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Mutuality

Recently, a fellow blogger wrote a great piece about the problems with modesty rules in Christian culture. She rightly pointed out how these rules unfairly shame women into particular behavior patterns, often resulting in lasting emotional and psychological damage. It was an honest, personal story of one woman’s struggle to reconcile her freedom in Christ with the rigid behavioral codes often handed down to women from the pulpit or from Christian culture in general.  Read more
Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see an online sermon excerpt from a well-known complementarian pastor, challenging his audience to stand up for victims of assault and abuse. It was a powerful message. The pastor read from one female congregant’s heartbreaking letter recounting her rape, her abusive marriage, and the destructive, victim-blaming “counseling” she received from her former church afterwards. He challenged his church to rise above this example. He called particularly on the men of his congregation to follow Paul’s example and “treat younger women as sisters” (1 Tim. 5:2), never exploiting or taking advantage of another person. As an egalitarian watching at home on my laptop, I wanted to clap. Sure, this pastor was a long way from espousing biblical equality, but it was still encouraging to hear this message from such a popular pulpit. What a relief to assault survivors in his church! Surely this message of love and support from such a prominent Christian would inspire his listeners to critically evaluate their assumptions on survivors and assault. Right? Read more
In the United States, the average age of entry into prostitution is between twelve and fourteen years old, and in some parts of the world, it can be as young as three to five years old.  Read more
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Susan was a sophomore at a small Christian college. Working on campus during summer break, she was walking to her dorm alone one evening when a man suddenly appeared on the path. “It’s not safe to be out here by yourself,” he told her in a kind voice. He said he was going her way and would accompany her back home to ensure she would be protected. When she reached her door, he pushed it and her inside. Read more
The student council at the seminary I attended called a special meeting to decide one matter: Should supporters of biblical equality have access to student funds to host forums on gender equality, when only a portion of the student body supports this position? In fact, should gender egalitarians be represented on student council at all? The dean of students came to observe deliberations. No one was in high spirits. In fact, the mood was tense and divided. The discussion was circular, until one voice was raised. Read more
Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) has come a long way in 15 years, according to Susan McCoubrie. As CBE’s first membership coordinator, she remembers when the organization’s membership information was organized in a recipe box on a TV tray. “We were very hopeful, but we knew we were on an uphill battle,” said McCoubrie. “We had to continually prove ourselves as possessing a high view of Scripture.” Since January 2, 1988, when CBE was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds, not only in the space required for record-keeping, but in influence as well. Read more
Quick Bible quiz: Name one African person in the Bible. Did you mention Hagar, Simon of Cyrene or Apollos of Alexandria? What about the Ethiopian eunuch, or Queen Candace? If none of these characters came to mind, perhaps it’s due to a lack of understanding of the cultural and ethnic forces at work in the Bible. Understanding these forces can bring new light to familiar passages. For example, even though the word “Africa” is not mentioned in the Bible, the word “Cush” is, which scholars think refers to Ethiopia or to Africa as a whole. Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya are also mentioned. While they might not correspond exactly to the countries on a 21st century map, they do refer to places in Africa. Read more
Christians’ attitude towards gender, while having some ambiguities, is on the whole pretty straightforward. Churches often state whether leadership positions are open to women or only to men. In relationships between men and women, people usually either believe that the Bible teaches mutual submission or distinct roles. The church’s attitude toward race, however, is hard to nail down. Most Christians would assert that people are equal regardless of race, and few would openly discriminate against people of color. Yet this spoken equity and unity isn’t always visible on Sunday mornings: Our churches are often painfully homogenous. 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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Luke Reynold's A New Man: A book review

Kings of smut Larry Flynt and Joe Francis made a lot of Americans uncomfortable in January when they requested $5 billion of stimulus cash from Congress. It is unclear whether the request was earnest or a cynical joke, but most commentators in the media expressed disgust that Flynt and Francis wanted taxpayers' dollars to fund porn. What often went unsaid in these discussions was the awkward fact that taxpayers were pitching in plenty of their own cash for Flynt and Francis already. Government assistance wasn't needed to keep the porn industry afloat; we were taking care of that ourselves.

Book Review: Felicity Dale's The Black Swan Effect

The enduring sidelining of women exists in the contemporary church because so many are convinced that this is the way it is supposed to be—that it is a biblical mandate, a divine commitment to a patriarchal order. The notion of women leading, preaching, and planting churches is still unheard of in many corners of Christendom. The idea of Christian women fulfilling the mission of the gospel on their own without the permission or leadership of men seems about as likely as a flock of black swans flocking into a church yard.

Rachel Held Evans's "A Year of Biblical Womanhood": A Book Review

The topic of "biblical womanhood" is what we could deem a "hot button" topic in certain circles of Christian culture. While many books, conferences, speakers, and pastors have spent a great deal of time and energy encouraging Christian women to pursue "biblical womanhood," the concept itself has also generated a great debate and begs the question: What does the Bible really say about being a woman of faith?

Vulnerability Makes the Man: A Review of Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle

They say clothes make the man. Translation: appearance counts for a lot, even everything. When image is paramount, vulnerability becomes the enemy. It threatens to shatter that image, exposing the person underneath. Nobody says “vulnerability makes the man.” Until now.

Nate Pyle’s new book, Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood calls Christian men to disregard elusive cultural ideals of masculinity in favor of Jesus-like vulnerability, love, and relationship.

Book Review: Borderline by Stan Goff

Stan Goff’s Borderline: Reflections on War, Sex, and the Church offers a fresh, if controversial perspective on the relationship between the church, war, and patriarchy. Goff’s central argument is that war loving and women hating are ultimately two sides of the same coin, driven by the same fears that allow for the rationalization of conquest and colonization.

Book Review: Mentor for Life by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

In Mentor for Life, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson gives us a fresh challenge to develop committed followers of Jesus through mentoring. I found her model and exhortation fresh for its small group approach (in contrast to one-to-one) and for its balance between recommending structure or content and encouraging adaptability as mentors get to know their mentees. The book provides a solid framework rather than a prescriptive “ how-to” manual—or maybe it is inviting because the ample “ how-to” is situated among reminders that God’s gracious work is primary.

Jesus Feminist | Reviewed by Naomi Krueger

“Are you a feminist?” I ask him, purposely provoking a conversation.

“No.”

“Do you believe that women and men are equal in the sight of God and should be treated with mutual respect?”

“Of course! But I’m not a feminist.”

This is a conversation I’ve had many times with male friends and family members. Many times these people tend toward a complementarian perspective and the response is no surprise. Others really do subscribe to egalitarian theology and are simply opposed to using the term “feminist.”

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