Tag Archives: relationships

Michael Kimmel: Why gender equality is good for everyone – even men

Filmed at TEDWomen 2015, sociologist Michael Kimmel made a strong, and often funny, case for gender equality.  I encourage you to watch these sixteen minutes and then share with others.  I’m transcribing my favorite quotes below:

“That’s how privilege works. Privilege is invisible to those who have it.”

“White men in Europe and the United States are the beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in the history of the world. It is called ‘the history of the world.'”

“Research by Catalyst and others has shown conclusively that the more gender-equal companies are, the better it is for workers, the happier their labor force is. They have lower job turnover. They have lower levels of attrition. They have an easier time recruiting. They have higher rates of retention, higher job satisfaction, higher rates of productivity. So the question I’m often asked in companies is, ‘Boy, this gender equality thing, that’s really going to be expensive, huh?’ And I say, ‘Oh no, in fact, what you have to start calculating is how much gender inequality is already costing you. It is extremely expensive.'”

“It turns out that the more egalitarian our relationships, the happier both partners are. Data from psychologists and sociologists are quite persuasive here. I think we have the persuasive numbers, the data, to prove to men that gender equality is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win. Here’s what the data show. Now, when men begin the process of engaging with balancing work and family, we often have two phrases that we use to describe what we do. We pitch in and we help out.  And I’m going to propose something a little bit more radical, one word: ‘share.’

“Because here’s what the data show: when men share housework and childcare, their children do better in school. Their children have lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement. They are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. They are less likely to see a child psychiatrist. They are less likely to be put on medication.  So when men share housework and childcare, their children are happier and healthier, and men want this.

“When men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier. Duh. Not only that, their wives are healthier. Their wives are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be put on medication, more likely to go to the gym, report higher levels of marital satisfaction. So when men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier and healthier, and men certainly want this as well.

“When men share housework and childcare, the men are healthier. They smoke less, drink less, take recreational drugs less often. They are less likely to go to the ER but more like to go to a doctor for routine screenings. They are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be taking prescription medication. So when men share housework and childcare, the men are happier and healthier. And who wouldn’t want that?

“And finally, when men share housework and childcare, they have more sex.”

So, what we found is something really important, that gender equality is in the interest of countries, of companies, and of men, and their children and their partners, that gender equality is not a zero-sum game. It’s not a win-lose. It is a win-win for everyone. And what we also know is we cannot fully empower women and girls unless we engage boys and men. We know this. And my position is that men need the very things that women have identified that they need to live the lives they say they want to live in order to live the lives that we say we want to live.”

In 1915, on the eve of one of the great suffrage demonstrations down Fifth Avenue in New York City, a writer in New York wrote an article in a magazine, and the title of the article was,Feminism for Men.’  And this was the first line of that article:Feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.'”


Thanks for watching this video!  We have more great resources throughout our blog and Facebook page for learning about gender equality.  Unlike this TedTalk, most of the resources we share come from a Christian perspective.  But Kimmel’s message applies to the Church as well.  Gender equality in Christian families and ministry is good for men too.  The Gospel is not tarnished by treating women as equals and giving women equal opportunities in ministry.  In fact, the Church’s patriarchal stance is a stain on the Gospel.

Book Review: The Road Back to You

Today is launch day for a very exciting book, a collaboration of author Ian Cron and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile.  “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery” explains this ancient personality typing system and how using the Enneagram can help you to understand yourself and others better, leading to greater compassion and empathy, and deeper, healthier relationships.  In addition, understanding yourself better is key to growing in relationship with God.

A big part of my life is listening to podcasts, as I work alone and enjoy having “adult conversations” to keep me company.  I started listening to Luke Norsworthy’s podcast last year.  He interviews fascinating Christian authors, pastors, activists and theologians.  In one of his conversations with Richard Rohr, they chatted about the Enneagram and later that night, I Googled “Enneagram” and read through The Enneagram Institute’s site.  Then this summer, he did a podcast with Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron about their upcoming book and podcast.  I have since been listening each week as they interview guests about their Enneagram number.  I jumped at the opportunity to read an advance copy of their book and share this review with you.

