Tag Archives: Christianity

Guest Post: Prototype

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I am their prototype for women.

I am a stay-at-home mom who has the propensity to do far more for my boys than I should, and in the back of my mind, I am aware that I want to teach them that women are strong, courageous, human. The old adage — “Actions speak louder than words” — well, I think it’s very true.

On an ordinary Saturday evening, my husband decided to cook dinner. When my oldest, who’s five, asked him to play instead my husband responded, “No, I’m making dinner right now.”

My son’s response: “What?! Mom does that.”

My fiery eyes met my husband’s while I inhaled a deep breath, and he, with a slightly amused smile, told my son that mom does not always make dinner. To further his enlightenment, he had my son join the ranks for dinner duty.

My son has never heard in our house that it is my sole responsibility to cook dinner, but he’s watching, and that’s what he sees. If I always cook dinner, he will believe that women always cook dinner, so I’m trying to stick my nose in a book and let dinner happen upon the table without my help a little more often.

My three-year-old is the kind of boy who would still live in my womb if I let him. Of course, at three he still needs some help, but he could get dressed by himself. He could put on his own shoes. He could pick up his own messes. Heck, he could even walk on his own two feet all of the time! Mostly, though, he’d rather just let me do everything for him.

He loves to respond to my requests with, “No, you do it.” I know he also says this to his dad from time-to-time, and I’m sure three-year-old girls also say such things to their parents, but when it comes to the dynamics between my boys and I, I know this habit can plant a seed. It won’t stop at mom does everything for me, it will morph into the expectation that women can be bossed around, that women are around to take care of them.

I have primarily been home day-in and day-out every day of my sons’ lives. I still remember telling my oldest one day that some moms go to work and their kids go to daycare. It felt weird to need to say that, to explain it. But I stay home, and most of the mom-kiddo combos that we spend time with are also home — similar schedules are magnetic.

If I never work, if my only responsibilities are to them and to our home, then they will more easily assume that all women should do this. So, I work. At home. I write. I photograph. I edit. And I call it work. I’m rarely making money, but money isn’t the measure for work. I want them to know that — that we all have jobs to do. We all have gifts and abilities and things that we offer outside of our own homes and families. It’s work raising them and taking care of our household, but that work is shared work. (Or at least, we think it should be.) My writing and my photography — it’s my work. It matters, and the whole family works together to make room for it.

I’m grateful for the ever-expanding presence of women in my sons’ lives. Teachers at school, who go to work everyday. Doctors, who give them checkups. Friends, who have different dynamics and norms and routines in their homes. Family members who do things differently. I may be their primary prototype, but other women in their lives will help dispel assumptions about what all women are like.

I have to be aware of the ways my actions and habits affect the way they see an entire gender. I’m grateful for a husband who also understands this and realizes that he is the primary example of how a man treats a woman. Thank God he treats me well.

I am the standard of women for them whether I want to be or not. Though they will hear that women are equal from my lips, it’s far more important that they see that reflected in the way our family functions, in the way I actually live.


denise-lillyWe are honored to share this guest post today from our dear friend!  Denise Lilly lives in Maine with her husband and two boys. She writes and photographs for clarity, hoping it will hone her sight. Read more on her blog, Eyes to See, and her self-published book, Cling: Faith Lessons from my Son’s Early Years, available on Amazon.

If you relate to this struggle of teaching your sons what to expect from the women in their lives, please share Denise’s post!

On being Pro-Life and Pro-Refugee


This has been a tough week in the U.S.  Emotions are running high, friends and family are divided on national policy and relationships are falling out over it.  Many do not want their social media feeds to be full of protests and politics.  Disagreement feels uncomfortable and stressful.

Let’s stop for a minute and look into the eyes of the refugee children pictured above.

Think about the years of traumatizing war they have endured.
The lives of loved ones lost.
The only homes they ever knew destroyed.
Their perilous flights from violence, through desserts, over treacherous seas.

I cannot help but think of my own children when I see these heart-broken faces.

