A picture of manhood

What does a good man, husband and father look like?

Does it look like this father who declares that he’ll do violence to his daughter’s boyfriend?

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Is manhood about aggression?  Is dominance the Christlike requirement for being a father and husband?

I think a better picture of manhood is this one of a father playing with his children:

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Our kids love going down the “daddy slide”.

My husband models manhood through his demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He is not domineering.  He doesn’t expect or demand his way.  In this manner, he teaches our son that to be a man doesn’t mean to act macho and dictatorial. It doesn’t mean that he can have his way — or that when there’s resistance, he can take it by force.  Instead, he teaches that manhood (well, personhood, for that matter) means to be Christlike.  It means to yield to the Spirit, to be a servant, and to love God and neighbor as you love yourself. 

My husband fathers our daughter, not by being aggressive and protective, but empowering.  He teaches her that she can grow up to be anything she aspires to be — anything that God calls her to be.  He teaches her that she is strong and not weak, in the way that he believes in her.  He believes in her ability to grow up to be someone who can make wise, intelligent decisions as she follows God with faith and obedience. 

In our marriage, this model of manhood plays out in our marriage of mutuality.  My husband and I talk and discuss, make compromises and come to agreement on decisions.  We honor each other as fellow-image bearers whose ideas and opinions are equally valid and valuable.  In the process, we teach our young children to do the same in the friendships that they develop with same and opposite genders and, eventually, with their future partners in life.

My husband is not perfect.  He makes mistakes and is wrong sometimes, and we have our disagreements.  But he is not too proud to admit his mistakes.  And in this way, he exhibits one of the greatest marks of true manhood — humility.

It is out of who he is — a wonderfully flawed Christlike man who models the fruit of the Spirit — that we are able to have a loving marriage of mutuality, for love grows mutuality.  And mutuality grows good marriages and good families.

Women’s Ordination as Pastors: A Middle Eastern Perspective by Anne Zaki

CBE Conference LA 2015
Plenary 5: Professor Anne Zaki, “Women’s Ordination as Pastors: A Middle Eastern Perspective”

ZakiProfessor Zaki currently teaches at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Egypt and has been petitioning the Presbyterian Church in Egypt to ordain her as a minister. Up until now, no woman has ever been ordained in North Africa and the Middle East. In her message on the last day of the conference, we were inspired by her perseverance and God’s faithfulness as she chronicled her journey for us.

She began her story by sharing how she has always loved the church and felt called to serve in the church. However, she translated this calling into a destiny of being a pastor’s wife. And God did lead her to marry a pastor.

However, one day after she had done some preaching, her husband asked her, “Are you sure you are not called to be a pastor?” As she denied the truth in this, he asked her a question that stopped her in her tracks, “Are you letting your culture shape your calling rather than letting your calling re-shape your culture?”

Her husband’s question brought to the surface a dissonance that had been silenced over the years because of culture.

She began to wonder: Is it the tyranny of tradition that is keeping women from being ordained?

She decided to study both sides of the argument, examining all the relevant Scripture related to the topic. And after a year of study, Professor Zaki concluded that there is no imperative to ordain or not to ordain women. However, she found that the passages of Scripture against women’s ordination was less compelling than Scripture that supported women’s ordination.

Professor Zaki then identified different arguments against women’s ordination and demonstrated the illogic of those arguments with both wit and wisdom.

Here are a few:

Argument: To ordain a woman in the church would cause an uproar in the culture.
Logic: There’s a rise of the view of the place of women in society. It doesn’t make sense that women are not also rising in leadership in the church.

Argument: We have so many more important problems to solve in the church, we need to focus on those first.
Logic: Women in ministry is not a problem but should be seen as partners in helping to solve other problems in the church.

Argument: Ordaining women is a western idea.
Logic: It is not a western idea. Indonesia has been ordaining women since 1961. Kenya ordaining women since the 80s. India ordained a woman as a bishop. These are not western countries.

Furthermore, Jesus never ordained any men. He didn’t ordain any women. There are no examples of priests in the New Testament… only Jesus the High Priest. And we are all called to be priests.

If you teach that there is a priesthood of all believers, then you need to ‘walk the talk.’

Argument: We welcome all women to ministry. We just won’t ordain you (or pay you) for it.
Logic: How can you tell a woman to go ahead and get educated at seminary, not help her pay her way at all, and then after she receives her degree, tell her she must get a different job during the day…and then demand her to be present, committed to ministry during the evenings and weekends? This is what it means to not ordain a woman. You would never make a similar demand of a man.

