We were made by God

A good place to start the discussion about men and women in the church is Genesis 1. Let’s look at a few verses:

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:26–30)

Don’t let the designation “man” confuse the question here; in these verses, the term refers to humankind. Verse 27 makes that clear: “God created man… male and female he created them.” I have heard people claim that the male alone was made in God’s image. This verse does not support that; Genesis 5 specifically says that the term “man” refers to male and female:

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.’”” (Genesis 5:1–2)

What I do see here is that God’s intention was that there be two genders. This post isn’t designed to be about LGBTQ issues; if you feel you need to bring them up, that’s fine, but I won’t engage in that discussion at this time. Our being male or female is not an accident of evolution nor a coincidence of birth. It’s an essential part of God’s design.

When I was born, God put certain traits in me. I was born with abilities for some things and weaknesses in other areas. (Which explains why some girls were chosen before I was during elementary P.E. class)

I was also born male. I’m one of three children. Two girls and a boy. I don’t think it’s accident, nor chance that they are who they are and I am who I am.

I was talented academically. I wanted to be good at sports, but instead I was good at learning. I’m a natural ham. I can be shy in one-on-one conversations (and despise using the phone!), but I’m more than comfortable being the one in the spotlight. Hand me a telephone to call a stranger, and I freeze up. Hand me a microphone in front of ten thousand people, and I’m more than ready to speak.

These things are part of me. I see those talents as being something I was born with. They help in some ways and hinder in others. My gender is equally a part of me. God made me a certain way, and he looks at that as he presents ministry opportunities to me.

For me, that’s where the conversation begins. Not ends. But begins.

A Prayer For Friday (September 13, 2019)

Sovereign Lord,

You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You laugh at the boasting of the powerful and scorn the power of the nations of this world. The rich are destitute in Your eyes, and the mighty seem powerless. Countries rise and fall, but Your Kingdom endures forever.

Grant us Your perspective, O Lord. While others look to countries and leaders for assurance, may our faith ever rest in the Lord of hosts. While those around us claim allegiance to this land or that, may we boast of our citizenship in the nation that transcends all borders and political boundaries.

We pray for the leaders of this world, Father. Bless the Donald Trumps and the Vladimir Putins, the Xi Jinpings and the Angela Merkels. We pray for all leaders of all nations of the earth. May they lead this world to peace and bring justice to everyone. May we have freedom to preach the gospel. May Your shalom reach to all people everywhere.

Grant us boldness, God, to be Your people.

Amen

Links To Go (September 13, 2019)

Can a religious school fire a gay teacher? It’s complicated.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 barring federal contractors who do over $10,000 of business with the government in one year from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion sex or national origin. In 2002, President George W. Bush issued an executive order that added a religious exemption to the measure, using language lifted from Title VII. In 2014, President Barack Obama added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in Johnson’s original order, affording specific protections to LGBTQ workers, but Obama left intact Bush’s protections for religious organizations.


Sorry, but Politico’s long exposé on Jerry Falwell Jr. lacks adequate named sources to be taken seriously

That’s a lot of sources, yes. But they’d have much more credibility if they had names attached to them. On-the-record sources with names attached have more skin in the game than those granted carte blanche to say whatever they want without their names attached. That’s basic Journalism 101 reality.

Falwell Jr., Liberty University share GetReligion’s post on Politico story — but did they actually read it?

As with many red-hot stories mixing politics and religion in the Trump era, there’s a lot of noise — some of it helpful, some of it not — on both sides of the Falwell story. My advice remains the same: Rely most heavily on on-the-record sources, documents and facts. Be careful about accepting as the gospel truth undocumented statements and claims, especially from those who decline to be named.

Trump (Accidentally) Insulted a Pastor on Twitter. Here’s What He Said in Response

Now, Carl’s sharing his response to the episode. In a post which you can read here, Carl wrote that “I’m not mad at you, I’m sad for you … Our words overflow from our hearts and can quickly evidence the health or sickness of our souls. Your heart must be in a dangerous place to have such a consistent flow of defamation and disrespect towards so many.”


The First Sexual Revolution: The Triumph of Christian Morality in the Roman Empire

Harper explains that from Paul onward, Christian sexual morality “collapsed all forms of same-sex contact, whether pederastic or companionate, into one category” (99). “Nature” was seen as that which corresponded to social norms. With Christianity, “nature” would be that which corresponded to a gendered morality of sex. Preachers like Chrysostom condemned same-sex behavior, with no concern for whether it was pederasty, the exploitation of slaves, or more durable same-sex partnerships. Under Justinian we see the criminalization of same-sex behavior, though there is little evidence this was carried out with any kind of intrusive spying upon private life.


How highly religious Americans view evolution depends on how they’re asked about it

These findings are in keeping with arguments from scholars of religion that highly religious people may feel conflicted about saying that humans have evolved over time unless they are able to clarify their views about the role of God in these processes.


Wednesday Night Still a Church Night for Most Congregations

Almost 6 in 10 churches have small group adult Bible study classes. Most (53%) also have some type of student ministry or youth group gathering. Around half of pastors (48%) say they have children’s activities. Slightly less (45%) use the night for a prayer meeting. Close to 2 in 5 pastors say they have choir or worship team rehearsals on Wednesday. A third (33%) say their church has a worship service that night, while 8% say they do something else.


