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Currently Reading: Women, Leadership, and the Bible

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Have you wondered what the Bible says about women in leadership?  Have you heard people express strong, conflicting viewpoints on a theological issue and wondered how they can arrive at such different truths when starting with the same book?  Have you wanted to study for yourself, but felt paralyzed by an overwhelming topic?

This is the book you’ve been looking for!

And it is the book I’ve been looking for too!

If you’ve read my blog for long, you’ll know that I’m passionate about women and Christianity.  I have recommended books on the topic of women in leadership before, but I still hadn’t found the right book.  I wanted to find a book that could be my “go to” recommendation and I wanted it to be focused on studying the issue, not on someone’s opinion.

Dr. Natalie R. Wilson Eastman wrote the book I was looking for and she far surpassed my expectations.

Women, Leadership, and the Bible is truly tremendous.  Natalie took a heavy, hotly-debated topic and wrote a book that is accessible, thorough, thoughtful, and even funny at times.

Instead of telling her readers what to think on this topic, Natalie tells them how to think.  In fact, Natalie never actually reveals what “camp” she falls into so this book is for complementarians and egalitarians alike.  And it is also for people who don’t know what either of those terms mean.   🙂

Women, Leadership, and the Bible will challenge you to be a better thinker and to carefully evaluate the Bible and other people’s interpretations.  I love what Natalie said in the Introduction:

I don’t want to tell women what to think.  Plenty of Christian resources and people are quite ready to tell women exactly what to think about theological issues.

I want to help women learn to think for themselves.  This book exists to help equip women to move beyond surface Bible study into a deeper understanding of how to “do” interpretation and how to “do” theology.  In this book, I help women learn those skills in the process of exploring and discerning biblical and theological answers to their questions about the issue of women’s roles in church leadership.

And that is exactly what she does!  Natalie breaks down the intimidating interpretive process into small, accessible steps.  She is constantly encouraging and reminding her readers that they can study this topic well, even if they don’t have a background in theology.  Through multiple appendices and her website, Natalie gives her readers the resources they need to study.  Also included throughout the book are insights from her mentors who have studied this issue on their own.

What I love about this book is that it applies to so much more than gender issues.  The same intense study process that Natalie walks you through could be applied to any theological issue.  I kept thinking that this book seemed like a seminary class (or three!) rolled into a book.

Women, Leadership and the Bible is worth every penny – I hope that you’ll buy or borrow a copy today and start working through it.  I believe that every Christian would benefit by reading this book!

 

p.s. If you’re on Goodreads, don’t forget to add this to your “To Read” list!

 

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Our “No Spanking” Commitment

Why We Decided NOT To Spank Our Son

When our son turned two last month, we entered the notorious “terrible twos”.  And we did so with a commitment to NO SPANKING.

Before Hadden was born we agreed  that we either didn’t want to spank him at all or that we wanted to save spanking for the gravest of circumstances (i.e. one where he would be in immediate, mortal danger if he didn’t obey – we haven’t come across any of those situations in the past two years.).

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As he’s gotten older, I’ve reinforced my commitment to not spanking.  Here’s why:

1.  Studies consistently show that spanking isn’t good for children

Spanking is linked to lower gray matter, higher levels of aggression and mental illnesses.  As one researcher said, “There’s no study that I’ve ever done that’s found a positive consequence of spanking,” Correlations doesn’t equal causation, of course.  But these studies aren’t to be taken lightly either.

2.  We would never spank an adult

It is never okay to hit another adult.  It is a serious issue whether it happens in the workplace or the home.  So why would we think it is okay to hit the smallest, most vulnerable members of our society?  Children are the most likely to misunderstand being hit and (due to their small size) they’re the most likely to be injured.

3.  It teaches the wrong thing

It is bizarre to me that we scold little children for hitting or grabbing another child, yet so many children are still being spanked at home.  I think we’re modeling the wrong behavior when we discipline children using corporal punishment.

4.  I can do better

I firmly believe that I do better than spank my child.  There are times when spanking seems like it the easiest option, but I think we can learn better, more effective and less harmful parenting habits.

But what about the Bible?

Ah, yes.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians defend spanking, joke about spanking or even act like it is a biblical mandate we should follow.  I shutter every time.

To be frank, I think it is generally misguided to use the Bible to defend spanking.  I can’t deny that the Bible mentions and condones corporal punishment, but it also condones making a woman marrying her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and I haven’t heard any Christians advocating for that recently.

I think it is our job to exegete these passages correctly and we must take that task seriously.

I see two major flaws with using the Bible to advocate spanking:

1.  Inconsistency

The Bible talks of “a rod for the backs of fools” (Prov 26:3).  This character of the fool is mentioned all throughout Proverbs and there’s no age limit on it.  In fact, I’d guess that most of the references to the fool are actually referring to an adult.  Thus we must conclude that the Bible is advocating for spanking (really, beating) foolish adult with a rod.  If pro-spanking advocates are going to use the Bible to defend spanking, they must agree that it includes adults  such as husbands who have foolish wives or employers who have foolish employees.

2.   Softening the Language

Proverbs  23:13 says “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”  I’ve never heard a Christian say that you should beat your children with a rod, but this is what the Bible says.  Christians generally advocate for cautious spanking, but say that it is biblically based.  But they are really re-creating spanking into what they want while saying it has roots in the Bible.  To be frank, it doesn’t.  Articles on “biblical spanking” (like this one from Focus on the Family) are far kinder and softer than what the Bible advocates.  I wonder why they’re willing to be selective about the verses they use and why they find it necessary to soften the language so much while still holding that this is a biblical practice.

 

Does this mean that we ignore anything the Bible says on raising children?  No.  It certainly says a lot about discipling your children well and I believe that we can do that without spanking them.  What it does mean is that we exegete more carefully and thoroughly before we condone corporal punishment as “biblical”.

This is an absolutely overwhelming  topic and I know that I can’t do it justice in a blog post,  so I’ll direct you to William Webb’s excellent book Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic for Troubling Texts.

 

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