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The Opera del Duomo di Orvieto (Orvieto Cathedral) in Orvieto, Italy, celebrates physicality, especially the human body, a distinctive mark of Christianity. The incarnation of Jesus Christ, the very act of God becoming flesh, celebrates the physical world that God created and pronounced “good” and “very good.”

Blog Posts About Life In The Body

Was Abigail Right to Go Behind Nabal’s Back?

By Arts, Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Marriage, WomenOne 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 both…

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

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, WomenNo 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 rods,…

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Why Churches Should NOT Drop Online Services

By Justice, Life In The Body, Uncategorized6 Comments

So, Tish Harrison Warren has a regular column now in the New York Times. And I subscribed, because I generally like her work. Plus, I love that the Times has a regular columnist who shamelessly adheres to the Apostle’s Creed. But this week, I had serious issues with her words. The title says it all: Why Churches Should Drop Their Online Services.  That felt super ableist to me. And the article itself didn’t get any better. Before I go further, let me back up and remind my readers that an entire section of my web site is devoted to life in the body. I’m all about embodied living. The five senses. In-person gatherings and long conversations over food. True face time over FaceBook FaceTime. So given the choice, I usually opt for real embodied presence vs. Zoom. And yet, I still had serious issues with the piece—so much so that after reading, I wondered, “Am…

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9-11 Twenty Years Later

By Life In The Body, UncategorizedNo Comments

 Today I have a guest columnist—my friend Ryan Ho, who was there…. Is there a parade today? I looked out the window with a bit of confusion as paper fluttered down from the sky. Working on the twentieth floor of an office building in downtown New York City, I didn’t often see objects fall from above. I stood up from my desk, moved into another room to get a better view. . . and gasped in horror at the gaping, burning hole that I saw in the side of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. So began one of the most consequential days of my life. When the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2021, the world changed, and so did I. Up to that point, I was in no rush to do anything significant or meaningful. I had intended to go into ministry since I was a boy, but after…

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Shepherd Like a Girl

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, WomenOne Comment

Does your nativity set have any female shepherds? Mine doesn’t. And it’s amazing how much I have picked up unconsciously from art….  I didn’t realize that—without anything being said outright—I had internalized the idea that “shepherd” was a “guy” job. So, if I saw a Christmas pageant with girls dressed in bathrobes holding crooks, I told myself the real nativity story lacked girl roles so the directors were taking creative license. But now I know those girls in bathrobes more closely represented reality than did my misinformed imaginations. My understanding about shepherds shifted radically when I traveled with my husband and daughter to Kenya’s Rift Valley. My husband is a U.S.-based missionary serving national leaders there. And while we were in Kenya, his ministry partner, Joseph, a Maasai warrior, introduced us to some of his friends.   The Maasai are pastoral people—shepherds. Like Joseph, they live in individual huts inside bomas—enclosures made…

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On True Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, WomenNo Comments

Beyond Ordinary Women Ministries featured a podcast/webinar in which I talked with host Sharifa Stevens about biblical manhood and womanhood. Lots of teachings floating around on the subject are rooted in stereotype rather than scripture. If something is scriptural, it must be timeless and not bound to a specific culture. Have a listen. Podcast link  

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Little Things Matter: A Story of Suffering, Survival, and Legacy

By Beauty, Life In The Body, WritingNo Comments

When Barry Annino set out to write a book on life after a terminal diagnosis, his wife, Debora, embarked on her own writing journey. Their new memoir chronicles their experience in “suffering, survival and legacy” from their two very different perspectives. In this Q&A, Debora (seen below with one of the girls whose lives she is working to improve) shares insights about keeping the faith during her own recent battle with breast cancer and the steps she’s taking to continue her journey of writing and service through the Little Things Matter Foundation. Debora, you wrote this book after your husband’s diagnosis with a terminal illness. What was your original intention behind it? Writing about suffering was never my original plan. Before Barry was diagnosed with Stage IV liver cancer, I was writing about my journey along El Camino de Santiago, the ancient route of pilgrims and seekers across Northern Spain….

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What Is Church? On the pod…

By Life In The BodyNo Comments

I love traveling internationally with Kate Boyd, podcast host of Happy and Holy. She’s a seminary-trained writer and thinker. Recently, Kate and I had a conversation in which we explored “What is Church?” especially in light of global limitations due to COVID-19. You can find her podcast on your favorite podcast player or search for Happy & Holy in your player of choice.

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COVID-19: A sign of the last days?

