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

Blog Posts About Women, Gender, & Faith

Gendercide

By Gender & Faith, Uncategorized4 Comments

My friend Dorian sent me a copy of a chilling article from The Economist titled, “The Worldwide War on Baby Girls.” Often we view gendercide as “an unintended consequence of China’s one-child policy, or as a product of poverty or ignorance.” Yet that can’t be the whole story. Modernization and rising incomes make it easier and more desirable to select the sex of a child, which people do even in areas without the one-child policy. And that’s bad news for girls. And to make matters worse, according to WHO, female suicide rates in China and South Korea are among the highest in the world. “The journalist Xiran Xue thinks they cannot live with the knowledge that they have aborted or killed their baby daughters.” Where have all the young girls gone?

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Women’s History Month

By WomenNo Comments

On the first day of a Women and Revolutions class in my doctoral program, a woman with a master’s in theology gave her “take” on the biblical story of Adam and Eve: she saw it as having a pro-woman message. Another student suggested that such a reading of the biblical text, though laudable, might be a recent invention by modern feminists. Her response revealed a common misconception—that in past centuries the biblical text has been used only to keep women down. So I searched primary documents to answer the question, “At what point did people begin to believe that the Bible and pro-woman perspectives were compatible?” I stopped looking when I reached the time prior to the printing press, simply because we have few writings of any kind before this time. Especially from women. But A.D. 1400 seemed early enough to me. And in light of March being Women’s History…

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Good Resource on NT Backgrounds (esp Women)

By Gender & Faith, Uncategorized3 Comments

In ancient Roman law a person was what he or she wore. In the first century A.D., a new kind of wife emerged across the Roman empire – similar to the new woman of the U.S. 1960s after the poodle-skirted 1950s girl. The new Roman wife dressed provocatively and had the lifestyle to match, in stark contrast with the previously modest dress of a traditional married woman. What a woman wore identified her either as modest or “new,” says Bruce Winter in Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women in the Pauline Communities. Winter is director of the Institute of Early Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World, at Tyndale House, Cambridge, and an expert on historical and literary backgrounds. Apparently wanting to promote “family values,” Caesar Augustus legislated against the “new” woman. And an emperor could exercise way more force than any leader in a democracy, so think of…

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A Man’s Place is at the Factory?

By Gender & Faith, Uncategorized7 Comments

I’m still finding myself in conversations about the decision by a local seminary to add a home-ec major that excludes men. I expected to receive mail from women complaining that they’d been sent back to the kitchen ONLY (the question is not about whether people value work done in the domicile). But none came. Instead, the most emphatic complaints came from men perterbed about being disallowed from classes where they could learn to cook. They also came from women–many of them full-time homemakers–who think it’s unfair to kick men out just because they’re missing an X chromosome. Jacob’s red stew smelled so good his brother sold him his birthright for a meal. The male deacons in Acts 6 fed the widows. And the ultimate trump card: Jesus cooked fish when he had the restoration conversation with Peter. Trust me, the Bible allows for manly men cooking. I read a quote…

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Meet Dame Julian

By Gender & Faith, UncategorizedOne Comment

Julian of Norwich—not her given name—was born c. 1343. According to her own account, in May 1373, when she was “thirty and a half years old,” she became very sick. As she lay dying, she had a series of fifteen “showings” (“shewings”) or revelations about God, the Trinity, the crucified Jesus, and the life of the Christ-follower. These showings took place over a period of eleven hours, after which Julian recovered miraculously and completely. The following day she had a sixteenth and final showing. After this experience, Julian became one of the most celebrated anchoresses of the medieval period. So she was devoted to a solitary life, but “anchored” in the world rather than living behind walls. Like the desert ascetics, anchoresses led lives of austerity, but they lived in cities rather than in the desert. Julian lived in an enclosed cell attached to St. Julian’s church, hence the name…

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Women Rule!

By Gender & Faith, Uncategorized3 Comments

A bestselling Christian writer tells men that God gave dominion to Adam and his sons after him. Ahem. Au contraire, mon frere! That’s true, but it’s only half of the story. Write “women rule” or wear it on a t-shirt, and you risk having people look at you askance or label you a femiNazi. But women do rule. In fact, subduing the earth, managing its fish and animals and plants, is a big part of what woman was born do to. The first purpose we see for woman—we find it in the mind of God, even before we read the story about woman being created as a helper—is that God created humans, both man and woman, to rule the earth. That is the ideal. Consider my source: Genesis 1:26–27: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish…

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Quoting a Classic

By Women3 Comments

While we’re on the topic of dead authors, here are some of my favorite quotes from John Steinbeck in East Of Eden: She must have had a pelvic arch of a whalebone, for she had big children one after the other. When angered she had a terrible eye which could blanch the skin off a bad child. He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day. “There’s a capacity for appetite,” Samuel said, “that a whole heaven and earth of cake can’t satisfy.” The thoughts came timidly up to the surface like children who do not know whether they will be received. Most children abhor difference. They want to look, talk, dress, and act exactly like all of the others. If the style of dress is an absurdity, it is pain and sorrow to a child not to wear that absurdity. If…

