Some great posts about gender, hierarchy, equality, and marriage

I probably don’t say this enough, but I am extremely hopeful about the future of women in the Church. Sure, there are some extra-loud voices calling for women to conform themselves to narrowly defined roles that have more to do with an idealized conception of pre-feminist America than with actual “biblical womanhood,” but I believe these cries represent the last desperate throes of a dying movement. I sincerely believe that, if I have daughters, they will be welcomed as equals in most evangelical churches, and that egalitarian marriages like my own—in which my husband and I work together as a team of equal partners—will become the norm within Christiandom. 

Several posts this week encouraged me:

Dan Brennan with “Friendship, Marriage, and Ongoing Sexism” 
“But for Mark and Grace, their model of marital friendship is not a voluntary equal-footing friendship. It only allows the woman to go so far in their friendship, community, and their culture before she must surrender her gifts, her body, her decision-making process to the embedded sexism in the marriage and surrounding community.  Yes, there is mutuality on the surface, but underneath the shallow mutuality is sexism by default.  Is this what is meant by  “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”?

Roger Olson with “Truth, Authority and Roles” 
“This is why I am adamantly opposed to so-called ‘complementarianism.’ No matter how much they say that the husband should love his wife as Christ loves the church, they (the leading complementarian preachers and scholars) are handing husbands the right to ignore truth when it is his wife who has it and he doesn’t—that is, when his wife is right and he is wrong. I am waiting to read or hear a complementarian say to Christian husbands: “When your wife is right, she is right and you must obey the truth...I’m afraid that complementarians love authority and roles more than truth.”

Morgan Guyton at Red Letter Christians with “Why Gender Hierarchy Makes No Biblical Sense to Me
“Servant leaders who emulate Jesus can never impose their will on others by force. Jesus’ power is derived in His complete submission to those who disagreed with Him to the point of letting them crucify Him when He had all the resources of the Creator of the universe at His disposal. If Jesus is my model for how to love my wife like He loved the church, then I can’t see a reason why there would be any gender hierarchy in my household.”

Rachel Stone at Her.Meneutics with “How We Can Harness the New Domesticity Without Diminishing Women"
”This domesticity will look different in every family. My husband’s mom made her own everything, even mayonnaise; to my mom, home-made cake meant Duncan Hines as opposed to buying ready-made cakes at the bakery. My dad did (and still does) all of the laundry and cooked a fair share of the meals, too; my mom was (and is) more likely to keep on top of car maintenance and to do most of the driving on long trips, whereas in my husband’s family driving was clearly the province of the man. But my husband and I both grew up in homes where we were welcomed, sheltered, nourished, loved and where we experienced the outflowing of that love toward strangers and near-strangers in the form of Christian hospitality." 

JR. Forasteros’ review of 'Real Marriage’ for Relevant 
“The model of marriage, family and maturity the Driscolls build is more a reinvigorated idealization of the nuclear family than something that arises from the Scriptures. And that would be fine, except the Driscolls present this model as every person's created intention. It's not presented as an opinion, but a divine command. The Driscolls assume full personhood is found in marriage and child-rearing. There's no picture of biblical singlehood and little discussion of how married and single persons integrate into one larger whole in the Church.”

And I know I’ve already shared this, twice already... but Sarah Bessey’s “In Which Love Looks Like Real Marriage” is one of the most beautiful depictions of egalitarian marriage I’ve ever encountered: 
“Well, who is in charge here?
We are.
Yes, but if push comes to shove, who is the leader? 
We are.
But then who is the spiritual head of your home?
Only Jesus.
It's a slow-dance still, isn't it, my luv? You lead and I lead, we are both following His music, no hierarchy here. We move together, one body, all for intimacy and beauty, the dance of lovers that know every curve and lean into the unknown parts with full trust in the hands they hold."

You may also find this interesting: 
Amanda MacInnis with "Being a Smart Consumer of the Academic Literature: Gender Differences and the Comp/Egal Debate"

What about you? Do you get the sense, as I do, that the evangelical tide is turning in favor of egalitarianism? What have you found that encourages you?


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52% of evangelical leaders think that Jesus would make a lousy evangelical

Wine Glass In Focus IIphoto © 2007 James Williams | more info (via: Wylio)

Since so many of us either came from or continue to identify with the evangelical religious culture, I thought it might be interesting to discuss the results of a pew forum study released last week. The survey polled over 2,000 evangelical leaders worldwide. Some of the more notable results include: 


  • 75 percent of responders favored allowing women to serve as pastors
  • 79 percent believe that men should be the religious leaders in the marriage and family
  • 53 percent believe men should be the main financial providers for the family


  • 84 percent of responders said that “society should discourage homosexuality” 


  • 96 percent said that abortion is usually or always wrong

The Prosperity Gospel…

  • 90 percent of responders said that God does not always give wealth and health to people of faith
  • Only 7 percent endorsed the “prosperity gospel”


  • 47 percent believe that humans have existed in their current form since the beginning of time
  • 41 percent believe that evolution occurred, guided by God


  • 82 percent of U.S. evangelical leaders think their influence is declining
  • However, 58 percent of evangelicals in the global south (Africa, Asia and Latin America) see their influence as increasing

The Bible…

  • 98 percent agreed that the Bible is the word of God
  • 50 percent said that the Bible should be taken literally, word-for-word

 What is essential to be a good evangelical?...

