A few years ago I was asked to join a team of young women who hoped to reach the women of their generation with a conference designed specifically for them. Feeling that the women’s ministry of our church catered to an older generation, these young leaders were hoping to capture the hearts of their peers.
What struck me that day was what these women hoped to communicate through their conference. A lot of ideas were knocked about but in the end it came down to this: our generation needs to believe it’s good to be a woman. Some of those present expressed the idea that it can be easier to think it’s good to be a woman out in the world than it is in the church. Once a woman becomes a Christian, a whole new set of expectations and limitations is placed upon her that can cause her to doubt the goodness of being female.
We’re at a point in time when women need to know that God created a good thing when he created woman. Rightly understood, what the Bible teaches about womanhood is empowering and freeing. Women are both fully human and fully woman. Women fully represent God in his eternal essence, just as men do. Women also reflect humanity as the object of God’s affection.
There is a lot of confusion in current Christian teaching on gender and “gender roles,” however. In some cases fundamental human qualities are ascribed to men alone, leaving the impression that women are somehow a bit less than fully human. In others, differences between women and men are minimized or ignored. And, very often, the fact that a husband and wife point to the greater “marriage,” that of Christ and the church, is taken to mean all sorts of things that it does not.
For this reason I have launched my It’s Good to Be a Woman day retreats.
Continue reading “It’s Good to Be a Woman Day Retreats”
I recently recorded another podcast with Dr. Juli Slattery, cofounder of Authentic Intimacy and author of Rethinking Sexuality. This time the discussion was about husbands and wives who control their spouses. The other guest that day was Dr. Ron Welch, a counseling professor at Denver Seminary and author of The Controlling Husband.
Our topic was prompted by this response to an earlier podcast Juli had done with the Welches about how Ron had overcome his tendency to be a controlling husband.
Juli, I would love to hear you discuss this topic, with the added element of spiritual abuse. My husband sounds so much like Dr. Welch, except he also acts as the voice of God in my life. He accuses me of resisting God, of being unsaved and not the kind of woman God esteems, etc. I’m in counseling and have had a pastor friend reach out to him, but he refuses to consider marriage counseling or meeting with a pastor. He says I’m unempowered by God because I’m seeking outside help.
Continue reading “Five Reasons I Don’t See Male Authority in Genesis 1-3”
Some of you who read my post A Bad Decision and the Fallacy of the Role Reversal Argument had questions about the whole idea of a role reversal. What I want to do today is explain how Genesis 3 is interpreted to get the idea and how this position misses the point.
In case you haven’t heard, “role reversal” is basically the idea that Adam and Eve sinned by reversing their God-ordained gender roles. Eve wanted to be in charge and Adam didn’t.
Bingo. Roles reversed.
To help you understand this perspective first-hand, I will refer to what is probably the most thorough defense of the position, “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., commenting as I go along. Ortlund’s article progresses in two phases: 1) Genesis 1-3 establishes male authority over women; and 2) Adam and Eve sinned by reversing their roles.
In this post I’m going to respond to the idea of role reversal. In my next I will rebut the perspective that headship means authority. Continue reading “Adam and Eve Didn’t Reverse Roles”
Now and then my husband and I make a bad decision. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Sometimes it’s one we arrive at together, sometimes it’s his decision, and sometimes it’s mine.
Recently we made a killer of a bad business decision.
The painful consequences of our fecklessness prompted Jim and me to reflect on our decision-making process and how we can improve it. Our bottom line: we didn’t work together the way we should have. We need to improve our commitment to sharing our gut-level hesitations with each other, to taking more time in conversation before signing on the dotted line.
One thing that never crossed our mind, however, was that our bad decision was due to a role reversal. In other words, we don’t believe that if I would just stay out of it, Jim would make terrific decisions. Continue reading “A Bad Decision and the Fallacy of the Role Reversal Argument”
Sometimes reading the Bible will make you sick. Unflinchingly honest about man’s inhumanity to man, there is more than one narrative that is nearly impossible to stomach. We are left wondering how and why such horrors came to be and, in our disgust, prefer to look the other way. We tell ourselves we don’t need to study these passages, since we would never do such things.
