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When I hear the words, “home economics,” I think of a class of high school girls from the 1950s, their hair in flips and wearing frilly aprons. When most people think of plain-old “economics,” they think of things like interest rates and stock market values. But home economics is far more serious than either of these ideas. It is fitting that Mutuality devote an issue to this subject, because the original economics of the home is the source of patriarchy — the ultimate lack of mutuality, not only between men and women, but also among men themselves. For as professor of Christian origins S. Scott Bartchy points out in his article, “Understanding Ancient Patriarchy,” patriarchy is not just the subordination of women to men, but the dominance of a few men over everyone else, male and female.  Read more
Sam had a hard time with the concept at first. He grew up as a Southern Baptist, so the idea of a woman pastor seemed sort of heretical to him. He had always subconsciously imagined that his wife would do everything that his mom used to do for him (cook, clean, pick up after him). The first time we really talked about it was after a Bible study we attended together where Pastor Dora Wang led us to the truth that God doesn’t intend for women to be silent in the church. After that, we had heated debates and arguments and very productive conversations about its implications. We talked about it all the time — in emails during the day, while cooking in the evening, while brushing our teeth late at night. It was an ongoing conversation for days and weeks.    Read more
Hospitality conjures ideas of cookies and coffee or magazine covers of gracious living. We think of entertaining in the home, and of women making guests comfortable. In fact, the more hospitality has become associated with the home and women in the last century, the more it has been sentimentalized and trivialized. A Christian view of hospitality is so much more. It is God’s welcoming work through both men and women in the world. When we reduce hospitality to the domestic sphere only or assign it to “women’s work,” we lose the spiritual power of this counter-cultural and life-changing witness of our faith. I call this powerful witness “gospel hospitality,” or the radical welcome God offers to all people throughout Scripture. God’s welcome is the ground of all hospitality that we practice in Christian life. Read more
Classes include housekeeping, budgeting, being your husband’s best friend, keeping an organized house, and sewing. There are “leadership” classes, but the brochure and class descriptions make it clear that this is leadership intended to be used exclusively in women’s and children’s ministry. The counseling classes make it clear that women are to counsel only other women — according to the Titus 2 model. My favorite class module was this one: Read more
A few years back, I spent a week assisting third graders as they traveled through “The Great Adventure,” the theme of my local church’s Vacation Bible School. After beginning each morning singing the books of the Bible to the tune of “La Bamba,” we settled down for Bible story time. Read more
American historians have noted how the vastness of our country — our immense physical space — contributes to our culture as Americans. One historian suggests that “space and race” are the two most prominent features that characterize America. We are a diverse people with lots of room to move. And, we possess the freedom to move through our vastness largely as we choose.   Read more
Q:  My church is unwilling to address the gender debate, feeling that it is too divisive. I have tried many times to advocate for women, but I am labeled as a trouble-maker and a radical. How do I, in a non-threatening way, encourage my church to examine the issue? A: This is a familiar dilemma and there are no easy answers. Perhaps some of the following suggestions will be helpful: Read more
As a history major in college, one of the first lessons I learned was the persuasive power of the phrase even if.  This phrase relates to how historians use documents — such as diaries, court records, letters, and other texts — that hold clues regarding the past. Far from being neutral “fact-containers,” however, documents from previous eras, just like documents written today, contain and reflect the experiences and biases of their authors. The power of even if comes into play when historians use documents of a certain bent, that is, those with an inclination to tell one side of the story, as evidence in favor of the other side.  Read more
I was raised Plymouth Brethren. They are a small denomination that began in Plymouth, England and have churches throughout the US and Canada. Both of my parents’ families are well-known in this denomination and have been active in church life for several generations in Canada and Great Britain. Men and women in the branch of the Brethren that I grew up in have different, well-defined roles. There are no clergy and each local church is very autonomous. Each local body is governed by a group of male elders which usually act in this role for life. The Authorized version [King James Version] is uniformly interpreted by all churches and there is a fairly cohesive set of rules and lifestyle options that "we follow”. I learned to read at 2 1/2 and by 3 I understood that (1) women are silent during church services (I could read 1 Timothy myself and my Grandpa told me what it “meant”); (2) teaching children in Sunday school and at women’s meetings are okay, singing is okay; (3) women wear head coverings (same learning process as above); (4) my father required complete and total obedience from my mother and all four of us children. (He had scripture to back him up on this. My mother believes that she should obey not only his specific commands, but what she believes he would want us to do.); (5) I had specific career options which were to get married and stay at home with children, become a teacher or a nurse. Read more
“To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city is repugnant to nature, contumely to God, and the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice.” So wrote the Scottish theologian John Knox in the year 1558 in his book titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Although he made his points more strongly than many others, Knox was only repeating the widely held notions of his day. He quoted Aristotle and Aquinas, as well as a host of secular authorities, to demonstrate female inadequacies: “Nature, I say, doth paint them forth to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish.” He quoted Saint Paul, along with the ancient Fathers of the Church, to demonstrate the “proper” place of women, and was in full agreement with his contemporary Martin Luther that Kinder, Kirche und Kuche—Children, church and the kitchen, are where women rightly belong, according to the divine plan. Read more

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