One of my doctoral examination fields related to women and the history of ideas about gender. I teach a graduate-level seminary class that traces the history of the role of women, explores what the Bible says about masculinity and femininity, and takes an exegetical look at what Scripture says about women. This topic has held special interest for me since the 1990s when infertility shattered my view of my assumed role as “mother” and forced me to re-look at what God designed woman to do and be. Travels to the developing world also helped me see areas where the American Christian subculture’s answer to many questions about women—such as, “Can we work to feed our families?”— were not universal enough in their application to deserve the label of “biblical.”
Additionally, the somewhat recent emphasis on social history (vs. political history) in history departments due largely to the influx of women has blown wide open the amount of data we have available for revisiting first-century backgrounds as they relate to gender. Pursuing that data has taken me to Pompeii, Ephesus, the Louvre, Versailles, The Getty Villa near Malibu and other fascinating places to gather data on first-century life. I still have so much to learn, but I love interacting with men and women alike on this topic. I hope you’ll join the conversation.
Women In Ministry
Role of Women in Ministry: Marriage
“Submit”—what a loaded word. Yet Jesus did it. And in fact all Christians are to live in submission to the Lord—so submission is a universal human quality. What does it mean to submit as a wife? And perhaps more importantly, what does it not mean?
Q & A On The Role of Women in Ministry
“I am having a hard time understanding how “exousia” is translated as authority or usurping authority if it isn’t found anywhere else in any other context. Why is it believed to be authority?”
What Does “Workers at Home” Mean?
I’ve been talking to some moms lately who wonder if it’s okay to contribute to the economics of their households. I’m not even talking about being gone from home from 7:45 AM till 5:30 PM. I’m talking about women working from home.
A key passage on marriage in the New Testament is Ephesians 5. Based on this pericope, most marriage conferences teach husbands to lead and wives to submit. But “head” is a noun, not a verb, and its counterpart is “body,” not “follow.” The complement to “submit” is not lead, but “agape love.” Once we understand the apostle Paul’s terms, a picture of unity and oneness—not a power picture—emerges.
Women in Leadership: A Summary
What does the Bible teach about women in leadership? These notes include some oft-overlooked observations.
P-31 Bomber Proverbs 31 Revisited
I have a hunch that the most-hated woman in the Bible is not bad-girl Jezebel. It’s the “woman of noble character” in Proverbs 31. One friend whined to me, “I can’t stand that Proverbs 31 lady. I feel tired just thinking about her.” And recently I picked up an article that began with, “I really don’t like the woman in Proverbs 31.”
Articles, Podcasts, & Conferences
Game On Girl
Game on Girl is a weekly nonreligious podcast hosted by Dr. Regina McMenomy and Rhonda Oglesby. They interview gamers and discuss games, gaming, and game culture—especially as these topics relate to women. The hosts also have regular segments on pop culture. I’m a regular guest on the show.
DTS: Trendwatch/Minister to the Overworked Smart Girl
At DTS’s Women’s 2006 Leadership Conference, I talked about how to minister to the crazy-busy woman. Not much has changed since then…. Suggestions include modeling quietness, helping her find rhythms of Sabbath, teaching her to pray psalms of lament, and encouraging low-tech communication with God.
Women’s Retreat: The Greatest Story Ever Told (includes Esther lecture notes)
Though the retreat title may change a bit from venue to venue, the content is much the same. In “The Greatest Story Ever Told” I explore how our lives on earth are only weavings in a partially completed tapestry. Of course the story doesn’t make total sense—it’s unfinished. In addition to my own story with its tangled knots, I include the “threads” of Rachel and Leah, Esther, the woman Jesus healed of a menstrual issue, and psalms of lament.
The Feminists We Forgot
Some evangelicals teach that women were content with their lot in life until Betty Friedan came along and started the feminist movement. Then, women became angry, defensive, and demanded more rights. Indeed, the way the story often gets told, Betty Friedan started the women’s movement both outside the church and within it.
Tomb Altar of Caltilius & Caltilia
Getty Villa Roman, AD 100–125
This alter was on a Roman couple’s funerary monument from the early second century AD. The inscription reads, “To the souls of the deceased, Lucius Caltilius Stephanus and Caltilia Moschis.” Caltilia’s hairstyle shows that she followed the fashion worn by women in the court of the Roman emperor Trajan (ruled AD 98–117).
Gravestone of a Woman with her Attendant
Greek, c. 100 BC
This high-status woman is adorned with jewelry including snake bracelets and armlets, which emphasize the languorous arm she extends to the young girl, who has the cropped hair of a slave. The girl holds a hinged, rectangular object open for her mistress’s perusal.
Wall Fragment with Two Women
Roman, AD 1–75
Plaster and pigment
This fresco shows two elegantly dressed women conversing. Both wear gold earrings and necklaces and have ribbons tied in their hair.