Scripture- Egalitarian from the start

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I grew up in a tradition where the idea of women in ministry is still an issue. My husband grew up in a tradition where women have been in ministry for as long as the denomination has existed. When we got together, I let him know I was called to ministry. Not to be the wife of a minister but for me to be in ministry. I took great pains to spell this out for him. I told him of my calling, my experience, my training, and I had scripture to back it all up. After my soliloquy, he smiled and said “OK”. My adrenaline was going, I was ready for a fight. I was ready to verbally assault him with my passion and wit and all I got was “OK”! For him, this conversation is passé. His life story it includes not only his mother as a pastor, but a grandmother and great grandmother, not to mention countless aunties. The conversation is so passé, it bores him. Not because he isn’t supportive of women, but precisely because he knows women should be in leadership in the church, have been in leadership in the church, and, at the end of the day, it was God’s idea from the start.

And so we start at the beginning. This will be difficult for some to hear but Genesis 1 is not the beginning I mean. It is not the earliest text we have. Genesis is the first in the story as put together in the cannon but Judges 5 is arguably the oldest text in scripture. It is in this, the oldest of text that we find our earliest models of leadership. (Judges 4 was actually written after 5 and it appears to offer a retelling of the poem filled out with prose.) And so we begin in one of the oldest stories we have with a story where a woman and a man are in leadership, partnership. It is this egalitarian model that leads the people to victory. It is a model where it is Deborah and Barak are serving together. Each in a distinct role. Each leading from position of strength that impact men and women.

This passage has much to teach beyond the obvious. With it being the earliest text, Deborah was among the earliest leaders. There is no quibbling in the text as to her role. There is no debate if she can emotionally handle this or if she should have authority over the men around her. It is a fact, not a point of argument. She is a judge. She is in authority. For those who would claim that this situation was somehow a less than ideal situation or that a woman should not have been in leadership at this moment of crisis, please note that the text offers no criticism of Deborah or of the reality of a woman in a leadership role.

Here is what I love about this passage. She speaks truly and clearly without emasculating or devaluing Barak. She is so secure in who she is that she doesn’t need to belittle him as he asks for help. I have heard sermons depicting Barak as weak, as an embarrassment to men everywhere for asking the help of a woman. That is not in the text. In fact, Barak clearly respects and values Deborah. He is not threatened by her nor does he infantalize her. The mutual respect is stunning. They are aware of the task at hand, they are aware of how it may be viewed by others and still, they do what is right.

Deborah goes on in Judges 5 with a poetic telling of the defeat of Sisera. She names and credits Jael for the tactical move, the hands on interaction which led to victory. In all too many instances, a woman can rise to positions of leadership only to make it even more difficult for other women around her. Deborah does not do this. Her model of leadership shows not only respect for men but for other capable women around her. She is secure in herself and does not feel threatened when another capable woman is present.

So why do we care if this is one of the earliest accounts in scripture? It is significant that Deborah appears in a leadership role in the Bible’s oldest passage because it demonstrates that those advocating for an egalitarian position are not merely bending to their surrounding culture. They have not caved to the pressure of society. The idea of women in leadership was established in the Bible’s oldest text. It was there from the beginning.

To focus on Deborah as an exemplar of women in leadership is to acknowledge that there was a time when women and men worked together in leadership long before the monarchy was established. It is a Biblical model of who and what we are to be that comes from who and what we have always been. Christians today are not jumping on the latest cultural bandwagon trying to keep up with an increasingly egalitarian culture. Christians are in fact actually reading their Bibles. And it matters.

pardon me, your sexism is showing

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Knocked up?

Usually a phrase reserved for teenagers and unplanned pregnancy but it seems to be the same attitude conveyed by some when they find out their female pastor is pregnant.

Recently, I received this text from a former student of mine who is now a youth pastor. In what should be one of the most exciting joyous times in life, this is on her mind:

“Do you have time to talk? I just talked with my pastor about taking my baby to camps and retreats and stuff and he said as far as he is concerned it is not an option because I won’t be able to do my job.”

