Ask Dande: What Does the Bible Say About Gender Equality? #bgbg2

This week’s question comes from my Facebook friend, Abram. Abram. has read the Bible thoroughly and sincerely and, like me, has a LOT of questions. I like people who have a lot of questions.

“Why does the Bible not address gender equality?”

Oh, but it does, young Padawan.

Here’s the part where, yet again, I offer a treatise on What the Bible Is Not.  If you are already up-to-date on this material, feel free to skip ahead.

In American Christianity, particularly the Evangelical brand, we have a super unhealthy relationship with the Bible. The technical term is “bibliolatry.” We have made the Bible into an object of worship in and of itself. We have, in many ways, made the Bible into God.

The two are not interchangeable.

  1. The Bible is not a single book. It’s really more of a library of books with writings of many genres and styles. It certainly has a cohesive theme of love, specifically, God’s love for the world he created and the people who live in it. But within its pages you will find a variety of kinds of literature—everything from codes of law (various passages within the Pentateuch, Genesis – Deuteronomy), poetry and hymns (Psalms, Lamentations, Song of Songs, etc.), prophetic writings, history (Kings and Chronicles, Joshua, etc.), moral stories (Ruth, Esther, the synoptic gospels)—to theological treatises (the gospel of John, parts of the epistles, Hebrews), pastoral newsletters (much of the content of the epistles), and apocalyptic writings (the last part of Daniel and the Revelation, among others). This wide variety of literature needs to be considered in context of each genre, audience, social-historical setting, and the intended message of the author. That doesn’t always come out to a valid literal reading.
  2. The Bible is not a record of God’s All-Powerful Text Messages to Earth. When some people use terms like “infallible,” “inerrant,” or “authoritative,” what they really mean is that “you can’t argue with my interpretation of scripture.” I affirm the divine inspiration of the scripture. I’ve experienced divine inspiration myself every time I’ve prepared a sermon or written a blog posting about theological subject matter. Divine inspiration doesn’t mean that God has given me word-for-word dictation about exactly what to say. There are certainly scriptures, especially in the prophetic writings, where the author makes clear “thus says the Lord.” But in most other cases, I believe the divine inspiration is the same thing I’ve experienced—the spark of an idea and the whisper of the Holy Spirit prompting me to use my own intellect, my own unique voice, and my own experiences to communicate divine ideas.
  3. The Bible is not a constitutional document. Only some parts of the Bible are a code of law, but we want to read the whole thing like we can quote chapter and verse, within or without context, and come up with the answer to any situation we face. I don’t find this to be true. If it is, then we are in violation of large parts of it where we are specifically forbidden to do certain things (like eat shrimp cocktails and bacon cheeseburgers) and specifically commanded to do other things (like sacrificing animals or stoning adulterers). It’s not always like the West Virginia State code, where if I want to know what my responsibilities are if I dig up my sidewalk and block the road, I can go to Chapter 17, section 16, sub-sections 2 and 3 to find out that I’m not allowed to block the road with my rubble pile and if I do and fail to remove the obstruction, the state can come remove it and charge me with the expense. When we read the Bible like a constitution, we have a tendency to take scripture out of context and apply it in ways that the original writer never imagined. Especially if the genre of the scripture in question is not legal code.
  4. The Bible is not an Owner’s Manual for Every Life Issue. We get into deep trouble when we try to piece together scripture to address issues that the Bible never imagined, like stem cell research, by trying to create a “biblical ethic” based on a sort of case-law precedent. A good example of this is when I hear people talk a “biblical definition of marriage between one man and one woman.” This comes from taking Genesis 1-2and reading those passages alongside Matthew 19:3-9 (which is really about divorce) and 1 Timothy 3 (which addresses the qualifications for holding the office of bishop and deacon). What is happening in this case is that we’ve already got a moral construct in mind: that monogamous marriage is the moral gold standard, and we’ve cherry picked scriptures, a practice known as proof texting, in order to justify the moral standard. The problem with proof-texting is that it damages the very authority of the Bible we’re trying so hard to protect and maintain.  That’s what happened when the American church used the scripture to condone slavery and then to further condone segregation and Jim Crowe.  In trying to justify our wrong view, damage was done to both the church and to society that still has not been fully repaired. I have a feeling that a hundred years from now, our descendants will be able to come up with several more examples of where the church got it wrong and caused more harm than good.
  5. The Bible is not a science book and it’s also not a history book. Our understanding of science has grown and changed since the dawn of time. Similarly, ancient people had a different idea than we do about how one goes about writing history. When we try to force the Bible to function as the basis for literal science and literal history, we get into all kinds of crazy arguments, like insisting that the world is only 6,000 years old. Then we have to insist, like crazy people, that the Devil obviously put dinosaur bones into the ground to deceive us about the creation accounts in Genesis 1-3. More than anything else, the Bible is a collection of faith stories that explain how people in different times, places, and situations understood who God is, how he relates to human beings, and what he’s trying to accomplish in the world.
  6. The Bible is not monolithic. By that, I mean that if you read the Bible carefully, you will notice that this view of God evolves from Genesis to Revelation It’s an accounting of how people have understood God and how they perceive his relationship to us over a long period of history. God doesn’t change, but the way people understand him and his agency in the world does.The God of the first several books of the Old Testament is vengeful and angry. He needs to be appeased through sacrifices and rituals. He demands that the enemies of his people be completely destroyed. Imagine yourself living in a world where everything that happened, from the weather to attacks by random neighboring tribes to disease seemed utterly random. Looking through that hermeneutical lens, it’s pretty easy to understand how the most ancient monotheists understood God to be angry and vindictive. By the time we get to the prophets, God is much less concerned with what people do towards him than he is about how they are treating one another. The writings of the prophets show a God who is deeply concerned with both personal and corporate righteousness as well as social justice. In the New Testament, the God of the Old Testament puts on skin and walks around on earth, proclaiming that the Kingdom promised in the prophetic writings has come to pass. The Jesus of the gospels becomes co-equal with God in the Christ Hymn of Philippians 2:6-11.

