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Priscilla Papers

Ideas have consequences. This is particularly true in addressing domestic violence. Men who abuse hold ideas—or, as we will term them, beliefs—that support their abusive behaviors. And, like the verbal abuse and lethal neglect of Nabal in the biblical account of 1 Samuel 25 that nearly led to his own and the death of his servants and children, such behaviors have dire consequences for the men themselves and those who live with them: wives, aging parents, partners, and children. To understand the cycle of abuse and the beliefs that support it, we must first understand the details and reality of those living in abusive homes by defining terms, reviewing the types and frequency of abuse, and examining the beliefs of men who abuse as well as assessing the consequences of these beliefs—and the subsequent actions they engender—on their female partners and children who witness abuse. Finally, I will close with some basic tenets in challenging men who abuse and their belief systems. The standard in the domestic violence field is to address the issue using multidisciplinary teams or coordinated community responses. Read more
The unilateral authority of males is evident in shaping nearly every culture throughout history. Further, when patriarchy is framed as a biblical ideal, it is not only at odds with the teachings of Scripture and the purposes of God’s covenant people, it also becomes a deadly spiritual disease that chokes life all around it. As Jesus said, if the fruit is bad, the tree also is bad (Matt 7:17–20). This is not to say that gifted men should not exercise authority, but, at the same time, they should affirm the gifts and authority that God grants women as well, working mutually to lead and serve the church and the world. As a balance, it was thrilling to see three women receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their courageous activism in advancing democracy and justice for women. Three days later, a blog appeared by CBE member Jenny Rae Armstrong, who wrote: I haven’t stopped grinning since I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. You see, it was in Liberia that I first witnessed the true ugliness of gender injustice, first understood that a tiny seed of pride and superiority dropped into the heart of a man would blossom not into a sheltering tree but into an ugly, invasive weed that choked...life...around it. Read more
This issue is about ideas having consequences, finally centering, as we always do, on our target area: making sense of gender relations. As all issues of Priscilla Papers, this present one has been pieced together over months (and sometimes years), and each editorial is written on a topic relevant to the issue. But, at the same time, each editorial is also written within a life context.  Read more
Could Mary have refused, when it was offered her, left her fingers open around the gift, releasing the weight of it from the palm of her hand? Read more
As with Mary, it was the sound of angel wings that broke the silence. My ears rung with gold, I felt fire sprouting up from the dun earth.   Read more
One of the most hotly contested passages in the New Testament these days is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The cultural reason for this is clear: The ordination of women in the Church is a major issue of debate among traditional and evangelical denominations. Biblically-minded Christians are rightly concerned about the meaning of this passage for ministry today. And, in response to that concern, a large number of scholars have written articles, commentaries and now even entire books on these few verses.   Read more
Plato said ideas rule the world. All action begins with an idea. Paul said, "Take every thought captive to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Why? Because ideas have consequences. The most prominent indicator of whether a girl will be sold to a brothel, killed as a fetus, abused in her marriage or family, or denied a place of decision making in her church, community, or marriage is not based on her gender, but the value ascribed to the female gender. Read more

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Book Review: Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God by John F. Kilner

In his book, Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, bioethicist John F. Kilner sketches the theological history of the image of God, critiques prominent viewpoints from this sketch, and offers a robust formulation of what it means to be in God’s image. Since the understanding of this theological doctrine has both dignified and vilified certain human beings, Kilner astutely asserts the importance of explicating this doctrine well.

Book Review: Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World

I am in a unique position. I am a woman who leads a men’s group. After years of leading an identity formation group for women, I was asked to create a similar process for men. While developing the curriculum, I was hard-pressed to find material that was not complementarian, or that did not rely heavily on archetypal models to frame a man’s identity. Because I wanted the curriculum to be rooted in the biblical story and the imago Dei, I searched for resources that provided a biblical framework for a male identity. I never quite found what I was looking for—until Malestrom.

Book Review: The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls

The media has in recent years given increasing attention to global violence toward women and girls. In 2012, the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) went to Saving Face, which focuses upon survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan. In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager, became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her activism on behalf of young people (especially girls) denied access to education. Another past Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former US President Jimmy Carter, has also committed himself to activism on behalf of subjugated women.

An Extended Review of One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life

Wayne Grudem says that for twenty-five years he has believed that how the Trinity is understood “may well turn out to be the most decisive factor in finally deciding” the bitter debate between evangelicals about the status and ministry of women.1 This is encouraging to hear, because Grudem and many of his fellow complementarians have got the doctrine of the Trinity completely wrong.

Book Review: Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood

Nate Pyle is a pastor in Fishers, Indiana. His recent book, Man Enough, tackles the question of biblical gender roles from a fresh perspective. His offering is the latest in the recent influx of gender studies in the “spiritual memoir” genre. While authors like Rachel Held Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood, 2012) or Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist, 2013) have provided important insights on the ongoing complementarian versus egalitarian debate, they have commented largely on how this debate has affected women.

Finding Their Voices: Sermons by Women in the Churches of Christ

D’Esta Love is no stranger to writing and editing; as co-editor of the Pepperdine University based ministry journal, Leaven, she has often encouraged the ministry of other women.1 She is also no stranger to “finding her voice.” In the introduction to Finding Their Voices, Love reflects on the number of years she waited for the opportunity to preach in her own heritage, in a Church of Christ (she was seventy years old).

Wild at Heart: Essential Reading or “Junk Food of the Soul”?

It seems a discussion of masculinity can scarcely commence at Gordon College without mention of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, a book enthusiastically endorsed by Christians nationwide. Many would agree with writer Charles Swindoll, who calls Wild at Heart “the best, most insightful book I have read in at least the last five years” (Eldredge, i). Eldredge’s immense popularity, however, must not be allowed to disguise the fact that his suggestions are often incongruent with the teachings of Jesus.

Book Review: Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women

I have read nothing quite like Elaine Storkey’s book, Scars Across Humanity. It tells the story of violence against women in today’s world. The book is very well researched and accessible; moreover, it is spine-chilling. As I sat with the book in hand after reading it I felt both pleased that someone had so powerfully told this awful story and depressed by what I had read.

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