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I am teaching an interactive class on family in a theological college in South Asia. Mothi Mary has organized her group to act as a mother, son, and daughter at the table. Daughter asks for a second helping. Mother says, “No. You do not need it.” Son asks for more. Mother gives him extra food. The children are leaving for school. Mother gives son a cup of milk. None for the daughter. Mother welcomes the son from school with tea with milk. Daughter complains, “Mother, you did not put milk in my tea.” “No, daughter. We must attend to your brother’s needs.” Read more
I have often told my parishioners the biblical truth that we live in God’s schoolhouse. The world God created for us is a visual lesson of God’s existence and God’s watch-care over us. As one example, we are enveloped in a protective placenta of water vapor that shields us from the sun and filters its power down to a diffused treatment of rays that warm us; nourish us with vitamin D; dry the ground so we can travel and build our homes on it; grow the trees that replace our oxygen, the plants that supply our food, and the animals that serve us in a variety of ways; provide light by which we can conduct business; and, in short, make living possible. The complex interweaving of such conditions testifies to an intelligent Creator who has intentionally fashioned and shaped our environment so that “the heavens are relating the glory (or majesty) of God1 and the sky is announcing the production of his hands” (Ps. 19:1, v. 2 in the Hebrew Bible). In fact, there is a message that pours out through all the earth, according to Psalm 19:1–4, that is not audible and yet is an informative declaration of knowledge imparted by the very interwoven fabric of life itself. Read more
Today, many believers are finding themselves at odds with each other about the family, gender-defined roles, and how the two intertwine.  Women may find themselves gifted with the ability to teach or lead but find almost no context for those gifts within their churches.  Men may prefer teaching children in Sunday School to organizing a missions conference, but instead get stuck doing the very things for which they have no vision, just because it is expected of them as men.  As they marry and bear children and as their lives incarnate their Christian faith, both men and women may find themselves constricted by the traditional roles mapped out for them by their churches. Read more
In my life it’s usually the difficulties that push me into uncharted territory. As I sit here writing down this difficult and painful story, I praise God for how he is molding these results into good. A couple years ago a Christian woman entered my life when she brought her two older daughters to me for weekly piano lessons. As we got acquainted, she began sharing her story with me. I became involved in her circumstances as my heart encompassed her in her distress. Read more
I have the privilege of serving in Bible translation with the Mountain Jews of the former Soviet Union. They believe they descended from the 10 tribes of Israel, who were taken into captivity by Assyria and resettled in Media (northwest Iran). From there they moved northward into the Caucasus Mountains region. Today they number about 100,000, with another 100,000 who converted to Islam, centuries ago. They are wonderful people to work with, full of pride for their traditions and enthusiasm for change as they leave their ancient homeland. Some have come to faith in Jesus the Messiah. Read more
For centuries, a patriarchal system of control has kept women in spiritual captivity through distortion of the Scriptures. It’s time to debunk the myths. We live in the 21st century, but if we’re honest we have to admit that in some ways the church is still in the Dark Ages—especially when we look at the way we treat women. Even though the Scriptures never portray women as secondary to men, our male-dominated religious system still promotes biblical misinterpretations of female inferiority. Women are tired of this, and as a man, so am I—because such demeaning attitudes don’t reflect God’s heart. Jesus challenged gender prejudice at its core when He directed so much of His ministry toward women. In a Middle Eastern culture that considered women mere property, He healed women, discipled them and commissioned them to minister. Yet today we spend much of our energy denying them opportunities—and using the Bible to defend our prohibitions. I’ve identified 10 erroneous views about women that have been circulated in the church, preached from pulpits and written in the study notes of popular Bible translations for too long. I believe we must debunk these lies if we want to see the church released to fulfill the Great Commission. Read more
So what does a good marriage look like anyway? How are a husband and wife supposed to relate to each other? Is it a command and control relationship with the husband being like the general to the wife’s sergeant? Or does it have a softer look, more like a generous boss to a competent secretary? There’s always the model of the valiant knight to the damsel in perpetual distress, of course. And then there are variations on the idea of marriage as a team. But what kind of a team are we talking about? Is it more like a tug-of-war team with both husband and wife using their muscles to pull on the same end of the rope? Or like a baseball team with one partner polishing pitching skills while the other perfects catching? Read more
To fully understand a book, it's a good idea to start reading at the beginning because you usually get a focus there for what follows. The same is true of the Bible. To really understand what it's all about, you need to begin with the Beginning. That gives you a perspective on cosmic and human history that puts the rest of Scripture in focus. We then see the Bible "through the Lens of Eden," as Mildred Enns Toews from Winnipeg, Manitoba says.   Read more
There is indeed a noticeable increase in rhetoric from the conservative wing of the church calling for rigid roles for men and women, in effect defining activities in home, church, and society primarily by gender. And very often this rhetoric claims to be representing a Christian world view, thus – at first glance -making its conclusion seem ironclad. Well, any of you who have read my book, EQUAL TO SERVE, know that I am a questionasker. Therefore I ask: What is a Christian world view? Surely it must be more than a televangelist's cliché or an empty religious slogan. A Christian world view must mean a basic, scriptural way of looking at life that will cut across denominational particularities or emotional bias or cultural pressures. So let's explore the matter to see if there is a broad outline to our Christian world view that we can establish before we go on to those particularities, or deal with that emotional bias or cultural pressure. Certainly if someone stopped you or me and said, "Define a Christian world view," we would not begin with particulars but would start with the broader basics. So let's ask some questions about those basics, and see if our answers will shed light on this particular matter of gender roles. Read more
Biblical feminists, as opposed to other feminists outside and within the church, accept the full authority of all Scripture for all the people of God. But they recognize, with all modern people, that we do not absorb Scripture in its pure form into our understanding. Like anything else we read, reading Scripture is an interpretive process. In other words, while Scripture is perfect, our understanding of it is limited. It is limited by the tradition in which we receive it – how it has been interpreted for us by others. It is limited by human incapacity to completely understand God. In other words, there is no error in the Word of God, but there may be error in how we interpret it.   Read more