In the first chapter, Ian Cron describes his introduction to the Enneagram in seminary when he came across a Richard Rohr book, and his professor’s adamant rejection of its credibility.  Later on, after burning out in pastoral ministry and finding a spiritual director, Brother Dave, to help put the pieces of his life back together, they discussed using the Enneagram together.

“It’s too bad your professor discouraged you from learning the Enneagram,” Br. Dave told me. “It’s full of wisdom for people who want to get out of their own way and become who they were created to be.” “What does ‘getting out of your own way’ entail?” I asked, knowing how many times I’d wanted to do just that in my life but didn’t know how. “It has to do with self-knowledge. Most folks assume they understand who they are when they don’t,” Br. Dave explained. “They don’t question the lens through which they see the world—where it came from, how it’s shaped their lives, or even if the vision of reality it gives them is distorted or true. Even more troubling, most people aren’t aware of how things that helped them survive as kids are now holding them back as adults. They’re asleep.”

“What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others,” he said, pointing his finger at me and then at himself. “As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

“Working with the Enneagram helps people develop the kind of self-knowledge they need to understand who they are and why they see and relate to the world the way they do,” Br. Dave continued. “When that happens you can start to get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be.”

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I wrote a post in March of 2015 about my journey to finding healing from codependcy.  I experienced church and family trauma and I was in a similar broken place that Ian Cron describes.  I didn’t have a spiritual director like Br. Dave to guide me, but God did provide spiritual guides both in the flesh and in books and on the interwebs that helped me find my footing again.  I share that story and links that were helpful in the post.  If I had read “The Road Back to You” at that time, I would have included this resource.  I have personally experienced the change in my relationship with God as I understand myself and others better.  I feel unconditional love and acceptance from God.  In reading my old post, I see how my personality has always been an Enneagram 9, but I was unhealthy and now I am more self-aware.  I have a deeper understanding of my healing.

I believe that churches would be healthy and productive and safe if only there was more self-awareness in parishioners.  Ian and Suzanne always repeat on their podcasts that their passion for sharing the Enneagram is in seeing compassion grow. In reading the chapters explaining the nine types, I was blown away as I recognized myself, my husband, my children, my relatives and friends.  I see clearly where my work needs to be done to be a healthier, safer person.  I see where the behavior of others stems from, which gives me a greater ability to be gracious and forgiving and also to communicate with them in a meaningful way.

I don’t want to give away too much about this book.  I just want to urge you to buy a copy or request that your church or library purchase a copy.  Pass along “The Road Back to You” website to your pastor and friends.  Listen to Ian and Suzanne’s podcast on your commute or while you work.  This is an important resource for spiritual development and will bear much good fruit in your life if you use it as a spiritual discipline.

Here are the links one more time:

To purchase a copy: https://smile.amazon.com/Road-Back-You-Enneagram-Self-Discovery/ (using Smile.Amazon.com gives you an opportunity to give back to a cause that is important to you.  If you’d like, you can choose “North Harbor Community Church” – my church in Maine).

The Road Back to You website: http://theroadbacktoyou.com/


Thank you for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  We are all about having redemptive dialogue about gender equality in the Church and world.  Please “Like” our Facebook page, where we post articles from around the web related to this mission.

Singleness – A Gift From God, a Seat at the Kiddie Table, or Girls Gone Wild?

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I am a 35-year-old Christian woman that isn’t in a relationship and isn’t married.  I grew up in a Christian environment with parents that are still together.  I never dreamt I would be in my 30s single with no kids.  I dreamt of being a wife and a mother.  I think I would make a great wife and mother.  I’ve had a lot of different emotions about my single life through the years, but these days I seem to have more questions than emotions – What messages have I been told about being single?  What messages do I tell myself?  Did I do something wrong?  Is being single a blessing?  Why do I still desire marriage and kids if it’s not God’s Plan for me?  What is God trying to teach me? Etc. Etc. Etc.

