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One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to cbmwoffice@cbmw.org with the subject “News Roundup.”

Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Maryland banned a school from voucher program over anti-LGBT views. It says that violates religious freedom., The Baltimore Sun (Liz Bowie)

“A private Christian school that doesn’t accept same-sex marriage or transgender people says Maryland unfairly threw it out of a school voucher program because of its religious beliefs. Administrators of the multimillion-dollar scholarship program counter that the state can’t allow taxpayer money to go to any institution — religious or otherwise — that discriminates against students because of their sexual orientation.”

Nashville Presbytery of the PCA should support intersex community, The Tennessean (Lianne Simon)

“I’ve met hundreds of other people whose bodies aren’t completely male or female. Understand this: The Nashville Statement drives intersex people away from the Gospel. Historically, doctors have castrated us, surgically assigned us a sex, given us hormones, told us lies, kept secrets from us and caused us to live in shame, all in the name of their precious binary vision of sex. When someone says that we should embrace our biological sex, what we hear is that they approve of the things being done to us to coerce our bodies and our genders. One of the primary authors of the Nashville Statement has spoken out against childhood cosmetic genital surgeries — and we applaud that — but he reduces sex to the presence or absence of a Y chromosome. And the Nashville Statement insists that a person’s gender must follow their sex. “

Christian speaker pulled from Texas design conference over ‘safe space’ concerns, The Washington Times (Jessica Chasmer)

“The graphic design Circles Conference in Texas announced this week that it’s pulling a church leader from its list of speakers after people complained he might make others feel unsafe. David Roark, the communications and resources director for The Village Church, a megachurch based in Flower Mound, Texas, was uninvited from the three-day conference to take place in September after the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) refused to participate because of his inclusion. The group claimed that The Village Church “does not meet our standards of inclusion because of openly discriminatory policies and practices towards women and the LGBTQ+ community.””

Riverside Church congregants call for reinstatement of first female minister after her exit following a sex shop visit, The Washington Post (Hannah Natanson)

“The church’s contract negotiations with Butler over the past few months stalled in part over her desire for an approximately $100,000 compensation increase to match what her male predecessor made, according to the three people and one other person familiar with the proceedings. Another sticking point was Butler’s request that the church adopt a policy mandating stricter discipline of laypeople who commit misconduct such as sexual harassment, according to the four people who spoke to a Post reporter on the condition of anonymity because they were concerned about the repercussions of speaking publicly about the matter. The Sunday meeting was closed to the media. But revelations that Butler took two church employees and a congregant on a visit to a Minnesota sex shop in May ultimately derailed the contract negotiations, according to the four people.”

Dallas Church Offers Free Weddings to Couples Living Together, on One Condition, The New York Times (Tammy La Gorce)

“Every three years since 2010, Pastor Bryan Carter has issued a call to arms to his 8,500 parishioners at Concord, in South Dallas: Disavow living together and commit to marriage. To sweeten the deal, he throws in a free wedding, complete with white gown, tuxedo, wedding bands, bouquets and a post-wedding reception. Mr. Carter officiates for the couples who make it through the 11 weeks of premarital counseling, which is part of the challenge. The handful that bow out of marriage can receive one month’s rent (up to $750) toward a new place to live, so long as it doesn’t include a cohabiting partner.”

Cathedral fired a gay teacher. Brebeuf protected one. They are married to each other, lawyer says., The Indianapolis Star (Arika Herron)

“Joshua Payne-Elliott, the teacher fired from Cathedral High School because of his same-sex marriage, is suing the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Until now, Payne-Elliott had not been identified publicly. His husband, Layton Payne-Elliott, is a teacher at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. They married in 2017. The couple have been at the center of a fight between their schools and the Catholic Church, which directed the schools to fire both men. “

Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

A candidate for governor says a female journalist can’t shadow him – unless she brings a man along, The Washington Post (Deanna Paul)

“Before announcing his campaign to become Mississippi’s governor, state Rep. Robert Foster made a commitment to his wife, Heather. He’d follow the “Billy Graham rule” — which, in his words, means avoiding “any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage.” His personal policy, which is also used by Vice President Pence, presented a problem for Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell. Citing “the optics,” Foster declined Campbell’s request for a 15-hour ride-along, unless she brought a male colleague. Campbell and her editor objected on the grounds that it was sexist, and it prevented her from completing a story assignment about the Republican contenders for governor.”

NYT Writer Says A ‘Just,’ ‘Rational’ Society Would Eliminate Pronouns ‘He’ And ‘She’, The Federalist (Nathanael Blake)

“This effort to control language is a deliberate erasure of the identities of those who have not embraced the latest trends in gender ideology, and who are happy to identify with our biological sex. It is a form of cultural and ideological imperialism directed against us, insofar as it linguistically erases our lived reality of biological sex as an essential, integral part of the human experience, and therefore of our identities.”

The High School Fighting to Save Women’s Sports, National Review (Alexandra DeSanctis)

“For Oakcrest School, the choice to leave the conference was made regretfully, and not on the basis of Catholic teaching about human sexuality, though upholding the school’s mission was at the heart of the decision. “The safety-and-fairness issue for us was the biggest,” Miriam Buono, an administrator at Oakcrest, tells National Review in a phone interview. “Our mission is deeply rooted in the natural law and the teaching of the Catholic Church, and certainly we really understand that girls are girls and boys are boys, and that’s a beautiful thing. But we weren’t going to impose our mission on other schools.” When Oakcrest made a case to the PVAC in opposition to the proposed policy change, it was based not on Catholic beliefs about progressive gender ideology but on concern for the safety and success of its students.”

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired, National Review (Madeleine Kearns)

“llan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation and shared his professional opinion on the medicalization of gender-confused youth. The university responded by demoting him and then effectively firing him. Now he is fighting back. Josephson v. Bendapudi has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.”

A Short Review of Collins’ and Bilge’s Intersectionality, Neil Shenvi – Apologetics (Neil Shenvi)

“Intersectionality is a way of understanding and analyzing the complexity in the world, in people, and in human experiences. The events and conditions of social and political life and the self can seldom be understood as shaped by one factor. They are generally shaped by many factors in diverse and mutually influencing ways. When it comes to social inequality, people’s lives and the organization of power in a given society are better understood as being shaped not by a single axis of social division, be it race or gender or class, but by many axes that work together and influence each other.”

Consensual Non-Monogamy Task Force, American Psychological Association

“The Task Force on Consensual Non-Monogamy promotes awareness and inclusivity about consensual non-monogamy and diverse expressions of intimate relationships. These include but are not limited to: people who practice polyamory, open relationships, swinging, relationship anarchy and other types of ethical, non-monogamous relationships.”

