Part of my journey towards healing is examining the wounds of my past. Wound-care is often messy and uncomfortable. Time to examine more cuts.
I love writing. I love teaching. I love studying the Bible. For years, I considered starting a blog, but because of my arrogance towards the mommy-blogger phenomenon, I never did. (I repent.) Then we left our church. When we left, we assumed we would hide and heal at the local megachurch. Then covid happened. Then the January 6 insurrection happened. Then I got on social media and witnessed the racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and about every other -ism and -obia of Christian leaders I had been taught to respect. Eventually, my husband and I realized we were leaving something much larger than our local church—we were leaving conservative white evangelism. (Categorizing the american church is tricky, but that’s the best phrase I currently have to describe my heritage.) I started writing trying to process it all. Very little of my writing has “positively” explored spiritual tensions the way I originally envisioned. I keep wondering when that day will come. Someday soon, I hope, but not yet. Recently, I read a series of poems by marla taviano, a woman on her own journey out of “white evangelical indoctrination”, that captured the state of mind in which I currently find myself. I have found catharsis and understanding in her words. Allow me to share them with you. (For my readers that may be offended by cursing, please forgive the language, but sometimes cussing is a needed way to express deep emotions.) These poems come from marla taviano’s book jaded, a follow-up to her book unbelieve.
Musings on why I do not love the label egalitarian
I don’t love the label egalitarian. I claim it, but labels are tricky things. Though often necessary to quickly capture complex subjects in easy, accessible language, the very act of simplifying people and ideas into labels obliterates nuance and oversimplifies complexity.
I enjoyed writing Age of Patriarchy: Desire of Woman & Rule of Man. It’s probably my favorite article I’ve written thus far, but ever since I posted, I’ve had a nagging feeling it’s incomplete. In the original, I mixed interpretive layers and oversimplified the connection between Woman’s desire in Genesis 3:16 and Man’s desire in Song of Song 7:10. In this article, I want to flesh out and offer some deeper insights as a companion to my first post on desire and rule.
I wanted to share specific ways I found sexual healing in Scripture as a woman raised in a Christian culture that overwhelming focuses on male sexual desire.
God works in mysterious ways. All references in this post come from Knowing the Bible: Song of Solomon, by Jay Harvey. I don’t overall recommend the study guide because of its patriarchal framework, but God met me where I was at on my journey. I was freed from some of the trappings of patriarchal teaching and found sexual healing during a deep study of Song of Songs.
1. The female singer initiates sex. The poem opens with her desire:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth… Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Sometimes I think I’m done writing for awhile, and then I stumble across something that reminds me of all the pain still trapped inside. This week I stumbled upon an article on social media entitled A Southern Baptist Pastor’s Plea: Please Listen, and I started bleeding again. Watching a complementarian man receive praise for “listening” all week on social media has been painful, and at first, I chose to stay silent. I knew to speak would open the floodgates and unleash the hurt still buried deep in my soul. Then Aimee Byrd wrote her response, Why Complementarians Can’t Listen. I found the cries of my heart echoed in her words and those cries are no longer able to be stifled.
Three influential factors that led me out of complementary/patriarchal theology: the racism inherent in allowing white women to teach BIPOC men overseas but not white men in our own churches, the wake of devastation left in my own church from the vacuum of female leadership, and…the teachings of Paul.
I’ve facilitated hundreds of bible studies over the years, in many different cultural settings, both for people who identify as Christian and those who don’t, who are seeking spiritual answers. Borrowing generously from many resources1 over the years, here’s an outline I’ve developed that works well in one-on-one or group settings with little-to-no planning.
Jesus teaches the foundation of Christianity is for all believers to “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Later, Paul expounds that love includes mutual submission: “Submit to one another” (Ephesians 5:21) before he breaks it down into wives submit, husbands love—NOT wives submit, husbands lead. Nowhere in the Bible does it explicitly state, “Husbands lead, wives submit.” When the church twists the Christian message of mutual love and submission into “lead and submit,” LOVE is lost.