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Dan Brown on Gender

By Gender & Faith, UncategorizedNo Comments

The first time I got acquainted with The Da Vinci Code, it was several years back when my friend, Karen, loaned me her CDs of the book. Tonight I finished reading the print copy. And I have to ask this: Is it just my observation, or does Dan Brown seem fixated on sex? Reading the book reminded me of a joke a youth pastor once told us about a man who went to a therapist. The therapist drew a picture of an elephant and asked the man, “What do you see?” and the reply was, “Sex, sex, sex.” The therapist then drew a circle and asked, “What do you see?” and the reply was “Sex, sex, sex.” Finally, the therapist drew a straight line and asked, “What do you see now?” The reply again was, “Sex, sex, sex.” The therapist said, “I think you are obsessed with sex,” and the…

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Are Women Worth Less Than Men?

By Gender & Faith, Uncategorized2 Comments

Do you sometimes read the Bible and get the idea that God views women as having less worth than men? If so, allow me to share with you an email conversation I had today: Question: As I read some of your blog posts, I notice you are in favor of defining women in a good light from a biblical standpoint. This is an issue I have difficulty with. It seems that sometimes the Bible is slanted toward men being the better sex, (such as the Levitical unleanliness of a female birth lasting longer than a male birth) … but that leaves me wondering why I should be happy to be a woman at all. Answer: When it comes to the Levitical law about girls being unclean for twice as long as boys, I think you may have a fundamental misunderstanding that is damaging to how you view yourself as a…

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Mothers of Mystery

By Gender & Faith, UncategorizedOne Comment

I don’t often mention it over here in the blogosphere, but in my other life I have the distinct pleasure of serving as editor in chief of Dallas Seminary’s quarterly magazine, Kindred Spirit. It is available in print format and in an (expanded) online version. Some relatives came from Washington, D.C., to our house for the holidays, oops, I mean for Christmas, and at one point my nephew asked some good questions about male pronouns for God in the Bible. We never got to finish our discussion. But on the topic of the Bible and gender, I think it’s significant that sprinkled among all the long lists of Zerubbabels and Obeds in Jesus’ genealogy, we do find five women. And not just any women. Fascinating women. In the online issue of KS we’ve featured a video clip of one of our grads, an actress, performing a monologue about the five…

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True Beauty Is in the Eyelid of the Beholder

By Gender & Faith, Uncategorized4 Comments

Right there on the AOL news this morning was a headline flashing for all to see: “How did Jessica, Denise and Others Get So Slim and Fit? See Their Secrets.” Yeah, that story ranked right up there with “Katrina Leaves Dozens Dead.” Ya think? Was it just me or have you also noticed that just maybe we have our priorities screwed up? Want more evidence? Americans spend more than $8 billion annually on cosmetic surgery. But it’s not just this side of the Atlantic where we’re forking over cash. The Scotsman reports that four in ten teenage girls in the UK consider plastic surgery. And how about this? His-and-hers and mother-daughter treatments are the latest plastic-surgery trends. And people are giving such “treatments” as gifts. (What do you write on the card? “You have too many wrinkles, so here’s help!”?) The average cost of a nose job is about $4,000;…

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Rethinking Women’s History

By WomenOne Comment

As I was driving home from taking a class this week, I gave thanks for the opportunity to get an education. My great-grandmother was not so blessed—because she was a woman. When I watch “Sense and Sensibility,” I have to remind myself that not so many years ago women were disallowed from inheriting property. When I voted in the general election last year, I exercised a right that my female ancestors didn’t share (and that women in Iraq are only now beginning to enjoy). When I worked for an insurance company, I was paid on the basis of my performance, not my gender. How easy it is to take such blessings for granted. Not so many decades ago, circumstances were much different. And the changes for the better are thanks, in great part, to the Bible…. On the first day of a secular class I took in “Women and Revolutions,”…

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Something about Mary: Truth or Fiction?

By Gender & Faith, UncategorizedNo Comments

The first time I realized there was “something about Mary,” I was taking a Ph.D. course in “Women of the Renaissance.” I wanted to look at some paintings for a project I was doing, and I did a Google search for paintings of “Mary Magdalene.” Strangely, I kept coming up with scenes that showed Mary Magdalene with her sister, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. Huh? I thought. That was Mary of Bethany. I want Mary Magdalene. It wasn’t long before I discovered that most of the painters of religious works during the Early Modern period thought Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene were one and the same. Not only that, they portrayed her as a public-“sinner”-turned-believer, and the “sinner” part was in quotes, if you know what I mean. So I did some further checking and I discovered that the confusion about Mary started about a millennium earlier than the…

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What Does “Workers at Home” Mean?

By Gender & Faith, UncategorizedOne Comment

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 few biblical passages come to mind… The woman in Proverbs 31 had kids and was selling belts and buying a vineyard from her own income. This was a well-to-do woman, but she was still contributing to the economics of her household. When Paul admonished Titus to encourage older women to teach the younger how to be “workers at home” (Titus 2), he was talking about women in a culture in which, to our best understanding, more than 85 percent of the industry happened in the home. There was no such thing as a factory worker and a stay-at-home mom. Both husband and wife were usually stay-at-home parents;…

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