Adam’s and Eve’s work, Orvieto cathedral façade, Orvieto, Italy

Blog Posts About Women, Gender, & Faith

Why Study Church History?

By | Women | 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, Dr. Glenn Kreider (we both teach at DTS) and I were in Austin talking with Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering, to film segments included in the new study they are offering—Anno Domini or “AD.” AD focuses on the Book of Acts and what followed—the 2,000-year history of the church, the bride of Christ. You can sign up for the free 8-week course.

Below I spend about 30 seconds talking about why I encourage people to study this topic:

The following video lasts about five minutes, and we talk more in depth about the value of understanding our history.  This is the intro to lesson one.

I hope you’ll consider joining in. Click here and scroll down to get started and read the encouraging responses to this video.…

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A Great Film

By | Arts, Beauty, Justice, Life In The Body, Marriage, Women | No Comments

imgresDefying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War tells the story of a US couple’s courageous private war against the Nazis in 1939.

The Sharps, a Unitarian minister and his wife, are two of only five Americans honored as Righteous Among the Nations in Israel’s Yad Vashem. You can watch their story online at PBS until October 5 by clicking on the above link.

This film is the latest from Ken Burns, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentaries. Defying the Nazis is an incredible story of great personal sacrifice.

In this film you will see many similarities to the current social environment in America. How does an unlikely candidate rise quickly to power? How does racism thrive? Why don’t people care for refugees? Is national security more important that children’s lives? We’ve been here before.

When you finish, read Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939. We …

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On the ESV’s New Rendering of Genesis 3:16 (“Contrary Wives”)

By | Gender & Faith, Marriage, Women | No Comments

In light of the volumes written about recent changes in the ESV, I thought I’d offer a few reflections on the interpretation of this text (Gen. 3:16), especially because the verse is foundational to many people’s understanding of gender roles. First, the change:

Previous ESV translation of Genesis 3:16: Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

New text of Genesis 3:16: Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.

First, an underlying reason for some of the mistrust: The ESV committee had pretty conservative complementarians on it. I’ve identified about five different kinds of complementarians, and many on this committee are at the traditionalist end. And here’s the rub: They included no women translators. And no egalitarians. In a world growing more aware of the blindness inherent in homogenous groups, this seems odd—especially coming from people who …

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Is Jesus Really a Friend to Women?

By | Women | No Comments

I received this question recently: If Jesus was so “for” women, why in Luke 14:25–27, when addressing the crowd (which obviously had women in it), did he basically exclude them or communicate they were not worth considering or addressing when he said “wife” and not “husband”?

Great question. First, let’s look at the text in question: Luke 14:25–27:

Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said,  ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple . . . .”

The person who wrote the question wonders why Jesus, when speaking of the cost of following him, exhorts husbands to hate wives, but does not tell wives to …

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Complementarians on Women in Ministry: Diverse Images

By | Gender & Faith, Marriage, Women | 2 Comments
Synogogue - blindfolded woman in 13th century ivory set, Descent from the Cross.

Synogogue – blindfolded woman in 13th century ivory set, Descent from the Cross.

My Engage post this week: 

I read recently that when boards of directors have both male and female representation, they make better decisions. Doesn’t that sound consistent with Genesis 1:28? Not to everybody. Especially not those at the conservative end of the complementarian camp (and it is a very wide camp with a lot of difference inside).

The word “complementarian” gets underlined in red in a Word doc, because it’s a word people made up. And they did so to emphasize that men and women are complementary.

Some say “egalitarians [hereafter E’s] believe men and women have no gender differences and that complementarians [hereafter C’s] believe in the beautiful design of God for gender differences.” But honestly? That’s baloney. In terms of their view of the existence of gender differences, both camps believe men and women

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My Latest Book: A Short History of Ephesus

By | Books, Women | No Comments

Book Cover Ephesus -4The city of Ephesus had great significance in the ancient world from its beginnings in the eighth century BC through the fall of Rome. Books of scripture were written to people in this city and from people residing there, as well. Cleopatra and Mark Antony killed off her sister here. And the temple of the Ephesian Artemis here was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The apostle Paul left after an uproar in Ephesus having to do with idols and money. And Shakespeare later made the city his setting for “A Comedy of Errors.” (Ironically, Ephesus’s history reads more like a tragedy than a comedy, considering that its inhabitants consistently sided with the losers.)

For all these reasons I chose “The city of Ephesus from 100 BCE to CE 100” as one of my PhD examination fields. And having done all that research, I wanted to make …

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Hillary’s Not the Only Woman to Make History

By | Women, Writing | 2 Comments

UnknownWant a summer read that’s part adventure story, part biography, part introduction to biblical manuscripts, part historical drama, and part faith journey? If yes, check out Janet Soskice’s The Sisters of Sinai.

The main characters are identical twins Agnes and Margaret Smith of Scotland. Their travels lead, among other places, to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. There Agnes discovered one of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospels ever found.

