Sunday, February 23, 2014

What is Christian Feminism?

 

The Stereotype
The Reality
Burns bras!
Sexually liberated!
Women should feel free to engage in casual sex, just as men do.
The true feminist recognizes the beautiful form given to her by her Creator, values her body and her purity, and protects herself from those who would selfishly use her.
Pro-Choice!
A woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her own body and shouldn’t be forced to carry a child to term if she doesn’t want to.
Pro-Life!
The true feminist recognizes, not only her own value, but the value of all human lives—including those in an earlier stage of development. A woman has a unique ability to bond with her young, long before they are born, so a true feminist embraces this God-given strength and uses it and her wisdom and love to defend her children from those who would seek to cause them harm.
Uses her body to seduce men and manipulate men.
The true feminist can be sexually attractive, but does not rely on her sexuality to define her relationships with men. She realizes that love requires respect, and so improves her mind and character to be worthy of the respect of those around her.
Hates men. Men are the enemy. They only want “one thing!” And, when they get that, they either treat you like dirt or leave.
Loves and respects men! A true feminist is very much pro-man! She realizes that a single gender of any species will never be complete without it’s complementing half. So, she encourages and challenges the men in her life (husband, sons, brothers, fathers, etc.) to become men of God and establish their identity in their Creator as men, just as she seeks to do the same as woman. But, she will not sell out and allow herself to be used or mistreated by anyone who fails to recognize her worth as a daughter of the King (and, if necessary, she will wait a long time until she finds a man willing to rise to the challenge).
Experiments with lesbianism.
Feminists don’t need men for anything, not even romantic relationships.
A true feminists relishes in her uniqueness as a woman. Femininity is not the enemy! Being “girlie” is just fine! (As long as you exhibit respect for yourself in the process.) The goal of the feminist is to realize what it means to be woman—not to try to force herself to become more like a man. God made women to sexually desire men—the manlier the better! It’s our differences that spark the chemistry between us.
Anything men can do, we can do better!
A true feminist does not play the game of one-upmanship. The goal of discovering and claiming the beauty and value of Christ-honoring womanhood is not to gather ammunition for male-bashing. A true feminist, is are strong enough to encourage one another and the men in her life, recognizing their unique, God-given abilities, desires, and talents.
Feminists get offended when men open doors for them or behave with chivalry. Who do they think they are? Men are being condescending when they treat us like the “little lady.”
 A true feminist is unafraid to open both her mind and her heart to the people around her. She can tell the difference between common courtesy and condescension or insult. She is gracious to the former, but uses her good judgment with the latter—evaluating the relationship and the situation to decide whether the battle for respect is worth her time. Sometimes a gentle or subtle reminder of her equal status as human is necessary and helpful. Sometimes, it is not and contrary to God’s purposes for that interaction. She seeks and follows Godly wisdom in these matters and refrains from letting her emotions control her actions.
Feminists make terrible wives!
Everything has to be split 50/50—chores, free time, and bank accounts. She refuses to take her husband’s name, fights for control over every decision, and finds it insulting to have to obey her husband, nagging to get her way. No man wants to live with a woman like that.
A true feminist makes a wonderful wife!
She realizes that marriage is a relationship that is supposed to reflect the character of the Triune God—where each participant (husband, wife, and Christ) gives 100%! Stages of life come and go. Sometimes she will sacrifice a disproportionate amount for her husband and children. Sometimes he will. But the trend should be a fully-dedicated partnership—working side by side for a common purpose—to become more like their Creator. Decisions are made through open, respectful discussion coupled with prayer—not through power struggles. She speaks her mind, but is wise enough to listen. She will admit when her husband is better at something, but works diligently at everything under her purview, seeks new ways to exercise her abilities, and refrains from overburdening him. She rises to the challenge of being her husband’s equal partner, but never humiliates or undermines him. She is his champion, and he is hers. She finds him desirable, capable, and worthy of respect. She laughs at his jokes, inspires him to greatness, and brags about him behind his back.

 From the Coalition of Christian Feminism, 2/24/2014. For more about what it means to be a Christian Feminist, visit www.facebook.com/christianfeminists

 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Objectification of God

"I'm struggling with my faith."