Many churches will tell women they are welcome to minister in any capacity but unfortunately they will not ordain these same women to be pastors. But there is no accountability when you do this. There is no covenant that is signed. Isn’t this more dangerous? You would never tell someone who wants to practice medicine to go ahead and open an office but we won’t give you a license.

Professor Zaki’s arguments to the objections given for women’s ordination demonstrated — with precision — the absurdity of such objections. We are both inspired and encouraged by her message

The God Beyond Time Who Presently Makes All Things New by Adelita Garza

CBE Conference LA 2015
Plenary 4, Pastor Adelita Garza, “The God Beyond Time Who Presently Makes All Things New”

GarzaPastor Garza delivered a profoundly relevant message: We come across struggles of pain and frustration, but we serve a God that presently makes all things new.

As a woman, who is single, Latina, and a senior pastor, she continually faces opposition. But she is bolstered by 1 Cor. 1:27, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (but they are not foolish to him). God will use you, because in this world it is foolish to use you. God will use you to confound the world, because ultimately he will receive all the glory.

2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” In v. 18, we are told that all of this “new” is from God. All the new realities is from God. We are reconciled to God through Christ, and this reconciliation is not just so that we can be in a relationship with God but so that we can be a *minister* of reconciliation.

Pastor Garza’s three main points were:

1. It is from Jesus that these new relationships between men and women are revealed.

We will always be challenged by those who want to control and dominate. We cannot control the spirit in the other person, but we can control the spirit in us. Remember that the other is not really your enemy but it’s the spirit in him who is your enemy. Your role is to live out this new reality, to embrace, honor and respect. God calls us to live in our new reality so that others can live in that space as well.

2. The dynamics of honor in the trinity illustrate new Kingdom relationships.

To honor is to show high respect and esteem. We see the Father honor the son when he says, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus honors the Holy Spirit when he says, “I must leave so the Holy Spirit can come.” The Holy Spirit honors Jesus by taking what is Jesus and shares it with us. Within this dynamic of the trinity, we know we can have these new realities.

We honor one another based on gender, ethnicity, etc. As we begin to honor one another, we become more “one”. And we begin choose to say YES! to the call and gifts that he’s given us!

3. The co-regency of the trinity illustrates the Kingdom.

There is no battle of hierarchy in the trinity. They rule together. We too must learn to honor each other and rule together. There is a huge difference when we can rule together and honor each other as well.

He has committed us to the ministry of reconciliation. How is your commitment to this ministry of reconciliation?

Misogyny and the Church by Eugene Cho

CBE Conference LA 2015
Plenary 3: Pastor Eugene Cho, “Misogyny and the Church”

Cho (2)Pastor Cho delivered a poignant message on misogyny and the church. He introduced his message by reminding us that good theology goes out into the streets – it engages people and transforms lives. The issue of biblical equality is a matter of life and death. He emphasized that he is not being over dramatic when he says this by illustrating his point with example upon example of times and situations when women and girls faced situations of oppression, abuse and sometimes death because of the way that women are viewed as less valuable than men in so many cultures around the world.

He sees this issue through 3 lenses:
1. As a father: This isn’t just about my daughter but my son. It’s about *all* our children.
2. As an Asian: As a follower of Christ, we need to have the courage to look at our culture through the lens of Christ.
3. As a leader of the church: We must look through the lens of Scripture.

John 4:4 says that Jesus “had to go through Samaria” – Jesus didn’t really have to go through Samaria because Jesus didn’t really have to do anything (he was not forced), but the fact that it says that he had to do it puts emphasis on the fact that he had a purpose for it, and it illuminates God’s heart and Kingdom. There were cultural and sociological reasons why this is significant. Samaria was a place that Jews would walk hundreds of miles out of the way in order to circumvent. They avoided it, but Jesus chose to walk through it. The woman [in John 4] was living in the singular narrative of being a woman living a sinful life. Can you imagine being known by your worse mistakes?

But Jesus changes all this. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). Her identity has changed because of Jesus. Not only has she been redeemed, but she was used by God so profoundly to impact her entire town. Here we are given a vision of the restoration of what God is and what he will continue to do to bring all things back unto himself.

But here’s the thing: we must be willing to walk through Samaria. How are we living out these things in our own lives?

Truly a moving message. Get the recording! This summary does not do justice.

