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Mutuality

My world changed in 2008 when I listened to a Namibian woman speak about her experience of being raped three times as a teenager. I was aware that violence against women was an important issue, but it had not affected my heart. I felt God challenging me about what kind of world we had created—a world of broken relationships, in which many women suffer horrific violence and some men commit crimes against them with apparent impunity. Read more
Forgiveness is at the heart of the good news of the gospel, isn’t it? Last summer I took a Bible class called, “What’s Good About This News?” because I liked the positive emphasis. Our assignment during the two-week course was to prepare three messages on passages from the Gospels that expressed the good news of Jesus Christ. I chose to write about a passage on forgiveness. Then I got a call from my mother with news that devastated me. Read more
Going down the stairs on that last day, I intentionally kept my hand on the rail, trying to burn the memory of its feel in my mind. This would be the last time I would ever go down these stairs — the last time I would touch this railing. Beginning the weeks and days before, the weight of what I would be losing grew and I wanted to hold on to whatever memory I could. Read more
Imagine waking up one day without sensations in your body. You make a cup of hot tea and drink it without noticing the burning to your hands, mouth and throat. You sit through a long meeting forgetting to shift in your chair, because you cannot feel the loss of circulation in your legs or back. Dr. Paul Brand noted the devastation of patients living with leprosy, a crippling disease that robs the body of its capacity to feel pain and therefore protect itself. Read more
This has been a painful issue of Mutuality. We have known that biblical equality isn’t just a crucial topic for the United States — but it’s also sorely needed around the world. We had a vision of exploring this concept, as well as honoring the dedication of those who work to communicate the message of equality internationally, often with additional cultural, political or religious challenges. Read more
In the counseling room, I often hear women say, “I never saw it coming….” Or, “I saw the signs but didn’t act on them.” When it comes to spiritual abuse, what are warning signs we can look for? How do we recognize spiritual abuse, and what should we do about it? Consider these examples.  Read more
Because attitudes and actions begin as an idea, Paul reminds us to “take every thought captive to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). What have been the attitudes and actions that have resulted from the church’s teachings on male-only authority? Few Christians today deny the equal value of females, yet when Scripture is used to justify the unilateral submission of females to males, it is hard to avoid the conclusion (conscious or unconscious) that females are less valuable and are even inferior to males. To require male authority throughout the whole of life not only devalues females, but it also places them in positions of dependence and vulnerability. To exclude women from positions of decision-making in their lives and in the lives of their children also places far too many at risk for abuse. For this reason, abuse is often an unavoidable issue in churches and Christian communities because biblical ideas regarding authority and gender have daily consequences.  Read more
Slavery. Domestic violence. Sexual harassment. Child-trafficking. Little words. Big sins. And especially cruel when they apply to you or your loved ones—a job denied, a frantic trip to the emergency room, a child lost forever. Our misuse of power and manipulation of others is one of the oldest patterns of human behavior on the planet. Read more
As I reflect on my call to ministry, my heart and mind take me back to the book of Exodus, when God calls Moses to deliver his people out of Egyptian slavery. I identify with the Exodus story because of the deep burden and calling that God has placed in my life to guide his people out of slavery and the trappings of this world’s philosophy into his guiding way of life that is grounded in God’s son, Jesus Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Read more
The struggle for power has always been part of the human story. Sometimes the quest of a person or group of people to dominate another is easy to see, such as in the rising and toppling of civilizations throughout history. But other times the struggle for power grows right under our noses, while we remain largely unaware of its serious consequences. Such is the case with misogyny, which is rapidly mutating and infecting society in the viral form of pornography. Pornography is growing more violent and abusive toward women. It is also becoming more culturally acceptable. And, alarmingly, most of us don’t even recognize how much it is seeping into our everyday lives.  Read more

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Book Review: Forgotten Girls: Stories of Hope and Courage

A Tibetan girl named Sonam used to spend her days collecting dung for fuel and desperately trying to patch the worn sides of the tent she shared with her mother. That is, until something as simple as a basic cinder-block house freed her family from the elements and allowed her to attend school. Then there's Meerim, an accomplished young Kyrgyz woman who was kidnapped and forced to reject her Christian faith for an unwanted Muslim marriage. And Mai Lin, a Chinese AIDS orphan. After years of rejection by her community, she was educated and cared for at a Christian school.

