• Womanhood •
June 27, 2005
In a world increasingly given to unrestrained sexual activity and a cornucopia of sensuality, voluntary sexual abstinence appears radical, suspicious, and downright odd. This certainly seems to be the case as Rolling Stone magazine reported on what it called “The New Virgin Army” in its June 30-July 14, 2005 issue. The article, written by reporter Jeff Sharlet, identifies this new “army” of sexually abstinent Christian young people as, “the young and the sexless.”
June 24, 2005
Carolyn Mahaney and her daughter Nicole Mahaney Whitacre have written an important new book, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood [Crossway Books]. The book belongs in the hands of every young woman. Here’s a sample of what you will find:
Our culture puts forth a false standard of beauty and a false message about beauty. But ultimately, it’s the sin of our hearts that motivates us to believe them. These lies appeal to the things our hearts desire. We desperately want success, recognition, significance, importance, and approval.
For mothers and daughters, Scripture reveals the falsehood and the futility of the quest for physical beauty. ‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain’ (Prov. 31:30). This word charm actually means ‘bodily form.’ It is perfect form and beauty that our culture esteems and pursues with fervor, yet God exposes this pursuit as sinful. Nowhere in the Bible are women instructed to wish for, ask for, or strive for physical beauty. Neither does the Bible portray physical beauty as a blessing for those who have it.
Now, Carolyn [wife of C. J. Mahaney] and Nicole, along with the other two Mahaney daughters, Kristen Mahaney Chesemore and Janelle Mahaney Bradshaw, have started a weblog, Girl Talk — Conversations on Biblical Womanhood and other Fun Stuff. Girls only, of course. Pass the word along.
May 25, 2005
Most Americans would probably be surprised to know that women are now deployed in military units that put them directly in the line of fire. The Pentagon has a policy that bars women from service in direct ground combat, but combat support and service units are often so close to the action that the risk faced is virtually the same as that experienced by the ground combat units. In recent weeks, the House Armed Services Committee considered legislation that would have required the Pentagon to seek Congressional approvel for any change in the policy that would put women in ground combat units.
May 24, 2005
May 17, 2005
Missed by many observers, a task force of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod recently released a report on men and women in the church. The report, The Service of Women in Congregational and Synodical Offices, came in response to a 2004 action by the denomination, requesting clarification on crucial issues related to how women can properly and biblically serve in the church. The Lutheran report makes a proper distinction between offices revealed in the Bible and adminstrative offices developed by the church. Standing on firm biblical authority and their own church tradition, the task force report affirmed that the teaching office [specifically, the pastor] is limited to men, and went further to specify that roles allied to the teaching office, such as elders, must also be men. Women may properly serve in any number of other positions and may fulfill many other responsibilities. The text is carefully constructed. Consider this statement: “In their relationship to one another as followers of Jesus and members of His family, all questions of rank or authority and the insistence on individual “rights” must be set aside (Mark 10:35–45; John 13:16–17). Rather, in their common life together, they are to give themselves to each other in humble and loving service (Phil. 2:1–4), seeking ways in which they might encourage each other to good works (Heb. 10:24). When we speak, therefore, of the service of women in the church we are referring in the first instance to nothing else than the common work that belongs to all Christians which they faithfully and joyfully accomplish until the Lord comes (Phil. 4:4–7).” As the report makes clear, the office of pastor is biblically limited to men: “In addition to the moral and vocational qualifications required of those divinely placed into this high office in the church (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 3:5–9), the Scriptures teach that the incumbent of the pastoral office must be a man.” But, the report also offers an important and eloquent statement about the unity of all believers in Christ, and our common call to service. “The Scriptures without qualification affirm that all believing Christians, both men and women, are priests of God (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6). Through Baptism God has made them all, equally and without distinctions of importance or value, members of the one body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12–13; Gal. 3:27–28; Rom. 12:5). No one is baptized to be either man or woman.” In striking this balance, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod has offered the whole church an important witness. Their balance comes very close to the statement adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 as it adopted a revised version of the Baptist Faith and Message: “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
May 10, 2005
