When I Have a Daughter (A Response to the Gospel Coalition)

I plan to have a family one day.

When I have a daughter, I plan to instill in her wisdom, kindness, generosity, independence, and intelligence.
When I have a daughter, I will guide her in her relationship with God. I will teach her to “do justice and love mercy” as Micah 6:8 instructs.
When I have a daughter, I will teach her to love others and treat them the way she would want them to treat her.
I will teach her to be open and honest about her own sexuality, and will freely answer any questions she has, regardless of how embarrassing.
But most importantly, I will warn her. About Christian men who think like this. I will remind her that no matter where she goes in life, and what she accomplishes, there will always be people, men in particular, who do not believe she has the right to exist as an independent, free-thinking woman.
I will remind her that there will always be men who are comfortable in a system that gives them power over women.

I will tell her that she has a right occupy public spaces without being harassed by strange men who believe they are entitled to her attention simply because they possess a Y chromosome.
I will warn her against thinking that tells her sex is merely something that a man does to a woman.

I will tell her that there will always be men that believe they were put on this earth to “penetrate and conquer” rather than “nurture and cherish.” There will always be men who, rather then take a long look inward at what internalized beliefs of masculinity would drive a man to sexually violate a woman, would rather place the blame on “society’s failure to protect women” or the failure of women to understand that they are only put on this earth to “receive” and “accept.”
I will teach her that backwards thinking like this is not meant to encourage healthy relationships between men and women, but to silence women, to shame them, to discourage them from taking control of their own bodies and yes, ENJOYING sexuality on THEIR OWN TERMS.
I will teach her that it is this very type of thinking that drives men to control women, whether it is in a relationship, marriage, workplace, on the street, in schools, and ESPECIALLY in the pulpit.
I will teach her that she was created in the image of God, who is bigger than any small-minded, misogynist, backwards, oppressive thinking that tells men that their masculinity is achieved through force, control, and power.
To all the Jared Wilsons and Doug Wilsons of the world, there will always be people who think like you. Always. But my future daughter will rise above it to be the strong, magnificent, incredible woman that God has made her to be.
Despite PEOPLE. WHO THINK. LIKE. YOU.

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Posted in feminism, gender, oppression, patriarchy, sexism, sexuality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Whose Universal Morals?

Ok, second post! Sorry for the delay…I could make up some grandiose excuse [I got picked to go on Jeopardy. Alien abduction.] but *something* tells me that the 5 of you reading this will see right through that.

Anyway…

When I announced this blog, I had a moment of panic: what in the world am I going to write about? I have always been a “big picture” person, quite skilled at getting brilliant ideas then abandoning them 2 months later for newer, shinier ideas, then abandoning them for another….and the vicious cycle continues. I set about announcing this to everyone I knew with the hope that if I told enough people, I would stick to it. My primary hope for this blog was not so much to be on a soapbox (although I will get one from time to time) but to simply challenge people to ask questions about faith. The photo “All religion is local” is relevant to the topic of moving beyond culture wars because it reminds us of how heavily influenced our religious beliefs are by our environment.

It took moving across the ocean to Ghana for me to realize that there isn’t just *one* way to practice Christianity, but honestly, there are examples right here in the U.S. NO ONE, no matter how much scripture they quote or how many years they spent in seminary/divinity school/Bible college has the monopoly on how to be a Christian. It’s not to say we should just give up, but I’ve heard too many sermons that fail to understand the simple fact that American Christianity is a syncretized religion. Faith, religion, and one’s personal beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum, they are shaped and influenced by their environment. But how do I convey this?

I wrote some of these thoughts down over a year ago, after a brief stint with a small group at a local church in DC. (I no longer attend the small group or the church.) I was initially excited about joining a group in which we read and discussed C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. (I still highly recommend this book) During a discussion about the section “Christian Behavior” which explains Christian morality. I (cautiously) suggested that, perhaps, there may not necessarily be a “universal” morality; that it is informed by one’s culture.
Another group member took issue with this statement and suggested that, particularly in a diverse city like DC where there are so many cultures; this concept has the potential to lead to chaos. With so many different ways of thinking/doing things, wouldn’t that just lead to an anything goes mentality? It seemed to this person that this kind of thinking could lead down a dangerous path.

Which, of course, was not the point I was trying to make. But I find that whenever I broach the subject of cultural or moral relativity, especially when it intersects with Christian morals, I’m constantly met with the same resistance from other Christians.  I find it frustrating when someone makes the giant leap from “my universal morality may not exactly line up with yours” to “Anything goes! Everyone dance naked in the streets!”*

Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but seriously, how do we get there?  Isn’t there a happy medium?  How do you convey the importance of recognizing other worldviews without the appearance of wishy-washiness?
I plan to pose many of the posts on this blog as the start of a conversation, and I’d love to hear from you: how do you reconcile this as a person of faith?

*Not necessarily condemning nor condoning dancing naked in the streets.

Posted in books, culture, evangelicals, evangelism | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Welcome!

Six years ago, when I entered a graduate program in anthropology, I had specific research interests in mind. I wanted to study the African diaspora, and how African-Americans have retained the culture of our ancestors. I was passionate about the disapora and immigration, and was going to find a way to combine the two subjects.

I wanted to study religion as well, although that was secondary. So I set about my studies, taking classes on the Middle Passage and West African History.  But I gradually began to notice: my focus kept shifting back to religion, particularly Christianity. Of course, faith has always been a part of my life, although my own theological views had shifted from fairly conservative to raging bleeding heart liberal during the course of my twenties.

I also noticed that I was engaging in a ton of conversations about Christianity with my friends in my department. There were even a couple of times where I found myself to be the culture broker, explaining the reasoning behind particular evangelical Christian rhetoric, sharing my own experiences growing up in a conservative Christian context, etc.

Finally, toward the end of my final year in grad school, I had the opportunity to work on a project that examined the role of faith-based organizations in theology and stewardship. The research focused on churches and organizations from a variety of faith traditions, including evangelical Christian. As I conducted research, I realized that, as an insider, there were a lot of cultural nuances I could identify, and that I was passionate about fleshing out those nuances and disseminating them to a larger audience.

It was my experiences as a missionary kid that led me to the field of anthropology to begin with. Living in Ghana as a teenager expanded my worldview and helped me realize that God was so much bigger than the one I learned about from the pulpit, church youth group, or Christian teen magazines I read.

So, the point of that somewhat long-winded story? I decided to start this blog primarily as an outlet. For years I’ve grappled with questions (in my head as a child, out loud as an adult) about much of North American evangelical Christianity. I hope to examine some of these beliefs and the way they intersect with race, class, gender, and politics through the lens of anthropology, and create a forum for others to discuss this as well.

Welcome, everyone!

Posted in anthropology, culture, evangelicals | 3 Comments