Saturday, March 20, 2010

Something to ponder . . .

" . . . friendship between the sexes may take us not out of ourselves but beyond ourselves and make us more whole, balanced, and sane that we could otherwise be."
—Gilbert Meilaender

Thursday, March 18, 2010

God's A-Team: Male & Female

What do 10 inches of rain, a sump pump failure, and a hurt toe have to do with the current discussion (on this blog and others) of the hazards of male/female relationships among Christians? Plenty, I’d say.

Last Sunday, when torrential rains were drenching Boxford, the sump pump in our basement malfunctioned. Water began seeping in at an alarming rate. Buckets proved useless. So Frank, a neighbor, and I began frantically moving furniture and boxes out of harm’s way.

A moment of klutziness on my part left me with a hurting toe. Nothing serious or life threatening. Should be fine in a day or so. But in the meantime it hurts, wakes me up at night, affects how I walk, and silently but relentlessly demands my attention all day.

The topic of male/female relationships in the church can remain at the level of sexual temptation, professional conduct, our fallen humanity, hurt feelings, and precautions (there are precautions) we should take to keep our relationships on the up and up. All of these issues are serious and important. But there are deeper questions we need to be asking.

The church isn’t the same as the workplace. We are called to a significantly higher standard. We are a body. Our goal isn’t simply to figure out ways to co-exist safely and peacefully. We are to strive for the oneness a physical body experiences when every member does its part. As Christians we are necessary to one another. My toe keeps reminding me of that.

God’s design for the world started with a male/female team that has his blessing (Genesis 1:27-28). His image bearers are male and female. It can be said that the history of men and women working together is longer than men working with men and women working with women. We lost that when we fell. And the standard to recover what God intended in the beginning will not be found by looking around at progress made in the corporate world or elsewhere. It comes, at least in part, from an anatomy lesson.

Jesus desired and fully expected that his followers would achieve a level of oneness unprecedented in human relationships, the kind of oneness a body experiences when every member is healthy and fully functioning. Jesus' brand of oneness is grounded and manifested in a rich selfless love and a mutual and vital ministry to one another that is sure to catch the world’s attention.

Neither Jesus nor Paul ever married. But both men had women in their lives who joined them in ministry and ministered deeply and spiritually to them. With the Spirit’s help, it can be done.

We are the Body of Christ. The question before us is really, How healthy is Jesus’ body if it functions like your or my view of male/female relationships among Christians?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Missing Daughters

"Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbours' garden."
—Hindu saying

So goes the logic that justifies the ongoing gendercide of baby girls in cultures today where sons are held at a premium and daughters do not count. The March 4 issue of The Economist focuses attention on the disappearance of "at least 100m girls" and counting—"aborted, killed, neglected to death."

In countries where sons carry forward the family line and according to tradition care for their aging parents, a family must have sons. Daughters, in contrast, leave their parents at marriage to build another man's house.

To read The Economist articles:
The War on baby girls (Editorial)
Gendercide: The worldwide war on baby girls

If you can't view the articles, Dr. Al Mohler references them in his recent blog post, The Scandal of Gendercide — War on Baby Girls.

My mind goes down many roads when I read again about these appalling losses. Here are three:

First: to the crisis in itself. Christians must take the lead in speaking out. But speaking out is not enough. It is merely an important first step to be followed by action that will counteract these attrocities. Jesus, the Gospel, and Old Testament prophets call us to this.

Thank you Dr. Mohler for your post!

Second: to mothers and would-be mothers in these cultures. A conversation with a Tanzanian friend of mine underscored the danger posed to women who can't conceive or bring a child to term and to women who only give birth to daughterrs. In these cultures, she is at risk of being divorced and thrown out or of her husband adding another wife who can "deliver." Family pressure is intense and can lead to brutal results. So the misery multiplies.

Third, to the Gospel's good news for women. The ancient biblical culture put the same preeminance on sons over daughters. Note, for example, the unbearable suffering women in the Bible experience when they are barren. Understanding the ancient patriarchal value system puts Jesus' regard for daughters in sharp relief. One of my favorite Jesus stories involves how he openly valued two daughters—the dying 12 year old daughter of Jairus and the shunned "daughter" who suffered 12 years with a bleeding disorder. Both women get priority treatment from Jesus. You can read that post in the WF archives: God is Good for Women.

There's more to say on the subject, and surely more that we can do. I for one am glad for another opportunity to put this message forward.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Synergy2010 Audios Available!

Some are saying Synergy2010 was our best conference ever! You can download or order plenary & workshop audios here.

Plenary Sessions:
  • Conflict in the Story - Carolyn Custis James
  • Leadership Fragranced by Fire- Michelle Loyd-Paige
  • Angry Conversations with God - Susan Isaacs
  • Mutual Motherly Ministries - Scot McKnight
  • Fiery Spirit - Judy Douglass
  • The Shaping of a Leader's Soul - Carolyn Custis James

    Questions? contact

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    The Devil's Gateway

    ". . . you are the devil's gateway. . . you are she who persuaded him, whom the devil did not dare attack. . . . Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on your sex, lives on in this age; the guilt, necessarily, lives on too."

    The view of woman as "temptress" has early roots and is alive and well today both in the wider culture (see links below) and sadly also in Christian circles.

    I was a speaker at a gathering of pastors who were interested in doing a better job of utilizing women's gifts. The first question asked during the open forum afterwards stunned me, "If we work with women, won't we be tempted?"

    What followed was not a candid discussion about the heart and where is the real problem when there is a moral failure (as in as what goes on behind closed doors when a man is alone with his computer), but a laundry list of precautions to safeguard oneself from moral hazards when working or dealing with women.

    Women find this kind of thinking offensive, and rightly so. This low view of women conflicts with the Bible's high redemptive view of us. What strikes me as I think about this, however, is that this negative view of women also reflects badly on men as testosterone driven, morally weak, and unable to control themselves. This is not to say that our sex-saturated culture doesn't create serious problems for everyone. But it is one thing to think wisely about modesty and conduct and quite another to view women as seductresses.

    So here are my questions:

    First, are men also outraged by the temptress view of women—because of what it implies about them? And second, is it possible to hold a low view of women without degrading men?

    Your thoughts?