From school and work to fatherhood and friendship, we need a vision of manhood that both sexes can celebrate.
Years ago, a friend told me about an awkward conversation with a female coworker. In between meetings, he had mentioned a Wall Street Journal article about declining college enrollment for men across America, a trend so advanced that men now trail women by record levels and colleges are ramping up their efforts to recruit men. Expecting a sympathetic response, he was caught off guard when she declared, in a nonplussed tone, “And now whose fault is that?”
At this point, he remembered that his coworker was a strong advocate for women’s rights. He guessed her harsh response was pinned to a belief that sympathy for men would detract from women’s longstanding struggle for gender equity. Yet he didn’t want to picture these causes as locked in a zero-sum contest. As he put the question to me one afternoon, “Can’t we care both about women’s rights and vulnerable men and boys at the same time?”
It’s a good question.
Richard Reeves’s groundbreaking book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do about It makes a convincing case that men across the modern world are indeed struggling and need our attention.
Reeves, a Brookings Institution scholar, marshals an array of eye-opening statistics to make his point. For instance, did you know that girls regularly outperform boys in education? Girls are 14 percentage points more likely than boys to be “school ready” at age five, and by high school, girls now account for two-thirds of students ranked in the top 10 percent, according to GPA. The gender gap widens even further in higher education: In the US, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded to women, ...
This month, white Christians can love their Black siblings in the church by seeing their struggles in context.
When I was a college student, Black History Month came around and my church took the time to celebrate. People dressed in African garb, sermons addressed the struggles Black people everywhere faced, and the congregation took action steps to help marginalized people.
But my Bible college at the time did nothing. There were no school-sponsored events or presentations on this topic, and professors avoided the topic altogether. I sat in class, shifting uneasily between anger and sadness. I could not understand how a topic so important in one culture could be so completely ignored and buried in another.
Confused, I asked one of my white friends to explain why nobody acknowledged Black History Month. His response was like that of his colleagues. “I don’t see color,” he replied, delivering this line as if it were a mic-drop moment.
To him, it was a no-brainer. But what my friend failed to realize is that when Black and brown people hear the words “I don’t see color,” what we really hear is that our color—which makes us who we are—can be easily dismissed. It tells us that the way God created us is somehow invalid and that only without color are we worthy to be recognized and valued.
Every single time a white brother or sister says this to me, it makes me feel the weight of my ancestors’ mistreatment and suffering. Imagine telling people who wake up Black every single day that they live in a society that doesn’t see color—when every experience they have suggests otherwise!
And herein lies the problem. Because many white Christians have not witnessed racial injustice firsthand, they feel no need to discuss the topic.
My battle with postpartum anxiety challenged the limits I’d placed on how God can heal us.
Pregnancy and postpartum hormones make the world go round—they can create lives and sustain them, but they can also make mothers feel like monsters.
Hormones are the guardians of our sanity, and mine went barreling down the black diamond trail after I had both of my daughters. The challenge of raising a newborn is substantial for those who have normal levels of estrogen and progesterone, but it can be far worse when those hormones are out of balance.
My two girls, Elaine and Olivia, are the apples of my eye, but giving birth to them did a number on me. Within 24 hours of each delivery, I became wracked with anxiety and started losing touch with reality. Icy panic shot through my veins on an hourly basis. I felt exiled from a world of banal, peaceful rhythms.
I can’t remember ever once standing over my newborns’ crib to dote while they slept. I was completely preoccupied with my own sleep, or lack thereof. I rolled in the sheets, listening to my husband’s heavy breathing with envy. I felt completely isolated, abandoned. I tried to sleep everywhere, anywhere. Under my desk. On the floor. Far away from the crib. In my tiny sedan outside.
I eked out a few hours here and there, but each night as the sun set, my anxiety would skyrocket as that “what-if” monster straddled my brain: What if I can’t sleep and I fall apart and lash out at my loved ones and fail to care for my newborn and I disappoint everyone? I wondered, hourly, if I would ever see my girls laugh, toss their hair, and run together in the grass.
The first time around, I didn’t understand what was happening to me—I had heard of postpartum depression, but not anxiety. I had a smooth pregnancy and a natural birth resulting ...
Can human sexuality be a nonessential issue for a denomination that seeks to “stand in the center”?
The Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) does not ask its pastors to subscribe to extensive statements of faith. The denomination wants church leaders to unify around six essential doctrines concerning salvation, the Bible, the significance and mission of the church, the role of the Holy Spirit, and freedom in Christ.