The sisters’ staunch Presbyterian father, widowed shortly after their births in 1843, raised his girls as one might raise boys in the Victorian era—educated, physically active, and engaged in the life of the mind. And he kept a promise that whenever his daughters learned a language, he would take them to where that language was spoken. Because the twins loved to travel, early on they mastered French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Their deep interest in the Bible and its languages …

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What Are You Worth?

By | Books, Gender & Faith, Women | No Comments

demuth1Today I’m delighted to feature a guest post from my friend Mary DeMuth, who has a new book out:

I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood lately. I saw a Netflix show where drug abuse was rampant, and I had to shield my eyes. I simply couldn’t see people snorting and drinking and shooting up. It brought back memories of my early life where my life was anything but safe.

I was five, then. And the adults around me had parties. They would get stoned and unsafe. I would try to hide in my room, but the only route to the bathroom was through my bedroom, so they would parade through on unsteady legs, eyes red, hands flailing to keep balance.

I turned my head to the wall, trying to escape into the well made between my twin bed and the wall. I fit like a snake into that …

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My Favorite Parenting Advice

By | Life In The Body, Marriage, Women | No Comments

My husband and I cut our chops in vocational ministry by serving teens and college students. So long before we brought home a baby of our own, we saw the kind of parent/child conflicts that can tear apart the strongest of families. Because we paid our way through grad school in part by “housesitting” in some homes that came with kids while parents traveled, we had a solid dose of parenting experience before we ever got started. There was the toddler who cried the entire weekend because he had separation anxiety. There was the daughter who took off to go camping with the boys’ baseball team. And I can’t forget the drug-using son who jumped out his second-story window, broke into his brother’s car, stole it, and took it four-wheeling in the river. The next morning, he swaggered up the front sidewalk as if nothing had happened.

Other people’s kids …

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What is Intersex, and What Does the Bible Say about It?

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

We see the acronym LGBTIQA, and we might not even know what every letter stands for. To have conversations with people who self-identify in any of the represented categories, we need some basic language for communication:

 The acronym LGBTIQA stands for:

1) “L” – lesbian

2) “G” – gay

3) “B” – bisexual

4) “T” – transgender

5) “I” – intersex

6) “Q” – queer/questioning

7) “A” – asexual people and allies

(Notice “homosexual” is not on the list—many consider that word “Christianese.”)

Recently, I have had conversations with Christian leaders who’ve told me, “I don’t even know what intersex is.” I also hear people quoting Genesis’s beautiful words, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Gen. 5:2) as a prelude to insisting that the Bible teaches there is no spectrum, that everyone

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Jesus and Sexism

By | Gender & Faith, Women | No Comments

My post on Jesus and Sexism that ran this week on the Engage blog at bible.org:

Do you believe God made male and female different? Me, too (Gen. 1:27).

Does it concern you when people turn gender differences into essentialism, saying stuff like “God made women to nurture and men to do the thinking,” and call such binary thinking “biblical”? Me, too. (1 Thess 2:7; Luke 2:19).

Does it frustrate you when people say God made it a women’s role (as opposed to a man’s) to cook and serve food (Gen. 25:29; John 21:9–12; Acts 6:2–3)? Me, too.

Does it bug you when you see a speaker lineup for a Christian conference that leaves out minorities, including marriage conferences where only men teach? Me, too. (1 Cor. 11:11; 12:22; Titus 2:3).

Does it trouble you when people …

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Author Q&A with Elizabeth Oates

By | Blog Interviews With Writers, Gender & Faith, Women | 2 Comments
Elizabeth Oates: Restoring hope...one life at a time

Elizabeth Oates: Restoring hope…one life at a time

Elizabeth Oates served as my intern more than ten years ago. Time flies! Today she’s a multi-published author with a new book out. She took some time recently to answer some questions.

SG: Elizabeth, I can’t believe we have known each other for fifteen years now. You came to seminary in 2001, and graduated in ‘05. Tell me what you have been doing since then.

EO: My husband and I moved from Dallas to Waco, where we’ve had three biological kids, ages 10, 8, and 6. We also have a sweet foster daughter who is 16 months old, and we are on track to adopt her sometime this spring. In between raising babies and running carpool, I’ve been writing, blogging, and speaking. I wrote my first book, Dealing with Divorce: Finding Direction When Your Parents Split Up, in 2009. And I …

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Why Peter Would NOT Want a Wife Today to Call Her Husband “Lord”

By | Gender & Faith, Marriage, Uncategorized, Women | No Comments

In Peter’s instruction to wives with disobedient husbands, Sarah, one of the godly woman of old who hoped in God, is singled out as modeling virtue. Her “adornment,” as was true of that of the other holy women, manifested itself in submission to her husband. And according to Peter, in her submission Sarah goes so far as to call Abraham “lord.”

But strangely, the only time the Old Testament describes Sarah calling Abraham “lord” is in the context of an off-hand comment she makes in response to the revelation that she will become pregnant by him when they are quite old (Gen. 18:12). She scoffs and asks if she will have pleasure, and then seems further amused at the double impossibility, saying, “my lord being old also.”

To contemporary male and female Western ears, the thought of a woman calling her husband “lord” seems absurd. But another text in Genesis …

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