This national discourse is worth the pain.
We must stick with it and resist the urge to look away.

true-religionHalf of all refugees are children.  Three quarters are women and children.  Asylum seekers to the US go through an intensive vetting process that lasts 18-24 months.  Once here, refugees are loaned money for six months to get their feet on the ground before they have to begin paying the US government back.  The chance of being killed by a refugee-turned-terrorist is one in 3.64 billion, according to the CATO Institute (study linked below).  In a December 2015 letter to Senators/representatives considering proposals to stop the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the US, former National Security officials including Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, wrote:

“Refugees are victims, not perpetrators, of terrorism. Categorically refusing to take them only feeds the narrative of ISIS that there is a war between Islam and the West, that Muslims are not welcome in the United States and Europe, and that the ISIS caliphate is their true home. We must make clear that the United States rejects this worldview by continuing to offer refuge to the world’s most vulnerable people, regardless of their religion or nationality.”

As a Beautiful Kingdom Warrior, I believe every life is precious, deserving of dignity and rights.  God’s plan of redemption and shalom is for all the nations of the world.  This is my pro-life ethic.  “America First” does not honor God’s will for all of His beloved children.

This certainly is not the first instance of a policy that has hurt refugees, but the reaction to President Trump’s EO last week is frankly unprecedented and I am encouraged to see our nation discussing immigration and the refugee crisis.  I do not want to see people shutting this conversation down.  I especially want to listen to voices of people who work in immigration, who serve refugees, who know people first-hand who have come to the U.S. to begin again here.

Much of the resistance to welcoming immigrants and refugees is based on fear rather than fact.  President Trump says that he is temporarily banning immigration for our safety.  People who agree ask us, don’t you lock your doors at night?  In Trump’s defense, Franklin Graham, prominent Evangelical and son of evangelist Billy Graham, went so far as to state that immigration is not a Biblical issue.

This simply is not true.  For example, the Hebrew word ger, the closest approximate to our word immigrant, appears 92 times in the Old Testament.

“The LORD your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19 CEB)

“You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9 NLT)

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV)

“The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:9 ESV)

“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:19-21 NIV)

And we cannot say that Jesus does not care about refugees and immigrants.  Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled an evil, murderous tyrant as refugees to Egypt.  Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  He taught us to give sacrificially for the good of others.

There are widely-held beliefs about immigration and refugees that need to be debunked.  Here are a couple helpful info-graphics to consider:

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I don’t believe that President Trump is our first president to negatively impact the resettlement of refugees in our country.  But I do believe that President Trump’s Refugee Ban is unchristian and is an affront to pro-life ethics.  It is a myth that this ban makes us more secure.  I strongly believe that any human being running from war should be welcomed and cared for.  And so I will use my voice to speak up and my dollars to assist humanitarian agencies helping refugees.  It feels like a drop in an ocean of need, but it is better than nothing.

 


Further Reading:

An Appeal to Choose Fact Over Fear – Communicating Across Boundaries

President Trump’s Refugee Order: 5 Things to Know  Preemptive Love Coalition

Evangelical Experts Oppose Trump’s Refugee Ban – Christianity Today

The Rejection of Refugees is Manifestly Unchristian – The Brian Lehrer Show

Security is not everything – Religion News Service

We Are Followers of a Middle Eastern Refugee – Christianity Today

Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis – The CATO Institute

Immigration and the Bible – Mennonite Missions Network

Trump says Syrian refugees aren’t vetted.  We are.  Here’s what we went through. –  The Washington Post


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On Being Pro-Life and Pro-March

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This past Saturday, nearly three million women in the United States and millions more around the world participated in the Women’s March on Washington to protest the misogyny, racism, xenophobia and more of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, in the hopes of tempering his policies now that he is president.

In this video, the founders of the Women’s March explain why they organized this event:

Sadly, this “inclusive movement” chose to exclude pro-life sponsors.  Early on, Planned Parenthood became one of two premier sponsors, and in the weeks leading up to the march, the organizers removed the sponsorship of several pro-life groups, essentialy uninviting around 40% of women–those who believe human rights begin in the womb.  A growing number of people want restrictions on abortion, as this poll shows, and these videos demonstrate:

For many, participating in the Women’s March on Washington was no longer an option after they excluded pro-life sponsors and because of the prominence of Planned Parenthood in the event.  And for many conservative Christians looking on, it was mystifying why any Christian would participate.  I have been doing my best to read and listen to different voices explaining their choice to either march or not.  One post in particular got my wheels turning a few days before the march.  Laura Martin questions the effectiveness of Planned Parenthood, reflecting on her experience as a nurse for 18 years and examining their website, asking,

Why do so many defenders of Planned Parenthood portray them as providing services that they do NOT actually offer?

