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To the young women reading “Jesus Feminist”

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To the young women reading “Jesus Feminist“:

I see you, little sister. I see you tagging #JesusFeminist on Instagram with that little yellow book wide open beside your coffee cup. I see your blog posts and your Facebook updates, I see you typing favourite quotes from the book on top of the beautiful photos you take on holidays, I see you in my mentions on Twitter, I see your names in my email inbox with your precious stories shared, I see you in the crowd when I preach.

I see you and I love you.

There are so many different people and age groups who read that book but I hear from you all most: the late-teens and twenty-something women, the ones in high school, university or college, sometimes you’re newly married, rarely do you have children yet. You write to me and ask me questions often or introduce yourselves or share your thoughts. I never do that with authors. I wonder if that is a generational thing? I read a book and that is the end of it. But for you, it is just the beginning of the conversation, just the start of a relationship, and I love that. What an unforeseen gift! I love that you hunt up my website and send me emails, friend me on Facebook, that you share your thoughts with your world through social media, you become part of my life somehow from all around the world. You see the book the way that I dreamed it: a gathering.

It makes my heart glad to think of someone starting their life with the message of freedom in their minds, hearts, and spirits already. You’re ahead of so many because you’re embarking on life as free. It gives me hope to think of the generation rising up in the wake of my generation because I am still rising, too, in the wake of the generation of women who came before me and so it goes. We are all running behind the ones who came before us and it’s my privilege to cut through the resistance for you just a little bit.

I want you to go further than we have gone, to be bolder than we have been, to be braver, to preach the Gospel of freedom and goodness and welcome to every corner of your influence. You will go where I cannot go and praise God for that.

You often ask me for advice – on relationships, on future plans, on how to talk to people who believe differently than you, on church, on calling, on leadership. I try to respond well to each of you. Being in this season of my life, I don’t always have the time to talk one-on-one as I’d like. But this weekend, I have been carrying you in my heart and so here is what I would say to you, my girls.

Remember the truth of who you are. You are loved and you are worthy. You are valuable. Not because of what you do or what you say or what you accomplish but simply because you were made in the image of God and you are here. You will have times in your life when you feel very effective and important. Then you will have times when you feel small and forgotten and inconsequential. How you feel does not change the truth of this: you are loved, loved, loved. You are free: “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” Paul said it this way: “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:39)

Remember the truth of who God is. Almost all of our theology and so, therefore, the way we live our lives tracks back to what we believe about the nature and character of God. So settle in your bones this truth: Jesus is the exact representation of God. He came to reveal the Father to us, to show us all the ways that we have misrepresented and misunderstood God. And what did we learn from our Jesus? We are loved and we are redeemed. Study Jesus, yes, but open up to the way he is still alive, moving, speaking, and redeeming in the world.

Draw near to God, sisters. Draw near to God and watch God draw near to you. I have clung to John 15 in my lifetime, may it become a ballast for you, too: “when you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant….make yourselves at home in my love…I’ve named you friends…love one another.” You see?

Jesus is your Teacher and your Shepherd, don’t out-source the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. If you are thirsty, praise God – it means you will be satisfied. “Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me,” said our Jesus. The Spirit is real, let her infuse your waking up and walking around life.

There isn’t a false line between God-work and secular-work. Everything you do is spirit-filled if you intend it to be. There isn’t a hero in the kingdom, we are all beginners. Remember the ones who lead you are also on the ground, not on a pedestal. We will fail you in some way. I wish that weren’t true but it is: give us grace, please.

It is just as holy to serve God quietly in obscurity as it is to be on a stage. God may call you to a bit of both – a bit of big sexy attention-getting work and quiet thankless character-building life-transforming work. I’ll let you in on a secret: don’t try to live your life on the mountaintop all the time. It’s exhausting and narrow. There’s a lot of life to be found in the wilderness and in the valleys, in the kitchens and backroads, God speaks to us in those places and it will be the birthplace of intimacy with the Spirit and with yourself.