Social health disparities may put LGBT individuals at a higher risk for dementia, Quartz (Katherine Ellen Foley)

“It appears that members of the LGBT community may be at a higher risk of showing early signs of dementia than the straight, cis-gendered population. Presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, a study found that LGBT people are more likely to report that they’ve noticed trouble with their memories or feeling confused in the past year. Although dementia requires a diagnosis from a doctor, in many cases cognitive decline is the first symptom.”

Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

An Epidemic of Disbelief, The Atlantic (Barbara Bradley Hagerty)

“From the moment a woman calls 911 (and it is almost always a woman; male victims rarely report sexual assaults), a rape allegation becomes, at every stage, more likely to slide into an investigatory crevice. Police may try to discourage the victim from filing a report. If she insists on pursuing a case, it may not be assigned to a detective. If her case is assigned to a detective, it will likely close with little investigation and no arrest. If an arrest is made, the prosecutor may decline to bring charges: no trial, no conviction, no punishment.”

The Mystery of Christian Marriage, CBMW (Nathan N. Hoff)

“Biblical marriage is a wonderful thing. The concept of one man and one woman for a lifetime is a goal to which all Christian spouses should aspire. Unfortunately, we live in an age where Christian marriages don’t look all that Christian. Too often, marriages in the church resemble cultural ideas rather than God’s ideal. The result is costlier than many of us realize. When Christian marriage breaks down, it loses something profound. It loses its mystery.”

Beware of a “Test the Fruit” Hermeneutic, Denny Burk (Denny Burk)

“When Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian came out in 2014, I could hardly have imagined how much of an impact it would have among evangelicals. Nevertheless, it has had an impact. Some of the high-profile evangelicals (e.g. Jen Hatmaker) who have come out affirming gay marriage have done so on the basis of arguments found in Vines’ book. Among the ideas from Vines’ book that I still see gaining purchase among evangelicals is a particular hermeneutical oddity that Vines draws from Jesus’ teaching about “trees” and “fruit” in Matthew 7:15-20.”

How Fathers Influence Their Daughters’ Romantic Relationships, Institute for Family Studies (D. Scott Sibley and Katie Granger)

“One of the most important findings from our study involved the importance of father-daughter communication about sex and romantic relationships. Fathers need to have the courage to ask their daughters about relationship concerns. The majority of our participants believed that a lasting benefit from these conversations would be an increase in closeness with their fathers. Uncertainty in romantic relationships, especially among emerging adult women, can stem from many things. The results of our investigation provide further evidence that fathers play an important role in what their daughters believe about dating and marriage.”

The Cracks in the Edifice of Transgender Totalitarianism, Public Discourse (Jane Robbins)

“The transgender castle that radicals have constructed by sheer force of will is built on shifting sand without supports of any kind. The wave that will sweep it away is gaining strength. May the time come soon when we will all say, with observers of past hysterias, “How could we have believed that?””

Episode 7: Singleness, same-sex attraction, and preaching with Sam Alberry, Southern Equip (Hershael York)

“Dr. York sits down with author, pastor, and speaker Sam Allberry to discuss singleness, same-sex attraction, and preaching.”

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Biblical marriage is a wonderful thing. The concept of one man and one woman for a lifetime is a goal to which all Christian spouses should aspire. Unfortunately, we live in an age where Christian marriages don’t look all that Christian. Too often, marriages in the church resemble cultural ideas rather than God’s ideal. The result is costlier than many of us realize. When Christian marriage breaks down, it loses something profound. It loses its mystery.

The first marriage was established when God created the heavens and earth. As the pinnacle of God’s creation, man and woman were created in the image of God and blessed by God to mediate his rule on the earth (Gen 1:26-28). Before the creation of mankind, God had demonstrated his independent rule by naming the cosmos into existence. Through the naming power of his Word, God gave form to what was formless (Gen 1:2a). He filled what was empty (Gen 1:2b) and gave light to what was dark (Gen 1:2c). However, once the cosmos was made, it was Adam who was given the authority to name what God had made as God’s initial representative on earth (Gen 2:19-20).

As Adam named each of the animals God brought before him, he realized his situation was unique. Unlike the animal kinds, Adam was alone (2:20). But it was not God’s intent to leave Adam alone; he planned to make for Adam one who would also bear his image. This jewel of God’s creation would be like Adam and yet distinct from him. She was to carry all the worth inherent in mankind as an image-bearer and representative of God, yet she would “correspond to” (2:18) but not be identical to Adam. While Adam was created male, his partner would be made female and would join him in his rule on the earth. But there was something about marriage that God had not revealed. It was a mystery that awaited the present age.

Although marriage was established in creation, there is something about the relationship between a Christian husband and wife that, like the church, was not revealed in the Old Testament. In the present age, Christian marriage is intended to provide a visible testimony to the relationship Christ has with his church. But this testimony could only be proclaimed if a believing husband and wife embraced their responsibilities in the marriage relationship.

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Eph 5:22-24, NASB).

By embracing submission in the marriage relationship, wives have the privilege to provide a visible testimony proclaiming Church’s relationship to Christ.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .” (Eph 5:25, NASB).

By embracing self-sacrificial love in the marriage relationship, husbands have the privilege to provide a visible testimony proclaiming Christ’s love for the church.

Christian marriage is intended to serve as a picture that proclaims the relationship between Christ and his church. It was an institution designed to make the unseen seen. If a child were to ask, “Dad, how does Christ love the church?” The father should be able to point to his own marriage and say, “Son, do you see how I love your mother? Christ’s love for the church is like that, but it is so much better.” If a child were to ask, “Mom, how does the church relate to Christ?” The mother should be able to point to her own marriage and say, “Son, do you see how I embrace your father’s leadership? That is the way the church relates to Christ.”

The benefit that a vibrant, Christian marriage holds for believers and unbelievers is beyond measure. It makes something intangible tangible and helps Christians understand their own relationship to Christ as members of his body. But the breakdown of Christian marriage comes at a horrifying cost. It robs the church and the world of a living parable that proclaims a profound reality. Even worse, it perverts it.

Those of us who are married need to work to preserve this reality in our own lives as we embrace our unique responsibilities in marriage. For those who have been placed in church leadership positions, commit time to develop the marriages of those that God has placed under your care. We need to preserve and proclaim the mystery of marriage.

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James A. Stahr (June 7, 1926—July 4, 2019), an evangelical churchman who was one of the original founding CBMW Council Members, died last week surrounded by his family in his home in Wheaton, IL. He was 93.