Why not just honestly proclaim that Planned Parenthood’s focus is on birth control, STDs, and abortion?

Why did Planned Parenthood change their website to give the appearance that they offer prenatal care?

As a pro-life Christian, I believe that all life, beginning in the womb, is sacred and deserving of dignity, care and equal rights.  But I also believe that making abortion illegal in all circumstances is not the answer.  The legality of abortion does not change the number of abortions that occur, but the safety of women is impacted by criminalizing abortion.  After eight years of democratic policies providing easier access to birth control and better sex education, our nation’s abortion rate has hit an all-time low since the passing of Roe v. Wade.  The language Donald Trump used while campaigning to describe late -term abortion shows his ignorance at the painful dilemma parents face when forced to choose a medically-necessary late-term abortion.  For instance, this mother’s account is a must read.

Although staunchly pro-life, I am also pro-dialogue, and I am very much pro-woman.  I don’t think abortion is an issue that will go away without working together with people from different ideologies and priorities.  As on all difficult issues, I believe that, “With an abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 15:22).  The more we are polarized, the longer it will take to heal our nation.  By considering diverse perspectives, we better see the nuances of each issue and thus come to better solutions.

I have seen some lump all protesters together as “vulgar, baby-killing feminists.”  I don’t think it is fair to vilify the entire Women’s March on Washington because of disagreements on abortion or because of the actions/words/costumes of the far-left factions participating.  There were dozens and dozens of reasons why women, men, girls and boys from around the world were protesting.  Here are some posts from Christians who participated expressing their reasons for marching.

For some, being pro-life means being pro-social justice:

In a Facebook post, Father Martin said further,

These Sisters are pro life. And so am I. That’s why they were marching for social justice. I salute all the women religious, and all women and men, who were trying to advocate for life and justice this weekend in their own way.

Were all 1,000,000 people who marched across the country on the same page about life issues? No. Clearly not. But these Sisters, and many who marched, knew exactly what they were praying and advocating for: justice, peace and life. If we waited until everyone agrees with us before we set out to help, we’ll never leave our homes. Would you join in a march against the death penalty with people who disagreed with you on abortion? I would. Would you join in a march against abortion with people who disagreed with you on the death penalty? I would.

Part of advocacy is being part of the mix and being willing to mix it up with people you disagree with, even strongly. That’s how conversations start. That’s how bridges are built. That’s how conversion starts.

Even if some people misunderstand you.

So yes, I’m pro life, pro social justice…and pro Sister.

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For others, being pro-life means supporting the BLM movement and speaking up against racism, blocking refugees, etc.:

For some, marching was important because of the disenfranchisement of women through patriarchy, misogyny, sexism, rape culture, etc.:

And for the pro-life protesters who showed up to march, they were there because unborn girls matter too:

Here are some of my favorite posts I’ve come across in the days since the march:

This open letter from a pro-life, Republican, SAHM, Renee Contreras De Loach, was really powerful.

I am a married, Pro-Life, Republican, mother of two, and I marched. I wrote this in light of how many women are attempting to shout down women who marched. The myopia of those belittling our efforts is befuddling. I suppose this is where we have arrived – us vs. them until bruised and bloodied we all fail. To all the women who believe they have plenty of rights and they are plenty equal… how do you think you got those rights? The short sightedness and historical amnesia at play here is dangerous. It was barely 100 years ago that women were being beaten and jailed for trying to VOTE.

In A Christian’s Place is in the Resistance, Luke Edwards says,

If one more person quotes Romans 13:1-6 to prove that Christians should blindly submit to authority, I’m going to cry.

When you quote this verse, you are quoting a man who stood up against authorities over and over again. He spent at least 5 years of his ministry in prison for deliberately breaking laws that were in conflict with the kingdom of God.