So back to gender equality. Just as with the issue of slavery, the American Evangelical Brand of Christianity™ has taken a variety of scriptures and ideas from all over the Bible (treating it as monolithic) and interpreted those scriptures with some seriously busted hermeneutical lenses. It’s not that the Bible doesn’t address gender equality. It’s that as the church, we’ve done a horrific job of interpreting the Bible.

As Christians, we always have to tie our ethical outcomes back to Jesus. Look at the way Jesus treated women. Women take on a greater role in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) than anywhere else in the entire Bible. The gospels preserve interactions between Jesus and more than a dozen specific women. Women follow Jesus as disciples and financially support his ministry. In every case, Jesus raises up the status of women (think about the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the woman who anointed his feet). Jesus’ treatment of women is scripturally, culturally, and historically unprecedented.

Paul’s writings, which make up much of the remainder of the Christian scripture, also give us a glimpse into how the Bible addresses gender equality. There’s a lot of stuff in the epistles that, taken out of cultural and historical context, seems to be misogynistic. I sincerely do not believe Paul was a misogynist, as he is often portrayed. Paul celebrates women who served alongside of him and mentions them by name: Priscilla, Junia, Phoebe, Claudia, Julia, Nereus’ sister, Rufus’ mother, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Mary, Persis, Eunice, Lois, and Chloe. Would this be true if Paul were really a misogynist who thought women were only meant to be barefooted, pregnant, and silent?

The epistles, for the most part are addressing specific questions or problems in specific congregations. We cannot seriously take verses meant to instruct women in the First Century to behave in ways that were culturally appropriate as mandates for modern times.  I feel like I need to say that again, only bigger and bolder.

We cannot seriously take verses meant to instruct women in the First Century to behave in ways that were culturally appropriate as mandates for modern times.

This brings me around to my favorite verse of course. If I accomplish nothing else writing this blog, I hope that someone memorizes and takes Gal 3:28 to heart.

 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (NLT).

Galatians 3:28 is Paul’s mission statement. Everything he teaches and preaches is about bringing unity to the body of Christ. Without equality in the church, there can never truly be unity in the church.

I’ve heard the argument made that Paul is talking about “spiritual equality.” We’re all equal in the eyes of God, but he has different roles for us. Of course he has different roles for us. But I reject the idea that those roles are defined by gender. Here’s why:

  • If, as a woman, some gifts of the Spirit are denied to me because of my gender, I am not equal.
  • If, as a woman, I am permitted to teach and preach, but only to other women, I am not equal.
  • If, as a woman, I can sit under the teaching of another woman just because we’re both women, I am not equal.

