Powerful Men Using Power…

Posted by on Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I’ve ended up doing things I never imagined. Like living in Dallas. Being a mother. Becoming a Christian. Or a writer and preacher. I surely never thought I’d be standing before a group of powerful men encouraging them to use their power to empower those without power. But that’s what occurred on December 3rd. I’m mindful of how so many of us want to lead like James and John. To simply exchange power for power, but Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) In Matthew 20 there’s a story of their mom jockeying for position for her sons. She asked Jesus, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”(Matthews 20:21) Mama and her boys were expecting a switcheroo, a “divine reversal where God obliterated the mighty and powerful [so] the lowly could achieve the positions of honor and privilege to which they previously had no access.” Their vision of Jesus’ kingdom was one of the same as it already was but with one minor change – now they are the ones with status, power, and prestige. However Jesus didn’t come to reorganize; rather he came to make all things new. Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world, (John 18:36) meaning it’s not going to operate like you think it is. It isn’t a society of scarcity where one’s gain is another person’s loss, where one moves ahead and the other moves back in the line. In the world’s view, James and John were “back of the line” people, no bodies from nowhere. Except in Jesus’ kingdom society they were his inner circle, they walked with God in the flesh, and they are going to be commissioned with carrying forth Jesus’ redemptive mission for the world – kind of a big deal. But instead of seeing this incredible privilege, high position, and unlimited power, they focused on two seats. They set their eyes on the smaller things; the things the world said brought status, power, and position. I resemble them more than I’d like to admit. I too forgot that I am an image bearer, and in my own shade of color I am God’s redemptive agent in this world. This is what Peter means when he says of you and me, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Later on in the story the disciples...

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We’re Complicit In Sexually Objectifying Her

Posted by on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

At one point or another, every woman must deal with the fact that her body is a problem. Isn’t that what we learn from the #METOO movement? Women face sexual objectification, assault, and rape in alarming numbers. Last year there was an outrage for a brief moment. There was hope that change was in the air. Finally, women’s voices heard and bodies appropriately honored. It wasn’t long-lived. The November 8, 2016 vote minimized us, silenced us, – or so it seemed. And as a woman of faith, the deafening silence by my male leaders left me feeling betrayed and disturbed. It’s been a year since Trump was elected, and once again I have a spark of hope. I contribute the outcry to be directly related to last year’s tape and election. Outraged women were silenced but even still the smoldering stayed. Last year‘s silence made way for this year’s cry of “ENOUGH!” I believe that’s what we’re observing with men like Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and as I write – Roy Moore. But even with the loud outcry of “enough” I’m bothered by the silence or worse yet, support reported by my brothers of faith. I’ve been noodling on why they support men who objectify women. I choose to think the best and forgo the idea that perhaps they don’t think what’s being done to women as a very big deal. You know, the “boys will be boys” attitude. Rather I’m wondering if it’s because they truly believe the church doesn’t contribute to the sexual exploitation of women. They don’t have a dog in this fight because they protect women rather than sexual objectify them.” It’s time to rethink that! We, the Church, also teach that her body equals sex. We hosted a salon on body image and had women write on sticky notes the messages they received about their bodies from their mom, culture and the church. As we read them out loud you could feel the toxicity. What caught my attention, which I’m sure it’s due to the climate right now, was how the church is also complicit in sexualizing the female body. We don’t do it the same way as our culture, but it’s still very real and present. Here’s a sample of the women’s sticky notes.   Take note how every message relates to her body and men. Sex, purity, and marriage. Her body is a problem for her and for him! Just like those men being accused, we too see her body as sex. Whether she’s a temptress or frigid, she’s defined by her body. And although I’ve never had a man of faith sexually assault my body (there are women who...

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She’s Putting Us On Notice

Posted by on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Next April I’ll be in Israel teaching on women in the Bible.  One of the women I’m teaching on is Tamar (2 Samuel 13). Tamar was raped by her half-brother Ammon. She pleaded with him not to do it; she knew it would be her demise. In fact, she even suggested he go to their dad, King David, and ask for her hand in marriage. What does that say about her desperation? How many women ask their rapist to marry them? Immediately after he raped her he felt contempt towards her and instructed her to leave his room asap. Can you imagine your rapist looking at you like you violated him? As she left his room she ripped her clothes to let others know what happened to her. Her other brother, upon learning of her rape, instructed her to be silent. Have you ever had someone silence you? Voicelessness is an act of dehumanization. And what did her father do? In her culture, the father was to avenge the dishonor done to the family. As King, David was to obey the law and bring justice. He did nothing. Nothing! It’s like she kept getting violated over and over again. Violated. Discarded. Shamed. Ruined. Silenced. Ignored. Her story is the story of so many women throughout history. And obviously, it’s still our story -in America 1 out of 4 women is sexually assaulted. So when we read the headlines with names like Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and now Roy Moore – as much as it feels like dominos falling – we must remember we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Over the weeks I have sat back and quietly waited. I’ve waited to see if we would brush this under the rug like we did when we elected President Trump. Last November many of us woke to learn that once again we’d been violated, discarded, silenced, and ignored. So I’ve been waiting. Waiting to see if those in power are willing to take a stand. For us, their sisters. There have been a few voices speaking out, like this morning when Russell Moore tweeted, “A church that worships Jesus stands up for vulnerable women and girls. A church that worships power sees them as expendable.” He couldn’t be more right. And what Tamar’s story conveys to God’s people is… Well, I’ll let you connect the dots. If we look at the book of 2nd Samuel we find: First 10 chapters are David’s successes and the rise of Israel. Last 10 chapters are David’s failures and the decline in Israel. In the middle is what some might call a Hebrew chiasm. Don’t freak out. It’s easy to understand....