Sojourners has been publishing the #WhyIMarch stories of Christians on this page.  For example, Elena Ampeire says,

My husband and I left our four young children and took two overnight busses to march in D.C. because we believe that “Love Trumps Hate.” Our faith teaches us to love and support those who are marginalized by those in power. In our society, we believe this to be women (particularly women who have been sexually assaulted), immigrants, refugees, Muslims, people who are LGBT, people with disabilities, and people of color.

Sarah Bessey captured the tension Christian feminists feel, caught in the middle of conservatism and liberalism, seeking justice and mercy while feeling ostracized by the very groups we identify as:

I identify as part of a group of people who receive their fair share of criticism.

And to be honest I think a lot of the criticism has a grounding in truth.

There are things Christians do that I find wrong and embarrassing and unholy and counter to the Gospel.

There are things feminists do that I find wrong and embarrassing and unholy and counter to the cause.

But here I am. I’m a Christian. And I’m a feminist. 

I’m not fully represented by what those labels mean. They’re imperfect. And I know that the stereotypes of those labels cannot sum up the vast majority of the people I know who live within them.

Beth Allison Barr wrote a cool piece about a fifteenth century writer who challenged the misogyny of her day, encouraging us to carry on by her example.

Christine de Pizan used her voice to speak for other women. She didn’t convey much concern about who those women were or what they believed; her focus was on making a better world for all women.

As a Christian woman, I can’t help but think Christine was right. She realized that misogyny hurts all of us, whether we recognize it or not, and it especially hurts those already marginalized by economics, education, race, even religion. Christine de Pizan used what she had to fight against that misogyny; to love those who God loves; to help make the lives of women better, even the life of that “poor woman who pays too high a price”. I would like to think that her fifteenth-century vision is one that all of us–regardless of political affiliation–can still embrace.

So, I share all of this to say: if you see posts about the Women’s March on Washington, do not assume that your friend is pro-choice.  Many pro-life activists participated and many pro-life Christians support the march from home because they believe in the power of protest to effect change in the world, and there is much that needs to be changed.  Let us all continue to pray for President Trump and his cabinet, let us pray for our country, and let us continue to resist, speak truth to power, and show up and stand with the vulnerable.


Thanks for visiting TBKW blog!  We’re honored to have you here.  If you join us on Facebook, you can read articles every day about gender issues in the Church and world.

Audrey Assad and Sarah Bessey on Finding Their Voices

audrey-assadAudrey Assad – Witness

Although women are often excluded from teaching roles in complementarian churches that believe in “Biblical gender roles,” leading worship is one area often deemed appropriate and the hymns and songs written by women are included in complementarian services.  Interestingly, corporate worship through song is a time of powerful transformation and spiritual development.  On the RCA website, they say,

“Through congregational singing Christian faith is not only expressed; to a very real degree it is formed. Since people tend to remember the theology they sing more than the theology that is preached, a congregation’s repertoire of hymnody is often of critical importance in shaping the faith of its people.” 

And in a video entitled Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing? from the Desiring God 2008 National Conference, complementarian Bob Kauflin says (citing egalitarian scholar Fee),

“New Testament scholar Gordon Fee once said, ‘Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology.’ And it’s true. Or as Mark Noll puts it, ‘We are what we sing’ (Noll, ‘We Are What We Sing,’ Christianity Today, July 12, 1999, 37). Words should be the first thing we consider when we think about what songs to sing when we gather as the body of Christ.”

It makes me happy that through songwriting, women have been powerfully influential theologians even in patriarchal churches.

With that in mind, I enjoyed watching Audrey Assad‘s testimony yesterday about finding her voice and calling from God to public ministry as a singer/songwriter despite being nurtured and formed within a strongly patriarchal tradition, the Plymouth Brethern Christian Church.  I love Assad’s songs and heavenly singing, and I really love this talk:

And now, visit her website, buy her music, and listen to her top tracks, leting her beautiful lyrics soak in and draw you closer to Jesus.

Sarah Bessey – Learning You Have a Voice

I also listened to The Road Back to You: Looking at life through the lens of the Enneagram podcast’s most recent episode yesterday, featuring Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s interview with Sarah Bessey in which she talked about finding her voice as an Enneagram 9: The Peacemaker.  I am also a 9 and found her self-description and experiences to be helpful.

