January Link-Up

Here are the best of the best articles dealing with gender issues within Christianity that we have shared on our Facebook page this month.  I had to narrow it down to the posts that we marked with either “Fantastic!” or “Excellent!”.  If you want more, check our FB feed.  Happy reading!  🙂

The Junia Project – “No Representation and No Invitation: To Be Asked the Question”

At the end of the day, we simply want this: to be asked the question.

Rather than ushering us off to the nursery before learning that we have absolutely zero knack with or passion for children, or assuming our appropriate role is on the coffee or hospitality team before realizing that we can’t even boil water; ask us the appropriate questions before stuffing us into a mold that quite frankly doesn’t fit.

The questions are simple:

“What are your God-given, Spirit-breathed gifts?”
“What makes you come alive?”
“How can your great gifts meet a great need within the body and broader community?”

And then, perhaps even more importantly:

“What can we do to equip you, as an image bearer, to fulfill your calling; to optimize your gifts for the sake of the Kingdom? “

You can join The Junia Project on Saturday, February 14th for a half-day conference to celebrate women in leadership!  Check it out here.

Christianity Today – “My First Sexuality Sermon”

So maybe it’s time for a woman’s take on sexuality from the pulpit. But what should that be? Is it my place to talk about pornography to the men in my congregation? I’m not sure I feel comfortable with that. Or maybe it’s time to add a woman’s perspective? There have been voices lately that have introduced the possibility that lust is not unique to men. And pornography is not only viewed by men. So is it my task to admit to my own desires in this Sex Sermon? Male preachers have received a lot of flak lately for calling their wives “hot.” The complaint was over the sexualization of their wives and the way it made other women in the congregation feel. If I stood before my congregation and called my husband “hot,” the problem might be a little different. Regardless of how a woman looks, for a woman to be sexually interested is for a woman to be sexually interesting. As a pastor, I work very hard to be publicly sexually uninteresting.

CBE International – “A Partner, Not a Patriarch:  10 Types of Men to Marry”

Seems like every few days, the Christian blogosphere produces a new article on the 5, 7, or 10 people Christians should avoid marrying. Some lists are great, but others are patriarchal beyond the point of absurdity. So my husband, Tim, and I made our own list.

If you’re a woman looking for a partner, not a patriarch, here are some men to look for…

1.       Nobody

Jesus wasn’t married. Why should you be? Single Christian women have been changing the world for millennia!  ….

Rachel Heston Davis – “Strachan’s views on male leadership: It’s all about the women!  No, really!”

So women flourish in this system because their husbands engage in self-sacrifice, bless them, treat them gently, and die to their own wishes to benefit them.

You know what? None of that sounds particularly bad. And it seems accurate when held up against Ephesians 5:28, which tells husbands to “love their wives just as they love their own bodies.” Sounds like a prioritization of women’s needs to me.

But if you could pick a word to sum all that up, what would it be? Servanthood? Caring? Sacrifice?

Yet the word complementarians always, always, always return to, is “leadership.” Strachan says that men who don’t understand this system aren’t “virtuous leader[s].” The blog and Twitter posts he referenced from Gavin Peacock define complementarianism as husband “leader”ship in no uncertain terms.

Behance – “7 Ways to Combat Manterrupting”

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Fast Company – “How We Can Help Young Girls Stay Assertive”

Girls lose their voice for a variety of reasons—it’s mostly because of their self-esteem and is culture-based, says Martha Mendez-Baldwin, a psychologist who specializes in child and adolescent behavior, and an assistant professor of psychology at Manhattan College. Navigating the world between being children and women leave them unsure of how to act. When that uncertainty is met, combined with the pressure to fit in with peers and high expectations of parents, girls are often reluctant to assert themselves, she says.

In addition, girls receive tremendous pressure from society and media to adhere to a feminine role, says Linda Hoke-Sinex, a senior lecturer in the department of psychology and brain sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The message is to be passive and nice—that it’s preferable to keep the peace than to speak up with an opinion that might be unpopular.

Nate Pyle – “Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son”

There are two views regarding a woman’s dress code that you will be pressured to buy into. One view will say that women need to dress to get the attention of men. The other view will say women need to dress to protect men from themselves. Son, you are better than both of these. A woman, or any human being, should not have to dress to get your attention. You should give them the full attention they deserve simply because they are a fellow human being. On the other side, a woman should not have to feel like she needs to protect you from you. You need to be in control of you.

The Junia Project – “They Say the Church is Too Feminine”

Yes, this statement bothers me, because it shows how little we are actually evaluating the situation and because it is offensive, but most importantly it bothers me because  it is completely false.

The Barna Group has been studying Church trends over the last 20 years and they have found that women actually represent the biggest shift away from the Church. They also found that the gap between unchurched men and women is no longer a significant one. “It remains true that churchless people are somewhat more likely to be men than women, but the gap is not huge and has been steadily closing…the gap between men and women has plummeted from 20 points in 2003 to just 8 points currently.” And this is not just in protestant churches. Findings coming out of the Catholic Church do not look much different,according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.

All of this makes me want to ask those who claim that the Church is “too feminine” what churches they are going to. Are men really walking into churches and becoming overwhelmed with female presence? The idea that the church is “too feminine” goes against the majority of my experiences in church. In fact, as I visited churches on three continents over the last 6 years of my life, I have noticed that the majority of those churches presented the same experience to me, and it doesn’t come close to being feminine.

The Junia Project – “5 Reasons Not to Use Gender-Based Jokes in the Pulpit”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the intention.

Humor is good. So is connecting with your audience by relating to real life experiences.

But there are ways to do that without using gender-based humor.

There are ways to do that that don’t deepen the gender brokenness, further entrench the stereotypes and, possibly, alienate people from the church and from a deeper walk with God.

In the end, we need to be creating meaningful venues where congregations can talk constructively about male/female relationships and partnerships. Maybe a place to start would be the content of this post. Agree? Disagree? Either way, it would be great to host a conversation in your church about it.

The bottom line is that until we figure out ways to take gender seriously in the church, the joke will be on us.

Christianity Today – “What Happens When We See Women Teach the Bible”

Sometimes I wonder how many women in the church have the gift of teaching, but will never use it, or even entertain the possibility of possessing it. When roughly 90 percent of evangelical pastors and 80 percent of evangelical seminarians are men, it can be hard for gifted women to find role models in the church. With such a void, do some women even consider the thought?

As a college student, I was confused about the direction of my call and the place of my gifts. At my church, women mostly occupied administrative positions. Even in my college parachurch organization, we rarely had a woman speak. Given the scarcity of female role models, I wasn’t sure where to turn.

However my life was forever changed when, in my early 20s, I attended the annual Passion conference, a popular worship and teaching gathering founded by pastor Louie Giglio. Beth Mooretook the stage, and though I was only vaguely familiar with her at the time, I won’t ever forget that moment. When she opened up her Bible, she taught the Word like I had never heard a woman teach it before. She spoke with power, competency, conviction, and most of all, anointing. I would never be the same again.

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2 responses to “January Link-Up

  1. Thank you. These issues have been on my mind this entire past week. I’m tired of being silenced in church. I’m tired of being interrupted by men. I”m tired and frustrated by hearing my 11 year old daughter–one of the brightest students in her grade at a private school–tell me, “I’m afraid to speak up because the boys might laugh at me.” My heart broke when I heard this. I’m going to read many of these links. Thank you again!

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