Love your Bibles. I know it’s hard sometimes – hard to understand, perhaps, or maybe it’s because your Bibles have been used against you. I get it. But when the time is right, remember that your soul can be aflame with the Spirit and your body can be furious for justice but your mind needs the words and teachings and richness of Scripture to be shaped. Start with the Gospels, perhaps, get to know our Jesus. I pray your mouth is filled with the promises of God, with the teachings of Jesus, and then your life will simply be an overflow of the Story – it will haunt you forever. Scripture will change your life, change your tongue, change your mind, and so it will change the world. Be ready to be wrong about a few things first.

The world will try to name you all sorts of things because you’re a woman. They’ll try to tell you that because you’re a woman that you’re insecure or jealous, that you’re emotional and illogical and a gossip, that you’re too fat or too quiet or too loud or too skinny or dangerous and untrustworthy. Don’t believe it. Don’t take the lies in. Remember that you were created right from the beginning to be a warrior – that’s the whole ezer kenegdo thing right there, remember that part of the book? – you were created to be a warrior and you are beloved. That is your identity. Don’t be afraid.

Find your people. This is so vital, so important – you need a home team. Be loyal. Show up. Love and support other women well. Learn how to champion and celebrate each other. Put others first. This is not time for pettiness and who-is-in-and-who-is-out. We’re all in. Make time for fun and for joy, be silly and go on adventures.

Go ahead and get angry at injustice; I think your calling is often hiding somewhere in your anger. Pay attention to what makes you angry. And then follow that anger all the way down to good hard and holy work. As our brother Paul wrote, “throw off the sin that so easily entangles you. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12:1) Challenge who you think you are. Listen well to the marginalized and oppressed, theirs is the Kingdom of God, align yourself there.

Travel – I never did that as a young woman and I wish now that I had done so. It seems to me that travel, seeing the world and learning different cultures, brings a richness and perspective to your life that you have to read a lot of books to replace. If you can do it, please try.

Seek and create beauty – that is Kingdom work, too. Speak life. Take risks and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

Fall in love with someone who will make you better at being yourself. Slow dance with that someone on the side of the road at night and kiss until you’re dizzy, it will do you good. Love someone well and yes, it will take equal parts grit and romance to make a lifelong love.

Whatever you do, bring your whole self to us. Read good books, books that challenge you. Sow your life into a place and into a people, remain there and watch how it slowly turns into the greatest harvest you could never have imagined. Don’t seek fame, seek to be faithful.

Patience and faith belong together. Remember that you have so much to learn and treat the people in your life as your teachers. Everything you do in your life can be a testimony to the goodness and freedom and openness of our God.

And here is my final piece of advice: stop waiting for permission. There are a lot of us out here waiting for you. We need you. We need your gifts and your words, we need your passion and your insight, your skill and your brain, your perspective and your history. It all matters, nothing in your life will be wasted in the economy of God. So get on with it. Don’t be held back. You’re free already, remember? Be brave. There is real evil in this world, you are a prophetic outpost for the Kingdom of God. Live into the abundance of God in your life and watch the resistance come but stand. Hold fast.

Jesus said it best, my little sisters: “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?… Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine. Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 MSG)

Thank you. Thank you for reading “Jesus Feminist” and getting it. Thank you for allowing the fire of the Spirit within you to be stirred.

If I could leave you with one final passage of Scripture, my little sisters, here is it: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out….Love from the centre of who you are: don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (Romans 12:1-2, 9-10)

If I could, I’d stand in front of you and place my hands on your hair and pray The Commissioning from the last chapter of the book over each and every single one of you. I would.

Dear girls, I love you. I do. You are so precious to me. I am eager to be lead by you, I am cheering you on, I have so much to learn. I pray for you and over you often.

Love always,

S.

image created by Taylor Rauschkolb, available here

Continue Reading · faith, Jesus Feminist · 47

The Jesus Feminist 21 Day Reading Plan

Jesus Feminist 21 Day Reading Plan

Good news! The Jesus Feminist 21-day Reading Plan is finally ready!