You can listen here.

Bessey’s voice is one I always tune into to learn from.  She’s taught me so much about God’s love and vision for women through her blog and books, Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts.  Or something that is fun is scrolling through her quotes on Good Reads. 🙂


Thanks for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  God can use your voice in powerful ways too.  Don’t be afraid to explore your gifts and calling!

God bless. 🙂

The Transformative Power of Good Leadership

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There is a Ted Talk that I have watched several times over the past few years, and again this weekend.  While Benjamin Zander shares the transformative power of classical music, I am thinking of the transformative power of good leadership in Christian ministry.  Zander, a conductor, teacher and speaker on The Art of Possibility, is an inspirational example of true leadership – one who draws out the potential of others.  He shares this on his website:

“The best review I ever got was not from a music critic, but from my father. He was 94 years old at the time and completely blind. He attended a Master Class I gave in London and sat there in his wheelchair for about three hours. When it was over, I went to speak with him. He lifted up his finger in his characteristic way and said, “I see that you are actually a member of the healing profession.” It seemed to me the highest accolade.”

These 20 minutes may change your life:

 

d371f4e1531201afc673ceb8744e8040What moves me to tears when watching this is Zander’s belief in the beautiful potential in each person.  I cannot agree more.  We all are made in God’s image and have the capacity to rule over Creation, in His good design.  We were made to have dominion, to be powerful.  Jesus said that His followers would do greater things than He Himself (John 14:12).  There is so much possibility in each of God’s image bearers.

This vision of empowering others in ministry is not always present in our churches.  Our  leaders can be blind to the potential of others sometimes.  They see their own calling and gifts and understand leadership in terms of authority and corporate paradigms.  In our Western world, this may be the only model of leadership that we have ever been exposed to, limiting our ability to imagine a better way.  But the New Testament shows us an early church model of mutuality and inclusion. Paul, James, and the other NT authors teach us to consider others greater than ourselves, to lay down our lives in servant leadership, to each bring a contribution to corporate worship as the priesthood of all believers.

img_8124May more leaders emerge who view their communities not as followers but as fellow image bearers with their own callings, gifts, and the powerful indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  May we not doubt the potential each believer has to spread God’s light and love in ministry.


The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors believes that you have a unique calling from God.  He has prepared good works for you to do.  Your voice is powerful and every voice matters.

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Naghmeh Abedini’s New Year’s Exhortation to the Church

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“I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” – Jesus

On New Year’s Eve, Naghmeh Abedini (who we posted about here and here) shared this exhortation on her facebook page:

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The full message says,

Happy New Year! May this be the year that the daughters of the Most High and the church rise up in one accord and say “Enough is Enough.”

May this be the year that we discover who we truly are in Jesus and that the knowledge of His Great Love for us sets us free and brings much healing to us and to the body of Christ.

I implore you church leaders to stand up for the abused and oppressed and say that it is not acceptable for daughters of the King to be used and abused in such a way . I implore you church leaders to stand up and keep leaders and heads of families accountable and say in one accord that it is not acceptable for those who call themselves Christians to be in such bondage to pornography, adultery, control and abuse. I implore you church leaders to bring back the discussion and the importance of repentance. I implore you church leaders to call the church to repentance and that we would turn from our wicked ways, and turn to God.

May this be the year that as the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we show the world what a true model of marriage looks like and that many would see the light and beauty of Jesus in our transparency and brokenness and that many would be saved.

Love you all! We serve a mighty King and He is in control.

 

Amen!  May it be so!!

Naghmeh links to an article by Gary Thomas, “Enough is Enough,” in which he denounces the abuse many women face in Christian marriages.  For instance, he says,

Another woman told me about putting up with her husband’s appalling behavior for over forty years. I was invited to look in her face, see the struggle, see the heroic perseverance, but also be reminded that counsel has consequences. So when I talk to a young woman in her third year of marriage and it’s clear she’s married to a monster, and someone wants to “save” the marriage, I want them to realize they are likely sentencing her to four decades of abuse, perhaps because of a choice she made as a teenager. When these men aren’t confronted, and aren’t repentant, they don’t change.