Looking Forward: Living in Redeemed Relationships by Ken Fong

CBE Conference LA 2015
Plenary 2: “Looking Forward:  Living in Redeemed Relationships”  by Rev. Ken Fong

Rev. Fong gave a powerful message interweaving an illustration of the  binding of women’s feet in China as a lesson in “learned helplessness” which was perpetuated by mothers to their daughters. The binding of feet was seen as a means to find favor with a man, because it meant the girl had a subserFong Plenaryvient spirit, since she was willing to suffer in silence for filial piety. Emperors attempted to have this practice outlawed within the 1000 years of its practice, but the tradition continued because mothers wanted their daughters to be deemed “suitable brides”. It was finally eradicated with the introduction of the outside (western) perspective, which deemed the custom barbaric.

This “learned helplessness” is similar to Christian women who choose to be helpless by letting men speak for them, make decisions for them, etc, (because, yes, there are Christian women who will defend the role as the subservient one), because they think that is the way things ought to be. We can eradicate this pervasive way of thinking by introducing a new perspective.

Rev. Fong poses it like this… “The curse [of man ruling over woman – Gen. 3:16] is not what God originally intended for the relationship between women and men. Why do you keep emphasizing what happened in the curse?”

2 Cor. 5:14-15 is the perspective that could change the inequality.

Why keep living according to the curse when we all can live according to the cross and resurrection?

He also touched on Gen. 2 and the process of Adam realizing his aloneness and the wonder of seeing someone like him. The word often translated “helper suitable to him” is ezer knegdo in Hebrew, and it is better translated “a strength equal to him”.

Lastly, if such a deeply held evil as foot-binding could see a demise because of the introduction of an outside perspective, we can be encouraged that one day, men and women can live redeemed lives together in Christ!

How to Argue Biblical Equality by John Stackhouse

Recently, I attended the CBE Conference, and I wanted to report on the content of the plenary sessions.  They were all superb, and it would be well worth it to purchase the recordings of these sessions.

CBE Conference LA 2015
Plenary 1 with Dr. John Stackhouse, “How to Argue for Biblical Equality”

StackhouseMain point for persuading those toward bibical equality: We are working with God and according to God’s calling to make shalom (Gen. 1) and to make disciples (Matt 28). We can do better in furthering our mission to make shalom and make disciples if we free people [both men and women] up to use their gifts and talents. Will this be better with gender equality or without?

People will change their minds only when…
they want to change their minds…or…
when they really *have* to.

How to create a paradigm shift:
1. A person holds a paradigm (their current picture & practice)
– I think the world is a certain way, so I’ll act in a way that corresponds to that way.
– We stick to our paradigm until we can’t anymore.
2. Anomalies: Exceptions
– We make room for exceptions in our paradigm. A few exceptions are acceptable.
3. Crisis: When there’s a failure of paradigm to accommodate anomalies adequately
– The crisis occurs when exceptions amass or when there is a tremendous anomaly.
– People will maintain their paradigm until they “can’t anymore”
4. Paradigm shift: Adoption of alternative

But ultimately, how you argue about biblical equality? The same way we effectively persuade people about most things:
Not by arguing.
But by showing them that by changing their minds, it is in their best interest.

This was a enlightening message and I would highly recommend getting the recording!

How I Became An Egalitarian: Called to Be a Pastor

This is Part 13, and the last, of a series that began here.

Over the next several years, Sam and I settled into our lives as egalitarians.  We began to take classes together at seminary, still believing that God had called us to be missionaries overseas.   We found a church that empowered women in ministry.  We became foster parents.  We got involved in our church.  We became biological parents.  We got really involved in our church.

Through it all, there was something that was hanging over our heads.  It bothered us a little lot.  Was God still calling us to be missionaries?  Somewhere along the way, Sam put a halt on his seminary studies, because we got the sense that maybe God was not.  And, while we sensed that God still wanted me to continue at seminary, we also did not feel like there was any clear direction or strong impetus for us to go overseas.  So what had it been all about then?  Had Sam and I misread and  misheard God?

As I reflected on my years in ministry and all the conversations I had ever had with God about the surrendered life, I realized this one thing — all along, he had gifted me with being a shepherd and a teacher.  That was where all the fruitfulness had been.  So, like the dawning of a new day, everything became clear to me.  All along, I had known but had been afraid to admit — God had been calling me to be a pastor.  Because I had mistakenly thought that women could not be pastors, it had not occurred to me that it was an option for me.  Missions had been the logical option.  No doubt, God had wanted to cultivate in me a heart for the nations, but, as I looked back, I could see that his calling on my life has always been evident.  God has called me, first of all, to be a pastor.

And this is how we ended up here.  Sam and me, in a marriage of equals.  Me, called to be a pastor.  Sam, unequivocally supportive of my calling.  And the two of us, hopeful, that others could experience the life-giving power of believing in a God who loves and values his children equally — both male and female — with the same kind of fierce love that cost him his Son.