When you sign up, you’ll receive a snippet of my book, Jesus Feminist, along with a daily Bible reading and a few questions for your own reflection in your inbox for free, every day for 21 days.

Sign up for the Jesus Feminist 21 Day Reading Plan

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(For some reason the “subscribe” button is missing for some folks, so if you can’t see it, here’s the direct link. Click here and you can sign up here, too.)

Here’s an example:

Jesus Feminist :: Day 10

Biblical Womanhood

I’m not quite sure when the Church decided that “biblical” was the perfect adjective for subjective roles and situations. I don’t think it’s helped us. No, I am a biblical woman because I live and move and have my being in the daily reality of being a follower of Jesus, living in the reality of being loved, in full trust of my Abba. I am a biblical woman because I follow in the footsteps of all the biblical women who came before me.

Marriage and motherhood are not the only way to biblical womanhood, as we see in so many of our spiritual mamas, despite our collective evangelical habit of treating single women and men as our personal match-making mission field. Our acceptability as women before God is not dependent on our fathers or our husbands or the lack thereof.

In Christ, there is no such narrow descriptor of biblical women–dependent on roles and chores, job descriptions and marital status, experiences and unique circumstances, or quieting our wisdom and intellect and voices–when the majority of women in our world do not have the luxury of deciding whether or not to work. Our work in this life grows instead from the tree of his great love for us, birthed out of a growing and real relationship with Love itself. The organic blossoming of the fruit of the Spirit is only because of our life in the Vine. Whether we turn to the right or to the left, our ears will hear a voice behind, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Bible Reading

  • John 15:4-5

  • Isaiah 30:21

Reflection

What versions of “biblical womanhood” have you tried on in the past?
What does that phrase mean to you now?

Continue Reading · Jesus Feminist · 3

Why not have a woman preach

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Why not to have a woman preach. It’s a statement, not a question. Here’s why not. Here’s all the reasons why not. Here’s why women should not preach. Or teach. Or lead. Or pastor. Or prophesy. Or exhort. Let’s parse it, narrow it, nitpick it, label the functions so that we can figure out the line and walk it well. Here’s one verse and another and another. You can’t argue with the Bible, after all.

***

But more and more I see people adding a question mark to that statement and that question mark gives me hope.

Why not?

Well, indeed. Why not have women preach? It’s a question that many devoted disciples have asked through out the ages – long before the 70s and 80s – and it’s a question that was resolved in the early church, in the practice of Paul’s leadership, in faithful followers of Jesus through the ages. There isn’t anything new under the sun, it’s true, and the use of Scripture to silence the witness of women, to sideline the gifts of half the church, isn’t new either.

Why not have a woman preach? Why not have a woman at a pulpit, teaching the Scriptures, proclaiming the Gospel, leading others in the way everlasting?

Sometimes the Spirit’s movement begins with the question mark instead of the period.

***

Why not? Well, because the Bible says so.

Oh, really?

There are many ways to read and understand Scripture. For instance, some read Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:11-12: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet” and then they silence women in the church … in a well-meaning way. It’s couched with gentle language like “different roles don’t mean difference in value” and a paternalistic ideal. But in some extreme examples, these passages have been used to justify spiritual, physical, and emotional abuse towards women. (Don’t ignore that fact just because it isn’t pleasant.)

***

But we’re missing a few important things in that understanding of Scripture: translation, context, interpretation, let alone communal understanding and practice. Allow me to point you to some wise and mature teaching on this subject: Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bomb and “But What About 1 Timothy 2:12?” – Ten Talking Points, both by Gail Wallace for The Junia Project.

***

There’s a hopeful and inclusive answer to that question and many of us have already answered it. We’re living into the answer already.

There is Scriptural justification, historical justification, Spirit justification, traditional and communal justification for women preaching and pastoring and leading.

You can’t really argue with the anointing. God anointed some to preach, be careful not to stand in the way of that. I’d think long and hard before silencing someone speaking words of life and fire and Spirit.

