Upfront, I need to state that I am not for abortion, I believe in life and life abundantly. I believe that the Bible teaches the infinite worth and value of human beings which includes unborn children. And I believe unborn children are human beings.
I also recognize the gray areas of abortion and I acknowledge the wide disagreement about when life begins. I don’t claim to know all of the science around this debate but wish to speak to some of the Patriarchy surrounding it. I also acknowledge that at times women are faced with difficult decisions around birth, illness, and other medical situations that threaten the lives of mothers–I offer no judgement. And finally, I acknowledge how political abortion is and how it is used to bolster power and how it is co-opted by politicos to target our fears and moral anxieties in order to gain our votes.
I feel a little nervous about entering this sphere of discussion because it is heated and can at time be filled with lots of angry words. But I am speaking up because I believe that Patriarchal thinking is embedded in much of the pro-life dialogue. And that bothers me. Continue reading Let’s be frank about the abortion debate→
The spate of recent headlines about sexual abuse and victimization in the Church have made clear the prevalence of these crimes. The revelation of decades of abuse by Southern Baptist pastors and complicity by denominational leaders is only the most recent example. Willow Creek Community Church is still addressing the reverberations of trauma surrounding accusations of harassment against women. Sexual abuse is rampant outside the church as well. According to statistics compiled by the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN), one in six women in the United States “has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).”Much-needed discussion surrounding prevention and accountability in leadership is beginning to take place. Churches must also address how they treat women who have been sexually abused, both within and without the church.
In addition to these needed reforms, Christians must examine how our underlying theology may continue to damage victims rather than offer redemption. If what is preached from the pulpit, embodied in song and worship, and internalized by the congregation does not offer a message of hope and healing for those who have been abused, it is not the good news of Jesus Christ. In particular, our understanding of atonement—how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus brings us into reconciliation with God—must be examined carefully. Continue reading Atonement and Sexual Assault: Redemption for the Sinned Against→
Have you ever noticed the tenacity of a flower that blooms through the cracks of a sidewalk? All around is the hard surface of cement but in the crack the flower has found a way to poke its head up, push through the earth and bloom. Becoming whole, becoming adult has been for myself a journey in which it has felt as if I were trying to bloom through cement. What is this cement? Having come through it, I now have a name for this cement–Patriarchy.
Patriarchy in my life has been the hard surface through which I have tried to bloom.
I grew up in a small rural Charismatic church led by a pastoral couple. She preached as much as he did and I had my first picture of what a strong Christian woman might be like. While the little church was not the picture of emotional health, I had been given a picture of a man and woman working together for the sake of the gospel. The Apostle Peter said this about Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
This is a picture of restoration.
By the Spirit men and women would speak, by the Spirit a new community in Christ would be formed. In this new community God’s people would become whole–once again partners with God and one another to bring healing in the earth. Continue reading Blooming Through Cement→
I’ve just had the privilege of listening to Dr. Denis Mukwege as he visited Stockholm. PMU and Läkarmissionen, two Christian aid organizations that have supported Mukwege and the Panzi Hospital for decades. We celebrated Mukwege with music, speeches and donations. Among other things, we sang Mukwege’s favorite hymn, “The Promises will Never Fail” (Löftena kunna ej svika) by Swedish Pentecostal leader Lewi Pethrus, in Swedish and Swahili.
Missionary and nurse Kerstin Åkerman pointed out how prophetic Mukwege is. He has this ability – naturally or supernaturally – to have a visionary mindset and see things before they happen. For example, he stressed the importance of starting the building process of the Panzi Hospital quickly in 1998. Nobody understood why.
One week after the governor had initiated construction, the Second Congo War broke out. Kerstin realized that if the hospital had not claimed the land, the government would have wanted to use it for their purposes. Mukwege could see that before everyone else.
Historically, Pentecostalism originated from the Holiness Movement, which had a clear emphasis on social justice and helping the poor. It also had a high view of gender equality, allowing women to preach. This was also true for early Pentecostalism, even though it quickly conformed to the normative patterns of male dominance that was prevalent in other church movements. Early Pentecostals were also predominantly pacifist and champions for peace in times of world wars.
With this history in mind, it makes sense that Mukwege does not need to fuse his Pentecostal faith with something else in order to become a feminist activist, fighting for peace and women’s rights. I believe this is at the heart of Pentecost. We read in the Holy Scriptures that the consequence of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the apostolic church was not merely tongues and healing, but also economic redistribution and social equality (Acts 2:42-47).
Mukwege is a great representative and role-model for the world’s 600 million Pentecostals and charismatics. I hope that we will follow his example of combining spiritual gifts with activism for a better world.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!
Shortly after the #MeToo movement, another movement surfaced, #ChurchToo.#ChurchToo is about sexual harassment and abuse within the body of Christ.I am so grieved about the #ChurchToo movement as it hit’s at the vision for beloved community in Christ.And I have begun to ask the question, how do we live out the beloved community in Christ between men and women working together for the sake of the Kingdom of God?I have a couple of thoughts but first I want to lay out some Biblical support.
Ezekiel 34 tells the story of evil shepherds and good shepherds.Essentially, the evil shepherds have been feeding on the sheep instead of feeding the sheep.While the sheep are bleeding, hungry and suffering on the mountains, the evil shepherds are getting fat.And the Prophet asks the question, who will care for and bind up the wounds of the sheep?The answer is, the good shepherd.The good shepherd is, of course Jesus, the coming one who will bind up the wounds of the sheep, and tend to them in the sheepfold where they will flourish.
The prophet is helping God’s people to understand that the task of leaders and shepherds is the task of tending and caring for the sheep.I think the #ChurchToo movement is surfacing this issue in the church today so that we might become more whole as leaders and so that our communities might flourish.As those who long for the beloved community, we must be aware of the human lust for power, ego issues and self-gratification when in ministry.I want to lay out some principles that could help us move closer toward a healthy and safe community within which men and women are respected, and the sheep are fed. Continue reading #ChurchToo, Good Shepherds and Beloved Community→
Heidi Baker, founder and CEO of Iris Global – a missionary organization based in Mozambique – has inspired thousands of Christian women to aspire for leadership positions and reach their full potential. In this video from God TV, she explains some of the reasons we should embrace gender equality in the church. Who honestly thinks their daughter cannot change the world, or that a donkey would be more worthy of sharing God’s word than a woman?
What is the best argument for gender equality according to you?
It’s time for Pentecostal and charismatic leaders that are critical to Trump’s bizarre presidency to speak up.
We call upon all sorts of leaders – pastors, scholars, CEOs, politicians, NGO representatives and others – that are part of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement to sign our open letter to president Donald Trump. The letter will be sent to the White House on the anniversary of his inauguration, January 20th.
This is not a partisan letter. Regardless of our political affiliation and opinions, we feel that Trump has taken politics to such extremes that Christians on both the right and the left of the political spectrum together should say “No!”.
The areas we at Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice have identified as important to speak up about are:
Together, we and the Holy Spirit can change the world.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!