Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Here is a comment I recently made on Denny Burk's blog. Of course, I think it is supremely silly to try to raise a child without others knowing its sex, but I can't think that that will last very long! But Denny wrote,

God’s design for us as sexual beings has implications for how we rear our children. For instance, I have a little boy, and it falls to me to teach him how to be a man—how to lead, to provide, and to protect. It is my responsibility as a parent to guide and shape his character as best I can so that he will be a protector of women, not an abuser of them. I am to model for him that sometimes being a man means going without so as to provide for others. I am to teach him that working and earning a living is a part of what it means to be the provider God has called him to be.

And that's great! Amen to that. But women have to earn a living also. Women in the Bible all worked to provide for their families. Much of the time they needed a man, because only men could own property. Not always, but most of the time this was so. However, women always worked. They were shepherds and farmers, spinners and weavers, potters and prophets - women worked to provide for their family.

Anywaaaaay .... I wrote,

I really want to speak to some realities that women my age were not well prepared for. More than half of women my age are the major providers for their own family, both children and parents. This is due to divorce, death, injury, unemployment, illness, financially risky behaviour and many other real life factors.

At the same time, we women, unsupported financially by men, must invest for our own pension, provide major funding for our children’s university education, provide housing for aging parents, create trust funds for severely disabled children, care for spouses and siblings where necessary.

Being able to provide is a major issue, the most important thing we do. We are all on a crash course, back to work, learning to invest wisely, creating the kind of profile that enables us to provide for those we need to care for.

Many recently published books demonstrate that this is an international tendency – women provide.

On the one hand, it is a very necessary message that men need to provide and protect … I applaud that!

On the other hand, the reality is that women also provide and protect in very real ways, they devote every waking hour to providing for their family in the same way that men to, by providing financially and with guidance and leadership for children, parents, etc.

We, women who are primary providers, want men to show an understanding of our common humanity, men recognizing women as fellow providers, as fellow human beings,fully responsible leaders in the family, this is what women want – they just want recognition for what they are already committed to doing.

So, yes, men and women are different. However, we were both created with equal ability to protect, provide and lead.

May we be friends, us men and women. Can't we accept each other as friends and colleagues, as those who share the same worries and concerns, the same burdens for family, for our neighbours, for others around the world. Ideally, yes, there would be a couple, a man and a woman, but if we are not so blessed, let us be content to be friends, not ever excluding each other from intimacy and burden-sharing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beautiful for her husband?

Rachel Held Evans, also here, Tim Challies and Mary Kassian have been blogging about whether a biblical woman needs to keep herself outwardly beautiful for her husband. I don't see any reason why we cannot discuss matters of grooming and hygiene on the internet, but I think they are best treated in a more segregated forum. It has the feel of a woman's magazine, and I can hardly think of any way to associate this kind of thing with the Bible.

Rather, a Christian woman thinks of her home and children, and she cares for those less fortunate than herself. If she thinks also of pleasing her husband, that is only a wordly distraction from filling the day with those things that please God.

Kassian writes,
Human sexuality is a parable —a testimony to the character of God and to His spectacular plan of redemption through Jesus. This spiritual truth is so magnificent that God chose to put it on display permanently. Everywhere. Men were created to reflect the strength, love and self-sacrifice of Christ. Women were created to reflect the grace and beauty of the Bride He redeemed.
We need to be clear about this. This kind of theology has no origin in the Bible. In the Bible men and women are both "beautiful." Among those called beautiful are Sarah, Rachel, Joseph, David, Abigail, Abishag, Absalom and his daughter Tamar, and Esther. Also the king of Tyre. Ezekiel 28. The lovers in Song of Solomon call each other beautiful.

In the Bible, men and women are both called strong and mighty. Ruth and the woman of Proverbs 31 are both chayil, that is "mighty." In Proverbs 31 the woman also has strong arms.

But Mary Kassian writes,
I believe that men are “wired” to be attracted to beauty in women because our Heavenly Bridegroom desires the beauty of His Bride.
But the scripture says,
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30.
However, there is a spiritual beauty, the beauty of holiness and compassion. This is what makes us desire God.
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. Ps. 27:4.
A proper view of Christian sexuality does not require men to be the lords and redeemers of women, and women to reflect sinful lost souls. On the other hand, a healthy sexuality is one where each partner nurtures the other, and shelters them with their love.

Half the Sky

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn should be required reading for anyone writing about the role of women. Kristof and WuDunn write about sex slavery, gender violence and injury and death due to child-bearing.

While the authors commend the presence and dedication of those conservative Christians who provide assistance of various kinds to women on an international level, they speak unequivocally for true gender equality. They write,
"Empowerment" is a cliché in the aid community, but it is truly what is needed. The first step toward greater justice is to transform that culture of female docility and subservience, so that women themselves become more assertive and demanding. As we said earlier, that is, of course, easy for outsiders like us to say: We're not the ones who run horrible risks for speaking up. But when a woman does stand up, it is imperative that outsiders champion her, we also must nurture institutions to protect such people. Sometimes we may even need to provide asylum for those whose lives are in danger. More broadly, the single most important way to encourage women and girls to stand up for their rights is education, and we can do far more to promote universal education in poor countries.

Ultimately, women like those in Kasturba Nagar need to join the human rights revolution themselves. They constitute part of the answer to the problem: There will be less trafficking and less rape if more women stop turning the other cheek and begin slapping back. (page 53)
If you don't think that standing up for your own rights is modeled by the apostles in the scripture, then you may have forgotten Acts 22.
The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

30On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

The Bible is full of women who demanded their rights, women who petitioned judges and kings, women who pleaded with God for a child, who deceived and seduced in order to bear a child. Unfortunately, there are few tales of women resisting violence. There is no story in the Bible of a woman simply refusing to live a life of violence. Or have I missed that?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Women were created to imitate who?

On the CBMW blog Mary Kassian writes,
Human sexuality is a parable -a testimony to the character of God and to His spectacular plan of redemption through Jesus. This spiritual truth is so magnificent that God chose to put it on display permanently. Everywhere. Men were created to reflect the strength, love and self-sacrifice of Christ. Women were created to reflect the grace and beauty of the Bride He redeemed.
We need to understand that men and women are both in equal measure created to reflect strength, love and self-sacrifice. Anyone who does not understand this has misunderstood the most fundamental reality of being human, as well as the significance of believing in humans as created in the image of God. Nothing is more fundamental to human nature than having the strength to care for those we love. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.

While I believe that a sense of grace and beauty, an aesthetic awareness and desire to create beauty is given in equal measure to men and women, I do not believe that the basic daily function of men is impaired if they are not encouraged in this direction. However, women who are taught that they do not have the same potential for strength, love and self-sacrifice, are being mislead in a basic way.

I am so sorry to read these things. I am so sorry that young women are being taught such doctrines. My heart goes out to readers of this teaching. The Bible does not attribute strength or the ability to provide to men over women. This is not to be found in the Bible. On the contrary, in Proverbs 31 we read of the eshet chayil, which literally translated is the "mighty woman." I don't think a literal Bible translation actually exists. It is too bad.