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It happened many years ago. I was having a discussion with a male friend. We had taken opposing sides on a theological question, one having nothing whatsoever to do with the role of women in the church. It soon became apparent that the weight and substance of the arguments were mounting up in behalf of my position. Perhaps I was displaying some satisfaction in that, or perhaps it was just becoming obvious to my friend that he didn’t have much of a point. I don’t remember all the details clearly, but I remember the shot. Perhaps it was after I had too confidently made a statement too liberally sprinkled with “I think...” that he drew and fired, “The Bible says women are to be silent.” Read more
Several years ago I got an idea for a biblical novel; Placing myself in the world of Mary the mother of Jesus’, I would write in her voice — a diary spanning thirty years and titled Mary’s Journal. Read more
Self-esteem is often very simply defined as “feeling good about yourself.” In reality, self-esteem is much more complicated than that. To understand self-esteem we must first start with another term, self-concept. Read more
I am a social psychologist with particular interests in cross-cultural psychology and in the psychology of gender. I am also a Calvinist Christian who affirms that the themes of creation, fell, and redemption are at work simultaneously in the lives of all Christians, and that because of this there is no area of life — including our faith life, our family life, and our civic life — that is guaranteed to be free of distortion. Read more
As a woman preparing to seek ordination to the pastoral office in the Presbyterian Church (USA) I find myself encountering skepticism — a skepticism about my real identity. In light of my gender and career objective, some people immediately assume that I am a radical feminist. Others are not sure, so they conduct a stakeout, patiently waiting to see what I’ll say or do. It seems as if people are listening to every nuance of what I say, trying to uncover a feminist agenda. I feel scrutinized. Read more
Just when the secular press declared the funeral of the contemporary women’s movement, two secular feminist books appeared: Susan Faludi’s BACKLASH: THE UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST AMERICAN WOMEN and Gloria Steinem’s REVOLUTION FROM WITHIN: A BOOK OF SELF-ESTEEM. Both books were on best-seller lists for many weeks. In particular, Faludi’s provocative, award-winning work generated such press coverage during that time that she had to quit her staff-reporter position at The Wall Street Journal in order to handle a surprising multitude of speaking engagements. Faludi is currently working on a book about men and masculinity which, because of the success of BACKLASH will undoubtedly generate even more waves of publicity for the controversial author. Read more
I've never heard a sermon on Jesus saying, "Follow me," that was addressed to men only. Yet, my analysis of the meditation is that I've apparently heard a few too many messages in the Church that have, intentionally or not, excluded me. Read more
My mother was a godly leader — though I’m sure she would never have described herself that way. She had a high school education, and her only employment outside the home was either in a hosiery mill or a dime store. If she had been asked to speak to an audience of adults, she would have been terrified. Read more
Americans lead busy lives, and Vanessa Chitwood was no exception. Since the beginning of her marriage, Chitwood had worked to part-time as a nurse support her growing family. She also enjoyed volunteering at her local church. Still, she felt God wanted more from her. “There were areas of my life I kept under my own control. God was speaking to me about the need to give everything to him.” One day in 1996 she pulled her car into a parking lot and breathed a prayer of complete surrender to God. Eighteen months later Chitwood felt called to full-time ministry, but uncertainties kept her silent. It was not a direction she would have imagined for herself. “I kept these feelings to myself for about a year, thinking I was crazy, but the desire to serve just grew deeper, and in 1998 I acknowledged the call to my family and pastor and the process began.” Read more
This is a letter Ron Hankins wrote after the International Mission Board ordered missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Over 27 years ago, I came to Japan with the International Mission Board as a journeyman. Here I met another journeyman — Lydia Barrows, the woman I would later marry. As God led us both into full-time Christian service, we returned to the United States, got married and headed for seminary. After graduation, we were both ordained in Lydia’s home church into the “full gospel ministry.” Each of us was appointed to Japan as a “general evangelist” to start and lead churches. There wasn’t a “church and home” designation for Lydia — she was called by God and trained by Southern Baptists to be a church starter and pastor. Read more

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