The questions can make me a little crazy some days!  But I have learned in life that the best place to take my questions are to the foot of the cross.  There isn’t always an answer to my question, but there is always love and grace at the foot of the cross.  Some of my questions do have answers that I must wrestle through.  Let’s tackle a couple here now.

What have I been told about singleness, both intentionally and unintentionally?

In Christian society, I often feel like I haven’t grown up yet.  Like I have not arrived into the life God made for me because I do not have a husband to lead me.  Marriage feels like it is held up as God’s ideal for us all and because I don’t have it I am somehow missing out on God’s best life.

In secular society, I often feel like my life needs to be wild and sexually free because I am single.  Most assume I sleep around and enjoy not being in a monogamist relationship, then the bomb comes when they find out I am a virgin. Yes, the 35 year old virgin!  My non-Christian friends cannot understand it and often then just treat me with pity.  Again, I am treated like I am missing out on the best life has to offer.

Now, what messages do I tell myself.  If I’m honest, at times I believe all the lies I just talked about.  Some days I do feel like I am missing out, like I haven’t arrived, and that I will be alone forever.  On these days I have to run to the only place I know to find truth – back to the foot of the cross, to the arms of my Creator, and to the love of my Savior.  It is here that I am reminded who I am!

The truth that God whispers in my ear is that I am His and no one will ever love me like He does.  That I will never be alone because it is He who walks beside me.  Now I want to stop here and say what many of you single folks might be thinking, “That is all well and good, but doesn’t produce a flesh and blood person to do life with.”  To this, I say I know.  For years, and on some days even now, I feel lonely.  I long for someone to help me with things.  I long for a partner.  Yet with my whole heart, I believe God is enough.  I would love to be a wife and a mother someday, but if that day never comes I will still live a great life.  I am a beloved daughter of God that has amazing family and friends that love me and let me love them back.  I have a job and hobbies that let me pour into others, as they pour into me.  I am blessed.  I am loved.

At this point in my life, I have learned to celebrate the good parts of being single and to face the hard parts with those that love me and in the arms of my good God.  One of the biggest things I have learned I will talk about more in another blog entry or in an upcoming vlog entry with Ruth and Becky, but it is that I am so much more than a label.  Who I am is not in the label of singleness.

Until next time…enjoy life, regardless of any label!!!

Love & Laughter,

Amy


amy st johnBecky and Ruth are pleased to share this guest post from the wise and wonderful Amy St. John.  Amy is a Relay Event Specialist for the American Cancer Society and serves on the Board of Directors for North Harbor Community Church in Topsham, Maine.  She is a Beautiful Kingdom Warrior through and through!!!

Please leave Amy a comment, thanking her for sharing her story here and encouraging her to come back soon!

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Stand-Out Mother’s Day Posts

We’ve been sharing great Mother’s Day posts on our Facebook Page, and I decided they warranted a listing here on the blog, as we reflect on our mothers and all care-givers who nurture and love on others.

A poem about motherhood and our feeble attempts to return the favor for our mothers’ innumerable sacrifices.  This will make you laugh and cry:


Because mothers are human beings too…and need lots of grace!:  “This Mother’s Day, Make a List of Reasons You Resent Your Mother – Oh, and then throw it away.” by Ashley Moore for Today’s Christian Woman.

Glennon Melton at Momastery shared this one from TheRoot.com

Glennon Melton at Momastery shared this one from TheRoot.com

Shauna Niequist, daughter of Bill and Lynne Hybels, on “What My Mother Taught Me” – Make space for two callings in one home, one marriage. Don’t let logistics get in the way of calling. It’s not easy, it’s complicated – but everyone benefits when women tap into the passions and gifts that God has given them.

Ann Voskamp’s beautiful piece, “Why Motherhood is Really Just for the Birds.”  Here’s an excerpt:

That’s just the pretty ugly of us — we’re not the Hallmark mother, just the Velveteen Mothers. The Velveteen Mothers who know when there’s a volleys of words and weary silences afterward and everything looks impossibly wrecked —

The angular, hard edges of perfection are being sanded down by all our scrapes and falls, till we’re round and soft and can get close enough to each other to just hold each other.

