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Imagine a medium-sized room filled with high school boys and girls. You sit with your friends laughing and joking, discussing the week while the band sets up their equipment. Welcome to high school youth group. Tonight’s message: modesty. The boys are escorted off to another room for this conversation—modesty is an issue for women. This captive audience of young women listens as their youth pastor outlines why and how a girl should be modest. Read more
Anna and I met when we were students at Beeson Divinity School. From almost our first meeting I was drawn to her sharp mind, her sensitivity, her sense of humor, and, I might add, her striking beauty. Both of us were, at that time, considering careers in the academy. Anna had served two churches, one mainline and one evangelical, as a lay youth minister before seminary. She had altered her vocational path, however, largely owing to the influence of the conservative Presbyterian denomination of which we were a part. She now had set her sights on a doctorate and the academy—a place she rightly identified as more congenial to women. We were both evangelical, both soft patriarchs, and both interested in the life of the mind. It was a match made in heaven. Read more
I am a fervent patron of the “chick flick;” don’t get me wrong. These films offer a specific promise that my sensibilities won’t be rocked, that the experience will be safe. Before settling into my sunken movie seat, with compressed popcorn blooms held fast, I know how it’s going to end: gratifyingly gushy. Yet at the same time, I know it is going to reiterate the fixed roles that men and women supposedly ought to play in finding true love. I know it is going to showcase the specific gender identities for which the chick flick genre is known. Typically, the man is the one to realize his failings, atone for his sins, and recoup the relationship before it’s too late. Ideally, the woman indulges his appeals, quickly mounts his contemporary stallion, and rides off into dusk to be with him forever. Read more
It is rare to encounter people in the United States who understand what I do. “You’re an anthropologist?” They say. “How interesting! Is that like Indiana Jones or more like Jurassic Park?” I exaggerate (a bit), but anthropology is not a widely understood discipline in this country. I would also say, based on my highly unscientific study, that it is even less understood in the church. Anthropology’s traditional anti-missionary bias, combined with a general distrust of “-ologies” of various sorts, has led anthropology to be a weak voice in U.S. Christianity. Read more
Imagine yourself a teenage girl, strolling through your local Christian book store, when a small book that sounds too good to be true catches your eye. Someone actually wrote a book that claims to expose the workings of teenage guys? “It’s the inside scoop you’ve been waiting for! You’ll come to not only understand him, but also know what he might really be thinking about you,” the back cover reads.  Read more
Like many women, I was surprised when I first heard Junia’s story. I was speaking to a book club about women in the Bible when an audience member raised her hand and suggested that “Junia” was a little-known apostle who ought to be included. Junia? I had never heard of her before. But the woman in the audience insisted that Paul praised Junia in the book of Romans and that years later translators changed it to a man’s name because they didn’t believe a woman could be an apostle. I was stunned. I had spent a lifetime of Sundays in church, paying attention most of the time, yet I had never heard a word about someone named Junia Read more
A Christian pastor and national trainer on strategies to prevent and end situations of domestic violence within faith communities reflects on the most frequently asked question he receives from male clergy and congregation members. He also challenges the commonly held notion that males have been granted special divine privileges to assume headship over females. Read more