Mr. Stahr’s obituary can be read below:

James A. Stahr, age 93, a resident of Wheaton, IL, died Thursday, July 4th in his home, surrounded by family. He was born June 7, 1926, in Oak Park, IL.

James grew up in LaGrange and, in 1944, moved with his family to New Jersey. Later that year, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  He studied Engineering at Villanova and Rutgers universities. Following graduation enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary graduating in 1952 with a Masters of Theology.  James returned to New Jersey, married Betty Lou Ewen and worked for Western Electric as an electrical engineer. In 1954 they were commended to Christian ministry and boarded a ship in Boston, with their young son, bound for Newfoundland, Canada 

Looking back over his life and ministry James Stahr saw four chapters.  

(1) First came evangelical work and church building in fishing villages on the rugged coast of eastern Newfoundland.

(2) In 1958 he and his family moved to Canada’s other island province, Prince Edward Island, to shepherd a 3-year old assembly in the capital city of Charlottetown. Building up the assembly involved pastoring, preaching, youth work, conducting a weekly radio broadcast, and directing Emmanuel Bible Camp.  Jim and Betty were also the Atlantic Provinces’ Regional Directors for the Emmaus Correspondence School.

(3) In 1971, Jim was appointed Editor of Interest Magazine.

Interest served North American assemblies and home-field workers the way Missions magazine serves foreign missionaries. Jim was Editor for the next 15 years, traveling widely to report on assembly activities.

(4) After 1986, Jim returned to itinerant preaching and writing.  He served on the Executive Board of Emmaus Bible College, traveling regularly to Dubuque, Iowa.

Jim is remembered by his family as a wise counselor who provided his family with a Godly sense of security and stability. He expressed a great sense of humor with entertaining riddles and jokes.  He was widely read, an “open-minded conservative”, with a variety of interests that included current world events, trains, geography, travel, collecting and teaching God’s Word.

James is survived by his son, James (Melissa) Stahr, Jr. of Wheaton, and three daughters, Rebecca (Wayne) MacDougall of Wheaton, Rachel (Michael) Maletich of Wheaton, and Ruth (Matthew) MacPherson of Morrisville, NC.

He is survived by fourteen grandchildren: Taunya (Michael) Madden and Steven (Annie) Stahr and, Melanie (Ben) Stackhouse, Lisa (Sandy) Prosper, Kathryn and Nate MacDougall, Hannah and Peter (Carly) Maletich, Esther (Brian) Carrick, David (Megan), Daniel (Victoria), Ian, Stephen and Grace MacPherson. Thirteen great-grandchildren: Madeline (Adam) Hild, Timothy, Megan and Isaac Madden, Alex, Eli, Gavin and Laura Stahr, Leah, Eric and Carley Stackhouse, Frea MacPherson and Matias Maletich. One great-great grandchild: Audrey Hild. He is also survived by a sister, Audrey (Frank) Barton.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Betty Stahr, his brother Robert Stahr, a grandchild, Sarah Stahr and a daughter-in-law, Brenda Stahr.

Visitation will be held at Hultgren Funeral Home, Wheaton, Illinois on Friday, July 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. A funeral service will take place at Bethany Chapel, Saturday morning, July 13 at 10:00 o’clock. A private Interment will follow at Forest Home Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to Emmaus Bible College or Emmanuel Bible Camp.

Originally published by Hultgren Funeral Home.

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One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to cbmwoffice@cbmw.org with the subject “News Roundup.”

Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Four Cheers for PCA Approval of the Nashville Statement, Reformation 21 (Richard D. Phillips)

“The Nashville Statement was produced by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to address questions regarding gender identity and homosexuality that are contested in our culture. In my opinion, this vote was a watershed in the PCA regarding whether our ethos will be shaped by cultural pressures or by the Word of God. How relieved I was when the vote came in, a substantial majority of the assembly approving the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality as reflected in the Nashville Statement.”

The PCA General Assembly Affirms the Nashville Statement, DennyBurk.com (Denny Burk)

“It is remarkable that some of the people who spoke against Overture 4 last night began their remarks by affirming Nashville. In other words, some of the people who opposed the overture were open about the fact that they couldn’t find anything wrong with what the Nashville Statement actually says. Their problems were ancillary to the theological substance of the debate. In fact, almost no one raised any issues with the substance of the Nashville Statement, which I think is telling.”

News: PCA declares Nashville Statement “biblically faithful”, CBMW (Colin Smothers)

“Debate on the overture lasted over an hour, and Rick Phillips, Ligon Duncan, and Kevin DeYoung, among others, spoke in favor of the overture; Greg Johnson, pastor of the PCA church that hosted the controversial Revoice conference in 2018, and Scott Sauls, among others, spoke against. The final vote was 803-541 in favor of the Nashville Statement.”

Indianapolis Archdiocese aggressive, but not alone, in firing gay teachers. Here’s why, Indianapolis Star (Arika Herron)

“Indianapolis is not the first city to see its Catholic schools grappling with the employment of LGBT people but some advocates say the archdiocese — and Archbishop Charles C. Thompson — seems to be pursuing the issue more aggressively than elsewhere in the country. In the last year, Indianapolis-area Catholic schools have cut ties with five people working in or volunteering for them because of a same-sex marriage or connection to the issue. A group that tracks instances of employment disputes between the Catholic church and people over LGBT issues said no other archdiocese in the country has seen more cases, at least that have been publicly reported.”

Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

The young are regarded as the most tolerant generation. The results of this LGBTQ survey are ‘alarming’, USA Today (Susan Miller)

“The number of Americans 18 to 34 who are comfortable interacting with LGBTQ people slipped from 53% in 2017 to 45% in 2018 – the only age group to show a decline, according to the annual Accelerating Acceptance report. And that is down from 63% in 2016. Driving the dilution of acceptance are young women whose overall comfort levels plunged from 64% in 2017 to 52% in 2018.”

U.S. Births Fall to Lowest Level Since 1980s, The Wall Street Journal (Anthony DeBarros and Janet Adamy)

“The number of babies born in the U.S. last year fell to a 32-year low, deepening a fertility slump that is reshaping America’s future workforce. About 3.79 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2018, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. That was a 2% decline from the previous year and marked the fourth year in a row that the number fell. The general fertility rate—the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44—fell to 59.0, the lowest since the start of federal record-keeping.”