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What Men Should Know About Catcalling

Posted by on Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

This American Life podcast. It’s about a woman named Eleanor who tries to persuade men not to catcall or accost women in the streets. She ends up having a long, open, and honest conversation with one guy – Zack. As you listen, note this: Zack thinks he’s flattering women by singling them out among their friends. Listen carefully to what he’s saying about his own desires. Human beings long to be wanted, known, chosen. I am not sure why this man expresses that normal human desire in unhealthy ways but… It got me thinking, “What if a woman came up to him and did to him what he does to women?” What would be different? What would be the same? The objectification is the same, but the sense of vulnerability is not. Zach, and I suspect many other men as well, are unaware that we feel vulnerable. Over Christmas break I found myself working out at a gym with only one other person – a guy – a very big guy. As I laid on the floor doing crunches I became extremely aware of my small frame. I felt every short inch of my 5’2″ body, and it crossed my mind that this guy could harm me in seconds. I’m not a fearful person nor do I consider myself a wimp; however, there’s a reality to being female. I count on men being good. Zach doesn’t get that. I’m not sure most men do. Or can. But maybe it’s time we helped them. Podcasts like this help. Zach was surprised to learn that women don’t like men catcalling at them. “They chuckle,” he responded. Eleanor explained it wasn’t a chuckle of approval but rather a means of getting out of an uncomfortable situation safely. How many of us have chuckled at sexual statements or inappropriate touches in hopes of “getting out of an uncomfortable situation?” How many men have misread that chuckle? I love Zach’s willingness to engage Eleanor in this conversation. It seems he truly never wanted to offend women or make us feel unsafe. He was shocked and sincere. What would happen if we had more Eleanor and Zach conversations in the home and workplace? I would love to hear your thoughts. As we share, let’s not degrade men. Rather, let’s discuss what’s informative and how we can help others rethink what they have been doing. (Listen to Act One -13 ½...

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Church, Election & Rooftop Party

Posted by on Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016 in Blog, Gender | 0 comments

This year’s presidential election has vividly demonstrated a divide, but it is not the political one I am talking about. I’m referring to the divide within the conservative faith community. It was evident on social media and proven by the Pew Research Center. “The 2016 presidential exit polling reveals little change in the political alignments of U.S. religious groups. Those who supported Republican candidates in recent elections, such as white born-again or evangelical Christians and white Catholics, strongly supported Donald Trump as well. Groups that traditionally backed Democratic candidates, including religious “nones,” Hispanic Catholics and Jews, were firmly in Hillary Clinton’s corner.” I recently blogged about how many, women of faith, are deeply disappointed and even disturbed by the radio silence of our male leadership pertaining to the misogynistic and sexual objectification of women during the election season. For me, the disappointment wasn’t about whether or not the winner was red or blue; it was about how we winked at the Imago Dei woman – she was once again marginalized by the Church. I want my brothers to care as much about my whole body as they do about my womb. After the election, my husband and I hosted a party for both red and blue –democrats, republicans, and independents welcomed. It was a “Thank God It’s Over, Politics Free” party. About a 100 of us gathered at a rooftop bar. We listened to great music and heard a spoken word piece premiered which was then followed up by singing “God Bless America”. We devoured good food, drank wine, and chit chatted. The only thing not at the party was politics. It was a politics-free party. In fact, if someone overheard you talking politics, you had to buy them a drink. “God Bless America” at Thank God It’s Over from The Marcella Project on Vimeo. It’s been encouraging to reflect upon that evening. I knew almost everyone there. I also had a general idea who each person voted for – almost. There were Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. There were even visitors from other countries who had no “dog in the fight” at all. Regardless of how each voted, it was inspiring that every one of them has devoted their lives to helping the marginalized. By the bar was a businessman who helps plants churches in predominately Islamic countries. Over on the side of the room was a retired CFO that gives her time to helping non-profits focus on ennobling women. With her was a businesswoman who started companies in Afghanistan to help rebuild that country. There were mentors of underprivileged kids, authors who write about hope, counselors who heal, policy wonks who better others’ lives,...

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