Women Police Women

Posted by on Thursday, Mar 31, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Ever wondered why girls who were forced into sex trafficking become Madams, inflicting the very same cruelty they endured on others? It’s an interesting question; why do the oppressed turn around and oppress? The answer is layered, but Brazilian scholar Paulo Freires’ work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which was foundational to future works on oppression, sheds some light. “A deeper level of silencing occurs through indoctrination. At this stage, the oppressed actually believe that they are “naturally inferior” to the ruling class. They are taught by oppressors that their inferiority is normal and a fact of life. They do not know that they have a voice. In addition, education and literacy are withheld so as to prevent them from gaining knowledge about themselves and stop them from finding means to communicate their thoughts and feelings.” (Italics mine) Upon reading Freire’s work, I wondered if his findings also could apply to women in conservative faith traditions. Have you ever wondered why women join churches that resist and/or even oppress women? (Many of those women in turn police other women, to ensure the “biblical standard” is upheld.) It seems indoctrination occurs when one class (gender) actually believes that they are inferior. Now I doubt few women and certainly no male pastors would communicate from the pulpit that women are inferior. Today we hear messages like “women and men are of the same essence ‘value’ but differing roles.” This hasn’t always been the traditional view held by the Church. In fact the traditional view states women are inferior to men. For example, in the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas adopted Aristotle’s view that women are defective males—biologically, morally, and intellectually. Hence, he reasoned that only men could fully represent Christ (the perfect human being) in the ministry. (Aristotle taught “the male is by nature superior and the female inferior.”) Unfortunately, when we read most of our church fathers we find they tended to incorporate more of Aristotelian thought than Jesus’s into their view of women. Thankfully the message of inferiority has been softened. Churches rarely teach women are inferior; rather, they teach that’s God’s design (the natural order of things) – equal in essence different in function (roles). But I’m perplexed because when one gender is “by natural order” given the leader roles, the power roles, and the other is not, it sure seems to communicate a message of natural inferiority. You can slice it anyway you want, as my husband said, “Yeah, it’s funny male theologians came to this interpretation and it just happened they are the ones who got the positions of power.” It does have a stink smell to it. Last March I attended a session Religion and Fundamentalism at the...

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Pass On The Botox

Posted by on Monday, Mar 14, 2016 in Blog | 5 comments

I just finished up an eight-week series called Imago Die Women. It’s a bible study designed to take a close look at what God meant when he called women his image bearers. One of the lessons focused on work in the garden. What kind of work did God do and what kind of work did he give for woman and man to do in his likeness? By the way, woman’s work was more than having babies! Work in the garden was meant to reflect who God is – creating, caring and cultivating so that all of God’s creation will flourish. An interesting conversation ensued when I asked, “How can we recognize when work openly violates God’s patterns revealed in Genesis 1& 2?” One woman, who works to get women out of the sex industry, said, “Yes, pimping violates God’s patterns of work in the garden.” Yup, that’s true. Then another woman spoke up, she’s an esthetician, and wonders if her work violates God. She proceeded to say her works includes trying to convince women they aren’t beautiful enough and they need her services to make them “look more beautiful.” The next thing out of her mouth cracked me up. She pointed to the wrinkles between my eyebrows and said, “I noticed you need some work on right there.” I busted out laughing. I love that our studies are raw, open and honest. But the thing is, I like my wrinkles. They say something about my age, my state of life. More importantly they say something about God. About life and decay and death and resurrection. I believe my body communicates God’s story. I don’t want them gone because they speak an important story. Women think I’m crazy when I say things like that. But it’s true. And I wish women would stop letting society define their beauty, their story. Our story in God’s Meta narrative. An acquaintance invited me to a gala hosted at one of the fanciest country clubs in Dallas. Not my kind of thing, but went because I wanted to grow in my friendship with the woman. I’ve never attended something like this so I felt like an outsider observing the women and men in the room. The insecurity and comparison among women was palpable in the room. My heart hurt. Here we where, God’s image bearers, so desperately wanting everyone, anyone, to notice us, think we were beautiful, capable, desirable. We wanted women to envy us and men to lust after us. It was hovering over the event. The group of women at my table took some pictures and one woman immediately stated, she “hated how she looked in iPhone pictures.” The conversation ensued about...

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In 9 Minutes

Posted by on Friday, Sep 25, 2015 in Blog | 2 comments

Asking a preacher to “fit it all in” in 9 minutes is like asking a race horse to trot around the track. We are not made for that. But I did it. A 9 minute talk on gender and the Church. The response was very affirming. Several male pastors asked if we could have some “sit downs” with their staff to discuss this issue further. Several women shared they felt validated. One guy simple wanted to shake my hand and confess, “I’m scared of you.” I blurted out laughing. It was a great night. An affirming night. God is on the move  and we get to be a part of it. Reshaping our view of women (and...

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Squeezing It Into 9 Minutes

Posted by on Thursday, Sep 24, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

Q Commons is a 2- hour event featuring local and global speakers, and empowers learning and collaboration in our communities. Each speaker gets 9 minutes – much like a TED talk – to present their message. Please be in prayer as I speak  on “Gender & the...

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Swinging M-16’s

Posted by on Tuesday, Aug 11, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

My love for Israel goes beyond my love of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, studying there and walking where Jesus walked was out of this world, but my love for Israel also encompasses some shallow reasons as well. Like: They have great food and wine. The people are passionate. Everyone is up on current events in the world (theirs, ours, and others). The women have curly hair and they carry guns. Israel is one of the few countries with a mandatory military service for men and women. At age 18 young men and women must serve in the military for a year. During my study there it was commonplace to see a group young adults walking in the square chatting and giggling like high schoolers while M 16s slung from their shoulders. Israel is a small country with enemies on their borders. They are very aware that those enemies wish Israel didn’t exist. Because the threat is so eminent they live in a constant state of readiness. Everyone. In Genesis 1 & 2 we read where God created two load bearing walls to govern the world: Loadbearing wall #1: God and man Loadbearing wall #2: Man and woman In Genesis 3 Satan takes one big blow and wipes out both load bearing walls at once. And he has warred to keep those walls from being rebuilt ever since. I think it’s why we see such depravity against our Holy Creator and such enmity between man and woman. We are at war. But I don’t think we know that. Or at least we don’t live like we know it because if we did both men and women would be carrying M 16s on their shoulders (metaphorically speaking.) 1 Peter 5:8 warns, Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Instead of being alert, we live like sluggards that do not plow in Autumn (Proverbs 20:4 I’ve been reading up on the history of women’s roles in America. What I concluded is when we, as a nation, realize we are at war, we loosen the roles because we need all hands on deck. We can’t afford to have one gender sidelined. For example, in early colonialism life was extremely hard (disease, Indians, crop failure, harsh winters, and then the Revolutionary War!) During this battle, roles were loosened (until we won against the Brits – then they tightened again.) During the “battle” it wasn’t abnormal to have a woman act as “deputy husbands.” They would shoulder the male duties such as planting corn and managing the external affairs of the family. Women ran taverns and saw mills. They...

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