De Blasio: Taxpayers Should ‘Absolutely’ Fund Gender-Reassignment Surgery, National Review (Jack Crowe)

“New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that, under his presidential administration, the cost of gender-reassignment surgeries would be covered by a publicly funded Medicare for All system. “Absolutely. We have to respect everyone’s medical needs,” de Blasio said at the New York City Pride parade when asked by a reporter if his Medicare for All plan would cover the elective procedures. “If someone needs a surgery to be full and to live their life fully — the idea is a health-care system that actually serves everyone to the fullest, not a health-care system that rations and causes people to struggle to get just a little health care,” he said.”

Amazon removes controversial books by ‘father of conversion therapy, NBC News (Gwen Aviles)

“Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, founder of the now-shuttered Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, as well as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), authored several how-to guides directed to parents of LGBTQ youth, including ‘A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.’ His books are some of the most well-known works about conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Amazon bans books on ‘conversion therapy, DennyBurk.com (Denny Burk)

“The Amazon ban and the suggested legislation to ban conversion therapy isn’t limited to Joseph Nicolosi’s teachings. This ban defines any attempt to change one’s sexual desires as ‘conversion therapy.’ Well guess what? That means that every single Christian who believes that that God’s grace changes sexual sinners would be implicated by this ban and by such legislation. “

Prominent Republicans File Brief to Support L.G.B.T. Rights in Legal Case, The New York Times (Jeremy W. Peters)

“A group of three dozen current and former Republicans is urging the Supreme Court to declare that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits discrimination against gay men, lesbians and transgender people in the workplace. And they have tailored their arguments to resonate with a seemingly unlikely bloc on the court: its five conservatives. In an amicus brief that will be filed with the court this week, the Republicans make the case that their view about how the law should be interpreted represents “a common sense, textualist approach” — nodding to the school of legal thought on the right that disapproves of judges who go beyond a law’s text when deciding how to apply it.”

Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

The Struggle for Gay Rights Is Over, The Atlantic (James Kirchick)

“As long as homosexuality remains a minority trait, gay people will probably always feel a sense of being outsiders. The coming-out process, with all the emotional exertions it can entail, is something straight people never have to contemplate, much less endure. In a society where heterosexuality is the norm, a feeling of alienation is inherent to being gay, but it is one gay people have the capacity to reconcile, if not overcome. For those born into a form of adversity, sometimes the hardest thing to do is admitting that they’ve won.”

How Same-Sex Marriage Creates A Court-Mediated Market For Orphans, The Federalist (Katy Faust)

“When biology isn’t the basis for parenthood, it’s a major power grab for the state. This Supreme Court case has the potential to either strengthen or degrade every parent-child relationship in the country.”

How LGBT Pride Month Became a Religious Holiday, The Gospel Coalition (Joe Carter)

“The month of June hadn’t even begun yet when Donald Trump became the first Republican president to express his support for LGBT Pride Month. On May 31, President Trump tweeted about celebrating LGBT Pride Month and how we should ‘recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation . . .’ The rest of America soon followed his lead, as people across the country posted rainbow flag banners on their Facebook pages and almost every company in the nation rushed, as Newsweek wrote, to be ‘among the companies celebrating inclusion, equality and love for LGBT Pride Month.'”

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DALLAS, TX — The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted at its annual General Assembly last week to declare the Nashville Statement as a “biblically faithful declaration.”

By this action, the PCA joins several other evangelical institutions, including the Southern Baptist Convention weeks earlier, in appropriating the Nashville Statement in part or in full to articulate its convictions on sexuality and gender.

Overture 4, “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’ on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration,” originated from Calvary Presbytery and is in part a response to issues surrounding the Revoice conference and so-called “gay Christianity.” The overture cites the following grounds for declaring the Nashville Statement biblically faithful:

“‘The Nashville Statement,’ carefully worked out by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 2017, is a timely statement that speaks into the current confusion surrounding gender and sexuality within the evangelical church (including the PCA) and the broader culture. Signed by many leaders within the Reformed and evangelical world, it is a balanced and biblically faithful attempt to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15) on one of the most pivotal and controversial issues facing the church today.

“Additionally, ‘The Nashville Statement’ clearly reiterates the truth of foundational passages of Scripture and our confessional understanding of marriage, gender, and sexual ethics. It affirms God’s good purpose in ordaining the binary nature of gender while bestowing His image on mankind (Gen. 1:27), His design for marriage between one biological man and one biological woman (Gen. 1:23, 24), and the sinfulness of homosexual and transgender desire as well as conduct (Mat. 15:18, 19; I Cor. 6:9-11). In addition to affirming these historic, orthodox truths, the Nashville Statement also lifts up the hope of the gospel to the sexual struggler, pointing the reader to our Lord Jesus Christ as ‘the double cure,’ saving us both from sin’s guilt and power. Therefore, the PCA would do well to commend ‘The Nashville Statement’ and prepare it for distribution through Committee on Discipleship Ministries.”

Overture 4 was passed out of committee by a strong majority to be voted on by the General Assembly, but it came with a minority report against commending the Nashville Statement. Presenting the majority report to the over one-thousand presbyterian pastors gathered in Dallas for the General Assembly, Melton Duncan read the Nashville Statement in its entirety. Debate on the overture lasted over an hour, and Rick Phillips, Ligon Duncan, and Kevin DeYoung, among others, spoke in favor of the overture; Greg Johnson, pastor of the PCA church that hosted the controversial Revoice conference in 2018, and Scott Sauls, among others, spoke against. The final vote was 803-541 in favor of the Nashville Statement.

Denny Burk, president of CBMW, notes the significance of Overture 4 on his blog:

“[N]early 70 percent of the PCA General Assembly went on record to affirm the very statement that Revoice was founded to oppose. What makes this even more remarkable is that this happened right on the heels of the Southern Baptist Convention’s adoption of a similar measure earlier this month—a resolution that relies on the Nashville Statement as a response to the Revoice controversy. Thus two major evangelical denominations have weighed-in in a single month, and both have affirmed the theological perspective of Nashville.”

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One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to cbmwoffice@cbmw.org with the subject “News Roundup.”

Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Minnesota Methodists vote against LGBT restrictions, Star Tribune (Jean Hopfensperger)

“The vote, taken at the Minnesota annual conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in St. Cloud, rejects the decision by the global UMC earlier this year to continue its ban on same sex-marriages and LGBT ordinations. The resolution states that the LGBT restriction ‘does great harm to the witness of the United Methodist Church’ and vows that the Minnesota conference ‘will not perpetuate this harm in any form.'”