 

***

I am always so appreciative of scholars and academics and theologians. I love to learn, theology is my geek-out place (well, that and Doctor Who). I love to read and to learn, I love to study, I’m profoundly curious about Scripture and God and how we live out the hope of glory in the world.

I’m also wildly in love with Jesus, convinced that he is he answer, and I want to be faithful to follow well, I want to glorify what I think I know about the Spirit of God, I want to see prisoners set free, deserts bloom, beauty for ashes, life for death. I have a high view of Scripture and the Spirit. I am faithful to the Church and to my little “c” church.

So these things matter to me. And they matter to the church. And they matter for a world caught in the crossfire. Are we benching the answers? Are we silencing the ones who would cry out for freedom and wholeness? Are we minimizing the wild inclusive counter-cultural dream of God?

I needed to see her preaching, the people of your church and community likely need to see it, too.

***

Women are preaching already.

I hate to break it to you. Women have always preached, just as women have always worked, always taught, always discipled, always followed Jesus. Right from the days of Jesus until now.

We’re getting on with it. We kept walking from the statement to the question to the answer and now we are living within the freedom of Christ.

***

Preach! Preach! Cry out in the city gates and in pulpits and online and in classrooms: we bring you tidings of great joy! However you preach, whatever your method or place, proclaim it: the year of the Lord’s favour has dawned! Beauty for ashes! Resurrection is real! Life and life more abundant!

***

Women are preaching and, did you know? Chains are being cast off. Fear is running away. Deserts are blooming. The Gospel is being proclaimed. The dead are coming to life. People are being born again and set free.

Jesus is working through and in and with women, just as he is working through and in and with men. And wouldn’t you know it? Women and men are working together, beautifully, in what Carolyn Custis James has christened the “blessed alliance.” It’s not either-or, it’s both-and.

We are made in the image of God, watch us walk on water together.

Men and women are receiving steady and sober, wild and holy teaching from women, too. People are being healed, the Spirit is baptizing many. Women are leading in the curve of the globe in business, medicine, technology, academics, sports, and yes, religion in ways unique to their temperament and anointings.

***

You’re missing it. Don’t miss it. Open your eyes and see what the Spirit is birthing in these days, watch women rising up to reclaim their communities for peace and wholeness, watch women laying on hands and proclaiming the Gospel with their lives and their voices and their writing and their songs and even, yes, in their quiet. Watch women raising their children, gathering the lonely, loving the unloveable, building up the church, watch the world change.

***

Why not have a woman preach?

Continue Reading · faith, Jesus Feminist, women · 67

Introducing the Jesus Feminist Collection!

Jesus Feminist Necklace

Five Amazing Things about the Jesus Feminist Collection:

1. The products were created in partnership with Imagine Goods whose work, particularly in Cambodia, focuses on ethical, just, and sustainable production practices to support employment for vulnerable and marginalized people. You can read more about them here.

2.  ALL (yes, all, as in 100% of the) profits from this collection will be donated to Help One Now and to Heartline Maternity Centre in Haiti. Both of these organizations are grassroots justice work, staffed by people we personally know, love, and trust who reflect so much of the heart and passion of Jesus Feminist.

3. These items are beautiful. Seriously gorgeous design work. Andrea Levendusky designed the shirts and the prints, I need say no more.

4. The necklace alone makes my heart sing: it’s made from recycled bombs. Hello, swords into ploughshares, meet bombs into jewellery that will continue to do the work of justice. Can you even stand it? I want to cry every time I think of it. I imagine we’ll sell out of that one pretty quickly and I’m already planning a re-order. Then the t-shirts were made by survivors of trafficking in Cambodia. Every purchase helps people on the front end AND on the back end of production.

5. If you’ve read Jesus Feminist, you know my heart for the small grassroots efforts towards justice and shalom. We saw this as a way to not only support people we love and know, but also a way to begin to create a bit of employment. And so my husband, Brian, took this idea and connected with Aiyana at Imagine Goods then Andrea for design, and he did all the legwork for every piece to create this shop. It’s Brian’s baby but I have loved collaborating with him on all of it. My heartfelt thanks to him and to Aiyana, in particular, for creating this collection and being open to my ridiculous ideas like, hey, let’s give away every cent we make! (<— for real.)


