The Brothers Speak Out: Responses to Masculine Christianity

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, 
neither slave nor free, 
nor is there male and female, 
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 
– Galatians 3:28

So my post from Monday was a part of a much bigger movement expressing affirmation for women in the church. Over 150 men responded and I wanted to share of the posts. There are some incredibly profound things written in these posts. I’m going to highlight a paragraph or two from some of my favorites, but check out Rachel Held Evans’ site for a full list of all of the responses. They’re wonderful.

Justin Bowers: Courageous Daughters – A Response to John Piper

I currently lead a ministry in a rural community where physical, sexual, and emotional abuse have run rampant.  Generational sin and systemic oppression have led to a place where one statistic suggests that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been abused.  The effects of this are stifling, and especially to the girls.  There is a pattern of sexual brokenness, desperation for love and affection, and an abundance of students who have stopped dreaming.

And do you know what the answer to these issues is?

It is NOT more masculine leadership.
It is NOT more focus on men being real men.
It is NOT a hard line slam of failing fathers from the pulpit.

The answer is the body of Christ being the fullest extent of the body of Christ it can be… MASCULINE, FEMININE, and IN RELATIONSHIP as the FAMILY of CHRIST.

Ben: Redemption and Strength in Women and Men

I recently learned from Rachel Held Evans that John Piper has stated not too long ago at a pastor’s conference that Christianity has a “masculine feel” to it. As a guy who appreciates the unique insights I have received from my brothers and sisters in Christ from all walks of life, I have to wonder why we would feel the need to assign Christianity with a “masculine” feel. After all, God created humanity as both male and female, and he did so in his own image (Genesis 1:27). So both male and female are made in God’s image. Which leads me to think that perhaps using “Christianity has a masculine feel” language, no matter how many caveats one might want to attach to it, leaves out the feminine half of God’s image-bearers. 
I think God gave Christianity a redemptive feel, a feel of reconciliation, a feel of hopeful expectation through his desire to save wayward, broken people like us. And that transcends categories of “masculine” and “feminine.” Reconciling isn’t a masculine act any more than it is a feminine one. I know as many female reconcilers as I do male ones.

Bo Sanders: “Bananas, Bullies, and the Bible – You Can’t Start in the Middle”

“Like Ray Comfort and his banana, John Piper ends up making the opposite point than he wanted to! Comfort intended to exalt the original design but instead highlighted human cultivation, influence and adaption. Piper desired to show how God has made us but instead showed how we have made God.”

Tim Owens: “In Response to Masculine Christianity – A Letter to My Daughter”

Is Christianity masculine?

You will ask because of so many who act and speak and teach, often quite convincingly, that it is! Audrey, first you must learn before everything else: they are your brothers. Love them as you would everyone else. You may find that it takes all the rugged resolve you have. Even so, you must always love your brothers, no matter how silly or condescending or even oppressive they may be.

Audrey, God has called you to more than this. And as you become the daughter you are called to be you will likely face the lash of criticism. And so every time a statement is made or a caveat given, every time an opportunity is denied or a perspective defended, every time you are left feeling smaller or told that you bear less Image, remember that you have been called to more than this. Your love must be stronger, your faith bolder, and your determination more rugged than their doubt.

These are just a small bit of the wonderful responses that came in. Be sure to check out more.

Cheers,
Eric

I’m Going to #Ext12

All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go… Yesterday I got on a plane and left the desert for the delta! I’m in New Orleans at the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza. If you’re heading down there, let’s meet up. Here’s a list of the workshops I’ll be going to. Hope to see you there!

Friday 8:45 — Redesigning Youth Ministry

Friday 1:30 — Strategic Planning for the Youth Gathering

Saturday 8:45 — Maximizing Teenage Spiritual Experience

Saturday 1:30 — Technology & the Youth Gathering

Sunday 8:45 — Bible Study & the Youth Gathering

So hit me up when you get to New Orleans. I’ll be happy to see some seminary classmates there. It’ll be fun to get together with everyone. See y’all in N’awlins.