As we talked she unfolded the backstory and full conversation. This is a church that officially professes to be open to women in leadership. In fact, they take pride in being progressive and welcoming. So far the church has been supportive of her and the other females on staff. But now with her baby in the picture, it seems the church has been caught off guard and is trying to figure out how to handle it.The following  have been expressed particularly regarding camps and retreats:

  • that the baby will be a distraction for both her and the youth;
  • that she will not have time to be present with youth and children if the baby is anywhere on the camp property (even with a dedicated babysitter for the week);
  • that she won’t be able to sleep in the cabins with the youth and children at camp (despite the fact she has never slept in the same room with the youth in past years at camp);
  • that she should have considered her job before becoming pregnant;
  • that breast pumps were made for weeks away from the baby during the summer;
  • that her husband should stay home from the multi-church youth retreat to take care of the baby (even when the other male youth pastors will have their wives and children at the retreat);
  • and that a baby would make it difficult for boys to relate to her and would turn them away from her leadership.

She was female when they hired her. In fact they celebrated that fact! She hasn’t hidden who she is. AND, if I may say so myself, she is remarkably gifted in pastoral and leadership roles. She has done, and is doing, her job well. She has a plan in place for extra support and is doing a great deal of work ahead of time to ensure no one is inconvenienced during her short maternal leave of absence.

This happens too often for women.

Anyone – and I do mean anyone – who has seen me speak, lecture, or been with me as I’ve led multiple mission trips overseas and camps stateside in the last six years has only seen me accompanied by an entourage of one or more.

I’m a mom. Not only am I a mom but I’m a mom of three children aged 5, 3, and 1!

I’m also a minister, preacher, teacher, and writer.

I always disclose the fact that I’ll need to bring at least one of my children. I say something to the effect of “I’ll have to bring a baby, we need each other and we just can’t be apart for more than a few hours at a time.” Most often, the quick response is that they would be delighted to have me and it’s a bonus to see a real live person modeling ministry and family together.

I know several male pastors and male youth pastors who have taken their babies and children to camp. It is often a highlight for their own family and for all involved. It is an up close and personal time for many youth and young adults to see an intact family seeking to honor God together. I have another former student experiencing exactly this. He is encouraged to bring his wife and new baby around because it is good for his family and for the church.

Yet, I know too many female ministers who have had conversations similar to the one seen in the text message above.

I am neither naive nor unaware of the challenges and difficulties of having a child and serving in ministry. Having a child changes the way you do ministry. I made those changes myself. Now, I am less often the one leading midnight karaoke or flying down the zip line. I may actually take a rest during free time in the afternoon when previously I would have worked on the evening’s program. I may actually have to ask for help and delegate more.

Mostly though, I stopped having to be in control of everything and learned to invite others more frequently into the ministry that I once thought was solely my responsibility, which, by the way, sets them free for greater ministry. I get to be present with my own children as my faith and skills are stretched. More opportunities are opened up for me to sit on a porch holding the baby while having a deep, Holy Spirit filled conversation when I would have been sorting t-shirts or setting up prayer stations. In short, having a baby present forced me to accept a pace that invited conversation and shared the load, helping me to see not only that delegation was possible but that it is closer to the model of being the body of Christ.

I am a better minister and do my job better with my children present than without.

What words of encouragement can we send to this youth pastor – and countless others – who are, have been, or will be in similar circumstances? What do we say to let her know that having a baby is NOT the end of their ministerial career? The initial opposition expressed by some at her church has led to much discussion and many committee meetings.  Some are supportive, some not so much, some are in the middle wanting to hear both sides.  Now they are trying to figure out what it will look like for her to be a minister and mom.

She has heard what I have to say. What do you say?

Faith Feminism: on being a theotokos, insults and football

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It all began when the only bad mark on my annual review was that I was spending too much time with students instead of going to lunch with my colleagues every day. The irony is that I did go to lunch with them once a week. And once a week I sat at a table, politely welcomed with an opening hello before the conversation quickly turned to football. I’m not anti-football. I just can’t talk about it every week for a solid year! This idea of collegiality was not what I expected. I had a rather romantic notion that when one was on a theological faculty with others who are considered both brilliant and godly that at least once in while we would discuss theology, ministry, the Bible…anything that had to do with our fields. I was very naive.