Drag queen Sparkle Leigh brings LGBT storytime to Cincinnati church, Cincinnati Enquirer (Rachel Berry)

“Dan Davidson can usually be seen around Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church sweeping the floors and getting the building ready for worship services. On Sunday, June 16, though, church caretaker Davidson woke up before the sun to get ready for a new role at the church that morning. He spent hours applying layers and layers of makeup and glitter to transform himself into Sparkle Leigh…The church service began with a hymn, as the choir sang, ‘God welcomes all.’ When it was time for the ‘moment with youngest disciples,’ out came Sparkle wearing a pink, flowing dress, with green curls adorning her head. Sparkle then read a book telling the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to be elected in California.”

The Continuing Downgrade in the Christian Reformed Church, The Aquila Report (Aaron De Boer)

“Though some would point to evidence of eroded Scriptural authority earlier, the acceleration of decline is clearly marked by a flirtation with a ‘broadened’ feminist hermeneutic, ultimately embraced by many in the 1990s and 2000s. Since the rapid push to deliberately train and ordain women for pastoral ministry under a so-called ‘local option,’ the CRCNA has witnessed a conservative exodus which prompted the formation of the United Reformed Churches (URCNA), as well as a drastic shift in the culture at Calvin Theological Seminary and the encroachment of liberalism in every area of denominational focus.”

Taylor Swift’s new video slams anti-LGBT Christian ‘hate’ protesters; ex-gay Christians respond, The Christian Post (Jeannie Law)

“Swift’s music video is an ode to the LGBT community and features a star-studded cast including professing Christian R&B singer Ciara, and preachers’ kid pop star Katy Perry. Others featured in the video include daytime TV host Ellen DeGeneres, actor Ryan Reynolds, transgender actor Laverne Cox, and the cast of Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye.’ The pop star’s message, as described in her lyrics, is that people need to stop spewing hate. The song’s lyrics include lines such as: ‘And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate, ’cause shade never made anybody less gay.’ She also sang that those who oppose the lifestyle ‘would rather be in the Dark Ages.'”

Cathedral High School terminates gay teacher to stay in Indianapolis Archdiocese, The Indianapolis Star (Arika Herron)

“Just days after the Archdiocese of Indianapolis cut ties with one Catholic high school over its decision to continue to employee a gay teacher, another school is firing one of its educators to avoid the same fate. The archdiocese made it clear, the letter said, that keeping the teacher employed ‘would result in forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.'”

How L.G.B.T. Catholics are celebrating Pride Month, America Magazine (Michael J. O’Loughlin)

“Dozens of Catholics are expected to gather for an outdoor Mass on June 27, just steps from the Stonewall Inn, the New York City gay bar that is considered the home of the modern L.G.B.T. rights movement because of an uprising against police brutality there 50 years ago this month. In some circumstances, a group of Catholics meeting near a celebrated gay bar could cause anxiety or puzzlement for L.G.B.T. people, but this group plans to mark Pride by meeting for worship and then moving to Stonewall or another nearby gay bar for fellowship. They plan to offer thanks that they have been able to embrace their sexual identities while remaining part of the church.”

Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Stonewall’s ‘Gift’, American Conservative (Rod Dreher)

“Stonewall’s legacy isn’t just about making queer people look more like everyone else. It’s also, perhaps more mutinously, about making everyone else look a bit more queer. The movement’s enduring celebration of difference, personal authenticity and norm-questioning has allowed straight people to recognize the closet that confines them, too — the outdated pressure to perform prescribed gender roles, inhibit certain emotions, conceal their true selves in a thousand ways — and to envision a way to step outside its walls. This is what Joe Biden was referring to when, as vice president, he thanked LGBT advocates for “freeing the soul of the American people.” It’s what Barack Obama meant when, on the day the high court handed down its marriage ruling, he said, ‘When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.'”

Where LGBTQ Rights Stand Two Years Into the Trump Administration, Fortune (Renae Reints)

“Since taking office in 2017, President Donald Trump has not issued an official proclamation recognizing Pride Month (Congress attempted to pass its own measures declaring the celebratory month the past two years, but neither effort was successful). Trump has repeatedly voiced support for the community online and in public, but his administration’s policies appear to present an agenda with opposite goals.”

Warren Thinks LGBT Couples Should Get a Check to Make up for Lost Marriage Tax Benefits: 5 Things to Know, Independent Journal Review (Madison Dibble)

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to pay back LGBT couples for taxes they paid into the federal government, which they paid at a higher rate because they were denied joint status. While reparations for slavery were front and center during last week’s congressional testimony, Warren wants to see reparations paid to LGBT couples who were denied the marriage tax breaks.”

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg Are a Traditional Wonder, The New York Times (Frank Bruni)

“Although his sexual orientation breaks with presidential-campaign precedent, his emotional orientation hews almost unerringly to it. He is doing what Tipper Gore, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney were supposed to: loosen, soften and warm up the images of their spouses, in part by veering away from politics. Chasten’s preferred topics are his dogs, Harry Potter and the power of love.”

It’s a Girl! It’s a Boy! And for the Gender-Reveal Cake, It May Be the End, The New York Times (Kim Severson)

“Molly Woodstock, a journalist in Portland, started a podcast called Gender Reveal in 2018 to tell the stories of nonbinary and transgender people. Mx. Woodstock, who is transgender and uses the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them,’ has received messages from transgender people wondering how to handle invitations to gender-reveal parties from co-workers or family members…When people who post their videos and photos of gender-reveal parties on Instagram accidentally tag the Gender Reveal podcast, Mx. Woodstock sometimes uses it as an opportunity to provide a little education. ‘I might say, ‘This is a convenient time to remind you that the genitals of your baby don’t determine the baby’s gender.’'”

Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

Complementarianism? What’s in a name?, DennyBurk.com (Denny Burk)

“Complementarianism was not first and foremost a sociological descriptor or movement. Nor was it describing an ethos or a set of extrabiblical stereotypes. The term emerged as a shorthand to describe the theological vision of The Danvers Statement.”

How Should Christians Have Sex?, The New York Times (Katelyn Beaty)

“Occasionally I think about my purity pledge and the letters to my mystical future husband, and find those practices naïve and manipulative. But part of me wishes that the fairy tale of purity culture had come true. While I hate the effects that purity culture had on young women like me, I still find the traditional Christian vision for married sex radical, daunting and extremely compelling — and one I still want to uphold, even if I fumble along the way.”