Either I am equal and the full measure of the Spirit is permitted to me, or I am not equal. Spiritual equality is an empty promise without actual equality.

The Bible addresses gender equality in a radical way that is well ahead of its time. It’s the church that has profoundly failed to properly address gender equality.

If you have a question for a future Ask Dande, contact me!

Franklin Graham, You Could Learn a Lot From My LGBTQ Son #bgbg2

I just read this article about comments Franklin Graham, evangelical icon, made on James Dobson’s radio program about LGBTQ children being the enemy.

Children. He said children. I could just throw up.

It’s time I came out.

The truth is that I probably should have come out long ago. I’ve agonized, prayed, and cried. Now is the time. I’ve soaked the laptop in a river of tears just writing these few sentences.

No, I’m not the one who identifies as LGBTQ. I am, however, coming out, loud and proud, as an ally. Continue reading Franklin Graham, You Could Learn a Lot From My LGBTQ Son #bgbg2

Ask Dande

So, I was thinking it could be fun if we had a little feature. You know how I love questions. I have a million of them, but I figure some of you have some, too. It might be interesting to explore some of your questions. So, if you have question about God, the Bible, Christianity, faith, etc., here’s your chance to ask!!

Use the Contact Dande page to reach me with your questions or anything else your heart desires!  If you’re submitting a question, please use “Ask Dande” as your subject.

I will pick a question each week and post about that topic on Mondays.

Dear Donald Trump #bgbg2

Dear Donald Trump:

That “two Corinthians” thing yesterday at Liberty was a real bummer, huh?

The Interwebs are having a field day with that one. I mean, Bernie Sanders is an agnostic Jew, but I bet he knows it’s “second Corinthians.”

You seem like the kind of guy who doesn’t handle public humiliation very well. Jesus’s people can be a tough crowd. I mean, you should totally come to a church business meeting and watch us turn on each other! Wrestlemania has nothing on us.

Obviously, you did not grow up in church. I would say you couldn’t have even possibly have attended church 10 times in your whole life and still messed up “two Corinthians.” Me, I have a degree in Advanced Sunday School. As a world-renowned bleeding heart liberal, I find myself feeling badly for you. While I admit that it is tempting to make fun of your little biblical gaff and out you for not being quite the bible-worshipping loving Christian you claim to be, I want to help you.

Don’t get me wrong. I think you’re possibly a reprehensible human being and I definitely have no plans to vote for you.  What I’m saying here is that the Jesus I follow would invite you to dinner and help you sort this out.   So that’s what I’m doing. Let’s go to dinner and I’ll give you Introduction to the Bible for Beginners. I guarantee you that you really will think of The Art of the Deal as a deep, deep, deep second to the Bible once you learn more about it. And, if you were to meet the Jesus I know and love, you might decide you want to follow him for real. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Indeed.

Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?

Sincerely,

Sister Mary Dandelion

Ask Dande: Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown? #bgbg2

Occasionally, a friend on Facebook asks me a theological question. Earlier this week, I received this beauty from my friend, Jinny:

I have a question. Someone told me yesterday that you get a jewel in your heavenly crown every time you talk to someone about Jesus. So, even though everyone will have a crown some will be more blinged out than others. Is this biblically accurate? And if so I’m gonna have one sorry looking crown.

Ugh. Where do people come up with this stuff?  Well, let me tell you, they hear someone preach it. It’s called folk theology. It comes from poor exegesis and bad hermeneutics and it spreads faulty doctrine like wildfire.

Let’s look at where the idea of earning a crown does appear in the Bible:

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim 4:6-8, NRSV)

A “crown” in the Greco-Roman world doesn’t necessarily mean a big shiny tiara. It can mean more like a garland or a wreath, kind of like a laurel crown. The writer of 2 Timothy, historically associated with Paul (although most serious scholarship would refute Paul as the author), is using the imagery of running a footrace, so the “crown of righteousness” is more like the laurel wreath than the Crown Jewels of the Empire. In other words, American Evangelical Christianity has not done adequate social-historical exegesis and has come up with a folk doctrine about crowns and jewels that is extraneous to scripture.

