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Mutuality

“You need to find a husband,” my stylist announced, briskly clipping my curls. Ignoring my silence, Janet (not her real name) bubbled about an eligible male customer of hers who was “just right” for me. There was a time when such comments about my single state would rub me raw. To Janet and the others who meddled in my personal life, a woman my age should be in the happily-ever-after set — not still searching for Mr. Right. If a thirty-some-thing woman hadn’t tied the knot, folks thought something was wrong with her. For many years, I agreed with them. The word single sounded like a disease to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes the Bible’s support for the single life helped me feel less weird. But if being single was so great, as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7, then why did most of my friends constantly date in an effort to head toward the altar? And why did the few single women I knew seem like miserable misfits? I concluded marriage and motherhood equaled “success” for a female; singleness branded her a failure. Read more
Growing up, my father’s esteem was the most important in my life. Throughout my childhood I attempted to meet — and exceed — his expectations for me. I longed for his approval. If he thought I was smart, I was. If he thought I was pretty, I was. If he thought I was worthy of love, I was. My father’s sense of who I was shaped who I wanted to be. And it shaped who I wanted to be with. Whether a girl’s relationship with her father was good or bad, existent or not, he is still the first man in her life. As girls move from child-hood to adolescence to adulthood, their fathers are often the first people they turn to discover their worth. Read more
Is it okay to open a door for a lady? Come on, no laughing. Sometimes small things tell us something about the big things. I’m a fairly egalitarian male; some would say I’m hyper-sensitive regarding unequal treatment of women in the church and in society. But when it comes to the traditional chivalrous role the male gets to play ... I confess I enjoy it. So am I a hypocrite? Read more
Did you know that the Bible is filled with single people who were loved, called and used by God? Whether prophets or widows, eunuchs or church leaders, these single souls served God “with gladness and singleness of heart.” And the greatest among them was the Son of God. Read more
“Can you stay late again tonight to help me work out one last kink in the budget?” Pastor Keith gently urged Sarah from the doorway of her office. Sarah glanced at her watch, then back at Keith. His big blue eyes won again. “Sure, I’ll come to your office as soon as I make a quick call home.” Her heart began to race a little. She had worked for other pastors before, but never had one of them appreciated her as much as Keith did. She really felt special around him. “Great!” he beamed as he gave her a wink and big smile. By the time Sarah had cleared her desk, made the call and joined him, all the other staff members had gone home. As she entered his office, he jumped up and offered her a chair beside his desk. “You’re an incredible woman, Sarah. You’re the best administrator this church has ever had. Besides that, you bring me more joy than you can imagine!” Keith exclaimed. After that last comment, his face clouded and he added, just above a whisper, “I wish I could say that about my wife.” That she could mean so much to Keith touched Sarah deeply. How she longed to save him from the heartache he was experiencing in his marriage... Read more
Fly as you might, you have to land somewhere, sooner or later. Weeks became months as my wife, Trish, and I cruised the smorgasbord of Southern churches — the comfortable pews of conventional denominations; folk festivals spilling lots of latte-slurping Peter, Paul & Mary but rather less God; small, sad country independents whose land and members were dying in suburban sprawl; a church where we gritted our teeth as we passed the hyper-Christian greeters at the door, wondering what theology fuelled their hopped-up, wide-eyed grins. We moved on. Read more
Being married to her is the greatest happiness a man could feel. I could never love anyone more. My only desire is to love her and provide for her. I have made sacrifices for her, but she is worth every single one. I always want to be there for her. I want to save and protect her. I want to shield her from worldly dangers. She is my woman, and I want to be her man. I want to take the burdens away from her. I want to handle all the stresses of life for her. I will make the tough decisions. I don’t want her to have to worry about anything outside our home. I want to give her the perfect family and a life where she can just be a wife and a mother to our two boys. I want to give her everything. Read more
As far as anyone knows, I was born an egalitarian. My grandmother was a college professor beloved by a generation of students, especially women. They remember her as an influential figure who encouraged them to explore and use all of their gifts. My parents shared leadership in the home. My church had strong female leaders and staff members. When I went to college, I chose the Wesleyan school where my grandparents taught, Houghton College, and learned about the Wesleyan Church’s historic dedication to women’s rights and women in ministry. After seminary, even though I wanted to do PhD work, I encouraged my wife Jill to pursue hers first and resumed my own studies two years later, part-time, while pastoring a church. From an early age, I understood—and preached—biblical equality Read more
It is the season of weddings! Many of us will have the pleasure of celebrating with family and friends as they join their lives as husband and wife. Though we have all enjoyed countless weddings over the years, there always seems to be that one moment in a wedding ceremony where we are hit by the immensity of the occasion—when two become one flesh. As bride and groom commit before God and their community to love and serve one another, despite what life may bring, their boundless joy splashes over us, their family and friends. We feel a knot in our throats and tears on our cheeks, and we reach for the hands next to us. Something within us remembers we have encountered the ecstasy of oneness before—in the early chapters of Genesis. Read more
My daughter, As I'm writing this, I am watching you in the corner of my eye, eating blueberries. You look at me in between stuffing your mouth with a chubby handful and you laugh with great delight. I want you to stay this way forever—one and a half years old, toddling around, fearless, determined to discover everything you can about the world, confident that you are safe because of our love, and appreciative of all the sweet things God has created for us to enjoy. But I know that time will pass and things may change.  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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