 

 Voilà! the Jesus Feminist Collection!

(Clicking the link will take you to Imagine Goods to purchase the item.)

Jesus Feminist Necklace 2Jesus Feminist Necklace

This simple circle necklace stamped with “Jesus Feminist” makes a statement with class. Made in Cambodia by disadvantaged artisans of brass recycled from old bombs, and hanging on an 18″ brass cable chain, it arrives in a 100% recycled jewelry box—perfect for gift-giving!

$42

 

 

 

 


 

Unisex Jesus Feminist T-shirt“I Am a _____ and I am a Jesus Feminist” Unisex Fit T-Shirt

This unisex t-shirt is cut of soft cotton with a slight stretch (95% cotton, 5% spandex). Made by survivors of trafficking, your purchase empowers women and their families to live changed lives!  The artwork echoes a community based photo project from the book’s release – you can grab a white marker and fill in the blank however you like!

$30

 

 

 

 


 

 

Jesus Made a Feminist out of Me decal

“Jesus Made a Feminist Out of Me” Decal

“Jesus made a Feminist out of me” laptop decal is made of high-grade vinyl with UV coating and a crack-and-peel backing. Measures 3″x3″.

$8.00

 

 

 


 

Jesus Feminist t-shirtJesus Made a Feminist Out of Me” Women’s T-shirt

This women’s fit t-shirt is cut of soft cotton with a slight stretch (95% cotton, 5% spandex). Made by survivors of trafficking, your purchase empowers women and their families to live changed lives!

$30.00

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Outside Jesus Feminist Print“I want to be outside with the misfits” print

After a reader poll, this is one of two prints that you requested. Full quote: “I want to be outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, second-chance givers, the radical grace lavishers, the ones with arms wide open, the courageously vulnerable.” Print measures 8″x10″.

$12.00

 

 

 


 

Rest in your God-breathed worth - Jesus Feminist Print

“Rest in your God-breathed Worth” print

After a reader poll, this is one of two prints that you requested. Full quote: “Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.” Print measures 8″x10″.

$12.00

 

 

 


2013_Jesus_Feminist_LA_signing_087-L

And of course, make sure you pick up Jesus Feminist to include with your gift!

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

Chapters Indigo/Coles

our local Abbotsford bookshop, House of James, has it, too!

and almost everywhere books are sold.

 


 

Giveaway!

You knew I wasn’t going to end there, right?

I have one signed copy of Jesus Feminist and the “I Want to be Outside” print for one lucky commenter! Just leave a comment below telling me your favourite item in the collection, make sure your email address is included, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll do a random draw from the comments in a week and send it along to the winner.

 

 

Continue Reading · Jesus Feminist, social justice · 87

Soapbox Warning: On Jian Ghomeshi and the acceptability of sexualized violence against women

Soapbox

Trigger warning: rape, abuse, sexualized violence. 

One of my blogger-jokes is that I like to think about and write about the stuff we don’t usually discuss in polite company – things like marriage and religion and politics, for instance. But I have to say I’ve never in my life considered or entertained the idea of writing about a topic like this. To those of you who need to avoid this topic or to click away because it will violate your peace of mind or heart, please do so with my complete understanding.

But my conscience won’t allow me to remain silent, I’ve got a fire in my bones today.

I read it. Oh, yes, I read it. I read Jian Ghomeshi’s statement about his firing from the CBC. I have loved Q for years. My sister and I both listen to it and we swoon regularly over the opening essays, over the thoughtful and deep interviews, over the brilliance of the contributors and, of course, the host, Jian Ghomeshi.

So when Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC this weekend, we were stunned. And let’s be honest: it takes something incredibly horrific to be fired from the public broadcaster. Don Cherry has enjoyed immunity for 35 years even though he’s offended everyone at least twice on matters of race and politics and sexual identity. So for CBC Radio’s golden boy to be fired, well, this was a big deal. We all knew it.