My time with students was much more interesting. Not only were they fascinated by what they were reading, studying, and living, but they wanted community. They wanted to wrestle with hard questions and talk about what it meant to live an abundant life! They were curious about things that did not fit neatly into the curriculum of any particular course but mattered for them as people of faith and ministerial leaders in particular. They pushed me to think and rethink what I held dear. I was sharpened as iron sharpens iron not because they didn’t respect me, rather precisely because they did. In turn I respected them and wanted only to offer the best of what I could. This meant a great deal of work on my part. Not only was I prepping for the actual courses I was teaching, I was constantly looking at theological concepts, church history, and practical theology shaping my own faith. I also had to think through how to share this with others in ways where they may not have the same vocabulary or stamina for really long dry books that seminary students and professors have. These times with students turned to meals, ice cream social, and game nights at my house. We developed a blend of constant theological conversation with a lot of prayer, laughter, food and community was built.

Ultimately, this was part of my undoing. I have been told by faculty members on more than one occasion that students are not who should receive the lion’s share of my attention. It is not politically expedient. It is not going to get me ahead in the traditional sense. I was told I was being too maternal by going to such lengths in investing in my students. I thought I was trying to bring about something bigger than myself.

The faculty’s critique became a compliment to me. Last time I checked, this is exactly what God calls us to do. (And just to be clear, I am not talking about the mistake too of us women make in never being able to take credit for anything. This is wrong and is a post for another day!)

God calls us to be a theotokos. Female and male, we are all called to bear Christ to the world. Mary bore Jesus, literally as an infant, bringing God into the world. Her calling was not any easy one; it was painful and cost her a lot. What she was able to do, however, changed the world! For some of us, we know what childbirth is actually like. For others it is a metaphorical reality. For all, the theotokos or model of bearing God over and over and over again in the world is exactly who we are to be. We are to bear God to those whom no one else sees. We are to bear God to those who wonder if God is real. We go through the pains of carrying truth within us and labor that others may know that God is real, that God loves them, that God demands justice, that God longs for relationship, in short…that God matters in this world.

As a professor and theologian, being labeled as too maternal was intended as an insult. It was intended to tell me that I don’t fit in. It was intended to harm.

On bad days, I want to scream screw you at those who have been so ivory-towered-arrogant. But on good days, I remember that I, too, have been in that ivory tower. And what they intended for insult, God meant for good. I’ll take too maternal any day over football!

Women in Ministry- CYMT style

My friends at CYMT.org have done it again! Great reads on women in ministry and I was lucky enough to be one of the people asked to write. Check out the wisdom from women who have been there, survived, still love Jesus and the church. Each has a unique story, each will leave you thinking and encouraged. Enjoy!

Was a non-descript clone really God’s idea?

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Can you be a Christian and…

This seems to be a dominant conversation in my world. Almost every twenty or thirty-something I know is asking this.

I had a a young woman meet with me last week. Her biggest concern…can she be a feminist and a Christian? As we talked it was more can I be a feminist and part of a church? part of a Christian community? Everything she was reading in the Bible was setting her free. Everything she learned about Jesus brought life to her. She also has a group of friends who equated Christianity with Jesus and they let her know in no uncertain terms that Christianity was just a ruse for male domination. For men being in charge and stating why women were inferior. She didn’t see that in scripture. She doesn’t see that yet she was afraid to ask anyone in church. AFRAID! She was afraid this beautiful, loving, guiding, convicting, embracing voice of Jesus would be taken from her if she dared to ask questions. She both desperately wants to belong, to be in conversations, to grow in faith and is scared to death of finding out that what her feminist non-Christian friends have said might be true. We talked for a long time. We talked of the amazing creativity and openness of Jesus. We then talked of the struggle to be a Christian and…

Navajo

Divorced

Homosexual

Not in ministry (and don’t want to be)

In the military

A stay at home parent

A mom who doesn’t stay at home

Smart

Into science

Everything I listed above is from a similar conversation I have had in the last twelve months with someone about being a Christian and…

Seems for many people there is always someone telling them who is in and who is out. For most of the people with whom I talk, they’d like to be in. In fact they are reading the Bible, seeking Jesus, praying…and then they tell me why they have been excluded. It’s really confusing. They are facing toward Jesus, walking ever closer and yet are told why there is some barrier that they can never overcome unless they become other than what they are.  Paul Hiebert famously wrote of this years ago in a conversation on bounded sets and centered sets. In short, one why of deciding who is in is by a strict boundary, the other way is by who is seeking Christ.

