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Mutuality

When I was a girl of only seven years old, my father passed away. My mother was left with the job of raising her seven daughters by herself. I realized early on that not having a male in our family was a dishonor. At important events my family felt ashamed because we had no one to represent us to the community, a role reserved for male members of a Korean family. With my father’s death, my family had lost its public voice and had become invisible in the community. As I reached adulthood, I recognized that inherent in the structure of Korean society was gender discrimination. I also recognized that gender discrimination extended even into the Korean churches. When I felt called to attend seminary to train to be a full-time minister, my gender stood as an obstacle. Although others agreed that I had the gift of leadership and that I had been called to ministry, many tried to persuade me to give up my dream, telling me, “Women are not suitable for professional Christian ministry.” Read more
As an expectant mom, I’ve been actively researching this new role I’m plunging into headlong. One friend shared with me that although many people prepared her for the pain of childbirth, no one could prepare her for the joy of having a baby. Another told me that I was heading for a lifetime of split-consciousness—a state in which I would always be myself, of course, but also someone’s mother. Additionally, I’ve been told that even though my husband and I have always lived out our marriage according to our shared vision, no “project” to date would come close to approximating our greatest joint undertaking yet: the raising of a little child. Read more
The pastor to whom I was speaking was adamant: God definitely had roles for husbands and wives to play in marriage. The husband was the leader, the decision-maker, and the wife was to submit to his leadership. “If a woman is single, who makes her decisions?” I asked. “Why, she does!” he replied. “And when she marries, then who makes the decisions?” I persisted. “Her husband does,” was the predictable answer. “So, then, is a woman diminished by marriage?” I asked.  Read more
My friend excitedly shared how much he’d enjoyed Dr. Dobson’s September 1999 letter. “Though I support Focus on the Family’s work,” I responded, “I strongly disagreed with one point Dr. Dobson raised in that letter. I am not encouraged by increased support shown in evangelical circles for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Statement on the Family.” My friend stared. He could not understand how any Christian could object. Dobson states that over 100 Christian leaders have signed their support for the SBC resolution, including Denver-based Promise Keepers, Colorado Springs’ Navigators and Focus on the Family, and many other organizations. Dr. Dobson adds that Family Life Ministries and Campus Crusade for Christ have also adopted an expanded version of the SBC statement. How can this be bad news? Isn’t the unity among Christians praiseworthy? Why should I be concerned? I thought about how to answer my friend, and here’s what I concluded: Read more
As a couple, we have always valued equality, even if we haven’t always practiced it. It seemed to be not only an issue of basic fairness but also a practical way to share the joys and burdens of our life together. But implementing this ideal has been an incremental process. Like most newlyweds, we came to our marriage with great optimism, but also with ambivalent beliefs about roles. Our ideals of equality competed with traditional expectations of who would actually cook the meals, take out the garbage, change the oil, earn the money, and change the diapers. One of the first arenas where we faced this incongruity was meal preparation. It seemed easy at first. We have always loved to do things together, so as newlyweds we planned meals, shopped, cooked and washed dishes jointly. We enjoyed experimenting with new recipes and re-creating old family favorites. Read more
Political polls unnerve me. The questions are carefully phrased such that one’s answer must support the perspective of the pollster (not unlike the classic question, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”). When those who provide the answers also pose the questions, the debate easily veers off into conceptual territory that is favorable to those who are framing it. We need to keep an eye out for questions that serve more as assertions than genuine queries. Read more
In the last issue of Mutuality we asked a critical question—why does it take so long for certain truths to become part of everyday life? For example, the Royal Navy knew for decades that drinking citrus juice would eliminate scurvy, saving the lives of thousands—yet no one adopted the behavior. Even after watching sailors recover within hours of consuming citrus products, few changed their behavior. Why is this? Read more
Religion is the most deadly tool of oppression, according to Eugene Peterson. “More people are exploited and abused in the cause of religion than in any other way.” What is the first line of defense to exploitation driven by religious zeal? God’s prophets! Read more
“So, how do you handle dowries in the United States?” I blinked at the young Anglican priest in surprise. It was the second day of the Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education’s (EFOGE) training event in Bondo, Kenya, where a group of schoolteachers, clergy, and church leaders had gathered to talk about biblical equality and discuss how to implement CBE’s curriculum, Called Out!, in Kenyan schools. But the conversation never stayed strictly within the confines of the curriculum, and that morning’s impassioned debate about dowries was the talk of the lunch line. Read more
When we were first married, we both sensed a call to full-time ministry, and this calling did not disappear when we had our child. We wrestled with questions like “How does a called couple organize its life to fulfill both callings to minister without costing it its family?” and “How exactly does such a couple balance familial and professional responsibilities?” For some Christians, the answer is that God always calls only the husband to work; wives are to be homemakers and stay-at-home mothers. For egalitarians attempting to pursue God’s call on both spouses’ lives with equal diligence, the solutions may not be so simple. Read more

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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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