I read Ghomeshi’s statement from the standpoint of a dedicated and long-time fan, someone who was inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. And the further I read, the more my heart sank: it reads entirely like abuser rhetoric and gas-lighting. It was raw and emotional, yes, but it was textbook justification. Of course an employer has no place in the private or sexual lives of its employees – this was clearly not that.

Then came the article in the Toronto Star this morning, detailing conversations with four separate women who allege that Ghomeshi did, in fact, abuse them without consent. So much for the “jilted ex-lover” defense. And they will likely never come forward to press charges or make public accusations because they fear Internet retaliation. A very real and very terrible reality, one I completely understand. I have experienced my own share of violent threats for being a woman online: one needn’t exercise much speculation to understand why these women would shy away from public court cases or lawsuits or accusations. It’s dangerous enough to be a woman these days, let alone a woman who dares to stand up publicly against abuse. Who among us doesn’t understand that fear? We can make the logical arguments about why we are obligated to report cases of abuse or rape and how victims names are shielded (tell that to the victims of Internet doxxing) but the truth is that most cases of abuse and rape go unreported for very real reasons, let alone the public interest component here. The lack of formal charges proves nothing, either way: it doesn’t prove it happened but it doesn’t prove that it didn’t either. And now come the women weighing in on the comment sections of the articles, claiming similar experiences.

So I’m left not knowing whether to cry or throw things. Instead, I’m sitting down to write this post – against my better judgement, if only for the spam comments I’ll receive alone, let alone the rest of the very real and rational reasons as both a Christian and a feminist to never write on this topic.

Because this isn’t really about Jian Ghomeshi right now. After all, we have no idea of the particulars or details or truth here, not yet anyway. He claims persecution for his sexual appetites, the victims are claiming abuse. It’s complex and I pray that the truth will come out and that justice will be done.

Really, this is about the acceptability of sexualized violence against women.

Feminists have long been split on these sex-related issues, from being anti-pornography to pro-pornography, pro-sex-work and anti-sex-work, anti-BDSM to pro-BDSM. There are scholarly arguments for all sides, I’ve read them and I understand how each side arrives at their conclusions on a purely academic basis. I also know why I land where I land on those issues for more reasons than simply my Christian convictions.

Consent always lies at the heart of the arguments: is there consent? If yes, then go for it. Mutual consent is the new moral arbitrator for our sexuality.

I understand that logic. It makes sense to me from an academic or secular standpoint, absolutely. I understand that if Ghomeshi is proven to have engaged in these acts with consent, that it falls within acceptable boundaries for most.

But that logic fails to take one thing into account for me: the whole “Jesus” part of being a Jesus feminist.

I’m a feminist because I follow Jesus, my feminism is shaped by my discipleship to Jesus. And so yes, I dare to have an opinion precisely because of that distinction.

I’ve grappled with writing about sexuality on several occasions – mainly because I think the Church has often gotten it so wrong. Over the years, I’ve taken issue with everything from purity culture to modesty rules to how we treat those of us who not only engaged in premarital sex but dared to enjoy it as “damaged goods.” I’m never one to argue for repression or shaming as healthy sexuality, let alone someone who places one individual in the relationship (typically the man) as the sun around which our mutual sexuality should orbit. I rarely fall neatly on any one “side” – I’m often too conservative for liberals and too liberal for conservatives.

Christians rarely hear a healthy and freeing message about their sexuality, about the importance of consent and mutuality, about being in charge of our own bodies, about the realities of sex right alongside of the delights and desires, let alone a sexual ethic that tenderly cares for victims of abuse. We tend to take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to sexuality, painting with broad brushes across complex people, ignoring nuance and making up a new law, one that – let’s be honest – usually puts women at risk of abuse or shame-based rhetoric.

I remain wary and yet here I am with a broad brush and a soapbox: this way of treating each other – violence, dominance, bondage, abuse, exploitation – is wrong. WRONG.