"The experience increased my faith."

"My faith gets me through the day."

Have you ever heard or said anything like the above sentences? Here's my problem with them: they mean almost nothing. Why? Because this way of speaking makes faith into an abstract concept. The word can be applied to anyone or anything. It is, at least, one step removed from the object of that faith.

I don't like talking about faith as if it is a thing in and of itself. To talk about our faith makes us sound very spiritual, but our faith is only so good as the object or person in which it is placed. If I have faith in a chair to hold me up when I sit in it, my faith means nothing if someone came along before I got there and removed all the screws. If I have faith in God, my faith is only so good as my relationship with Him as a Being.

That last sentence is very important. Read it again. My faith is only so good as my relationship with God as a BEING. It is essential that we recognize God as a BEING, as opposed to a BELIEF. Many of us good, well-meaning, "spiritual" Christians find the fact that God is an actual Being very inconvenient. That means He has a personality. He has opinions (that I may not agree with). He experiences emotions. He thinks about things differently than I do. He has His own goals and methods of accomplishing them. He works on His own timetable. (That last one is a big problem for me, actually!)

It's much easier to think of Him as a belief and just try to fit that belief into our world and our plans as best we can. That way, I can go to church and "fellowship" and try to be good and even pray once in a while, but I don't really have to rearrange my entire life to fit with Someone else's agenda. I don't have to sacrifice my lifestyle (as long as it's "good enough" to sooth my conscience) to step out of my comfort zone into the unknown realm of relying on a Being I can't see. I don't have to study the Word in it's minute details to learn how to hear His voice in my life and then wait and listen for Him to speak to me.

Adding god to my life is so much easier and less messy than aligning myself to God.

But, do I really need another belief? I have lots of them. I believe dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate. I believe it's scary to drive on icy roads. I believe Nietzsche would have made a very good Satanist. I believe my husband would get upset if I went out and bought a car without his knowledge. I believe my dog is prettier than my neighbor's dog. (Tru dat.)

Do I really need one more belief? Isn't it better to have a relationship?
Think of it this way. What would you prefer--to believe that you have a spouse who loves you or to actually have a spouse who loves you?

I want the spouse. I want the love. I want the messy. I want the challenge and the disagreements and the making up. I want the sounding board for my insane, crazy emotions and my deep, profound thoughts about the meaning of life. I want the discovery of the depth of who he is--weird or not. I want the teasing and the wrestling and the love making and the rolling of the eyes. I want it all. I don't want just a belief in him, I want HIM.

Without Him, I'm stuck with just...

me.

The difference I'm talking about is a difference in the kind of knowledge we have a right to claim. It's the difference between propositional knowledge ("I know that God exists.") and interpersonal knowledge ("I know God.")

Knowing a fact is propositional knowledge and it's fine, for what it is, but it's very impersonal. It's no more important than knowing the moon exists. OK. Got it, but what does that really matter for my day-to-day?

Knowing a person is interpersonal knowledge (IPK) and it is a vastly different experience than knowing a fact. It's the difference between knowing Shaquille O'Neal exists and knowing Shaquille O'Neal. Which is more dynamic? More life-changing? More involved? More intrusive into our world?

So, when we think of using the word "faith," perhaps we should instead use the Name of the Person---the BEING--we really mean: Jesus Christ.

"I'm really struggling in my relationship with Jesus Christ."

"The experience with Jesus increased my dependence on Him."

"Jesus Christ gets me through the day."

Suddenly, these statements start to make sense. I want to hear more. I want a glimpse inside a relationship that is dynamic and real. I want to know this Person, too.

Closing thought:
The word "faith" isn't the only word we use to objectify God. Consider the words/terms: "moral right," "religion," "justice," "hope," etc. There are many, many ways we push God away through the way we conceive of Him and substitute abstract words for Him. When we think of Him as a belief, our word choices betray us. When know Him as a Being, our word choices reflect that relationship. This week, listen to the way people talk about God. Is He a belief or a Being to them? How about to you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

True Hope

 
God is a God of hope. He wants to give us true hope—a hope that lasts and endures, regardless of the situations we find ourselves in.