This is American individualism at work in a bad way. I can do something more or better than everyone else and earn some stars for my crown. I can do it all by myself and I can do it better than everyone else. You will all know how superior I am because I will have more jewels than you.

The idea of one person having a more blinged out crown than another one is actually contrary to the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is an upside-down, inside-out enterprise when we try to understand it with human logic. Our rules do not apply, or if they do, the Kingdom truth is usually the opposite of what we expect.

In Mat 20:1-16, Jesus tells a parable to illustrate how the reward system works in the Kingdom of God.  The story is about a vineyard owner who goes to the market to hire day laborers. There are some hired in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the last hour of the day. The ones who were hired last are paid the exact same wage as the ones who worked hard in the sun all day long. These guys are mad about it—that’s human nature.

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Mat 25:10-16, NRSV).

See? The economics of the Kingdom are totally upside-down.

I imagine someone is reading this and asking, “Sister Mary Dandelion, what difference does it make if people believe they are earning jewels for their heavenly crown by things they do for the Lord in this life?”

I’m glad you asked.  One of the most important values in the Kingdom of God is unity. Unity requires equality. Equality means that we all are the same in the eyes of God. We can’t truly have unity as the Kingdom of God on Earth if we’re secretly comparing and wondering who has more stars in her crown. The very idea of one person having the most blinged out crown in Heaven goes against key Kingdom values.  If some people have more bling than others, there’s a hierarchy. It’s just the natural result. We can’t have a hierarchy because it violates the core equality laid out in Gal 3:27-30. We are all heirs, co-equal with Christ. We are all children, equal in adoption.

There’s another aspect at work here—maybe even more crucial than the idea of unity and equality. Being “in” the Kingdom is based on our sincere belief that Jesus is who he says he is and that he has truly ushered in the Kingdom of God, even while we’re living in the tension of the “now and not yet.” If the King is who he says he is and the Kingdom is NOW, then our motivation to do good is because we believe that we are living as Kingdom citizens in the present age. If the Kingdom is some far-off dispensation that has not arrived this side of eternity, then we work because we are trying to earn brownie points. We compete to see who gets more jewelry. We turn the work of the Church into a contest.  Where there is a contest, there is a winner and a loser. Winning and losing is not a Kingdom value.

Think about the recent situation with the Miss Universe pageant, where the runner up was crowned by mistake and then the crown was taken and given to another person. Were Kingdom values on display in that moment when the crown was taken and given to the “rightful winner?”  If your answer is no, then you’re on the right mental path.

So, to answer the question, no. I don’t think we earn extra jewels for our “crown” by working for the Lord. As much as I LOVE a tiara, I think we should work for the Lord because we believe he is truly the Messiah who has brought the rule of the Kingdom of God into being in this world and in whatever is to come afterward. And, as the prophet Micah said, he has told us what he requires:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, NRSV).

The One Where Dande Visits a Mosque #bgbg2

Since the Paris attacks and the San Bernadino shooting and all of the hate on the Internet, I’ve had a burning desire to DO SOMETHING. The local Islamic Association published a statement condemning the Paris attacks that made the rounds on Facebook. I linked back to their Facebook page where a horrible little troll of a person posted an extremely hate-filled rant. I objected to the comments (which were subsequently taken down by the page administrator). In the follow up, a woman who is the mother of a high school classmate contacted me with her personal cell phone number.  We had a lovely chat. She invited me, along with women in the local Interfaith group, to attend a prayer service on New Years’ Day. So, on Friday, I went to the mosque. Continue reading The One Where Dande Visits a Mosque #bgbg2

When the View From Here Sucks #bgbg2

As you may or may not realize if you’re not one of my 22 faithful readers, I have a chronic illness that keeps me close to home much of the time.  Social media is my window on the world.

Sometimes, the view from my window sucks. This is one of those times.

It’s funny, because I meticulously curate my personal Facebook account.  There are rules.  If you are continually filling up my window with negativity, you don’t get to be in my window.  We can stay friends in 3D Life, but you don’t get to distort the view on social media.  Boundaries—they are part of adulting.

Some terrorists who happened to be Islamic perpetrated an attack in Paris.  I’m surprised by the people I thought I knew who have jumped the proverbial couch over this.  People who are expressing fear and painting the world with broad strokes of generalization.  People who say, “We don’t want those people here,” and people who support politicians who feel the same way.

