When we view scripture from the 30,000 foot level we see it moving in the direction of a more equal partnership of men and women, defying the convention of the times. The male-female pairings in the book of Luke are one intriguing example of this movement. In today’s post Gail takes readers on a quick trip through Luke pointing out male-female pairs in the narratives, the parables, the miracles, and Jesus’ public teaching. It is an intriguing look at how Jesus elevated the status of women.
Few women in the Bible are more interesting, inspiring and the focus of devotion as Mary, mother of Jesus. With the Advent season upon us, she is receiving even more attention. Tomes of theology and vast collections of art have been created in her honor. When we consider the Christmas story, Mary comes a very close second to Jesus himself as a the leading character — and with good reason. This brave young woman was the human vessel in which the God-made-flesh was conceived. It was from her own strong body that the body of Christ was birthed into the world.
“No one is on the periphery of God’s story”. That’s how the pastor at the church I attended last Sunday started his very well delivered message. And what a great message it was! He went on to explain that no matter who you are, God wants to use you to spread the light of Jesus to […]
Christmas is coming. We are in the season of Advent, a time of waiting. Advent is the story of women. It is the story of infertility, long awaited hopes, unplanned pregnancy, miracles, labor, birth, redemption, and new life. And this story of women is the story of Christianity, of waiting for the Messiah, and waiting for redemption.
The story of advent begins with Elizabeth, a woman who has been unable to conceive throughout her life, and is beyond her child bearing years. Her experience of infertility, and the disappointment of being unable to conceive is uniquely feminine. She lives the story and struggle that only a woman can know. Then God steps into her world.
Sometimes I find it amusing that our churches of today seem to be more anti-women than the Bible is. We doubt women’s ability to preach truth, when the first person to share the gospel – He is risen! – was a woman. We question the idea of women in leadership, when once upon a time […]
They are the verses of Scripture used most frequently to silence women in the church: 1 Timothy 2:11-12. I remember reading them as a 26-year-old when first contemplating my call to ministry. God’s voice had been clear, but those three short sentences were not; “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit her to teach or have authority over a man. She. Must. Be. Silent.”
I’d sat there reading the passage over and over; trying to find something I hadn’t seen before. The black and white lettering seemed so stark, so clear; so… black and white. Why would Paul say such a thing? In my church, Paul’s instructions were taken literally. Women weren’t permitted to speak whenever men were present. They couldn’t lead, teach or even pray. Growing up, those words hadn’t particularly bothered me, but now they smarted like lemon juice in an open cut. No matter how I read them, the conclusion was still the same – I couldn’t follow God’s call. As a pastor today, it’s obvious that my understanding of those few verses has long since changed…
In a recent Christians for Biblical Equality blog post, Kevin Giles showed how people used the Bible to justify slavery in a way that is similar to the justification of gender-based hierarchy. In the 19th century United States, pro-slavery theologians made a comprehensive biblical case for the rightness of slavery. Based on a flat reading of […]
We often get requests for curriculum that supports the egalitarian view of women as full and equal partners in marriage and ministry. So last year we published 6 Great Studies on Women of the Bible (2015), a post that has become one of our most visited resources. Bible studies on the list met four criteria: a focus on […]
It’s just one line from a single verse in the third chapter of Nehemiah, but it fascinates me:
Shallum, son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters (Nehemiah 3:12).
Shallum, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, rebuilt a section of the wall with the help of his daughters. His daughters. Really?
To understand the role of Shallum’s daughters in rebuilding the wall, we first have to understand why the wall was torn down. The Babylonians invaded Judah and captured Jerusalem in 587/586 B.C. The Jews were carried into exile. Seventy years later, the exile ended when King Cyrus began to allow the Jews to return home. But while the returning exiles began to rebuild the temple and restore their homes, the city’s broken wall left Jerusalem vulnerable and undefended. God eventually made a way for Nehemiah to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall with the king’s full permission and support. Upon arrival, Nehemiah quickly got to work surveying the damage, rallying the people, and organizing the work. Nehemiah 3 lists the names of all those who rebuilt a section of the wall, and right there in the middle of his list Nehemiah included Shallum and his daughters.
I was recently asked to summarize why I support women in church leadership in thirty seconds or less. This was my response… Deborah leading Israel (Judges 4) Huldah interpreting the law for the nation (2 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 34) Esther saving God’s people from genocide (Book of Esther) Miriam leading worship (Exodus 15) […]
When I first heard the story of Pentecost it was painted to me as the Holy Spirit empowering the 12 apostles to step up and speak out. They had been hiding in an upper room, but then the Holy Spirit came. Those 12 men went out and began speaking in other tongues, preaching and prophesying the truth of Jesus.
It’s a great story, and an exciting start for the church. But it didn’t ignite any passion. There was never any place for me within that story. Sure, God can empower anyone to serve… but there was a subtext there. The subtext said God can work through anyone [who’s a man]. Anyone [who is young and able]. Anyone [who fits the right image].
It was the birth of the church I was supposed to be a part of – but it left me on the outside. Anyone became not me. And I know for a lot of people that anyone has become not you, too.
The real story of Pentecost is something different entirely.
Impromptu nativity reenactments are one of my favorite Christmas traditions.
In our home, someone reads from the Gospel account and we bring out a big pile of potential costumes for everyone to chose a part and act it out on the spot. It’s a beautiful mess.
Anika, my 5 year old, wants to be Mary this year. Her personality doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotypical Mary persona, so putting her in pastels and having her sit quietly as a “humble servant of the Lord” feels like a stretch. Anika is bold, mischievous, clever, wild and adventuresome. Not your typical mild and meek mother of Jesus depicted in nativity figurines and Christmas art. Yet I wonder if she resembles some of the characteristics of the real Mary more than tradition would have us believe.
Recently, I heard a sermon preached almost entirely on Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew. I was visiting a church I attended in my youth, a place where I learned a lot of what I’ve needed to unlearn about theology of women. I was delighted to see that the pastor immediately picked out the women in the narrative, a little disappointed to realize that he did so only to point out that they were all foreigners, with the exception of Mary. But this got me thinking in another direction, as sermons so often do. I began to think through these five women, to question what else they might have in common.
Kate Wallace at BIOLA Chapel Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking in BIOLA University’s student chapel. I was asked to come set the stage for their week of “Gender, Faith, and Culture”. It was such an honor to be there and share what God had put on my heart. It is hard […]
I have a granddaughter who loves to be read to. When I start reading she pays close attention, but sometimes when we get to the middle she abruptly closes the book, because she already knows how the story ends.
I think we often do the same thing when it comes to understanding what it means to be made in the image of God (Imago Dei) and the implications for gender equality. That is, our understanding has been based primarily on the beginning of the story. In the first pages of the Bible there is true equality between the first man and the first woman. Both Adam and Eve are image bearers who equally reflect their Creator, both are under the authority of their Creator alone, and both are given the mandate to fill the earth and have dominion over it. End of story. Or not?