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On issues of the family and scripture, Christians are in a bit of a pickle. It is not always clear how our convictions about “family values” mesh with what the Bible teaches, especially the Gospels. Jesus, for example, did not assign the great spiritual and sentimental significance to family life that many Christians do today. How then do we reconcile the expectation that all good Christians should marry with his example of lifelong celibacy? Or our championship of family with Jesus’ warning that following him will set sibling against sibling and parent against child? Endorsing family values poses particularly interesting issues for biblical egalitarians, since many of our fellow Bible-believers hold that these values should include a hierarchical model of marriage. Read more
“You’re what?” “Are you kidding?” “Is that some sort of a joke?” “How do you make that work?” “Aren’t you a walking contradiction?” These are the typical responses I get when folks find out that I’m an evangelical male college professor who teaches feminist studies. I’ve been teaching courses on history and gender for over a dozen years now; I’ve also spent most of that time as a volunteer leader with my church’s senior high youth group. Both in my career and ministry, I am committed to reconciling what many think can’t be reconciled: feminist principles and Christian faith. Read more
I was born into privilege thrice over. I am white; I am male; I am American. And all that privilege provides me with the shortcut, the front row seat, the illusion of my own sufficiency. Yet, I need help, and I need it terribly. How terribly? Let me tell you a little about it. Read more
Divorce, domestic violence, school shootings, living together, gay lifestyle, affairs, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and the list goes on… The family is definitely under attack. As a result, the last decade and a half has seen the rise of the pro-family Christian message. Pastors, churches, books, Bible studies, and even whole movements are, with the purest of intentions, working feverishly to strengthen the family. Seeking to motivate apathetic husbands and indifferent dads, some Christian ministries have anointed men “Prophet, Priest, and King,” “Point Man,” and “High Priest of the Home.” The only problem is, these labels aren’t scriptural. Read more
I can’t remember a time when I did not think women were equal to men. My parents’ upbringing must have indoctrinated me before I was old enough to know that some people disagreed with them. What did my parents tell me? My guess is, it was never mentioned. But I clearly remember being impressed when I was very young with my father’s utter devotion to my mother and my thinking that girls and women were about as close to angels as you could get on earth. (My understanding has since expanded, but I still think some of them are.) Read more
Harriet had conscientiously served the ministry’s leaders, Rev. and Mrs. Smith, for twenty-five years. The Smiths were a godly couple, and their work for the Kingdom had flourished over the years. Theirs was a model of a faithful marriage, and they were seen as blessed by God. Working for the Smiths had not always been easy, but Harriet was deeply committed to the ministry. She had left once, but God made it clear that she was to return. God promised her that he understood, and that he would allow her to birth a project of her own that would be of value to the Kingdom. Read more
What does it take to be included in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith” (Heb. 11:1– 40)? How could anyone hope to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with such notables as Abel the righteous (Gen. 4:1–10; Matt. 23:35); Enoch who walked faithfully with God (Gen. 5:22–24); saintly Noah who was graced with the Lord’s favor (Gen. 6:8); Abraham and Sarah who believed against all odds that God’s promise was certain (Gen. 15:6; 21:1; 22:12); Moses the friend with whom God spoke face- to-face (Num. 12:6–8); Samuel who was respected for his integrity from Dan to Beersheba (1 Sam. 3:20); and King David, a man after God’s heart (1 Sam. 16:7; Acts 13:22). The inspired list goes on to name a total of sixteen men and women, including Deborah’s military general, Barak (Judg. 4–5). All of these are commended for their faith, true heroes of whom “the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38). In contrast to many of the others in the Hebrews list, we are not told exactly what Barak did to demonstrate his extraordinary faith. But, thankfully, the account of his work under Deborah, the respected prophet and judge, in Judges 4–5 provides helpful clues to answer this question from the Scripture. Read more
I believe that left-handed people are fully capable and called by God for ministry. I believe left-handed people can serve in ordained ministry or any other capacity, just as right-handed people can. However, some oppose left-handers. They believe that God made left- and right-handers equal in essence only, while denying them access to certain vocations. Ordained ministry is for the right-handers only, as the claim goes. Believe it or not, the Bible does portray left-handers in ministry. Take Judges 3:15: “Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer — Ehud, a left-handed man...” I’m guessing you have never heard of Ehud, I know I hadn’t until I met a few left-handers trying to respond to their calling…. Read more
As a spiritual director, I recommend to people who are trying to heal childhood religious experiences that they return to the scene of the crime and forgive people for what happened. Little did I know that I had another important step in my own process of forgiving people for my childhood religious experiences. It caught me completely by surprise. A religious women’s book group chose to read my book, The Critical Journey, and asked me to speak to them about the journey of faith. I arrived at the leader’s home eager to have a dialogue about faith with this group. The hostess greeted me and I met a few of the other women over coffee and cookies before we started. Then we all met in the large family room for our conversation. After introductions, the leader asked me to give my personal testimony, so I told my faith story, including the ups and downs of my faith, a few of the gifts and pains of my early religious experiences, my training as a spiritual director, and my role as a healer in the arena of domestic violence.  Read more
I’ve always been puzzled by forgiveness. With little experience of God’s power to renew and heal — but a lot of “shoulds” in my head about how I needed to be a loving person — I thought forgiveness was about silencing my intellect, shutting my mouth, squelching my anger at unjust situations, and then forcing a smile that was so automatic, even I believed it communicated how I felt. What does it mean to forgive someone who has hurt me? What does unconditional love entail? How is forgiveness related to my convictions about justice and truth? And how, if at all, is my loving and forgiving another related to God’s love and forgiveness for me?  Read more

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