Of course not.
So we move on.
Yet if we skip the ugly stories we miss what God wants to say to us through them, how he wants to warn our minds of their dullness, open our eyes to their carelessness, awaken our hands to their blindness.
The account of the Levite and his second-class wife, found in Judges 19-21, is one of those. I know its general purpose in the Old Testament is to explain what in the world happened to the tribe of Benjamin, once so strong and powerful. But I am convinced its purpose for our hearts goes much deeper than that.
Continue reading “Domestic Abuse, A Second-Class Wife, and a Bible Horror Story”
Most people I know have an intuitive sense that men and women are equally capable and that in the best marriages they work together as a team. Yet many of these same individuals assume that it is God’s plan for the man to be in charge, based on the fact that the Bible commands wives to submit to husbands in a way that it does not require of husbands.
They believe it was God who established this patriarchal, hierarchical system of marriage.
I don’t fault my friends, though, since I thought the same thing for a very long time. I thought it, I taught it, I lived it. I wouldn’t have couched it in precisely those terms, but I was convinced that the Bible gave men the authority in marriage.
What hadn’t occurred to me was how the Bible’s instructions on marriage compare to the ones about government and employment, how we understand and apply those commands, and how that ought to instruct the way we understand the marriage teachings.
It was time for me to rethink Christian marriage.
Continue reading “Rethinking Christian Marriage”
In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul goes on about church-goers covering and uncovering their heads in worship. At least most people agree that the setting is worship, and the majority understand Paul to be talking about head coverings rather than hair length, although that is a possibility given the wording.
Yet very few of us thoroughly modern Millies and Billys get stuck on the hat issue, thinking we have to apply the passage literally. At least here in the colonies. English royal weddings may flourish under the weight of over-the-top head coverings, but here in the New World men may wear hats and women can arrive hatless to church.
Not only that, these hatted and unhatted individuals can talk in church if they want to. Continue reading “Heads, Hats and Honor: Man as the “Head” of Woman in 1 Corinthians 11″
My latest sermon from Littleton Vineyard, on why engaging deeply with God’s word (including the Old Testament) still matters today. Jesus confronted the Sadducees, those powerful religious leaders who thought they had a corner on biblical interpretation, on their extreme ignorance of God’s word. Let’s not repeat their mistake.
When we lack understanding of the Old Testament, we miss out on the comfort found in David and Bathsheba’s story – that good people can do bad things, that despite our desperate wickedness we can be forgiven for anything, but also that God takes our sin seriously and disciplines those he loves. Continue reading “Ignorance is Not Bliss – Another Sermon”
Lately I’ve been writing about the husband-wife relationship, setting the background for what it means for a man to be the “head” of his wife. An important factor to consider before discussing the specifics of a husband as head of his wife is what Paul meant when he said Jesus was the head of the church.
That’s what I want to look at today. Continue reading “Jesus as Head of the Church”
Last weekend I camped out with two of my granddaughters. To pass the time before lights out, we lounged on our sleeping bags and played some games. Everything was going fine until we ran into some difficulties with the second one.
The idea was to work together to make up a story, each person adding a line or two to the plot. The point was to see if we could keep a cohesive story going in spite of having three different authors. Continue reading “Is a Husband Supposed to be in Charge of His Wife?”
The Bible compares the relationship of a husband and wife to that of Christ and the church, implying that a human marriage is somehow a head-body connection like that of Jesus and his bride. We read that a man is the “head” of his wife like Christ is the “head” of the church, and we assume we comprehend what is intended. Not only do we know how Christ functions in relation to the church, by leading and directing and providing, but we also understand what it means to be the head of a corporation, head of state, or the head of a household.
It’s as plain as day.
Or is it? Continue reading “A Husband is Not His Wife’s Shepherd”
I recently spent an hour chatting with psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery and author Michele Cushatt about how each of us is personally navigating the things we face as women who have a leadership and teaching role in the church. In our Java with Juli podcast Tradition, Teaching and Women in the Church, we also look at the role tradition and culture have played in forming our understanding both of Scripture and of a woman’s place in the church. While you’re over at Authentic Intimacy, you might want to check out some of Juli’s other podcasts and articles that cover a wide range of subjects.