In a recent social media post, my husband captured the corruptive nature of complementarian theology (male leadership/female submission) in marriage no matter how well-intentioned the couple. Thought I’d share.
My wife and I were “healthy” complementarians for a long time, and worked to make decisions mutually, but it’s pretty insidious how the mindset of “Godly women submit” seeps into everything. For a woman, you can’t truly have a voice when you’re taught theologically that your voice is not as valuable.
Living in “complementarian” spaces was death by a thousand cuts. It can be hard to articulate, because each cut on its own sounds petty. Also, some of my pain is intertwined with other women’s stories, and it can be difficult to know how to talk about my own role without oversharing the details of their stories. This is my first attempt to put down in words the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain of living in patriarchal spaces most of my life. I think this old outline I recently rediscovered is a good place to start, because it shows my head space when I still considered myself comp.
In white evangelicism, the fanaticism, money, & extrabiblical rules that revolve around sex scream idol worship and the humanity of women is sacrificed on its altar.The evangelical message that married sex will fulfill you is really no different than the larger culture’s general message that sex with whomever, whenever will fulfill you.
When Adam and Eve chose the rule of humankind over the rule of God, they tragically ushered in the Age of Patriarchy
I fell in love with the erotic poem Song of Songs in the Bible when I was twelve years old. Of all the different ways a young girl could receive her sexual education, I’ll be forever thankful that mine was partially formed by a poem celebrating mutual male and female ecstasy. The Song revealed that sex was a good gift, and the refrain “do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” taught me that it was something powerful to be handled with care. I do not regret those lessons. Song of Songs guided me well during my sexual awakening, so it’s fitting the Song again led me to a spiritual epiphany during my mid-life crisis of faith when I discovered the “desire” of the man in 7:10 is the same “desire” of the woman in the Genesis curse.
Would being in heaven with a God you hate be hell?
Before any discussion of hell begins, I want to establish first and foremost I believe God is Love. Goodness, Justice, and Mercy are bound up in the previous statement. I also humbly accept that I see in a mirror dimly. I do know my personal convictions about God have changed how I live this side of death, but I’m ok if my hot take on heaven & hell is completely wrong. There’s no way to know. As has often been quipped, ”The dead tell no tales.” That being said, I know the way heaven/hell has been taught and understood by many of my peers is often a stumbling block to their ability to trust God’s Love, so I think it’s a beneficial conversation to have.
The difficulty of holding the tension of seemingly opposed truths create many of the dividing forces between different sects of Christianity. Danger arises when you cling too tightly to one facet of truth, and completely lose hold of its complement. Extremes move away from the truth and love found at the cross.
I wish I could more easily convey a 3D image, because belief systems are complex and a linear spectrum oversimplifies.
A resource for community building, easily adjusted to meet group needs. We live in a culture of loneliness, paradoxically plagued by oversharing in digital spaces and trivial conversation in our real relationships. The Craft and Conversation Table exists to provide space for women to safely share about life experiences and beliefs that are rarely shared with others openly and honestly.
Latest evangelical book relies on gender tropes, anecdotes, and debatable brain studies instead of God’s Word. A book review of Married Sex by Gary Thomas and Debra Fileta
Yet another Christian sex book is hurting many brothers and sisters in Christ. Shame on Zondervan for giving a celebrity pastor a platform to speak into a topic in which he is not professionally trained in order to make money. Gary Thomas shares on his blog that the reason he and Debra Fileta partnered to write a sex book was three-fold. One is “given the current sociological climate, my publisher (Zondervan) and I didn’t feel that the time was right for an older male to write a book on his own lecturing men and women about sex.” The second (unstated) reason is Zondervan also knows many Christian men will not read books written solely by a female author. Which leads to the third reason – because “Christian publishing is a business,” they decided to create a book that benefited from a “[celebrity] pastor who focuses on the spiritual side and a licensed counselor who focuses on the practical side.” Gary himself recognizes that he is not a licensed counselor. He was brought on board for his well-known name, male “authority, ” and “spiritual” contributions. In his new book, he (ab)uses his spiritual authority to make bold claims about male and female sexuality based on his own opinions and life experiences, instead of the Bible.