  • 97 percent said following the teachings of Christ in one's personal and family life
  • 94 percent said leading others to Christ
  • 73 percent said helping the poor and needy


  • 52 percent said that drinking alcohol is not compatible with being a good evangelical
  • 42 percent said that drinking alcohol is compatible with being a good evangelical.


My thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by the growing acceptance of female pastors and what appears to be a consensus against the prosperity gospel. I also loved that alleviating poverty made it to the "essentials" list. 

Regarding homosexuality, I suspect that if the same poll is taken in 10 years, the number will decrease dramatically. (Of all the “issues” reflected in the poll, I think this one is the most generational.)

Regarding alcohol, I think it’s funny that 52 percent of evangelicals think that Jesus would make a lousy one! 

Check out the survey for more fascinating results

So what from this survey most captured your interest? What did you find encouraging/discouraging? 

Do your views align with those of most evangelical leaders? Do you identify yourself as an evangelical?


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13 Things That Make Me a Lousy Evangelical

So I suppose that technically I am an evangelical Christian.  I follow Jesus Christ. I think a personal commitment to faith is important. I read the Bible regularly. 

However, I consistently find myself in awkward situations among my fellow evangelicals, mainly because of these 13 habits: 

1. The word “inerrancy” makes my scalp itch

2. Sometimes I vote for democrats

3. When the kids choir sings about Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, I lean over to my husband and whisper something about genocide, drawing harsh stares from parents 

4. I’ve never read The Purpose Driven Life

5. I think the earth is 4.5 billion years old

6. When we’re stuck in traffic because there’s been an awful wreck up ahead and somebody says, “Wow, God definitely had his hand on us when we left five minutes late this morning,” I ask, “But what about the people in the wreck? Did God not have his hand on them?” (I think it is this impulse that most often puts me at odds with evangelicalism…and Christianity in general) 

7. I ask a lot of annoying questions

8. I have issues with authority

9. Since discovering The Book of Common Prayer, the evangelical tradition of “popcorn prayer” sends me into a complete panic

10. As a woman, I’ve been nursing a secret grudge against the Apostle Paul for about eight years

11. I support gay rights

12. Occasionally I have nightmares about Sarah Palin becoming president

13. I have vowed never to use the phrase “It was really good for a Christian movie"

What about you? Ever feel like the black sheep in the evangelical family? Why?


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Rob Bell, Evangelicalism, and The Gospel

In light of our recent conversations about evangelicalism (“Kirk Cameron and Six Evangelical Stereotypes”) and the Gospel (“Is the Gospel Relative?”), these items caught my eye recently.

First, on evangelicalism, Rob Bell caused quite a stir the other day when he too expressed his disenchantment with the term “evangelical.” As he told the Boston Globe:

“I take issue with the word to a certain degree, so I make a distinction between a capital E and a small e. I was in the Caribbean in 2004, watching the election returns with a group of friends, and when Fox News, in a state of delirious joy, announced that evangelicals had helped sway the election, I realized this word has really been hijacked. I find the word troubling, because it has come in America to mean politically to the right, almost, at times, anti-intellectual. For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context… I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That’s a beautiful sort of thing.”

What do you think? Do you agree with Rob Bell’s characterization of evangelicalism? Do you think that, in criticizing certain expressions of the modern evangelical movement for being political/ anti-intellectual, some of us have simply become (as Mike said in a comment at the end of my post) “total snobs”? Or are our concerns legitimate? 

For a more scholarly look at the tern “evangelical,” check out this interesting piece from the Centre for Research on Candadian Evangelicalism, shared by Scot McKnight on his Jesus Creed blog. 

Second, on the Gospel, Rob Bell found himself in hot water yet again for the terrible crime of not being able to “tweet” the good news

Critics noted that Bell’s first attempt was more than 140 characters long, and so the pastor made a second attempt that went like this:

"The gospel is the counterintuitive, joyous, exuberant news that Jesus has brought the unending, limitless, stunning love of God to even us."

Do you think that’s a good summary of the Gospel? Do you think that you could “tweet” the good news? Is it just me, or does the whole exercise seem like a cheap way to test folks like Bell with a trick question?

More importantly, is it really productive to spend so much time arguing over the definitions of the Gospel and evangelicalism when the true test is in how we live our lives? (I realize that in asking the question, I could very well implicate myself!)

For a more comprehensive look at the Gospel and all its forms, check out this interesting piece by Tim Keller from Christianity Today.


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