The passage that is most often quoted when we talk about this inability to be Christian and is Galatians 3:28. Pete Rollins says Galatians 3:28 “is not an expression of both/and in which we retain our identity when located in a new community of believers, but rather a neither/nor where we put aside those identities…Some worry that such an idea does violence to our particularity. But far from  trying to pull back from the violence of this verse, perhaps we need to affirm it all the more strongly…” (Church in the Present Tense, p. 23, 25) In all fairness, I think Rollins was actually trying to widen the realm of possibilities for people to become “other” as transformation in Christ is experienced. His fatal flaw on this one point for me was in essentially pathologizing particularities. Just naming that he knows that is a criticism does not make it any less a valid critique.

So back to the young woman with whom I was meeting. Can she be a feminist and a Christian? I say yes. Just as I said yes to every other person with whom I have had this similar conversation. God never intended that we all be clones, looking, sounding and existing in one narrow model of what constitutes a Christian. Rollins names it, it is violence but not a violence to which we are to succumb. It is a violence from which we have been set free.

P.S. I did point her toward Sarah Bessey. What a fun conversation to let her know she is not alone on this journey!

 

 

When do we teach girls to be passive?

I keep wondering how Christian women get to the place of passivity. There are many women who are fully able and fully present in the life of the church. Unfortunately many  appear quietly content. Too often what is really taking place is that they feel they should sit still, watch, observe…passively.  Christian women get taught this in a thousand ways. For some, it is direct teaching from leaders. For others, it is more subtle. It is not being asked. It is having someone speak over you when you do try to answer. It is the lukewarm response to your thoughts… when a man says the same thing five minutes later and it’s received as inspired.

So here’s why this is bugging me lately. I was a speaker at a youth conference two weeks ago. There were vibrant, amazing teenagers there. A couple of them I know quite well as we all attend the same church. During our scheduled time together, there was a good mix of activity and conversation. Neither boys nor girls dominated, they had balance, they were all engaged.

And then free time came. There were games on tables, ping pong, and an basketball court. And it was all I could do to keep from screaming when I saw a group of bright, godly, articulate young women huddled on a picnic table watching the guys play basketball. The guys were totally ignoring them. They were into the game, laughing, running, playing hard and being active with each other. The girls sat. They watched. They weren’t even turned toward one another. Rather, like sunflowers in the summer, they rotated as a crop to where the action was.

I can’t help but think of a related incident when I visited Ghana with a group of US teens a few summers ago. On a free afternoon, we all headed to a field for a game of football (soccer).  In short order, the guys divided, and the game was underway. The American girls sat and watched the boys play football. The Ghanaian girls also gathered on the sidelines of the game. However, they didn’t focus one bit on the boys’ game. They faced each other and played Ampe, Fire on the Mountain, and a host of other games. I played with them. We had a fantastic time. The Ghanaian girls were raised in an Islamic patriarchal society, where they were openly told women should be passive, seen but not heard. And still, these Ghanaian girls asked why our girls from the US were so… passive.

My own girls are not passive. Perhaps society has not yet taught them that they “should” passive. Put a field and a ball in front of them and they run to play with whomever will join. If there’s a tree, it will be climbed. A person crying, they will go offer comfort. Music playing, they will sing and dance. Heck, if there’s no music, they will sing their own song and dance to their own tune. I do not want for them to lose this. I don’t want their voice to be silenced, lost in the cultural mores that say passivity is what is best, what is normal.