May 10, 2005
Columnist Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post is a brave man, and a survivor. He slipped into Oprah Winfrey’s “Live Your Best Life” tour and lived to tell the tale. In his report, “Church of Oprah,” he tells what it was like to see thousands of women, each paying at least $185, sit in awe of their mentor and spiritual guide. The few men present were “corks bobbing in a sea of estrogen,” he informs. The crowd of “well-behaved, beautifully dressed” women “seemed to have a certain light in their eyes as they waited to see a woman who comes into their lives daily through her talk show and monthly through her eponymous magazine, whose every cover she glamorously graces.” Yes, Oprah smiles from the cover of every issue of her own magazine. Her “Live Your Best Life” tour will take her to Denver and Dallas later this year, but the crowd of devotees in the Washington Convention Center was looking for something more than encouragement and advice–they were looking for meaning in life. Robinson says that a little voice in his head starting murmuring, “Cult of Oprah. Cult of Oprah. Cult of Oprah.” Yet, Robinson decided that the cult metaphor was wrong. Instead, “Oprah presides over something grander and more significant. It’s more like a church.” Robinson is on to something here. Consider his analysis of what Oprah means to so many women, and why: “Oprah’s great gift, and the foundation of her lay ministry, is her understanding that even women who have enjoyed great success in their personal and professional lives can still struggle to find meaning and fulfillment, and that they can learn from Oprah’s own search for the same things.” For Oprah, meaning is autobiography. As Robinson relates, “Oprah gets fat, Oprah goes on a diet, Oprah loses the weight, Oprah gains it back, Oprah loses it again, maybe this time for good. Oprah fights an ongoing battle with her hair. Oprah’s relationship with her significant other seems to lack something, since she and Steadman never get married, but she hangs in there with him anyway. Oprah has a best friend, Gayle, who sticks with her through everything. Oprah makes charitable gifts. Oprah promotes books, mostly by women writers or with strong female characters, many of them difficult books that offer not comfort but more questions.” Oprah offers spirituality and meaning without reference to any God in particular. Marriage and motherhood are for other women. Oprah will just sail along on her own quest for the perfect diet, satisfying relationships, and global harmony. She will use her television program and media empire to chide parents who have hang-ups about their children’s desires for sex-change operations and will feature a constant cast of human weirdness. She assures us all that our choices are empowering and that all sexual lifestyles are equally valid and fine. Robinson is a brave man because writing anything even remotely critical of Oprah will bring an avalanche of hate mail. [I can offer personal testimony.] But Robinson is wrong on one count. The Church of Oprah is a cult.
May 9, 2005
May 9, 2005
Mother’s Day has come and gone, but an article by Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church and Grace to You deserves close attention. Overcoming mere sentiment, Dr. MacArthur gets to the heart of the issue: “For better or worse, mothers are the makers of men; they are the architects of the next generation. That’s why the goal of becoming a godly mother is the highest and most noble pursuit of womanhood. God has specially equipped women for that very purpose, and in Christ, women can experience profound satisfaction in that divinely ordained pursuit. They can be who God created them to be.” Further: “Contrary to popular opinion, the most important characteristic of a godly mother is her relationship, not with her children, but with her husband. What you communicate to your children through your marital relationship will stay with them for the rest of their lives. By watching you and your husband, they are learning the most fundamental lessons of life-love, self-sacrifice, integrity, virtue, sin, sympathy, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. Whatever you teach them about those things, right or wrong, is planted deep within their hearts.” Read the entire article–and honor both mothers and motherhood.
April 13, 2005
Should pharmacists be required to dispense so-called “emergency contraceptives” even if it violates their deepest convictions? That is no longer a hypothetical question, as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently issued an executive rule requiring all pharmacies in his state to fill a woman’s prescription for the “morning-after pill.” The governor’s “emergency order” comes with the force of law, and means that pharmacists who refuse to fill these prescriptions can face sanctions and could lose their jobs and professional status.
February 22, 2005
Judith Warner calls the problem, “this mess.” Author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, Werner has issued a manifesto for postmodern motherhood. As she sees it, motherhood has been transformed into a trap for young women, who find themselves torn between impossible expectations and a lack of self-fulfillment. Her new book, along with a major cover story in the February 21, 2005 edition of Newsweek, represents a battle cry for a new feminist generation.