Mother’s Day is a happy day for some but a challenging day for others. There are so many things that assault our nurturing hearts as women and mothers. Maybe we wanted to have children but never did, never wanted children and no one seems to understand our choice, or we had children but things didn’t turn out as we hoped. Or perhaps we’re still on the front end of all that and don’t yet know how things will play out.
Wherever we fall on this spectrum, there is a God who wants to walk with us. Here’s my sermon “A Mother and Her God,” given at Littleton Vineyard Church this past Mother’s Day.
A recent article on a very prominent Christian website argued that husbands have a unique responsibility to get their wives ready to meet Jesus. The author explained that he had recently been confronted with the fact that he didn’t challenge his wife enough. He went on to say, through Ephesians 5:25-26, that husbands are called to be “instruments of [God’s] sanctifying work in the lives of their wives.”
I try to stay away from commenting on things I read that I disagree with, recognizing that there is a range of ideas on more than one topic that sincere believers adhere to.
But there are times when the potential harm overcomes my reservations.
This is one of those times.
Continue reading “Are Husbands Supposed to Get Their Wives Ready for Jesus?”
I recently had my first opportunity to preach at my home church, Littleton Vineyard. Jim and I have been there almost two years now and have served in various capacities, but this was my first time in the pulpit. Which means that it was recorded. Our team was in a series on spiritual gifts and I was asked to give some insight into Hospitality, Pastoring and Exhortation . So if you’re interested in hearing my take on those gifts, or just curious about what I have to say, feel free to access the link above.
I used to be a big proponent of manhood studies, once even convincing my husband to undertake one with our son. Now, however, I wonder if there isn’t a dark side to our well-intentioned efforts to aid men in becoming who God intends them to be.
Christian manhood teachings increasingly stress the leadership role of men, telling guys they are the spiritual leader in their home charged with the task of leading family devotions, hearing from God, and making the final decisions. Continue reading “How Manhood Teachings Harm Good Men”
In the first two segments of this three-part series I discussed three of the most important qualities I would look for in a senior pastor if I were in the market, which I’m not. Today I’ll add one final thought. If you haven’t read them yet, you can access parts one and two here.
A Pastor Who Embraces Ethical Church Governance
This might seem like a no-brainer, but in my experience it’s harder than you would think for a church to put in place a system that ensures ethical practices, particularly when it comes to finances. In this post I’m not going to try to convince you that one form of church governance is better than another, whether congregational, Presbyterian, episcopal, or the more recent development of senior pastor as CEO, although I have my opinion on that. Continue reading “Letter to My Future Pastor, Part 3”
In the first segment of this three-part series, I wrote about two of the most important qualities I would look for in a senior pastor if I were in the market which, by the way, I’m not.
Sorry about that.
But if you aspire to the pastorate, hoping to be someone’s pastor somewhere some day, today’s discussion may be the most helpful to you personally. Applying what you read here may make the difference between surviving for the long haul versus crashing and burning before your time. Continue reading “Letter to My Future Pastor, Part 2”
Don’t have a heart attack. I have no plans to leave my church. But life throws its curve balls now and then and I have learned to be flexible. So if, for some unforeseen reason, I happened to be in the market for a new church or even just a new pastor, here are a couple of things I would look for in the person chosen to lead the flock. In my next two posts I will talk about two more. Continue reading “Letter to My Future Pastor, Part 1”
Circuit preacher for a day. That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago, when I filled in for a friend at his two churches. Except that I used a car, not a horse, and it was only two churches, not a circuit.
Two country towns, two small churches, two lovely groups of people. It was a fun experience.
I learned something that day: Methodists (how I was raised) have trespasses, but Presbyterians (where I was filling in) have debts. Which would have been a non-issue if they hadn’t expected me to lead the Lord’s Prayer.
No worries. They were very gracious. Continue reading “Those Disgraceful Preaching Women”