By Bioethics, Justice, Life In The BodyOne Comment

The entire world is shut down in various forms. Never since Noah’s flood has the whole globe at one time endured the same catastrophe. So, publishers are seeing a spike in sales of books about the end times. And people are asking: Does COVID-19 signal the end is near?   As it turns out, before all eyes turned to Wuhan, LifeWay Research already had questions in mind about the last days. So, they surveyed 1,000 people from two groups: evangelical pastors and historically Black denominational pastors. Between January 24 and February 11, 2020, Lifeway asked some questions about these pastors’ perceptions. And the results revealed that even before everyone’s least favorite pandemic, a lot of pastors in the USA felt that current events indicate Jesus’s return is imminent. 88 percent saw at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before He returns 70 percent saw the modern…

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Are the “Widows” in 1 Timothy 5 Leaders, Needers, or Both?

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Marriage, WomenNo Comments

One of my students, Corinne Samuelson, has spent the summer investigating what’s happening with “widows” in 1 Timothy 5. At first glance, one might think Paul was simply instructing Timothy about how to handle the many hungry older women in the Ephesian church (1:3). But on closer exploration we see a description of what might look like an office. That’s a challenging question. As Corinne notes, “While Timothy would have surely understood Paul’s instructions about widows in the Ephesian Church, 1 Timothy 5:3–16 leaves today’s readers with many questions.” Each of the questions below (most of which she crafted) are worth considering when making interpretive decisions about this passage: Meaning of “to honor” (τίμα, v. 3) – (“Give proper honor to those widows who are really in need.”) Does “to honor” imply interpersonal respect, financial support, or both? Is this a parallel to granting “double honor” to elders who teach (v. 17)?  Placement of…

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Biblical Womanhood: What Is a Woman?

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, WomenNo Comments

What a woman is. She is an image-bearer. It was the first day of a class I was teaching on the role of women in the home, church, and society. Driving in to the seminary where I teach, I thought through the material I planned to cover, and honestly I feared that some of what I’d prepared to say was too elementary for graduate-level students. Many of them were raised in church and have heard messages all their lives. Did they really need to hear again that Genesis 1:26–27 teaches that both male and female were made in the image of God? Nevertheless, I determined I’d better make sure. So I repeated what I assumed they all knew. And sure enough, a woman present was thrilled when she heard my words! She was made in the image of God? And not only that—she did not have to marry to fully image…

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Biblical Womanhood: Part 2

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Marriage, Women3 Comments

Several weeks ago, I wrote about biblical womanhood. Afterward a theologian posed some good questions for clarification. So I’m using that conversation as a Q/A here to help further explain what it means to be a woman as God designed her. His statements are bold; my explanations follow:  You say of woman that, “She is an image-bearer,” but then argue that because “she” is an image-bearer the female bears that image completely in and of herself. The underlying assumption is that an individual human being, whether male or female, carries the whole divine image.   Woman is indeed an image bearer, completely in and of herself. But that does not mean she expresses the full range of image-bearing. Our humanity is a good parallel example. Are women human? Fully and completely in and of themselves? Absolutely. But do they bear the full range of humanity? No. We need man and woman…

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Abuse: Rise Up, Church!

By Gender & Faith, Justice, Life In The Body, WomenNo Comments

Today I have a guest writer whose story you need to hear:  <<I’m not even sure if the Hebrew is correct. But it doesn’t matter. It means something to me. This is where girls would have scars from cutting themselves in attempts to escape the pain of abuse. But by the grace of God, and by His grace alone, my wrist doesn’t have cuts. It says “Daughter of the King.” There have been a few accounts and testimonies of abuse circling around social media lately, including the Larry Nassar case and sexual assault on campus in my hometown. And I want to help raise awareness for the sake of many victims and survivors of abuse who are being driven out of our churches. My mom worked in the sex industry. I have seen, heard, and experienced just about every type of abuse. That kind of life was my norm. People who know…

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Seminary Online: Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

By Life In The Body, WritingNo Comments

I confess, I’m a slow convert to distance education. But I’m coming around. My reservations have stemmed from my commitment to embodiment. Genesis starts with God’s dignifiying of physicality in the first chapter, and that theme runs clear through the Incarnation to the bodily resurrection. Isn’t our faith unique in its appreciation for physical presence? And if that’s the case, how can any kind of decent education happen without embodiment? How can people possibly learn about our God without engaging five senses in the content? Doesn’t the Eucharist include taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound? As does baptism. How can somebody grow in Christ without the senses? Yet, as I said, I’m coming around…. Of course, I still believe face-to-face is best. After all, the elder John wrote, “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you,…

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