Field Notes from the Schism

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re here in the States, I hope you did, too. As usual, I baked pies — pumpkin, pecan, and sour cream raisin — as well as roasting the auxiliary turkey on the grill, with great success. It was also a day away from the Internet, which is always good for the soul. Today, I’m taking my sons on their first-ever pheasant hunt — just two hours at a game farm, but they’ll get the chance to see what it’s all about.

In between, however, I thought I’d get down some random thoughts about what’s happened here on the blog in the last week.

1) One never knows when a post will go viral. I suppose there are some bloggers who have a formula for it that more-or-less works, but I don’t. I can’t seem to make it happen. But, on occasion, it does happen.

2) As of today, it’s been one year and one day since another viral post, “Where Are the Women? That post was a totally different deal altogether. It was written quickly, almost absentmindedly, on a day that I was trying to get out the door. A year later, some people still seethe with anger over that post and the ensuing commentary. In spite of their ongoing anger at and demonization of me, the number of women commenters on this blog has continued to climb. I’m thrilled with this development, and it’s made this blog a better place.

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Maybe “Schism” Was the Wrong Word

Sarah Cunningham

My post from last Friday continues to generate passionate responses from all sides. I’ve gotten positive and negative feedback, both publicly and privately. The most challenging and yet generous response has come from one of my closest friends, Sarah Cunningham. Sarah is a fellow author, blogger, and event producer — we’ve worked on stuff together in the past, and we’re currently planning two events together.

Over the past few days, Sarah and I have talked at length on the phone, exchanged lengthy emails, and traded dozens of text messages. I asked her to write a guest post for this blog, and she suggested that we do it in dialogical format instead. So we started a Google Doc, but after about 2,200 words and another passionate phone call, we deleted the entire thing and started over. Where we ended up was the Sarah would state her presupposition, and then pose a series of questions/statements, to which I would respond.

Before I get to that, however, I want to say that everyone should have a friend like Sarah. She has been very tough on me in these conversations — she fundamentally disagrees with my position — but she has relentlessly stated and restated her love for me, respect for me, and friendship for me. I feel the same about her.

That being said, here is our dialogue.

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Steps for the Schism

Shirley Taylor

I’ve gotten many emails about my call for schism over the role of women in the church, in addition to all of the public posts and tweets that you can see yourselves. Among the emails is this one, posted with permission, from Shirley Taylor. Shirley is the head of Baptist Women for Equality and the author of Dethroning Male Headship. She partners with the Center for Biblical Equality and blogs about these issues at bWe. Because there isn’t a Baptist church anywhere near her in Texas that allows women to lead, she and her husband attend their local Methodist church, where she reports that they have been “welcomed with love and acceptance.”

Here’s what she wrote to me:

Equality will not happen by osmosis.

The only way equality for Christian women can happen is through a deliberate, concentrated, dedicated plan. A plan devised by women and men who have a fire in their belly for equality.

Some suggestions:

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It’s Time for a Schism Regarding Women in the Church

I don’t take this lightly. I very much take Jesus’ prayer for unity in the Fourth Gospel seriously. Our eschatological hope is that the church will be one, and that we will all be united in belief, practice, and love.

But sometimes we need to separate. We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way that Jesus laid out for us. We need to divorce.

The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.

That means: [Read more...]


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