And since 2015, it has also asked ECC ministers to refrain from participating in same-sex weddings.
That last detail has become a sticking point for some ECC pastors who have changed their position on whether or not faithful Christians can be in same-sex relationships—and whether or not that should be a litmus test for fellowship.
“We agree on 99.9 percent of things,” said Micah Witham, an LGBT-affirming pastor at Awaken Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. “This one matter … I would contend is a nonessential.”
This summer the denomination’s pastors will vote on whether or not to expel Awaken and Quest Church, in Seattle, for their positions on LGBT issues. The Covenant Executive Board voted in October 2022 to remove both from the roster of ECC churches after pastors from the Washington State and Minnesota congregations participated in same-sex weddings.
This isn’t a new fight for the ECC. In 2018, the denomination suspended a North Park University chaplain who officiated a wedding for two men. The following year, First Covenant Church, a prominent and historic Minneapolis congregation, was expelled after church leaders said they would affirm LGBT members, host same-sex weddings, and ordain married gay people.
Some hoped the decisive action would settle the issue. But Dan Collison, pastor of First Covenant, said at the time he didn’t think the conversation was over.
The case of Mark Houck was one of more than two dozen the DOJ has pursued against pro-life protestors since “Dobbs.”
Update (January 30, 2023): On Monday, a jury acquitted pro-life protestor Mark Houck of federal charges related to pushing an abortion clinic escort.
Houck’s federal case, where he faced up to 11 years in prison, was one of more than two dozen filed against pro-life protestors in the months after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson.
The charges fell under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act, which makes it a crime to impede access to clinics. In Houck’s federal trial in Pennsylvania last week, the judge had asked whether the FACE Act was “stretched a little thin here,” according to Catholic News Agency.
A Catholic, Houck had been volunteering alongside his 12-year-old son in 2021 with 40 Days for Life, a Christian group that organizes prayer vigils outside abortion clinics, when he got into an altercation with a 72-year-old clinic escort. Forty Days for Life said the clinic escort began to “verbally abuse” Houck’s son, and the indictment said Houck pushed the escort. The escort testified in the trial that he skinned his elbow and bruised his palm, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The case drew particular attention–including a night of prayer before the trial began last week–because of its handling by federal officials. After local prosecutors declined to file charges, federal prosecutors took the unusual approach of treating Houck as a flight risk and arrested him with a team of FBI agents a year after the clinic incident.
In a statement following the verdict, Houck’s attorney Peter Breen called the case “harassment from day one.”
Some pro-lifers have complained that the DOJ has not pursued cases against ...
An independent commission concluded that dozens of women were violated by Vanier and his mentor under exploitative spiritual disciplines.
Two years after abuse allegations against L’Arche’s late founder Jean Vanier were made public, an investigation shows the secret was “carefully maintained for decades.”
From the famous Christian community he developed in Trosly-Breuil, France, the Catholic theologian and leader perpetuated a hidden “mystical-sexual” sect. Over a nearly 70-year period, Vanier violated at least 25 women—all of them adults without disabilities—during prayer and spiritual devotion.
The results of the two-year investigation, commissioned by L’Arche in 2020, were released in an 868-page report on Monday. A half dozen of Vanier’s victims spoke up for the first time following his death in 2019 at age 90.
An interdisciplinary team of scholars consulted 1,400 private letters of Vanier’s, including hundreds from a secret folder. They interviewed 89 people, including eight of Vanier’s victims.
L’Arche became well-known and spread around the world as an organization bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities. While the ministry brought dignity and fellowship to the vulnerable over the decades, the report suggests that Vanier founded L’Arche as a cover to reunite a group who practiced contemplation and spiritual direction with nudity and sexual touch.
“The courage of the women and Vanier’s death in 2019 led to archival research that revealed … that Vanier was part of a small sectarian group that subscribed to … predatory and deviant doctrine and practices,” wrote Tina Bovermann, executive director of L’Arche USA. “L’Arche’s members, partners and friends were lied to and deceived by Vanier.” ...
Two recent books discuss how our conception of gender relates to our perception of God.
Two books published last year by Wm. B. Eerdmans are attempting to confront our assumptions about the gender of God from two different angles.
God Is, by Mallory Wyckoff, is more personal and more expansive in its role casting of the divine, while Women and the Gender of God, by Amy Peeler, is more scholarly, systematic, and orthodox in its claims about God’s nature.
To be candid, I nearly wrote the foreword for Wyckoff’s book because I was so excited by its approach to the topic. God Is counters the “default notion of God as an old male figure in the skies” by showing God is, as one chapter title intimates, “more than we’ve been led to believe.”