Only when you’re broken are you tender enough to wrap yourself around anyone.

Only the broken people can really embrace.

That’s us — could we just really hold onto each other?

Find each other and hold onto each other and offer the hug of the broken who know the relief that homemaking is about making a home, not perfection, that motherhood is a hallowed space because children aren’t commonplace, that anyone who fosters dreams and labor prayers is a mother to the child in us all.

 

This really important bit of advice: “How Not to be Disappointed this Mother’s Day,” from Lisa Jo Baker.  How many of us have unrealistic expectations for this holiday?  Here’s an outstanding excerpt:

We expect and the expecting is high and impossible until it blossoms into full blown entitlement. And entitlement? Entitlement is a very slippery thing. Entitlement believes that we know best, deserve the best, and resents the rest who don’t deliver. Entitlement takes the sacrifice of motherhood and spins it in dizzying, disorienting circles. Motherhood bends. Entitlement demands. Motherhood serves. Entitlement stomps its foot. Motherhood delights. Entitlement keeps lists. Motherhood laughs. Entitlement whines. Motherhood celebrates. Entitlement sulks. Motherhood forgets itself in favor of remembering her dimple, his fastest mile, their mouths all ringed around with chocolate. Entitlement tastes bitterness in every bite of a day that doesn’t go as planned. And the grand irony of a day devoted to remembering mothers is that it can make me forget how content I am in this skin. Because I am not the sum total of breakfast in bed or empty dishwashers. I am not defined by how tidy the playroom is or who remembered to make me a thoughtful card.

Shane Claiborne shared this prayer from Common Prayer:

A Litany to Honor Women

We walk in the company of the women who have gone before, Mothers of the faith both named and unnamed,
Testifying with ferocity and faith to the Spirit of Wisdom and Healing.
They are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, poets, lovers and Saints
Who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams.*

We walk in the company of Deborah,
who judged the Israelites with authority and strength.

We walk in the company of Esther,
who used her position as Queen to ensure the welfare of her people.

We walk in the company of you whose names have been lost and silenced,
who kept and cradled the wisdom of the ages.

We walk in the company of the woman with the flow of blood,
who audaciously sought her healing and release.

We walk in the company of Mary Magdalene,
who wept at the empty tomb until the risen Christ appeared.

We walk in the company of Phoebe,
who led an early church in the empire of Rome.

We walk in the company of Perpetua of Carthage,
whose witness in the third century led to her martyrdom.

We walk in the company of Saint Christina the Astonishing,
who resisted death with persistence and wonder.

We walk in the company of Julian of Norwich,
who wed imagination and theology proclaiming “all shall be well.”

We walk in the company of Sojourner Truth,
who stood against oppression, righteously declaring “ain’t I a woman!” in 1852.

We walk in the company of the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,
who turned their grief to strength, standing together to remember “the disappeared” children of war
with a holy indignation.

We walk in the company of Alice Walker,
who named the lavender hue of womanish strength.

We walk in the company of you Mothers of the faith,
who teach us to resist evil with boldness, to lead with wisdom, and to heal.

Amen.
The Liturgists shared a fascinating prayer and meditation on “God Our Mother”.  So true that we cannot fully understand God and our language often only impedes us further in that.
And finally, I’ll leave you with this beautiful post from Glennon Melton at Momastery, “Sistering On.”  I love the metaphor and I found myself crying at the beauty of this simple post.  Oh, how I need the support of my sisters!  We all need to love and support one another.

 

Talking with Teens about their Identity as Ezers

Becky and I had the honor of visiting with our church’s youth group, called Floodgate, after church today.  There were seven beautiful, witty and passionate teens there, plus their dedicated leaders, Lisa, Kiva and Danielle.  Becky and I shared our stories and why we’re blogging about women’s issues in the church.  Then we shared a brief word study of the Hebrew phrase ezer kenegdo from Genesis 2:18 and 20 (where woman is described as a “suitable helper” in nearly all Bible translations, but a truer translation would be “corresponding strength” – I used this article by Margaret Mowzcko as a guideline), and some verses countering lies that women are told by our culture regarding their value and worth.  Then we asked the girls how they could be ezers, valuable strengths, in their family, church, school and community.  Their answers were honest and inspiring.  We were impressed by their desire to be faithful witnesses for God and to integrate their Christianity into their school life as well as their family and church lives.

