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Mutuality

We are shaped by our stories. In fact, our stories, once in place, determine much of our behavior without regard to their accuracy or helpfulness. Once these stories are stored in our minds, they stay there largely unchallenged until we die. And here is the main point: these narratives are running (and often ruining) our lives. That is why it is crucial to get the right narratives. Read more
Spring Harvest is the largest Christian festival in Europe, composed of four six-day conferences around Easter each year, and serving something over 20,000 guests in all. I have spoken at Spring Harvest—including, as it happens, on the theme of biblical equality—for several years now. The last two years, I’ve been invited to serve on the leadership team. The final night of the conference, I joined other leaders to pray for the event. Read more
Life sometimes comes in shock waves. A marriage teetering between life and death. A child born to an unmarried teenage daughter. A job loss. A notice of house foreclosure. A middle-of-the-night chaplain’s visit bearing the news of a son’s death. Sometimes life can be too much. Within two years Karen had endured each of these shock waves. When it seemed the hurt could not go any deeper, it managed to seep through whatever remaining façade of togetherness Karen could fake. And then her 23-year-old son — her only son — died. Out in the familiar Michigan countryside near the property of a dear friend, Karen walked. Soon family and friends would be coming to bury the ashes of her son under a sapling that would be planted at the service. Alone in the place that had nurtured her through the years, Karen cried out to God, “You’re still here, aren’t you?”  A butterfly fluttered near her chest. Then it flew away, circling back and coming close several times in the next few minutes. God, through creation, reminded Karen that yes, he was still very present. This butterfly experience may seem coincidental and perhaps strange. Theologically, can we affirm that God answers a mother’s cry with a butterfly? There is at least one realm in which this experience will be taken seriously, even welcomed — a spiritual direction session. In this context, I have found there is freedom to examine life — the best of it and the worst of it — and look for evidence of God. Read more
Persecution and injustice are expected in a fallen world. Yet, finding the right way to deal with hurtful situations can still be difficult, says spiritual director Lola Scobey. “Persecution because of beliefs in biblical equality can challenge a person’s deepest sense of self and self-worth,” says Scobey. “A constant barrage of views historically held by some church groups ... can undermine a person’s confidence in both their personhood and their viewpoints.” Many emotions can be expected. Among them are anger, hatred, sadness, resentment, self-doubt, derailment, fear and hopelessness, says Scobey. “[D]ifferent strategies are required to deal with each of these negative emotions,” says Scobey. However, she adds that there are six fundamentals for dealing with any negative emotion. Read more
“It’s no accident that the Bible teaches that men should be the leaders. They are more rational, while women are more emotional.” How many times have you read or heard something like this?  Read more
If you want something ironed really well in our house, don’t ask me, ask my husband Malcolm. Trousers are perfectly pressed, shirts and blouses beautifully crease-free — even towels are ironed so they’re extra fluffy. Why do I mention this? Ironing is one of those things that men are not supposed to be able to do. So I’m amused by the proliferation of popular books like Why Men Don’t Iron and Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, which argue that differences between men and women are due most often to biology and are thus fixed and unalterable. Malcolm is far more proficient than I am at ironing, but I’m better than he is at reading maps, and, as he often has to remind me, he is much better at listening. Read more
Christian leaders often subscribe to stereotypes and myths about men and women and their sexuality. Most of the time, emphasis is placed on Christian women needing to dress modestly and for men to avoid the temptations of their “visual nature.” By proclaiming sexual myths, a “gendering” of sexual sin occurs which enables some and adds an extra level of shame for others. Basically, women are seen as less sexually motivated, and therefore issues such as female sexual addiction and pornography go unaddressed in many churches. Read more
Someone has said that one of the biggest problems with pornography is not that it shows too much of a woman, but that it doesn’t show enough. It doesn’t show that she is an individual with a soul, who has a right to be valued as such. It doesn’t show that she has the right to privacy and honor and respect. It doesn’t show that she is a person of worth, created in the image of God, fully human.  Read more
“Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8). The baby is fresh from his mother’s womb, naked, blinking in the unaccustomed light. He lies peacefully cushioned on the warm, bare skin of her now flaccid abdomen, just below and between her breasts. Her hand rests gently on his bottom as she speaks softly to him. Read more
“I made an A on my math exam!” your child exclaims.  “Great! You are so talented!” you respond. Or you might say, “That studying really paid off. You’ve worked hard!” On the surface, both sound like compliments. Both congratulate the child on a job well done. Both convey your pride. Yet, they are different in ways we often do not recognize. The first response praises a quality that is inborn and not subject to change—something that is part of the essence of who the child is. An inborn quality is likely to endure and be replicated the next time she or he takes an exam.  Read more