I long for something more for them, for all girls and women. Carol Gilligan shed light on this cultural phenomenon when she published In A Different Voice in 1982 (updated 1993). From Gilligan’s work we learned of the all too common phenomenon of a girl losing her voice somewhere in the transition from childhood to adolescence. By adulthood, she is silent. At least publicly and externally. (Granted there are some questions about Gilligan’s methodology… but that’s a conversation for another time.) Our society as a whole has improved some in the last two decades. While we still have a long way to go, our churches seem to be falling even more behind.

After some discussion in the blogosphere last fall that there just aren’t very many women speakers for Christian conferences, Rachel Held Evans published a list of 101 potential female speakers. Shortly after posting this, she was a main stage speaker at Youth Specialties. After she spoke Mark Matlock said “not bad for a girl”. Perhaps Mark meant nothing insidious by this and was just going for a fun segue. But the framework of such a comment is how unexpected it is, or at least has been traditionally, to see a girl speak well in public. It reinforces the old notion of what women have heard a thousand times directly and indirectly. Women should not be speaking in public. They should not be in leadership. They should be passive. Close by and present, certainly at the table but more ornamental than functional.

Too many women and men have bought into that last sentence and we are worse for it. It sucks the very life and soul from people and it’s wrong. I hate that I am even still writing about this except that it is still happening, all the time.

So dear youth pastors, pastors, speakers, teachers and leaders…speak up. Offer a different message. Loudly. Frequently. Boldly. With a tenacity that drowns out the other thousand messages that subtly say to sit down and shut up.

 

Mary didn’t cause a schism, why should we?

We’ve had an autumn I would not wish on anyone so I am a little late to the party but I have to mention Tony Jones who called for a schism in the church regarding women in ministry. (though he later modifies this and I would encourage reading the full encounter). He called for those who are in support of women in ministry to no longer remain in churches, or ministries where women are not welcomed in every role. Needless to say this was a controversial statement. Many people weighed in on both sides. Some cheering saying “it’s about time”! Others, women in particular, stating they had wonderful experiences serving in places where women were valued AND not seen as equal. This is what I used to think.

When I was in seminary our dean was Dr. Tommy Lea.  Prior to coming to seminary, I didn’t even know there was a debate of any sort. In a meeting with him he told me two things. First, as the dean, he would defend me as a student wanting for me to have the best experience possible as he would for any student. Second, as a Christian man, he did not believe I had any right to be there. He had to live in that tension and so too would I.

He said that a man who knew Christ for five minutes held more wisdom than a woman who had known Christ for decades and indeed he held more wisdom even than any woman who attempted greater faith through academic or pastoral means. We ended the conversation amiably. He was always polite and a combination of age and personality placed me in that same category of being polite. This is the tension I have known and lived with for years.

It is a soul destroying tension. It is not a paradox like the now and not yet. It is a daily exercise in self talk both accepting a diminished status and not being able to serve in the ways God has set forth. It does not reflect sound theology nor biblical teaching.

I can’t help what would have happened if those at the time of Christ had made this choice. Historically there have been some creative options to get around Mary having been the mother of Jesus. Two of the more choice heresies are Docetism and Nestorianism. Docetism believed that Jesus only appeared human and had never actually been born rather He was delivered through her with no contribution from her whatsoever. Nestorianism took a slightly different stance but one appalled at the idea of a woman as the Theotokos none-the-less. In this view Mary indeed bore a male child, named him Jesus but he was only human. His divinity came later so that the deity was not corrupted by a woman. Both of these were condemned as heresy.Thank goodness Joseph, the disciples- male and female, Paul, Lydia and countless others realized that a woman not only could bear Christ to the world but she was created for just such a task. Their following of Jesus was not in jeopardy because of the one who bore Him to the world. Mary didn’t cause a schism, precisely because the people who knew who and still chose to follow Jesus didn’t care that a woman was vital to his being. She didn’t cause a schism because she did not have to.

The struggle for some that a female could offer something of significance is nothing new. May the modern day heresies and struggles women in ministry face and those who support women in ministry face become a part of history. May we recognize them for the heresies they are and get on with the charge to bring forth light unto darkness. May unity take place that is inclusive of all, not a self defined elite group.

Unto us a child is born. Thanks be to God!