We who claim to follow Jesus know that there isn’t really any corner of our lives that is exempt from our discipleship. We are a people who are meant to be a glimpse of life the way that God intended it to be, we’re to be about the business of living prophetically into the Kingdom of God right now. We are people of shalom.

This means seeing the humanity in one another, justice, mercy, faithfulness, loving one another well, peace-making, even purity (a much misunderstood word) and mutual honour. And that commitment includes our sexuality and our most intimate partners.

These kinds of sexual acts are dehumanizing, period. Full stop.

Even if there is consent, it is dehumanizing to fantasize about and enact sexual violence against women. It’s a short walk from fantasizing about violence and rape to becoming someone who commits violence and rape – and even with consent, it is wrong to do so. These acts are dehumanizing and soul-sucking for all participants.

As we think in our heart, so we are, according to Proverbs. Or as Marshall McLuhan wrote, beholding is becoming.

So here, this theologically and socially progressive Christian feminist will say it:

These sexual acts have simply become a socially acceptable way of excusing dehumanizing each other, of abuse, abuse grooming, oppression, language of hate, rape, and violence. Even with consent, it’s exploitative, evil, and wrong. 

All of those acts of sexualized violence run completely counter to the way we are to treat one another, according to the Church and to the Spirit. We are called in Scripture to honour God with our bodies – these acts are not honour. And even apart from the specifics in Scripture about sex in particular, we have a whole ethic for how we treat one another now in the Kingdom of God – with love.

Christian relationships are meant to be characterized by mutuality, not dominance.

Our sexuality isn’t exempt from our identity in Christ.

Scripturally, sex is intrinsically connected to love. And the one who is Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13 among other beautiful qualities as patient and kind, not boastful or rude, it doesn’t demand its own way, our example is to be a people who are faithful and hopeful. We’re made in the image of Love. We are to treat each other in this way.

People are sacred. Women are sacred. Men are sacred. Our bodies are not separate from our spirituality – our bodies matter, our words matter, the way we treat each other sexually matters, the way we believe we should be treated sexually matters.

Then there is this….

In a world where women are repeatedly and consistently raped and abused, how dare we?

Oh, I’m angry. How dare we?

How dare we make light of the very real terror and horror that women have endured and are enduring? You talk to a woman who has been raped or sexually violated or beaten or abused and then try to tell me that it’s okay to be turned on by that. It is NOT okay. It is never okay, it never will be okay. Violence against women is epidemic and evil, it’s not to be mined for sexual pleasure. How dare we forget our sisters? How dare we make light of or sexualize for our own pleasures the unmitigated horror that is endured by women even at this moment? Whether in the context of a classroom power dynamic or a war torn refugee camp, women are preyed upon, groomed for abuse and abused in horrifying numbers in this way from the youngest to the oldest. There are women who believe they deserve to be treated in this way – think about that for a second.

From the account of creation in Scripture, we see that we are all made in the image of God. These acts are part of the Curse in the garden, right along with patriarchy: dominance and an absence of mutuality is not our identity in Christ.  Calling these acts by pithy acronyms or pontificating about consent don’t remove the inherent violence and evil of them.

What a tactic of the enemy – to take the very thing that is a curse upon us and twisting it to make it seem acceptable.

I don’t care if it’s soft patriarchy or BDSM, this is an example of the enemy twisting the very thing that enslaves us, the curse, a consequence of the Fall, and making us think it’s not only acceptable but sexy and desirable. We have been set free from walking in that oppression.

This post isn’t about Ghomeshi. Not really. We don’t know enough to make claims yet and it might very well be none of our business. We can only pray for true justice to be done now, however that shakes down.

But it is about the larger question – how do we view women? how do we treat women? how do we think about women? what is an acceptable way to treat another human being who is made in the image of God? and what do those things say about not only us but the God whom we claim to know? what does this say to the women among us who are abused and sexually violated?

We should be part of redemption, not part of promoting the acceptability of oppression.

 image source, used with permission

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