Jesus said what he said about divorce to protect women, not to imprison them. Divorce was a weapon foisted against women in the first century, not one they could use, and it almost always left them destitute if their family of origin couldn’t or wouldn’t step up.

How does it honor the concept of “Christian marriage” to enforce the continuance of an abusive, destructive relationship that is slowly squeezing all life and joy out of a woman’s soul? Our focus has to be on urging men to love their wives like Christ loves the church, not on telling women to put up with husbands mistreating their wives like Satan mistreats us. We should confront and stop the work of Satan, not enable it.

Physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and financial abuse are a silent epidemic in our country and around the world.  In the comments under Naghmeh’s post, she elaborates to say she believes that 70% of Christian wives are living with one form of abuse or another in their marriages.

10653672_540932686036868_4005151008959911077_nUnfortunately, most pastors are unequipped to respond appropriately to abuse.  My husband and I went through seminary and hardly heard a word about domestic violence in our classes.  Because women suffer in silence, trying trying trying to pacify their controlling husbands with submissive and meek obedience, pastors may never hear anything from a woman until she is reaching hopelessness and desperation.  And he will likely encourage her to do more, be more, suffer more for the sake of saving her marriage.  He will not understand the psychological impact of living in an abusive relationship for years.  He may bring both in for couple’s counseling, without personal expertise in abuse, and further damage the woman through treating this as a marriage issue rather than as the husband’s sin.

In conservative churches, where headship and submission are taught, women can be subjected to abusive relationships with no hope of relief.  Men have full reign to lord authority over their wives, controlling them rather than living as one with them.  The stigma of divorce leads to shunning of women who leave abusive marriages, and traditional gender roles leave women financially dependent on their spouse, unable to leave without a way to make a living.  The teaching that headship and submission image the relationship of Christ and the Church leads husbands and wives to strive harder to achieve cultural constructs of gender roles rather than becoming more the individuals that God created them to be.

In Rachel Held Evan’s post, “Is patriarchy really God’s dream for the world?”, she says,

If scripture is not enough to convince you that patriarchy is a result of sin, you need only look at the world to observe its effects.

  • Worldwide, women ages fifteen to forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.
  • Every 9 seconds, a woman  in the US is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. I wish I could say that all complementarians categorically condemn female submission to male violence, but John Piper has said that, in order to model godly submission, a woman may need to quietly “endure verbal abuse for a season” or “getting smacked one night” before “seeking help from the church.” (He says nothing about contacting authorities). Similarly, in Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi Pearl advises a woman whose husband pulled a knife on her to “stop complaining” and focus instead on not “provoking” her husband’s anger. This is destructive advice and reveals something of an assumption that the preservation of male hierarchy is more important than preservation of a woman’s dignity.
  •  At least 3 million women and girls are enslaved in the sex trade.
  • Study after study shows that societies characterized by the subjugation of women are more violent, more impoverished, and more unjust than societies that empower women.  In their excellent book Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue that “in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.”  Empowering women increases economic productivity, reduces infant mortality, contributes to overall improved health and nutrition, and increases the chances of education for the next generation. Several studies from UNICEF suggest that when women are given control over the family spending, more of the money gets devoted to education, medical care, and small business endeavors than when men control the purse strings. Similarly, when women vote and hold political office, public spending on health increases and child mortality rate declines. Many counterterrorist strategists see women’s empowerment as key to quelling violence and oppression in the Middle East, and women entering the workforce in East Asia generated economic booms in Malaysia, Thailand, and China. (You can find all of these studies cited and analyzed in Half the Sky, which I highly recommend.)

Interestingly, John Piper discussed the unhappy dynamic of much of his marriage in October.  Piper is one of the most influential proponents of complementarian theology (the belief that God designed strict gender roles for men and women), co-founding The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and The Gospel Coalition, a massive coalition of churches which holds complementarian ideology as a core aspect of their beliefs.  In my experience and observation, couples that treat each other as equals (whether they are complementarian or egalitarian) are far happier than couples that function as a hierarchy with the husband at the top.

unsafe relationshipI truly believe that mutual submission between husbands and wives is the correct Biblical teaching.  Giving husbands authority over households rather than all living under the authority of Christ as equals leads to unhealthy and ungodly dynamics and often, abuse.