Honestly, I’m less afraid of “them” and more afraid of “us” right now.

Stop for a minute and think about what it is that the terrorists who perpetrated the Paris attacks want from us.  What reaction are they trying to stir?  They want us to be afraid because fear leads to isolation and isolation leads to hate.

The Islamic terrorists who attacked Paris want us to hate all Muslims. Continue reading When the View From Here Sucks #bgbg2

The Ethics of Christian Blogging #bgbg2

I’ve spent this whole weekend worrying about how to handle this. I wonder if I were male if I would be so hesitant about calling out another blogger.

Here’s what happened. Saturday evening, I saw a post getting shared on Facebook. In the post, a liberal Christian pastor and blogger that I admire made an accusation against a conservative Christian minister who is a candidate for President of the United States. I’m not going to link the post because I don’t want the ping-backs. Y’all are smart and you’ll go find it if you’re curious. The blogger in question is extremely popular and has a huge following on the Patheos platform. The accusation he made was juicy. I’m a beleaguered liberal Christian in a place where most of other Christians believe that being a Republican is what gets you into Heaven. If the accusation had been true, it would have been like political Christmas for me. I happen to think that this candidate represents everything that is wrong with both Christianity and American politics and I would have taken every opportunity to cash in that kind of political capital.

I listened to the audio clip four times before I commented that I believed the blogger had misquoted the candidate. After I posted my comment, I listened to it again, twice, because I didn’t want to make a wrongful accusation. The blogger responded that he did not feel like he had misquoted. Of all the times I’ve commented, this is the time that he chose to engage me. His legion of fans came to his defense, both on his blog and on his Facebook page. I’ve never had so many notifications from Disqus. Apparently, accurately quoting someone is less important than the spirit of what we think he was saying. He’s a jerk and deserves to be misquoted. Or so I was told, time and again.

This whole situation raises an important question for me (and we know how I love questions). Is it okay as a Christian blogger to take someone’s words out of context if the person being misquoted is generally a reprehensible person? Is it more important to fight what we perceive as “bad” than it is to tell the truth?

When Jesus quotes the commandments in Mark 10:19, one of the ones he explicitly mentions is the commandment against bearing false witness: “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother'” (NRSV, emphasis mine). He doesn’t pick any of the four commandments that have to do with honoring God. He picks the ones that are about how we treat each other—our fellow human beings. Jesus lived in a world much like American Christianity—legalism on every hand. People didn’t have a problem honoring God in Jesus’ time; but, they were total crap at how they treated one another. If that’s not us, I don’t know what is. I’m not talking about society. I’m talking about the church. We could give the Pharisees a run for their money any day of the week—except for the Sabbath—because rules, you know.

Part of what bugs me about this situation is that this is a person who is speaking for and about Jesus Christ. He’s in the spotlight, yet, he puts up this inflammatory blog posting with a click-bait title. The accusation he makes is almost true but not quite. Such a fine line to cross, the width of a hair, the omission of half of a sentence. I admit that a little part of me would give anything to have the kind of following and attention this blogger has. The thing is—I will not sell out my own integrity or the integrity of Jesus for followers and traffic. I’d rather share thoughtful, honest, and genuine content with my 20 faithful subscribers. I’d rather engage with you in a real, transparent way over here in my tiny corner of the world than I would to have thousands of followers and feed them information that isn’t quite true. No political race, regardless of party affiliation or any other factor, is worthy of spreading lies and slander about even the most reproachable fellow believer.

The One About Daleks and the Resurrection

From the archives…

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.  For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thes 4:14-17 NRSV

This afternoon, I got a massage.  Sounds like a real exercise in self-denial for Lent, yes?

Well, guess what.  I’m not working on self-denial for Lent. Many women I know and some men will be able to relate when I say that I’ve got self-denial pretty well mastered.  I am the reigning Queen of Putting Everyone Else’s Needs Above My Own Because I Think I’m Selfish Otherwise.  So instead, for Lent, I’m working on re-establishing diplomatic relations with my body.  See, a long time ago, I got a divorce from my body.  I’m not even sure when it happened, because I remember feeling very much like a floating head as far back as the age of about 8 or 9 years old.  Or like a Dalek last-dalek-Supperfrom Doctor Who: a giant brain running around in a tin can, armed to the teeth, and extremely hostile.  Another aspect of it is that it’s not super pleasant to be engaged with and present in my body right now because it HURTS a LOT and all the time.  I’d rather be in someone else’s body, please, or asleep.  Thanks so much.  Have a lovely day.