Book Review: Singles and the Church: A Match Made in Heaven?

At my former church, I offered a suggestion to the pastor. I told him that his morning sermon had been geared toward the married members of the congregation, but did not have application for singles. I suggested that he try to include messages relevant for single churchgoers as well. He looked at me and straightforwardly replied, "I don't know how to include singles because I am married."

Book Review: What Science Says About Superiority: Shattering the Myth of Race

Shattering the Myth of Race by Dave Unander is a thoughtful discussion of the conflict of race and ethnicity against the backdrop of the history of Western Europe and the United States.

Unander speaks of many people's lack of family roots in his Chicago neighborhood in the 1920s and 1930s to suggest that people can lose a sense of racial or cultural identity. In his multiethnic neighborhood, what people were like had more bearing on what he thought of them than their racial or ethnic background.

Book Review: Unmarried But Not Unimportant: Single Women: Challenge to the Church?

Intended for single women and the churches they attend, Single Women: Challenge to the Church? tackles the unique challenges faced by single, Christian women through the eyes of nearly 100 women who were surveyed and interviewed for the project.

The book also addresses the church's response to these challenges and provides practical suggestions for the church on how to serve its single members. This work is an encouragement for single women because it views singleness as a gift that holds a distinct purpose for a woman's service to God.

Margot Starbuck's Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights, and Stilettos: A book review

I will be honest about this. Margot Starbuck's Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos (InterVarsity Press, 2010) is not a book I would typically pick up, let alone excitedly read. With its giant, bright red, high heeled shoe on the cover, and a different pair of shoes gracing the first page of each chapter, I worried that it would be a "fluffy" message about how all women are beautiful—a Christian "chick lit" book that would provide milk when I was longing for meat, to use the metaphor of Hebrews 5.

The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James: A book review

James begins by giving her readers an in-depth look at what it means to be a widow and a barren woman in Old Testament times, a heart-wrenching reality for both Naomi and Ruth. Her treatment on barrenness is particularly full of insight as she describes how God uses pain to engage his people on a deeper level, while also making it clear that the pain of loss can never be glossed over. She writes, "Even when we can pinpoint 'something good' that came out of tragedy, it never balances out what we have lost . . .

Susan McLeod-Harrison's Saving Women from the Church: A Book Review

I had just finished teaching an adult Sunday School class on spiritual gifts when a friend ran up to me and asked, "Did you hear what pastor said today in his sermon—that women can't teach men—and he used you as an example?" In processing my pain and confusion from that day, I found resources from Christians for Biblical Equality that helped me heal, and led me to Jesus. Now, there's a new publication that offers similar hope and healing for women: Susan McLeod­Harrison's Saving Women from the Church—How Jesus Mends a Divide.

Book Review: Jo Anne Lyon's The Ultimate Blessing

JoAnne Lyon feels the way all of us do sometimes—depressed, bitter, lonely, helpless. But she also remembers what we often forget—that through the pain and frustration of human existence, we are blessed by a transcendent God who loves us and promises to be with us always.

Book Review: Crossing the Divide: Daughters of Islam

Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges with Muslim Women is a wonderfully relevant book for Christians who have little knowledge of Islam or the people who subscribe to it. This book helps readers peer into the hearts of Muslim women, to perceive what they feel and think, and to understand how they live.

Book Review: Kate Hurley's Getting Naked Later

Are you still looking for a way to use those two-for-one coupons you long to share with a spouse? Or, are you constantly giving your single friends advice on how to snag a mate? There's something for you in Getting Naked Later, by Kate Hurley. Don't be put off by the title—she never gets into specifics.

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