We’ll be talking about our Floodgate visit on tomorrow’s VLOG, but I didn’t want to wait to share a couple videos with you.

This first video features Floodgate superstar, Nikita, singing an original song.  We agree with her message to all teens out there!

And the girls recommended this fantastic video.
Who You Are: A Message to All Women from the Anima Series

Check back tomorrow for our VLOG!  Carry on, warriors!

Advice to a Friend Considering Marriage

I received a question this week from a very dear friend, asking for recommended Christian books to read that would provide guidance and that would shed light on God’s will as she and her boyfriend are considering marriage. This was on Tuesday and I have been mulling the question over in my mind since then.  When Logan and I got married, I didn’t do any homework before-hand.  We dove in head-first and love-blind, and then when marriage was HARD (right off the bat!), I started reading whatever I could get my hands on.

Looking back, all the Christian marriage books that I read were from a complementarian perspective.  Some that I can remember were, The Sacred Marriage; His Needs, Her Needs; For Women Only; The Most Important Year in a Woman’s/Man’s Life; and more recently, This Momentary Marriage.  I learned many wonderful lessons from these books, but the stand-out would have to be The Five Love Languages5LL-single-128Leaving gender-stereotypes behind for five general love languages that apply to everyone in their own unique measure = pure gold relationship advice.  In the book, Dr. Chapman says, “The one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision every day,” and he explains five love languages we each speak more or less fluently: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.   

This June will be Logan and my tenth wedding anniversary, and we are now in our fourth year of living out marriage from an egalitarian perspective.  I’ll share a few links at the end of this post to articles and videos describing egalitarian marriage.  In dating, one of the most important things you can do is rely on “your people” to tell you what they think of your potential mate.  Love is blind, so ask people for honest feedback about what they see from their unbiased, emotionally uninvested vantage point.  Since I can’t do that for you without meeting the guy myself, I’ll be more general here.  My greatest bit of advice that I have to pass along to a couple who is considering marriage and wanting to start from a great place is, examine two things: your theology of gender and your families of origin

First of all, let me briefly explain why I say examine your theology of gender.  Many Christians like myself have grown up in a patriarchal church and family, were taught about headship and submission as God’s perfect and orderly design for families, and probably had parents who displayed traditional gender roles.  If this is the case for you, you likely have a good understanding of the complementarian perspective on marriage.  Go ahead and test it against the whole of Scripture and pray for God’s direction in the matter.  Before you settle on the DNA of your marriage, do the work.

Like I said, I didn’t do any homework before marriage, and neither did Logan.  We had underlying expectations stemming from our upbringings, and we immediately fell into complementarian roles.  I believe there are couples who are naturally gifted and disposed to fall into roles that fit the complementarian model.  These couples probably attribute their happiness directly to their faithfulness to the spiritual leader role of the husband and the help-meet, submission role of the wife.  My experience in trying to live as a submissive help-meet was disorienting, diminishing and hurtful.  It was a role that I fell into effortlessly, as I interpreted the Bible from a complementarian perspective and also as it was modeled for me by my parents.  I am a naturally easy-going person who defers easily to others, so I was baffled by my unhappiness in that role.  But what was most painful was ignoring my own leadership giftings, my own dreams and aspirations, my own experiences and wisdom, to focus on my husband’s role as ‘the boss.’  What it felt like to me was that I was the child and he was the parent.

The sense that I was losing myself in marriage began immediately after our honeymoon.  I had been a very happy single person with a rich life of work, community and minisitry.  I hadn’t processed how my life would change in marriage, so it hit my like a ton of bricks when we came home from our honeymoon.  The first day that Logan went back to work, he surprised me for lunch and found me sobbing, telling him that I didn’t want to be a house wife!

