The Trumpy Blues, and How to Cure Them

I awoke this morning to a palpable depression in the energy around me. I didn’t need to interact with anyone to feel it. So many around me were sad, grieving the loss of someone…or something. Things weren’t any better when I went to class this afternoon. Our professor was so depressed he couldn’t teach, and so our class spent twenty-five minutes talking about the election.

As I sat observing and meditating on what I was seeing, I realized that people were literally feeling as though someone had died. Even my family snapped at me when I reminded them that I saw Trump’s victory coming back in August. (Please know that I didn’t care who won, but I know human nature enough to know well in advance who would. More on that another time.)

Continue reading The Trumpy Blues, and How to Cure Them

Can Christians Be Feminists? Part Six of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

When I started this series on Christianity and feminism many months ago, I told you why I do not consider myself a (secular) feminist. I found secular feminism to be philosophically shallow, and said that I thought Christianity offered a more robust basis for gender equality, but that because equality based in God wasn’t equality on our terms, we may not like the implications.

The catalyst for this series was a Christian Ethics class I took last fall as part of my program at Fuller Theological Seminary, and one of the things I’d learned from my exploration of this issue as part of that class is that my disagreement with my classmates and with the authors we read boiled down to how much authority we assigned to the Bible and (consequently) how we interpreted it.

So, in the first post of this series, I walked you through what the Bible is. I told you how the Bible came to be what it is and how that story, coupled with the high authority I assigned to the Bible, led me to interpret the Bible using a biblical narrative hermeneutic, which is just a fancy way of saying that I interpret the Bible as one cohesive story, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22.

Continue reading Can Christians Be Feminists? Part Six of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

Women in Ministry Part Five of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

One of the most controversial issues in the Christian Church over the last half-century has been the issue of women in ministry. I would even say that this issue is more divisive than one’s views on the nature of communion or the role of baptism, because if Jack believes that it’s a sin against God for any woman to hold authority over a man or to pray in church, Jack cannot, in good conscience, attend a church that allows for female worship leaders.

By contrast, if Jack believes in symbolic representation, he is still free to attend and receive communion at a church that believes in transubstantiation. And if neither of those words mean anything to you, then don’t worry about it. It’s my way of saying that the issue of women in ministry is one of the most divisive topics in the Church, so a clear understanding of what the Bible does (and does not) say about it is important if we’re going to have anything close to respectful dialogue.

This post is the much overdue continuation of my series on Christianity and feminism that I started earlier this year, and if you’re just now jumping in, you may want to familiarize yourself with what the Bible is and how I interpret it. Beyond that, what you read is up to you, but if you disagree with anything that I say below, it’s probably because we disagree about how to interpret the Bible (which is a function of how much authority we assign to it).

Continue reading Women in Ministry Part Five of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

From Marriage to Society Part Four of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

In my last post, I explained what God’s vision for the redemption of marriage looks like, and I realize many of you had issues with that. I suspect many of you wanted God to undo the dominant-submissive relationship between husband and wife that was born from the sin of our ancestors. As I made clear in my last post, the biblical story gives us no reason to believe that God intends to do so. Instead, the biblical story makes clear that God intends to redeem the broken relationship between husband and wife  not by eliminating gender roles within marriage, but by calling men to be better husbands, to lead their wives in the way that Christ leads the Church (his bride): earning her trust through acts of sacrificial love.

I also suspect that many of you thought that because of God’s refusal to abolish gender roles within marriage, all of the other gender role baggage came along with that. You may have thought that God’s vision for the redemption of marriage means that a woman’s place is in the home, that a woman can’t be independent if she chooses, that she can’t hold a job or hold leadership positions in society.

Simply put, that’s not true. God’s redemptive vision for marriage does assign roles to the husband and to his wife, yes. But God only says that a husband is to lead his wife and a wife is to entrust herself wholeheartedly to her husband’s leadership. No where in the biblical narrative does God suggest that a husband and wife have distinct roles in politics and society. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Outside of marriage, men and women are to relate to each other no differently than they relate to members of the same sex.

Continue reading From Marriage to Society Part Four of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

“Wives Submit to Your Husbands” Part Three of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

As part of my Christian Ethics class last fall, I had to write a paper on an ethical issue we’d examined during the quarter. Like many of my classmates, I chose the issue of gender roles, and as part of the assignment, I had to interview two of my classmates to better understand their positions through the lens of the Character Ethics grid articulated in Stassen and Gushee’s book, Kingdom Ethics.

What I came to see is that the disagreements I had with my classmates and with authors of some of the books we read for the class stemmed first from our basic conviction about the Bible’s authority, and secondly, from the hermeneutical principle we used to interpret the Bible. So, I took the time last week to write a very long post on what the Bible is and how I interpret it, in which I established that I take a high view of biblical authority.

I also established that I interpret the Bible using what I call a biblical narrative hermeneutic. Simply put, I believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired, true story of God’s redemption of a world that he loves more than we could ever understand. I believe it to be a cohesive story, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, and I interpret every bit of the Bible accordingly.

If you disagree with anything I say below, I’m almost positive that it will be on one of those two points, and I would invite you to read last week’s post.

Continue reading “Wives Submit to Your Husbands” Part Three of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

What Is the Bible, and How Should We Interpret It? Part Two of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to start a new series of blog posts the week before you’re gonna be up to your eyeballs in Sundance films. I’m sorry to leave you hanging for the last three weeks, but now that Sundance is through, the rest of this series should continue at a rate of at least one post per week.

The idea for this series on gender roles in Christianity spawned as part of my Christian Ethics class, in which I was flung head-first into an issue I thought I had pretty well figured out. I began my foray into this issue assuming an egalitarian position (and assuming that the Bible supported my position), but emerged from the trenches as a “limited complementarian.”

It all started with a conversation I had with one of my fellow classmates, who identified himself as a conservative complementarian and a student of John Piper (who is a very conservative complementarian). During our conversation, this student made it clear that he felt that men and women had very distinct roles in marriage, in society, and in the Church. Citing John Piper, this student said that anyone who disagreed with him (i.e., me) was doing “hermeneutical gymnastics” to arrive at their position.

Continue reading What Is the Bible, and How Should We Interpret It? Part Two of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

Why I’m Not a (Secular) Feminist Part One of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism

In late 2014, British actress and the Global Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Emma Watson, delivered a speech as part of the launch of the UN’s He for She campaign—a campaign that, according to Watson, has at its core an attempt to redeem the word feminist. In the many months since Emma delivered the speech, I’ve found myself wondering if I am a feminist. For those of you who know me, you know that the Bible is an important part of my life. It molds and shapes my worldview. So, in the wake of Emma’s speech, I found myself asking whether the ideals espoused by the He for She campaign are something I can embrace, or whether I must reject them.

It would not be until late 2015, over a year after Emma delivered her speech, that I finally found resolve to my questioning, through a final paper I put together as part of my Christian ethics class at Fuller Theological Seminary. In the coming weeks, I will to invite you (for better or worse) into the inner musings of my mind and the thoughts spurred by the process of writing this paper, but for now, I’m going to start by articulating why I am most certainly not a secular feminist.

Continue reading Why I’m Not a (Secular) Feminist Part One of a Six-Part Series on Christianity and Feminism