 

 

Where do you go when she’s pregnant?

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For a long time successful youth ministry could be defined by a group keeping a young girl from being pregnant and a young man from getting someone pregnant. It was crap theology then and still is today. And yet, this conversation of sexuality simply dominates life in general and certainly ministry.

I currently have undergrads in a course learning about the theology and philosophy of youth ministry. We discussed teen pregnancy as one of our case scenarios. At the end of it, they realized that they had little ground on which to stand for ministerial choices they offered. None had thought of the theological implications. None had considered what to do if this happened in their ministry.

According to a new study released by the CDC, teen pregnancy is down by nearly 50% since 1991. Indeed, that is something to celebrate! This still leaves nearly 30 births/1,000 teen girls in the US. I could discuss the politics of this, the reality that this is still among the highest rate for an industrialized country but that’s not the point here.

Teen pregnancy still happens. Repeat pregnancies for teenagers are not uncommon. For many in ministry, prayers are offered up in hopes that this never happens. When it does, at best support and good intentions follow but few resources. At worst, the young woman is labeled and asked with words or actions to not return. She is marked, she is judged and all at a time of life when she most needs others. There are however a handful of amazing ministers who are called to be the hands of feet of Christ to young women whom others have cast away. In case you didn’t know, there are two Christian organizations nationwide who come alongside teen moms. Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Young Lives (YoungLife for teen moms).

There are also numerous small ministries that continue faithfully, year after year with little to no fanfare. I got hang out with one this past week and was blown away by the sheer intensity of ministry taking place each and every day. My dear friend Joyce del Rosario is executive director or New Creation Home ministries. She oversees multiple homes for young women and their children as well as mentoring, leading Bible studies and currently working on a transitions project to help them successfully re-enter the regular world.

We began the day by 8am together though I knew she had already been up e-mailing and taking care of the details of the day. After a meeting with a potential volunteer, we headed to the house. It is surprisingly unsuspecting from the outside. Each girl has a small room for herself and her child or children. A laundry schedule hangs from the wall, each shelf of a pantry is designated for a resident. She worked on a paperwork for a caseworker claiming that a used care valued at $2000 was too large of a gift for one of her residents…that it would need to be returned and she had to go back to public transportation. She then turned her attention to meetings with staff members to cover the details of an upcoming fundraiser, relationship issues in the house, repairs that needed to take place only to be interrupted by a graduate desperate for prayer.

This graduate is considered a success story. She has moved out and is now volunteering in ministry herself. She however is trying to advocate for her son only to find the old feelings of inadequacy and failure creeping in. She knows his life is at stake and that he arrived long before she was ready to care for him. She also knows she has a team of people who will continue to equip her long after she has left. After all, there is a life at stake and they all take this seriously. It is one of the most intense, impromptu times of prayer I have experienced in ministry at any time.

After a few more items of the day, we drive to dinner. Well into the evening calls continue to come; donations for the fundraiser, an issue with a volunteer leader, needs of girls and all of this after Joyce has already put in more than 8 hours. As we say goodbye that night, I realize I will be up early the next morning to take care of my baby. Joyce, however, will awaken to taking care of multiple babies and their mothers. She will teach moms to do their own laundry, to consider nutrition while pregnant and long after for themselves and their children. She will remind them that they are capable even if the dad has long since disappeared. She will make calls to plumbers and caseworkers all the while being ever aware that the work she does  goes largely un-noticed and is for girls most ministries hoped would never exist or would just go away.

What can you do? How can you pray? Is this a ministry you need to begin? Or is this a ministry you can support from a distance financially? Keeping girls from being pregnant is not good youth ministry. Inviting them to follow Christ long before they find themselves in this situation, in the middle of it and long after a baby is born is good ministry. It is great that teen pregnancy is down…but let’s not forget the moms, dads and babies who are with us.

p.s. After posting I heard from my friend Joyce, she wanted to be certain that it was clear that the ministry to young women, their babies and families was a team effort and that she could not do it without an amazing group of people around her. No slights were intended and any errors were my fault. Props to all the heroes out there serving daily with little to no recognition. Yours is a noble cause and the Lord knows all you do and who you are!