I learned to divorce myself from my body in church.  We tell a story in Christianity about how someday, we’re going to go be with Jesus and have shiny angel/spirit bodies that are only good.  But in the meantime, we’re trapped in these bodies that are intrinsically bad because some people ate some fruit they were told not to (about 6,000 years ago, or so I am told) and it’s been a hayride to Hell ever since. 

JesusChristLove072.29473702_stdLet me stop here and ask you, dear reader, a question.  When you imagine how Jesus is right now in Heaven, specifically, what form he is in, how do you see him?  Is he sort of a shimmery mist, like a ghost?  Does he have a body that has a distinct shape, but is sort of like a Jesus-shaped, ethereal light? Or is he solid and meat-based, like you and me?  I ask, not to be a smart aleck, but because your answer to this question is important.

How we imagine we are going to spend the next life has a messy way of influencing how we live the present life.

I used to imagine Jesus as sort of an ethereal, angelic being, until one day back in about November, I had an epiphany while reading J.D. Crossan’sBirth of Christianity.  Crossan talks about how it’s important to remember that the early Christians believed that Jesus had a bodily resurrection.  He didn’t come back as a ghost or a spirit or a ball of light.  He came back as a flesh-and-blood man who allowed them to put their fingers in the holes made by the nails that held him to the cross.  It’s important that Jesus, just as surely as he slipped on human skin when he came into this world, left this world in the same human skin, because that is our ticket to being able to make the same transformation from perishable to non-perishable.

So yes, as I said, I learned to reject my body in church.  I probably sang the words to this song hundreds of times growing up:

Have we any hope within us of a life beyond the grave

In the fair and vernal lands?

Do we know that when our earthly house by death shall be dissolved

We’ve a house not made with hands?[1]

And then I was struck by all of the implications of what Crossan was saying about Jesus having a bodily resurrection.  All this time, I believed I was going to get a shiny, new, spirit body.  I used to go around telling people that when I got my spirit body, it was going to be a doozy—sort of a cross between Raquel Welch and Jennifer Lopez, but with Nichole Kidman’s hair.  What if I was going to have to spend eternity with this body, the one that is obese and has cellulite and wrinkles and arm fat?  Um, mayhaps I ought to start treating it better, for one, and for two, maybe I should practice living in it, since a bodily resurrection means I’m going to spend eternity with it.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that now, when I hear about “crucifying the flesh” and “getting your flesh in proper submission to your spirit,” I kind of cringe a little.  Not because getting your house in order is a bad thing, but because we don’t do a very good job of explaining what we mean.  And we know that my two default choices are either “good example” or “horrible warning.”  Let me be a horrible warning of how easy it is to get those wires all crossed and have people come away with the assumption that this mortal body is worthless and reproachful.  Cause it’s not.  God made it, cellulite, arm fat, and all.

Lord, help me to remember that you never intended for me or anyone else to reject, demonize, or intentionally harm this human body. Help me to remember that you made it, you love it, and that you eternally allied yourself with us meat-based creatures when you put on human skin to live, die, and rise again as one of us.  Help me learn to live in my own skin just like you are living in yours.



[1] William G. Schell and Barney Warren, “We Have a Hope,” 1893.

On Women in Ministry and Who Wore the Pants in the Garden of Eden

{From the Archives}

For whatever reason, I was thinking about an encounter I had a long time ago with a former high school classmate.  Both of us had graduated college and started families.  To my surprise, both of us had answered callings into ministry.  This guy was seriously the LAST guy you’d have expected to ever show up at a church—let alone to have gotten far enough into Christianity to consider becoming a minister.

As I shared with him about my calling, he interrupted and asked if I would be going into women’s ministry.  I told him that I had a heart to do some women’s ministry if the opportunity presented itself, but that my calling was to be a pastor.  He visibly bristledContinue reading On Women in Ministry and Who Wore the Pants in the Garden of Eden

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