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Book Review: Women in Scripture: A Dictionary

When 70 Jewish and Christian scholars collaborate on a one-volume catalog reference work such as this, the result is sure to be of unprecedented proportions. This is what the editors of Women in Scripture had hoped when they started this project, and they were not disappointed.

Women in Scripture combines over 800 articles about every woman in the Bible in a comprehensive, easy-to-read format. Set up in three sections (Named Women, Unnamed Women, and Female Deities and Personifications), it is encyclopedic in its accessibility, yet textual in its readability.

Book Review: Two Views on Women in Ministry

“God is not an equal opportunity employer.” “God is an equal opportunity employer.”

These antithetical statements come from the two authors representing the complementarian view in Two Views on Women in Ministry, a new book in Stanley N. Gundry’s “Counterpoints” series.

Book Review: Why Not Women?

Authors Loren Cunningham and David J. Hamilton combine biblical truth and cultural awareness in their book, Why Not Women? A Biblical Study of Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership.

Loren Cunningham is the founder of Youth With A Mission, one of the world’s largest mission societies. Over 40 years, he has broken through generational, gender and ethnic barriers, releasing hundreds of thousands into ministry. He’s ministered in every country, giving him a unique perspective of the potential of the church to complete the great commission.

Book Review: Men are from Israel, Women are from Moab

Unlike any other book I’ve read, the authors of this book seek the common ground between men and women instead of proclaiming their differences. How are we alike? What guiding principles does the Bible suggest for relationships between men and women?

Men are from Israel, Women are from Moab: Insights about the Sexes from the Book of Ruth, written by Dr. Norm Wakefield and Jody Brolsma, takes a quick look at our gender stereotypes and discards them. Instead, they focus on how we can build one another up and nurture healthy relationships.

Book Review: Women Leaders and the Church

This new book is one of the best I have read in a long time, due to its easy-to-read style and thorough treatment of women and the Bible. The author is professor of biblical literature at North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago.

Book Review: Is it Okay to Call God Mother?

When I first saw the title, Is It Okay to Call God Mother, my mind raced ahead. Is this book promoting heresy? Is it theologically liberal, radically feminist, or new age? Yet, I was intrigued and decided to read the book. And, what a book it is! It is a must read for evangelicals! Is It Okay to Call God Mother provides rich biblical material on the feminine attributes of God which has been largely overlooked by the evangelical community.

Book Review: The TNIV Bible

The new TNIV Bibles for women and men promise to help Christians gain an identity and maturity in Christ: the women’s Bible, entitled True Identity: The Bible for Women, includes the cover description, “becoming who you are in Christ,” and the men’s Bible, entitled Strive: The Bible for Men, says, “becoming the man Christ wants you to be.”

Book Review: How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership

Alan F. Johnson's compilation of narratives entitled How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals is a particularly fresh, honest, and persuasive resource in the growing collection of books on gender equality and women in leadership. The recognizable evangelicals in this book speak humbly and clearly about how their theological convictions and understanding of Scripture, with reference to women in leadership, were transformed through personal experience.

Book Review: Eve's Revenge: Women and a Spirituality of the Body

It’s what’s inside that counts.” After years of working to believe this, I’ve found a book that confirms my suspicions—this hollow phrase is only half-true.

Book Review: The Christian Family in Changing Times

In the last three decades, Christians have endured intensive teaching about the family— marriage and parenting seminars, books and tapes, even radio broadcasts and Web sites. Yet the more resources thrown at families, the more the family has eroded.

“Perhaps it’s time to rethink the evangelical sound byte we call the Christian family,” says Robert M. Hicks in The Christian Family in Changing Times.

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