Wyckoff addresses a dozen-plus potentially new “God is” statements: “Mother,” “Midwife,” “Hostess,” “Home.” It is a brave book with more to learn from than to disagree with. However, I was not merely uncomfortable with the chapters where God is “Sexual Trauma Survivor” and “Wisdom Within”; I found them heterodox. The former pushes the boundary of analogy in a way that doesn’t fit, and the latter is the title of a heresy.
For Wyckoff, the more you learn about yourself, the more your conceptions of God change. In part, this observation rings true. As we grow in life and faith, we should move from milk to meat, as the apostle Paul implies (1 Cor. 3:2–6). Wyckoff notes that aging moved her into new ways of imagining God: “In each season of life, with each iteration of myself, I have seen God reflected in multiple lights. I have encountered various images of the God who is all and none of them.” Likewise, she wants to expand our notions of ...
After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 2022, many commentators insisted that the time for monarchy has passed. The crown is a gaudy bauble unsuited to the modern, utilitarian state, so arguments generally went, not to mention a medieval anachronism that makes a messy mix of religion and politics.
I’m sensitive to the appeal of both arguments, especially the latter. But with a view from the States after eight years of acrid and tumultuous politics—and with another presidential campaign on the verge of further embittering our national life—the monarchy has begun to look pretty handy.
Its use is not, as critics tend to assume, in creating a grandiosity of state. It is rather in containing it, attaching it to a figure whose relative permanence, undemocratic selection, and minimal real power allow him to absorb outbursts of national feeling instead of such outbursts loosing their chaos into workaday politics and governance. Give us a king like the other nations have, I am increasingly inclined to plead, so that he might provide a stabler outlet for our anger, fear, and aspirations.
That’s not to say, of course, that the United Kingdom’s politics are never vitriolic or overwrought. But the contrast in how the US and UK handle our respective heads of government is telling.
There, an unpopular prime minister may be ignominiously tossed out in a matter of weeks. Here, presidential elections have stretched into two-year sagas, each dubbed the most important of our lifetimes and treated as an existential battle for ...
Two British citizens face criminal penalties for violating buffer zones.
Prayer outside abortion facilities is drawing prosecution in multiple cases across the UK.
Adam Smith-Connor prayed silently on a public street in Bournemouth, England, earlier this month, his back to an abortion clinic. When community safety officers asked what he was doing, he told them he was “praying for [his] son, who is deceased.”
The officers expressed condolences but then said Smith-Connor, a 49-year-old physical therapist and British army veteran, was “in breach” of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), according to a video of the incident. Later he was fined.
The PSPO at issue is a local ordinance enacted in October 2022 establishing a “safe zone” comprising multiple city blocks surrounding the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) abortion clinic. The ordinance prohibits protesting “whether by yourself or with others,” and it defines protesting to include prayer.
The deceased son Smith-Connor referenced to the officers was aborted nearly three decades ago, he explained in a release from Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADFI), a conservative legal group supporting him. Smith-Connor paid for the abortion but now regrets it and believes the procedure harms babies, women, and families.
“I would never have imagined being in a position to risk a criminal record for praying silently,” Smith-Connor said.
Smith-Connor isn’t the only UK resident to be punished recently for silent prayer outside an abortion clinic. Pro-life activist Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested in Birmingham in December for violating a similar PSPO. When asked by authorities what she was doing near an abortion facility, she replied that she might have been praying. She was asked ...
It’s not necessary to condone her exhortations to curse God. But we should seek to understand them.
You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in French. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Indonesian.
After seeing her husband lose his fortune, his family, and his health, Job’s wife is at her wit’s end. “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity?” she asks her husband in Job 2:9 (NLT). “Curse God and die!”
This is the only time Job’s wife’s voice appears in this 42-chapter book. We learn scant details about her. Even her name is unknown.
We know, however, that she is the wife of the book’s “hero.” A man described as “blameless and upright,” who “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). A man who is wealthy, blessed with many children, and “the greatest man among all the people of the East” (v. 3).
As the story begins, the narrator presents Job to us as a man who is both upright and respected. We can therefore deduce that his wife is a woman of the upper class, probably as influential as her husband. As mother of a large family, manager of the household, she is used to a certain lifestyle. We do not know her degree of faith, but nothing suggests that she does not respect the God of her husband or follow his religious practices.
Suddenly, in just a few verses, her husband loses his herds and wealth (and with that his social status and power), his children, his servants, and finally his health:
“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet ...
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