Confronting Purity Culture or Christian Sexual Ethics?, Denny Burk (Denny Burk)

“Perhaps the biggest problem with Beaty’s essay is that she isn’t really clear about what she’s condemning in ‘purity culture.’ If unbiblical and unmerciful shaming is what she means to condemn, then she would have done well to say so. I can’t imagine serious Christians disagreeing with her about that. I certainly wouldn’t. But as I read the article, the Bible’s actual teaching about sexual ethics also seems to be thrown into the mix of what needs to be condemned. And this is a claim that no serious Christian can agree with. It is a claim that we are in fact obliged to contend against (Jude 3).”

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One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to cbmwoffice@cbmw.org with the subject “News Roundup.”

Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

News: SBC resolution on sexuality influenced by Nashville Statement, CBMW (Matt Damico)

“Resolution Five, ‘On Sexuality and Personal Identity,’ is in part a response to issues surrounding the Revoice conference and so-called ‘gay Christianity.’… The resultant resolution bears resemblance to parts of Article 7 of the Nashville Statement, especially its denial that any homosexual or transgender ‘self-conception’ is contrary to God’s purposes, and its affirmation that the grace of God offers both ‘pardon and transforming power’ to Christ’s followers.”

Southern Baptists take action to address church sexual abuse, ERLC (Joe Carter)

“During the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting this week in Birmingham, Alabama, Southern Baptists took several significant actions to address the crisis of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.”

Equal or complementary? Gender roles in faith traditions, Religion News Service (Jonathan Woodward)

“While the Baptist faith and message says that, ‘The office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by scripture,’ there are many who call themselves ‘complementarians’ who are more flexible when it comes to women teaching men, or even preaching.”

Responding to Revoice: The Case for Overture 28 at the PCA General Assembly (Part One), The Aquila Report (Steven Warhurst)

“The teachings of the 2018 Revoice Conference may soon split the Presbyterian Church in America. If the errors in their teaching are not addressed, churches and possibly presbyteries will leave our denomination. Overture 28 is an effort to address the errors of the Revoice Conference and to commend a better way of helping those who struggle with sexual sin. Our hope is that the purity and peace of the PCA can be preserved at the 2019 General Assembly.”

Methodist Church’s LGBT stance threatens uniy, NJ.com (Alexander Santora)

“The United Methodist Church, one of the largest Christian denominations in the world, is heading toward a split over LGBT issues. By a margin of 54 votes, its special general conference in February drew a line in the sand, saying that same-sex clergy in relationships and the blessing of same-sex unions violate their policies. Clergy can be charged and removed without pay and congregations that defy were almost prodded to leave.”

A Kind of Experiment, Separating Gender and Sex: Why the Church Says No, National Review (Kevin D. Williamson)

“The [Roman Catholic] Church has made a statement on this notion in ‘Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.’ The stakes here are high, as the Church sees it, employing language that will be entirely familiar to American conservatives: ‘Similar theories aim to annihilate the concept of nature,’ the document reads, ‘that is, everything we have been given as a preexisting foundation of our being and action in the world.'”

Social media on fire following local church bulletin’s ‘Pride’ warning, countylive.ca (Administrator)

“A local church bulletin telling Catholics and Christians that Pride events are contrary to faith and could be harmful to children has set social media in Prince Edward County on fire and roused the community to show love and solidarity for the LGBTQ community before mass this Sunday at St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Picton. Michael Mulhall, Archbishop of Kingston, stated he did not sanction the message and ‘it does not reflect the spirit of accompanying charity and compassion that should always characterize our faith.'”

Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

A Historic Breakthrough for Sex Workers’ Rights, The New Republic (Melissa Gira Grant)

“Back in February, advocates for sex worker rights in New York announced their intention to fully decriminalize prostitution in the state. But no one really suspected then that within two weeks, Democratic candidates for president would be pledging support for competing legislative visions of what they called (at times, incorrectly) sex work decriminalization.”

50 years after Stonewall, LGBT rights are a work in progress, ABC News (David Crary)

“From the perspective of veteran activists, the progress has been astounding. In 1969, every state but Illinois outlawed gay sex, psychiatric experts classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and most gays stayed in the closet for fear of losing jobs and friends. Today, same-sex marriage is the law of the land in the U.S. and at least 25 other countries. LGBT Americans serve as governors, big-city mayors and members of Congress, and one — Pete Buttigieg — is waging a spirited campaign for president.”

Supreme Court Dodges Decision in Christian Bakers’ Refusal to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding, The Daily Signal (Kevin Daley)

“The Supreme Court lifted an order Monday that punished a Christian couple in Oregon who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, telling a lower court to reconsider the dispute in light of the high court’s decision last year involving another Christian baker in Colorado.”

Teen Vogue Encourages Children To Explore Prostitution As A Career, The Federalist (Chrissy Clark)

“Promoting unlimited, legal prostitution is not freeing and not something that we should be promoting to young women, especially during a time when women are doing exceptionally well in America and the doors are opening for women in all job fields. In fact, 70 percent of people see the wide-ranging benefits of female leadership. Why should we open up avenues for women to fall into the dangerous clutches of sex work—or worse, sex trafficking—when the working woman’s opinion is of such value?”

Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

Are Abortion and Gay Rights Really American Values?, The American Conservative (Patrick J. Buchanan)

“To many Americans, diversity—racial, ethnic, cultural, religious—is our greatest strength. Yet Poland and Hungary are proudly ethnonationalist. South Korea and Japan fiercely resist the racial and ethnic diversity immigration would bring. Catalans and Scots in this century, like Quebecois in the last, seek to secede from nations to which they have belonged for centuries. Are ethnonationalist nations less righteous than diverse nations likes ours? And if diversity is an American value, is it really a universal value?”

How Should a Husband Treat His Quarrelsome Wife?, Desiring God (John Piper)

“Covenant-keeping in marriage is obliged by covenant-keeping with God. It goes both ways in marriage because it’s rooted in covenant with God. For God’s people, human covenants are rooted in the divine covenant. The man with a quarrelsome wife is not free to abandon her. He has a covenant. He’s made a covenant with her.”

Why the Gay and Lesbian Equality Movement Must Oppose Surrogacy, Public Discourse (Gary Powell)

“As gay people, we cannot insist on the right to carry out practices that harm the rights of others. Rather than being an LGBT rights issue, surrogacy is a women’s rights issue and a children’s rights issue; and like the sale of human organs, it is not an activity that should be promoted or indeed permitted.”

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BIRMINGHAM, AL — The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution that borrows language from the Nashville Statement to address matters of sexuality and identity at its annual meeting this week.

The SBC is the latest example of evangelical institutions – which includes seminaries, colleges, and state conventions – adopting the Nashville Statement in part or in full to articulate its convictions on sexuality and gender.