Education for girls matters.

What would you give for your children to be educated well? And by your children, let’s start with those under your own roof if you have any. Does this question change when you are thinking about adolescents in your youth group? What about your neighborhood? City? The world? My oldest is just old enough for preschool. In our area preschool is not free. My husband and I had the conversation about whether this was something we could afford or not. Ultimately, we had the luxury of this being a choice and while we are stretched and had to cut back elsewhere, she is able to attend. We even try to offer a little during fundraisers to allow others scholarship money when possible.

This past week we watched Girl Rising, a film about educating girls around the world. More than that, a film about the changes that come when a girl is educated. It took not only the courage of girls but of their fathers, brothers and other men and boys around them. While is about girls, it is also about humanity and the dignity men and women extend to won another. Just a few facts from the film: There is a lower rate of death during childbirth (the #1 cause of death in girls 15-19 is childbirth), girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to become a child bride, a child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive to the age of 5, 80% of all human trafficking victims are girls. For a complete list of statistics and sources check out the Girl Rising Stat sheet. For each year of education a girl receives, her status and her chance of survival as well as her chance to avoid abuse an poverty rises.

My girls will never know a world where education is not an option. Some classrooms may be better than others but still, they will be in a classroom. My responsibility is to know what is being taught, to support efforts toward reading and writing. Even more, my responsibility as a mom seeking to pass on what it means to follow Christ means that I MUST let my daughters know now that education is a privilege. That it is something that is to be used to better the world for themselves and others. That even if others do not agree with their beliefs, that no woman, no girl deserves to be born into a world where she is simply a commodity or sexual object which may be discarded on a whim. Education can break the cycle.

This is a part of our back to school conversation. We are working on what this will look like played out in our family life and our world. What about you? What would you give for all God’s children to be educated well?

Check out Girl Rising donations through 10 X 10 productions. They have partnered with several amazing organizations. If not donating here, do something. Donate, tutor, pray, advocate, educate others on the needs of girls (and boys) in many parts of the world and at home.

 

Are people still talking about egalitarian marriage?

Snapshot 8:5:13 8:03 AM-2

An egalitarian marriage is something I haven’t spent a lot of time pondering. The first time I heard the term “mutual submission” I was 20, sitting on the living room floor of friends I met in seminary who were married. They described their marriage as being intentionally egalitarian. While I had never heard that term before, I didn’t know what the other options were.

I learned those options quickly being female and attending a southern baptist seminary. I dated on guy who seemed great! He did all the right things down to having his roommate leave roses all over my room when we were out playing catch at the ball park at Arlington for our Valentines Day date. What I didn’t realize was that he expected a lot for his early shows of affection. And I don’t mean sex. He expected me to tow the line and even when I disagreed with him to never (and I mean NEVER) allow others (as in ANYONE, not even my own family) to know this. My words and actions needed to align with his. He assured me he would listen to me and take my opinion into account (how magnanimous of him!) but that in the end, it was his job to break the tie and mine to trust that he would do what was right and best in all our decisions. Needless to say, we didn’t last.

I can’t imagine anything apart from equality in marriage. It seems to belittle both sides. It makes women seem second class and men seem insecure. It betrays the perichoresis and pushes for a hierarchical relationship in the godhead, which by the way is considered heresy. I digress.

This past week I was asked if I could recommend a book on marriage. In particular one that discussed an egalitarian marriage. There seem to be dozens on a complementarian marriage. I realized I didn’t know an egalitarian book on marriage. I realized my many conversations on egalitarian issues have all focused on ministry. I also learned that while I haven’t focused on this issue much over the years, many people have.

After a little digging I found one blog that offered an accessible and non-sensationalized look at an egalitarian approach to marriage. I wish I had written. It was the picture of the mom from The Incredibles at the top of the blog that caught my attention. (I so wish I could have her super powers!) It is the content that makes me recommend Egalitarian Marriage: What It Looks Like.

With that in mind, I have added Heirs Together: Applying the Biblical Principle of Mutual Submission in your Marriage by Patricia Gundry to my fall reading list. If you have other suggestions, I am open.