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As I read the gospels, I feel as if I am slowly turning the pages of a photo album of the life of Jesus. The opening pages contain snapshots of the events surrounding his birth: a picture of the angel appearing to Elizabeth, one of Simeon holding the newborn Savior in the temple. I can also see his baptism and his lonely sojourn in the wilderness. The album fills with pictures of the Lord and those who knew him—people who followed him, challenged him, served him, abandoned him. Read more
When we read the letters that make up the greater part of our New Testament, we are reading someone else’s mail. Suppose that you found a box of letters dating from the 1890’s in the attic of the old family home. These letters might mention the names of many people well-known to both the writer and the recipient but unknown to you. Perhaps your 90-year-old aunt could tell you about some of them, but you never would be able to identify some of the people mentioned in those old letters. Read more
In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, God’s infinite wisdom is personified as a woman. The association of divine wisdom with the feminine is not accidental. Social relationships in Israel reflected spiritual relationships between Israel and Yahweh. As a result of this basic analogy between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm, one can look to the feminine images of Hebrew scriptures to better understand personified wisdom. The Law and the Prophets provided the writer(s) of Proverbs with many feminine images (including home-maker, counselor and wise woman, and lover) that influenced their use of female imagery for divine wisdom. By better understanding the images of women portrayed in the Old Testament, one can gain insight into the nature of God’s wisdom. Read more
The current teaching about a husband being his wife’s “covering” is so popular that some people are surprised to find that is actually is based on a shaky inference from I Corinthians 11:2-16, a passage which is talking about a woman literally covering her hair during Christian worship. Rather than enter the popular debate about whether it is valid to read into a text something that is not there (and then impose one’s inference on how other Christians must live), I want to confine myself to asking why head coverings were so important for Paul. Read more
As we study Scripture and hear its exposition, it becomes clear that not only are there sins of commission, there are also sins of omission. The Christian community has long recognized this truth; as the Book of Common Prayer says in its General Confession, “... forgive us for what we have done and what we have left undone.” Even secular law courts recognized this danger by requiring witnesses to swear that they will “tell the whole truth...” Read more
Chapters 17 through 21 of the Book of Judges record the depths of social depravity in possibly Scripture’s clearest depiction of the flaws of a patriarchal society. These chapters truly show the ultimate in degradation: idolatry, pride, selfishness, moral perversion, and insensitivity to human life. Chapters 19-21 also reveal the most awful violations of the human rights of a nameless woman. This frank reporting removes any vestige of courtesy or civility from patriarchy, revealing male dominance at its very worst. Read more
Although the circles of young people where I minister rarely have a problem with women’s ministry, many young men and women are looking for more models of what it means to be a “real” man. Although some hold traditional and others hold egalitarian ideals of marriage, many of the young women who would like to someday marry lament the fact that there are not enough respectful Christian young men to go around in society as a whole. Read more
Galatians 3:28 is quite clear. There is little doubt about the point Paul is making: In Christ we are all the same — we are equal with one another. Yet for all its clarity, this verse is the source of great debate. Controversy centers on how far the principle of believer equality is to be applied. In other words, in what way are we the same? This question is particularly acute when men and women are under discussion. Read more
A friend of mine attends a church that longs for renewal. The pastors acknowledge a sense of spiritual ineffectiveness among their members, and they have sought the power of the Holy Spirit to quicken, empower, and revive personal and corporate ministry. In prayer this congregation asks for an out pouring of the Holy Spirit, but with an unspoken proviso, that God honor their gender bias: God may pour out His Spirit, but men alone may exhibit the Spirit’s empowering. Yet nothing seems further from the tenor of revival and the passage in Acts where the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on Gentiles, but also on women. Read more
The quest to find feminine attributes in the Godhead is ongoing, as many women yearn for an understanding of God that they can relate to and identify with. For them, the Church’s traditional view of the “patriarchal God” is not only too limited but too limiting. This view is too limited in light of the richness of the full range of biblical language for God. It is too limited in that it can exclude believing Christian women from full participation in the Body of Christ, although they too are creatures made in the image of God and now equal children of God along with their Christian brothers. Read more

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