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The reason why this season in our marriage lasted six years was that it took that long for us to realize it wasn’t God’s design for our marriage.  And we didn’t come to that realization on our own.  We were confronted with it when I experienced a nearly audible call from God to be Logan’s co-pastor when we church planted.  That happened during the early months of 2010 and I started reading books about women in ministry and I came alive with passion and excitement for my life!  I shared that journey in this post.  I think Logan’s initial response to this dramatic change in his wife was to feel threatened, but over time we’ve developed a beautiful partnership and our relationship makes more sense now.  We really are a great team and our two heads are better than one!  Like most couples, Logan and I are extreme opposites in many ways.  Before, I always felt like I had to deny my own personal preferences, needs, and nature and defer to his.  Now, our two personalities are complimenting each other as they never did as “complementarians.”

I just came across a similar story from a couple who changed to egalitarians half way through their marriage.  It’s well worth your time.

There has been a huge movement in Christianity fueled by The Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that I believe has distorted the truth of the Bible and has set pharisaical rules and roles and demands upon men and women that are simply not “Biblical” and in fact, deny aspects of our humanity in a hurtful way.  Something that never sat right with me, in all my years in the complementarian camp, were all the Biblical exceptions to these rules.  For a book that was written within a patriarchal culture that subjugated women to a lower caste, the Bible is rife with tales of women of valor.  Here is a great list of “25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women.”  I believe the tide is shifting in Evangelicalism away from these teachings, but I would urge you to consider another perspective if this is the position you’ve been taught or have experienced.

My second bit of advice is to examine your families of origin.  I recenetly read that if we want healthy churches, then we need to resolve the issues from our families of origin.  We are living in a fallen, broken world.  There is no such thing as a perfect family, and we all bear some baggage that oftentimes we are unaware is there.  Our personalities are fully formed by the young age of three years old! why you do the things you do In the book, Why You Do The Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships, Drs. Clinton and Sibcy explain that we are all born asking two questions: Am I worthy of love, and Can I trust others to meet my needs?  Depending on our earliest relationships (mother, father, siblings, caretakers, etc.), we find the answer to those questions and our conclusions are hard-wired into our expectations for life and those become self-fulfilling prophecies for the rest of our life.  Logan and I were functioning out of deep, hard-wired, unexamined expectations for years.  It was when issues were surfacing in extended family that I began reading Christian psych books and began to learn so much about family dynamics that we had brought into our marriage.  I recommend reading Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t, and Boundaries: When to Say Yes, and How to Say No, both by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  I recently read, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero and cannot recommend this one enough.  He explains how his walk with Christ, his marriage and ministry were revolutionized when his wife “quit” living the lie that everything was fine and began a journey to find true freedom in Christ (she’s got her own book, I Quit: Stop Pretending Everything is Fine and Change Your Life!).

Also, one last thought.  Have you considered not marrying?  The church has placed marriage on a pedestal that it simply doesn’t belong on. The idea that Biblical Womanhood is to be the dependent help-meet to her husband and to bear children in order to build God’s Kingdom is actually refuted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 (emphasis mine):

32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong[b] and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.[c]

I only make this point to emphasize that marriage is not a necessity in being faithful to God.  Make sure you’re looking for marriage for all the right reasons. My single friends and mentors have untold numbers of spiritual children that they are able to nurture and invest in that I simply would not have the time to reach as a busy mother and wife.  Many people are looking to marriage to fulfill their natural longings for connection and love, but you can fulfill those longings in your relationship to Christ and in your loving relationships with others.  Our church just did an excellent 8 part series on sexuality that you can find at northharbor.net.  I would urge you not to be on the lookout for someone to marry as though you are filling an open position, but find contentment in your singleness and only marry if it seems like your marriage to this particular person is an option too good to pass up.