Praying Beyond the Prayer Card

I no longer want a list of simplistic prayers supported by isolated Bible verses to inform my petitions to God for my daughter. I need a robust vision of the life God casts in his word, a life that is not defined by radical individualism, personal fulfillment, and self-actualization via Christianity. Instead, I need a vision that is informed by our identity as adopted children of God who are members of the household of faith. Only then will I invite others into that household and faithfully act as an agent of restoration in light of God’s promise to make all things new.


Chef ditches job to become ‘dumpster diver’ – and makes £16,000 in six months

April Smith, 35, says she has saved £3,250 on food bills and has acquired beauty products and household goodies worth another £16,250, by diving into giant supermarket dumpsters and turning other people’s trash into treasure.


Gender discussions? They’re complicated

I’ve long emphasized in discussions about gender in the church that there are more than two positions. Some would say you are egalitarian or complementarian (forgive the technical language). Others say that either you believe in allowing women to participate in worship or you don’t. I don’t think it’s that simple.

I mentioned the idea of a continuum a few years ago, something similar to the Engel’s scale used for evangelism. On his website, John Mark Hicks eloquently describes a three-pronged understanding of interpretive views. I’ll use his three categories in this discussion, so read his article to understand what I mean.

I’d encourage us to look beyond actions and consider attitudes as well. For example, there are some traditionalists who teach that women are incompetent as leaders and gullible as learners; these women need a man to properly guide them, which is why the traditional teaching is correct. Others limit themselves to a strict understanding of passages like 1 Corinthians 11:34; while making no claims of superiority nor inferiority, these people stand on “The Bible says it, so I believe it.” There’s is a gulf of understanding between those two viewpoints. Lumping those outlooks (and other variations) into one category doesn’t really address the situation.

In the same way, some egalitarians basically say that Paul was wrong, that the Bible was written in a male-dominated culture and merely reflects the values of that culture. Other egalitarians see the Bible as teaching a progression toward equal participation and equal value for all Christians, regardless of gender. Again, lumping together all who favor full participation of women fails to grasp the reality of the situation.

I once proposed using more of a quadrant system, with the axises referring to Inferiority-Equality and Silent Participation-Full Participation. Such a system would come closer, yet would still fail to take into consideration views of inspiration, etc.

When writing about Cuba the last few weeks, I emphasized one phrase “It’s complicated.” That’s also very true in discussions about gender. Personally, I find arguments that oversimplify opposing viewpoints to have very little value. Let’s leave the straw men in the barnyard; recognize that those who disagree with you may do so for reasons that you have yet to consider.

I’ll close with a sentence I used several years ago in the first article I linked to in this post:

There is one view that I reject outright: the view that damns others that don’t share their viewpoint.

Links To Go (September 10, 2019)

Things Stay-at-Home Mothers Aren’t Allowed to Talk About

Emerald made me a card this weekend, saying she loves it that I “didn’t want a job.” I have never specifically talked with her about being a stay-at-home mom, but at seven years old she is already understanding a little bit of my heart when it comes to our family. I don’t know if she’ll wind up being the PTO President or a CEO, but if she chooses to stay home with babies, I pray that she will find in it the complete joy that I have. Because this world needs kind and artistic and smart and funny women like her in the kitchens and the laundry rooms and the carpool lines, and there is nothing at all wrong with her giving herself to her family, undivided.


Why the day to day of marriage is radical service to God

Obedience to the call of God to die to yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus is where any act done for the Lord becomes radical—whether it be mission work overseas, in the inner city, or in the suburbs with your spouse and kids in a minivan on the way to the grocery store. The day-to-day self-denial of choosing resurrection life over temporary comforts, dying to self to serve the other, and the year-after-year investment of your life into your spouse’s is a counter-cultural radical stance. With the adventurous heart of Christ in us, those of us who are married can be radically faithful in the everyday life of marriage.


Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

Did Jesus preach the gospel? Yes, he did! He preached the good news of the kingdom of God. But Jesus not only preached the gospel, he also enacted the gospel. He healed diseases, raised the dead, drove out demons, reconciled people, forgave sin, and included the marginalized.


Seven Things We Can Learn from Attractional Churches

  1. Have an intentional strategy to reach people.
  2. Think about the unchurched.
  3. Promote excellence.
  4. Keep moving people in the direction of evangelism.
  5. Demand strong communication.
  6. Apply the gospel.
  7. Maximize the opportunity.

More Than Half of U.S. Adults Trust Law Enforcement to Use Facial Recognition Responsibly

At the same time, the survey finds that this relatively broad acceptance of facial recognition use by law enforcement does not necessarily apply to other entities that might use these technologies. Notably smaller shares of the public say they trust technology companies (36%) or advertisers (18%) to use facial recognition responsibly.


Alex Jones Loses Another Legal Battle In Sandy Hook Defamation Case

Conspiracy theorist and lawsuit magnet Alex Jones lost another legal battle last week when a court struck down an appeal related to a defamation lawsuit against him and his fearmongering website Infowars.


Stop playing sound on your devices on flights and in public!

More people should speak out when they are being assaulted by sound. Reasonable people will turn it down, turn it off, or put on some headphones. Business people doing the wander should be advised to leave the room for their conversations.


Popovich helps build team camaraderie with ‘Pop Quizzes’

That has been one of the challenges that U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich has given his players along the journey to the World Cup knockout rounds. At the beginning of some of the team’s meetings, Popovich has selected a player to answer a non-basketball question, a “Pop Quiz” if you will.


Pit bull pretends to faint to avoid having her nails trimmed

A pit bull has gone viral for her acting chops after she dramatically escaped her owner’s attempt to trim her nails. Footage shared Thursday on Twitter showed the pooch pretending to faint as her owner tries to use a nail clipper on her.