Cheers,
Eric

A Response to John Piper’s “Masculine Christianity”

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” – Talmud

There has been a call to return — did we ever really leave? — to a masculine Christianity. This movement, spearheaded by the likes of John Piper and Mark Driscoll, has come to a head in some ways due to some recent comments by Piper. Recently, he wrote:

“God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name of the male…God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head.”

It needs to be pointed out that this is an extremely selective reading of the Biblical narrative. It only listens to half of the narrative. Take, for instance, the creation narrative. Genesis 1:27 says

“So God created humankind in his image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them. 

In the initial act of creating a relationship between God and humanity, God creates both men and women in God’s image. God’s command to “have dominion” over everything goes to both men and women. It’s plural throughout the rest of the chapter.

While Piper repeatedly highlights the rest of the male-centered stories of the Bible, he leaves out the fact that God has been represented as:

  • A mother (Numbers 11:12, Job 38:8, 29, Isaiah 42:14, Isaiah 49:14, Isaiah 46:3, Isaiah 66:12, Hosea 11:4, Acts 17:28)
  • A seamstress (Nehemiah 9:21)
  • A midwife (Psalm 22:9, Psalm 71:6, Isaiah 66:9)
  • A woman working leaven into bread (Luke 13:18-21)
  • A woman seeking a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) — This is in a line of parables where God is depicted as both male and female. There’s that egalitarian thing again.

There are countless images for God in the Bible — both male and female. It’s a case of you get what you look for. We could revise the Talmud quote from the beginning of this post to say “We see the Bible not as it is, but as we are.” In John Piper’s case, he wants God to be a man and he wants a masculine Christianity so he finds those instances in the Bible and reads that Bible through a masculine lens.

If we’re proper students of history, we know that Christianity has been masculine and dominant for far too long. I suggest that it’s actually a time to re-imagine feminine images of God. I think when we do that, we gain a richer theological imagination that helps us move outward into a new realm of possibility.

And that’s something that excites me.

Cheers,
Eric

If you’re interested in a more feminine view of God, I would encourage you to check out the writings of Rosemary Radford RuetherSallie McFagueOctavia ButlerElizabeth Johnson, and Naomi Goldenberg. I think you would be better served reading any of these ladies than Piper or Driscoll.

A Great New Yorker Piece on Bullying & Teen Suicide

In the latest New Yorker there’s a great article about a very sad situation. It’s about a Rutgers freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after being harassed by his roommate and another friend. It’s a tragic story, but I won’t sum it up here. I wanted to share a paragraph from this article that represents some of the best stuff I’ve read to come out of research around adolescent relationships and bullying. Again, the full article can be found here.

A recent paper by two scholars of new media—Alice Marwick, of Harvard, and Danah Boyd, of N.Y.U.—describes the tendency of teen-age girls to categorize even quite aggressive behavior as mere “drama,” in the same category as online gossip and jokes. Policy-makers and television anchors talk of “bullies” and the “bullied,” but teen-agers tend not to, in part because “teens gain little by identifying as either,” the scholars explain. “Social stigmas prevent teens from recognizing that they are weak, and few people are willing to admit that they purposefully hurt others. . . . ‘Drama’ also implies something not to be taken seriously, to be risen above, while the adult-defined ‘bullying’ connotes childishness or immaturity to teenagers.

How is “drama” defined for a new generation of young adults? It seems to me that young adults use the term “drama” almost as a way to rationalize some of the horrible things that are either said about them or done to them.

The key question I’d like to see from this study is… What can be done about this? How can we join adolescents in moving forward through the “drama” and into a meaningful life?

These are the million dollar questions of the people, like us, who work with youth. I wish I had those answers.

Cheers,
Eric

Distinguishing the Political from the Spiritual

Phyllis Tickle is absolutely wonderful. She has a wonderful little talk about how we live as spiritual beings in a political world. Her words are so poignant for leaders and believers of all walks. It’s also a good reminder for people like me who tend to be agitated by the spirituality of politics (or vice versa). It’s about 6 minutes long, but I would encourage you to watch all of it and listen to some of her stories. They’re very powerful.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/29372857]

 

Did anything she say stick out to you? What did you think of what she had to say?

If you’re interesting in checking out any of her books (which I would highly recommend)… I’ll post links to three of my favorites.

       

Cheers,
Eric

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