If your marriage is emotionally destructive and you need to establish boundaries as you work toward healing, here are some resources:

Immediate Help:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.  Crisis help or to develop a safety plan.
Family Renewal Shelter: 1-253-475-9010 (24-hour crisis line) or 1-888-550-3915 (toll free).  A Christian resource for crisis help and assistance developing a safety plan.
American Association of Christian Counselors

Support Resources:
Document the Abuse: Assists women who fear for their safety in developing an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit.
Women’s Law: Provides state-specific legal information and resources.
VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday): Allows crime victims to obtain timely and reliable information about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders.
Lighthouse Network: 1-877-562-2565.  Assists individuals and their loved ones in finding effective treatment for drug, alcohol, psychological or emotional struggles, 24/7.

Books:
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope – Leslie Vernick
Why Does He Do That?  Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men – Lundy Bancroft

Other:
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage:  Free resource page
Self Centered Spouse:  Series of blogs by Brad Hambrick
A Cry for Justice: A blog addressing the needs of the evangelical church to recognize and validate the reality of abuse in the Christian home.
Myths about Domestic Violence


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Egalitarian Christmas Wish List

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As I sit in devastated helplessness over the atrocities occurring in Aleppo, I think, what can I possibly do to help?  Beyond giving to organizations I believe in (like The Compassion Collective), I am convinced more than ever that the fight to end oppression of the vulnerable and disenfranchised is where it is at.

And how can the Church specifically address this?  Let’s start with our own disenfranchised–women, who experience varying degrees of oppression depending on their particular churches, but oppression none the less.  Being side-lined from using their spiritual gifts and working alongside their brothers in Kingdom building is oppression.

And who benefits from this?  I don’t think anyone actually benefits.  There are some men who hold inordinate power and influence (check out Malestrom, below, to see how many men are downtrodden by patriarchy), who would experience loss if they were made to share these things, to quiet their own voices to allow room for others’.  But it is really to their benefit as well to be humbled and to become a servant, just as Jesus Christ was humbled even to death.

There is intersection of issues to consider as well.  People of color are disenfranchised in Evangelical institutions of influence and power.  Low-income people are viewed negatively in our Western, wealthy society.  Finding our way out of patriarchal, racist and classist systems that sideline Kingdom warriors will involve a massive shift in the way that Christians view theological issues of authority, dominion, headship, and submission.  Christians have historically led the charge in freeing others from oppression – for instance, early abolitionists and suffragists were Christians.  Let us pick up our mantle of freeing others once again, and pray that the ripples spread throughout the world to ensure the abundant life of all humankind.

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And so, I offer you a Christmas shopping list for the Christians in your family, church staff, close friends, anyone who you buy a gift.  Using your voice and purchasing power to spread Egalitarian Kingdom values is money well-spent.

The links to purchase each book is in the caption.  In no particular order:

 

egalbook1

Excellent essays from influential Evangelicals on their change from Complementarian to Egalitarian theology.  How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership

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One of my favorite theologians.  Love this.  Beyond Sex Roles

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Beautifully written, compellingly drawing us to Jesus and His daughters.  Jesus Feminist

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Powerful scholarship on Paul’s letters.  Man and Woman, One in Christ

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A seminal work from Egalitarian theologians on Kingdom gender roles.  Discovering Biblical Equality

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Grady looks at patriarchal cultural influences have snuck into the Church. 10 Lies the Church Tells Women

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Custis James is my favorite Ezer.  Read her many books!  You’ll be glad you did!  Half the Church

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An excellent treatise on the harm that patriarchal society inflicts on men.  Malestrom  

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From the founder of Youth with a Mission on the importance of commissioning women into ministry.  Why Not Women?

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Women are not the subordinate ‘helpers’ – we are co-leaders in marriage and Church.  Together: Reclaiming C0-Leadership in Marriage

egalbook13

Egalitarians do not reject the teachings on submission – just exempting men.  As Christ Submits to the Church

 

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A marriage book for newlyweds and marriage veterans alike.  I studied under Mathews at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.  Marriage Made in Eden