The point of marriage is not to display the Gospel to the world in your fulfillment of the headship/submission roles, as we are often taught in complementarian churches.  I firmly believe that hierarchy in marriage does not stem from creation order, but rather is a result of the curse (Genesis 3:16).  The point of marriage, rather, is to partner as co-warriors (ezer kenegdo is literally translated “a strength or warrior corresponding to,” not “a helper suitable to”) in bringing the world into submission to God (Genesis 1:28).  The point of marriage is to love one another, submit to one another, serve one another.  “People will know you are Christians by your love” (John 13:35), not by your wifely submission to the authority of your husband by virtue of his maleness.  You have more to offer to your husband than a clean house, good food, frequent sex and encouraging words.  You can be a strength corresponding to him in spiritual warfare.  Your spiritual giftings need to be nurtured, developed and pursued just as much as his own.  In this way, your marriage will be a force to be reckoned with in your community.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you as you walk through this journey and perhaps make a decision that will change the course of your life!  There aren’t too many of those decisions we make in life!  I am so thankful that Logan and I have discovered God’s true intentions for our relationship and we are walking in mutual submission and love for one another.  Our family and our future are blessed by this new dynamic in our marriage.

Here are a few links to helpful articles and videos on egalitarian marriage.  There are more on our Links and Videos pages.

Egalitarian Marriage: What it Looks Like – Jonalyn and Dale Fincher
Empirical Data in Support of Egalitarian Marriage – Dennis Preato
Is Marriage Really an Illustration of Christ and the Church? – Kristen Rosser

Video: Who’s the Boss? – Greg Boyd
Video: Geri Scazzero at New Life’s 2013 Premarital Workshop
Video: How to Get a Date Worth Keeping – Dr. Henry Cloud

Rachel Held Evans wrapped up a mutuality series with this list of resources, and in another post, she asked her readers for recommendations on egalitarian marriage books, and here is that comment thread.

Blessings to you on your life’s journey!!!

Anyone have some additional advice they could share?  Please leave a comment!

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes, our false perception of someone’s intention sidelines communication.  We may have been “getting somewhere” with someone, but suddenly we feel stuck in a head-on collision, and we see one person’s reversal as the only way out of this mess.  And so we keep our foot on the accelerator and spin our wheels with our game face on.

Sometimes, we hear attack when someone only intends dialogue.  And so we get defensive and put our walls up.

Sometimes, we hear criticism when someone only intends to encourage helpful change.  And so we stop listening and get even more stuck in our ways.

Sometimes, we hear anger when someone is being passionate.  And so we get angry too, and maybe even get a little hurtful.

Sometimes, we do all the interpretation without engaging in actually asking what the other person means and why.  And so we assume things.  And you know what happens when you assume something?  You make an “ass out of u and me.” (Hee hee….I just said ass.  Sorry, that just makes me giggle!)

But guess what?

Sometimes, our faith is enriched when we engage with Christians who come from different denominations, countries, cultures, and perspectives on any of the myriad of areas where we differ.  And so we need to be proactive about getting outside of our “tribe” and looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.

Sometimes, God uses the most unlikely person to speak to us (He’s even used a donkey! Numbers 22:28).  And so we need to be always listening for His voice!

Sometimes, we are startled when a long-held belief comes under question.  And so that is when we buckle down and study to see how it fits with the testimony of Scripture (Acts 17:11).  And that is good!

Sometimes, we go out on a limb and open ourselves up.  We are honest about who we are, where we come from, how we see the world.  And in so doing, we make a deeper connection with another person and we are both changed in a meaningful way.

Sometimes, we need to abandon our deeply wired fight or flight reaction to conflict and reach out across the divide to make a friend.  And so we begin to practice this, to retrain our mind to be peace-loving and gracious.

You know, maybe we shouldn’t just do this sometimes.  Maybe we could do this all the time?

Maybe we’re not doing this at all.  Maybe sometimes is a big improvement.  We need to learn that it is always appropriate to treat other people better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  Starting at sometimes is better than not at all.  And so lets start!

I love you, Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!

Image: Ruth’s son Josiah on Cadillac Mountain, Mt. Desert Island, ME