Resolution Five, “On Sexuality and Personal Identity,” is in part a response to issues surrounding the Revoice conference and so-called “gay Christianity.”

The SBC’s Resolutions Committee had received a resolution that explicitly named the Revoice conference, and the committee chose to address the matter more generally.

The resultant resolution bears resemblance to parts of Article 7 of the Nashville Statement, especially its denial that any homosexual or transgender “self-conception” is contrary to God’s purposes, and its affirmation that the grace of God offers both “pardon and transforming power” to Christ’s followers.

Denny Burk, president of CBMW, notes the significance of Resolution Five on his blog: “This is significant because the founder of Revoice has said that he started Revoice as a response to The Nashville Statement. Because the founder and other Revoice supporters often identify as gay Christians,’ they took particular offense at Article 7 of The Nashville Statement.”

Burk details the resolution’s dependence on the Nashville Statement, along with his further reflections on the resolution, at his site.

Two other noteworthy resolutions concerning gender and sexuality were adopted at the convention:
-Resolution Two, “On the Evil of Sexual Abuse,” condemns “all forms of sexual abuse,” laments all instances of such abuse, “particularly in a church setting,” and calls on the churches of the convention to foster a culture where victims can “share about their abuse with the assurance of protection” and receive the care they need.

-Resolution Ten, “On Expanding the Selective Service to Include Women,” was submitted by CBMW Executive Director Colin Smothers. The resolution urges “the President and Congress not to expand the Selective Service to include women, which would be to act against the plain testimony of Scripture and nature.”

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The Centrality of Hospitality to the Christian Life

The sweet melody of Psalms put to four-part harmonies; table fellowship over simple soup and loaves of communion bread; children’s laughter and muddy feet; and wet shoulders from the tears of grieving neighbors.

This is a glimpse into the intricate yet glorious picture of a Christian home undertaking the call of hospitality—that of welcoming the stranger and seeing the neighbor as family. Biblical hospitality brings to mind one word in particular that encompasses God’s vision and purpose for the human person and all of creation—shalom.

Shalom (םולש), the Hebrew word for peace, casts a vision of wholeness, harmony, and flourishing that marks a people in right relationship to their Creator and to each other. On this side of heaven, hospitality, practiced in all of its forms, helps us more clearly anticipate the coming restoration of all things through Jesus Christ.

The Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield, presents a rich theology of hospitality, calling the Christian to see our homes as gifts to be given as safe havens to the broken, lonely, and spiritually destitute, those in genuine need of authentic fellowship and a sense of belonging.

Butterfield offers the term “Radically Ordinary Hospitality” as a framework for understanding daily service and sacrifice for the good of our neighbor, the glory of God, and the proclamation of his gospel. “Radically ordinary hospitality is this,” Butterfield writes. “[It is] using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God” (31). It is marked by open invitations, the disruption of regular routines, and living below our means in order to use God-given resources to serve others. Hospitality is the call of the Christian life and the Christian home, providing a window into the richness and fullness of life with Christ. It is through open homes, willing hearts, and ready hands that God brings his Kingdom to earth.

Long before the Butterfields began their own hospitality ministry, a pastor and his wife—Ken and Floy Smith—modeled to Rosaria intentional, daily table fellowship, the very means by which God rescued Butterfield from the grip of sin and death and beckoned her to follow him. Butterfield’s first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, details her conversion from one living a successful, but Christ-devoid, life as a tenured English professor to one unable to resist the claims of the gospel. One of the striking aspects of Butterfield’s story is the stark contrast she and others have observed between the deep, welcoming, and familial lesbian community and the oft times lack of the same within the Christian faith.

In detailing the AIDS epidemic her community faced, Butterfield reflects in somber tone, “Out of desperation and fear and banding together in spite of our differences, a community was born. . . . I do wonder, now, as a Christian, if the church had been there, had helped, had shared in our grief, how the story would have unfolded differently” (94). One ought never to find more belonging, fellowship, and security in a sexual identity than in the church of Jesus Christ. If we are to call people out of their sin and into newness of life with Christ, the Christian home must be a place where people find abundantly more sacrificial love, compassion, and bearing of burdens.

Butterfield writes, “Because Christian conversion always comes in exchange for the life you once loved, not in addition to it, people have much to lose in coming to Christ—and some people have more to lose than others. Some people have one cross, and others have ten to carry” (95).

Jesus’ promises in Mark 10 give both hope to the brother or sister leaving this once-loved life and a weighty responsibility to the Christian community they are entering into:

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

God has chosen to fulfill this glorious, hundredfold blessing through the church, the family of God. Hospitality, and even more fundamentally, true Christian friendship, is at the heart of how we bring life to the world and proclaim the truths of the gospel to people in need of mercy and healing. By opening our homes and lives to our neighbors—many of whom are spiritually poor—we demonstrate that our faith has something powerful to say about every area of our life.

Butterfield continues, “If you want to share the gospel with the LGBTQ community or anyone who will lose family and homes, the gospel must come with a house key” (96). For many of our neighbors, the invitation to our homes may be the first opportunity they have to enter a Christian home and see a cross-shaped life. This is a great privilege to be stewarded with much prayer.

The key to properly understanding Butterfield’s book is correctly distinguishing between its prescriptive and descriptive elements. Some have remarked at the truly radical nature of the Butterfield family’s model of hospitality. The believer who may have yet to consider the call of hospitality on their own life could easily, and understandably, be overwhelmed by the thought of preparing and hosting neighbors and strangers in their living room every single night of the week—in addition to the countless other ways the Butterfields sacrificially serve their community each and every day.

Butterfield would not have the reader leave her book feeling discouraged or inadequate but, rather, equipped and encouraged to do the hard and joyful work of showing Christ in the most practical ways. Butterfield did not set out to fully detail the endless ways one can be hospitable but beautifully tells one story of how her family has chosen to live out this call to welcome and care for strangers. This can be lived out—in full accordance with the Word of God—in many ways that may look different from the picture Butterfield lays out in her book.

“Start anywhere. Start today,” Butterfield urges. “One logical place to start is at the end of your driveway” (62). Radically ordinary hospitality exists as a ray of hope restoring dignity to our neighbors—the prisoner, the immigrant and refugee, the drug addict, and the dying.

In an age marked by loneliness and depression, Butterfield encourages the reader to see hospitality as a way of life, putting ourselves in front of people in need: “Know that someone is spared the fear and darkness of depression because she is needed at your house, always on the Lord’s Day, the day she is never alone but instead safely in community where her place at the table is needed and necessary and relied upon” (111).