Hope is a forward-looking idea. The Spanish word for hope is esperanza. It comes from root word esperar, or 'to wait'. In this country we usually think of waiting as a negative thing, like waiting in a line at the supermarket. But hope is the part of waiting that anticipates the blessings to come. Hope is the knowledge that something better is coming. Esperanza is the feeling the groom has as he waits at the altar for his bride to walk down the aisle in her white wedding dress.

Revelation describes the joy and anticipation Christ inspires as He waits for His bride--us, the Church:

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear."  Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' "  Revelation 19:7-9 (See also: Rev. 21:1-7)

How else does the Bible describe hope?

1. Hope is a kind of faith—the faith we have in a person we know personally and trust unconditionally.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  Psalm 42:5-6a    

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. Psalm 71:5

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1  

Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. I Peter 1:21

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I Timothy 6:17

So, like all faith, hope is based on something else. If your hope is based only in people, then, when those people let you down, your hope will also fail. And you find yourself feeling hopeless. But when you base your hope in Jesus—in His salvation and in His promises—then you will find true hope—a hope that will never prove false—because Jesus can never be false. (Numbers 23:19)

2. Hope is eager anticipation based in certain knowledge of good things to come.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

3. Hope in Christ has the power to lift us out of our present circumstances, no matter how dire, and set our eyes on what really matters.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. Psalm 130:1-8

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:17-22

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.  II Corinthians 1:9-11

4. Hope in Christ provides insight into our present circumstances, wisdom to know how we should respond to them, and certainty within our relationship with Him.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. II Corinthians 3:12

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

5. We are called to hope in Christ. It is not something we can access on our own strength. It is an invitation from God to us and a gift to all who respond to Him.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19a

There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called...  Ephesians 4:4

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writing Prompts to Inspire, THREE!

Here are some more inspirational first-lines for you to use as you bring a new story to life!

1. I wonder if I'm too old, he thought, gazing from his parlor window, for love.

2. His eyes were as blue silk, hair black as burnt cork, hands weathered and worn as old leather.

3. "I know who did it," he said, heart-pounding and voice wavering.

4. Nobody gonna love me now, she thought, daring to gaze at her reflection in the pond.

5. It may seem strange, but gunshots and screams can often go unnoticed.

6. She opened her eyes, only to discover a large, dripping tongue dangling before them.

7. What does it mean, she wondered, if you lose your wedding ring on your first anniversary?

8. "Chickens scare me," he confessed, "unless they're on my plate."

9. This could make a pretty good weapon, he realized, handling the cool rubber of the narrow cord.

10. Dread locks swayed against Armani-covered shoulders as he entered the room.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Prompts to Inspire, TWO!

The most important sentence of your story or book is the first line. It has to grab the reader's attention and compel them to keep reading. So, here is a list of intriguing first-liners you can use to craft a poem, short story, or entire book!

1. She made not a sound until her small body hit the floor at the bottom of the steps.

2. I highly recommend that everyone take a few moments to lie in their own coffin.

3. His words blessed me, even as his eyes cursed me.

4. His stomach lurched in time to the rocking of the ship.

5. Catching sight her husband through the kitchen door, Audrey found herself again wondering, why did I choose him?

6. The warmth of the stone soothed her/his aching fingers, even as the words inscribed upon it chilled her/him.

7. Beauty and wealth, she thought, are the perfect avenues to power.

8. In her haste to catch him, she caught her dress on a rose bush and tore a long gash in the silk.

9. I'll never see her again, he thought, watching her boat drift away from the harbor moorings.

10. It's amazing what wealth can provide--even things most people assume cannot be purchased.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Writing Prompts to Inspire!

Below are ten unique writing prompts. They are collections of three words. Try to write a short story or poem (or an entire book!) using all three of these words as integral parts of your story.

1. wheelchair, porcelain, tiger

2. blessing, ice cream shop, makeup

3. origami, scarf, rain

4. lotus flower, flute, antique chair

5. parchment, cane, horse trainer

6. locket, sand, bird of paradise

7. pumpkin, train, white gloves

8. deer, chewing gum, crystal

9. feather, spectacles, storm

10. leather-bound book, wedding veil, peppermint