Women's Issues

The "Gender Pay Gap" Isn't What You Think It Is

"[T]he commonly reported figure...is derived by taking the total annual earnings of men in the American economy in a given year and dividing that by the number of male workers....Then you do the same thing but for women. The average annual women’s earnings come in at about 80 percent of the average annual man’s earnings." - Harvard Study: Gender Pay Gap Explained Entirely by Work Choices of Men and Women

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Why I Tell Every Woman I Know To Read "The Gift of Fear"

It seems trite to say, “This book changed my life.” But The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker changed the way I think about how to protect myself and my kids from abuse and violence—which changed the way I view the world, and how I act in it. I have no hesitation recommending this as a Must Read for every woman, and every man who is concerned about the women in his life.

I used to think it was my Christian duty to allow myself to remain in uncomfortable and compromising situations because I needed to be friendly, gracious, and live up to my responsibility to witness to everyone I came in contact with. I thought I had to tolerate behaviors I felt were disrespectful and, at times, downright rude, because I was supposed to ‘turn the other cheek,’ be forgiving, love others as God loved me… Doubts or uneasiness were dismissed as the kind of fear condemned in 2 Timothy 1:7, or just female hysteria.

I felt trapped until I read The Gift of Fear, in which de Becker explores the patterns of violence and gives women (and men) the tools they need to listen to their instincts and predict possible danger:

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Teach Like a Girl

Doris Day in "Teacher's Pet," 1958.

Over the holidays, I took a bit of time away from writing. In a pastor’s family, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are one full-out sprint. There’s all the normal busyness as well as a full calendar of Advent-related activities—pageants, cookie exchanges, evening fellowships, and caroling. Once we hit Christmas Day, though, things tend to settle down, and I have time to visit with family and do extra reading.

One of the books I discovered over the holidays is a collection of vignettes about the women of the New Testament. I was prepping for this year’s women’s Bible study at church and like any good teacher (who is consistently running just shy of deadline), my first stop was the Amazon search engine. I typed in “Women of the New Testament” and one of the first entries was written by, of all people, Abraham Kuyper. Apparently in the midst of reforming turn-of-the-century Dutch society, establishing an entire branch of theology, and pastoring multiple congregations, Kuyper also had time to write on women of the Bible. (Abraham Kuyper: Statesman, Theologian, and Father of the Modern Women’s Bible Study?)

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Who's Afraid of Proverbs 31?

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Any woman who has been part of organized women’s ministry knows that sooner or later you’re going to encounter Proverbs 31. This passage is a mainstay for discussions about Christian womanhood; and in our consumer-driven culture, it graces everything from Bible covers to handbags to refrigerator magnets.

But recently, several women have been challenging a typical approach to this text. At the recent Q event, Women and Calling, progressive blogger and author Rachel Held Evans reiterated her long-standing concern that we tend to misuse this passage, making it more of a “Pintrest page come to life” than the poem it is. Sarah Bessey makes the same point in the recently released Jesus Feminist. She writes:

Some evangelicals have turned Proverbs 31 into a woman’s job description instead of what it actually is: the blessing and affirmation of valor for the lives of women… It is meant as a celebration for the everyday moments of valor for everyday women, not as an impossible exhausting standard.

These women have a legitimate concern. How many Mother’s Day sermons or Bible studies have turned Proverbs 31 into a checklist? How many times have teachers used it to reinforce their private applications of gender? How many times have you felt defeated from just listening to such sermons? So let me go on record as saying that I agree with Evans and Bessey. With one caveat.

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