As God welcomes us as his sons and daughters, calling us his friend, let us do the same with our neighbors, seeing each as worthy of hospitality because they bear the Imago dei. As we do, we await the day when true flourishing—shalom—is the mark of all of creation.

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Cynthia Westfall is an assistant professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Ontario, Canada. She has presented and published broadly on topics related not only to the New Testament, Greek exegesis, and hermeneutics, but also discourse analysis, linguistics, and sociological criticism of the New Testament. In this book, she argues that Paul subverted the contemporary views of his day on women and gender roles through his instruction to the churches.

Summary

On page ix, Westfall states, “This book is an attempt to explain the Pauline passages that concern gender and to move toward a canon-based Pauline theology of gender.” She continues by defining her method of “canon-based theology,” stating, “Biblical texts that claim to be written by Paul demand that they should interpret, and be interpreted by, the other writings that claim to be by Paul.” Though concerned with contemporary ethical issues regarding the “role of women in the church, home, and society,” Westfall intends to initiate a “paradigm shift from God” (iii) within biblical studies regarding how Paul understood and appropriated gender for his missiological purposes. Westfall gives four reasons for her work: 1) the present importance of gender studies, 2) her own scholarly proficiency with newer methods of analysis, 3) her own personal experience as a female biblical scholar, and 4) her hope of contributing to future debates in gender studies. Throughout her book, Westfall makes a case for re-reading Paul in light of his cultural context (chapter 1) and the gender stereotypes of his day (chapter 2). Additionally, Westfall explores the concepts of creation (chapter 3), fall (chapter 4), and eschatology (chapter 5) in Paul’s writings, giving due attention to theological formulations and ethical instructions regarding gender. Westfall thoroughly considers Paul’s teaching about the body (chapter 6), calling (chapter 7), and authority (chapter 8) before concluding her work by tackling 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (chapter 9).

Critical Interaction

Readers should commend Westfall for her attempt to be faithful to the text, her linguistic sensitivity, and her pursuit of a theologically coherent Paul. One of the greatest strengths of her work is how she successfully undermines narrow gender stereotypes. By demonstrating how Paul subverted the stereotypes of his day, Westfall shows that the essence of one’s identity is not bound solely by cultural expectations or expressions. If the apostle Paul can speak of his pastoral ministry in terms of a nurturing mother, then men should not be fearful of denying their masculinity by taking on roles that may be primarily assumed by women, like being a part of the “bride of Christ.” As Westfall notes, “Paul minimizes this essential element of masculine Greco-Roman culture (athletic demonstration) in comparison with the importance of godliness” (186).

Another strength of Westfall’s book is reflected in her chapter on the body in Pauline literature, particularly as it relates to sexuality and beauty. In contrasting Paul’s view of the body with the Greco-Roman view, Westfall writes, “There needs to be much more discussion about the symbolism of clothing, and there must be authentic spiritual vitality in a rigorous pursuit of godliness that goes far beyond pleasing men” (192). She continues, stating, “The painful reality may be that Christian men similarly influenced by the media will not find a woman who adorns herself with good works attractive. Christians need a wake-up call to rewire their sexual orientation by rejecting narcissism and ideals of beauty that are unnatural, unhealthy, and ungodly” (192). She concludes, “Young women desire a relationship with a man (Gen. 3:16), and in some cases the attempt to fulfill this desire is killing them with eating disorders” (192). These types of theological yet practical reflections on the body are much needed in our day.

Having noted some strengths of Westfall’s work, it is necessary to conclude by considering some of the weaknesses of the work. First, while one can appreciate Westfall’s attempts to reconstruct the background of Paul’s letters, she often allows her reconstructions, rather than the immediate context of the passage, to guide her interpretation. Such examples of mirror reading are found in the way that Westfall reads 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. By reconstructing a cultural background for veiling, Westfall attempts to flip the traditional understanding of the passage on its head. However, as other reviewers have pointed out, the context of 1 Corinthians 11 does not seem to support the idea that men were instructing women to unveil their heads as an expression of their sexual availability. Instead, the immediate context suggests the presence of different gender roles in the church. Specifically, Paul instructed the church about veiling in the corporate gathering to reflect an order of relationship between men and women in the context of the ministries of “praying and prophesying.”

Another example of allowing reconstruction to dictate her interpretation can be found in the way that she attempts to redefine the purpose of 1 Timothy. By reading 1 Timothy as a personal letter bent on stamping out a particular heresy that was being propagated by women in Ephesus, Westfall avoids the enduring relevance of Paul’s command for women “not to teach or exercise authority over a man.” If Paul was only dealing with a particular group of women at a particular time, then the instruction could be deemed time-sensitive with a cultural and contextual expiration date. Even if one granted that Paul was attempting to help Timothy deal with false teachers in Ephesus, Westfall still misses Paul’s explicit statements in 1 Timothy 3:14-15 and 1 Timothy 4:6-16 about the purpose of his letter. When these statements are coupled with the qualifications and responsibilities of leaders in the church, it would appear that Paul intended the content of this personal letter to be normative for his churches, making it harder to relegate Paul’s prohibition to women regarding teaching and authority in the church.

As a final note of critique, Westfall fails to demonstrate why authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 should be taken negatively instead of positively. In comparison to Al Wolters’ chapter, “The Meaning of Αὐθεντέω” in Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Westfall does not demonstrate equal concern for her understanding of authentein. Wolters’ argument for understanding authentein as having predominately positive or neutral connotations provides a devastating blow to the foundation of Westfall’s thesis. If Wolters is right, then Westfall’s argument for taking authentein negatively (acting in a domineering way) instead of positively (having authority over) falls apart. Yet, even if Westfall is right about authentein having negative connotations, she fails to demonstrate how the term should be understood in relationship to didaskein (to teach) or provide an equally compelling rebuttal to Andreas Köstenberger’s argument in his chapter, “A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12,” in Women in the Church. In sum, Westfall’s work on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is the weakest link in her argument for a re-reading of the apostle Paul’s vision for men and women in Christ.

Conclusion

While Westfall’s work has undoubtedly made a genuine contribution to Pauline scholarship on the topic of gender, she failed to demonstrate definitively that the apostle Paul was subverting “traditional” positions on gender. Even if Westfall’s work ultimately fails to convince her audience to re-read the apostle Paul on gender, the work still demonstrates the significance of cultural studies for biblical interpretation and ethics. Even readers who disagree will benefit immensely from her work in multiple areas. Even in disagreement, Westfall’s work should be commended for its rigor and ambition to interpret the gender passages in Paul’s writing in a way that takes the text of Scripture seriously.

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