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Gender & Faith

Revisiting the Topic of Women in Public Ministry: My Recommended Resources  (2022)

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Women One Comment

For more than two decades, I’ve taught a course on gender and its ramifications in the church and for women in public ministry. Since #MeToo and #ChurchToo combined with Christian leaders saying women have to endure abuse to be biblical and also that women shouldn’t teach in seminaries, I’ve seen a shift in attitudes. Add to that the one-two punches of Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez with Beth Allison Barr’s book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: People are revisiting what and why they believe on the topic. 

Some have sat up and said, basically, “Evangelicals have barred the front door against radical feminism while leaving the back door wide open to misogyny.” Some have heard Beth Moore told to “Go Home!” and responded with, “Stop already. That misrepresents us.” I’m hearing pastors get up and say, “I was wrong” to slut-shame Bathsheba. I’ve been told …

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Was Abigail Right to Go Behind Nabal’s Back?

By Arts, Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Marriage, Women One Comment

One morning after I taught a women’s Bible study on the life of Abigail—wife of Nabal, a woman hustled over to me, elbows swinging. Seeing her body language, I braced myself.

Her argument about my teaching went something like this: “You’re wrong! Abigail was most definitely not righteous. By taking matters into her own hands, she shows what happens when a wife steps out from under her husband’s ‘umbrella of authority.’ If Abigail had submitted to Nabal rather than intervening, David would have felt guilty for killing Nabal, and that guilt would have kept him from killing later.”

I’d heard this interpretation already—from Bill Gothard, among others.

So how do we figure out how to interpret this story? Was Abigail good or evil? The text itself provides the needed clues.

We find the “Abigail and David” story in 1 Samuel 25:2–43. The narrator begins with his assessment: “[Abigail] was …

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Women’s History Month: Meet Some Female Martyrs from the Early Church

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Women No Comments

When I spoke to a class of seminary students recently about women in public ministry in the early church, someone asked me to share some names and narratives about our foremothers. It seemed fitting to provide a sampling here during Women’s History Month. (Some day I hope we will simply learn “history”; but until women are included in the telling of history, we’ll continue to need a special annual focus.) You can find all the women listed below in the mosaics of Ravenna’s “new” (6th c) Basilica of Sant’Apollinare. I’ve included a summary of the stories that usually accompany them, as well. You will notice a theme of women exercising agency over their own bodies to the glory of God.

Agatha. Virgin martyr. Agatha died in 251. Born in Sicily into a noble family, she steadfastly vowed to remain a virgin. She was taken to a house of prostitution, tortured by …

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