was God who made the peas we were shelling in the shade of our tree. Intrigued by Micah’s response, I assumed he associated my love and closeness to the feelings of warmth and care he experiences from God. Read more
In 1664, a young Puritan minister named John Cotton Jr. was found guilty of “lascivious unclean practices with three women.”1 Mr. Cotton was a Harvard graduate, a descendant of well-respected parents, and a husband and father. As a punishment for his sinful deeds, English officials in Massachusetts forced Cotton to give up his pastorate of a local church. The question was, what could he do to support Joanna, his wife, and their children? Puritan leaders found the answer in an unlikely place: Martha’s Vineyard. For many years, members of the Mayhew family had labored as missionaries on the island, trying to teach local Indians about Christianity. The Mayhews needed help, and John Cotton Jr. was sufficiently qualified, in the eyes of the English at least, to preach to Indians. So, in 1666, John Cotton Jr. began a long missionary career on both Martha’s Vineyard and in the town of Plymouth. In many respects, his legacy lasted beyond his death, for his two sons, Josiah and Roland Cotton, preached to Indians in Massachusetts long after their father was gone.2 Other scholarly works have examined male members of the Cotton family and how they interacted with Native Americans.3 In this article, however, I wish to explore the experiences of Joanna Cotton, a wife and mother of missionaries in colonial America. In particular, I will explore the extent to which Joanna fell in line with expectations regarding gender roles in colonial New England. These roles typically involved a degree of female subordination to males. Read more
When Bob Dylan sang “the times they are a-changin’,” he wasn’t kidding. Recently I glanced over at my seventeen-year-old son doing his homework. While he was online doing research for a paper, he was also instant messaging four of his friends-all of this while listening to his iPod and typing words into his research paper. He explained to me that he’s able to work better when he has a lot of stuff going on. It helps his concentration. What a contrast from the time I got irritated at the librarian at the University of Northern Iowa for whispering too loudly while I worked on a research paper. The times they are a-changin’. Read more
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you. Therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 Read more