Tag Archives: tall skinny kiwi

The friendship is the benefits (on Christian egalitarianism and cross-gender friendships)


I haven’t been blogging much lately apart from last weekend, but I seem to be full of thoughts that need out, and I’m trying to rely less on Facebook than I used to do -battling an addiction and winning?-, so I might return to blogging here more.

I’ll start with saying that I’m not following everything that’s going on in the US or in US Christianity, but I’ve been following a bit of the situation with the megachurch of Willow Creek from here. and the possible sexual misconduct of Bill Hybels -a man who always seemed rather respectable to me by the way- .  I am by no way qualified to say something about that situation, but the legendary blogger Andrew Jones has a good overview here with some important questions at the Tall Skinny Kiwi blog. (glad to see him blogging again by the way!)

One of the links that Andrew has collected in his post is a very interesting analysis of Dan Brennan here. Dan is one of the biggest experts in this age on Christianity and cross-gender friendships in the world as far as I know, at least in the English-speaking world. (See all my posts about his book ‘sacred unions, sacred passions’ here) HE has some interesting observations about a certain kind of ‘anxious’ egalitarianism that he sees as quite pervasive in certain American circles:

I was in for a big surprise when I started to go public about my friendships with women a little over ten years ago. I thought evangelical egalitarians would enthusiastically see all the benefits of intentional spiritual friendships out in the open. It was quite a jolt to me when I began to run into skeptical egalitarians.

To say I encountered spiritual anxiety among these unconvinced Christians would be an understatement. It was not that they were opposed to cross-sex friendships. They had plenty of opposite-sex friends.

What, then, were they anxious about? It soon became clear to me: my intention to practice dyadic opposite-sex friendships before a watching world. They were highly anxious in men and women sharing authentic power and risk in one-on-one relationships with no one else around. Friendship was not foundational to any Willow Creek model. It was not even up there on the high priority list.

Again, note here I can’t comment on whether this is actually true for certain circles, and my goal here is not to point my finger to certain groups that are on another continent from me, but to find out what the most Christlike way of living and interacting is, and which examples should be emulated and which examples are lacking. And what we can learn from that, either by seeing what we should do, or what we shouldn’t do.

Let’s first say that I certainly am an egalitarian and strongly believe that cross-gender friendships are a healthy thing, for several reasons. When it comes to the reasons that some Christians want to hear first, the ones derived from the bible and the Christian tradition, both more or less have the same foundation:  Jesus who broke all rules of gender segregation that his culture had is an important one to start with. Think of the Samaritan woman at the well, the story of Mary & Martha, and as I pointed out in my last post Mary Magdalene in the garden-. Paul speaking of ‘no male and female in Christ’ is another one. And just the idea of calling each other brother and sister is also a quite powerful -that’s not just a metaphor, people-. Every person is our brother and sister, and needs to be treated as such, with the same love and respect we would treat an actual sibling. (Yes, looking at our sisters as sex objects would be creepy and evil if looked at it that way.)

I also am naturally inclined by my personality type to friend women as easily as men, and any person who will tell me than male-female friendships are impossible is more or less doing something like telling Mr. beaver of Narnia that animals cannot talk.

I’d also say people who are unable to have equal cross-sex friendships are missing something in their humanity, and that New Testament Christianity quite easily leads to the conclusion that all people of all genders should be treated as friends. And that looking at people as sexual objects, either as a prey in our fantasy or as a temptation that we should get away from at all costs is, is a serious disregard of the humanity of our sister.

(Note that I’m speaking as a straight male here but that you can fill in whatever gender  or sex you are that fits for yourself and whom you’re attracted to. It’s applicable to all genders and sexual orientations)

I’m not the only one who has picked up on Dan’s important observations. The internetmonk blog also extensively quotes his blogpost in a post called “Friends without benefits“. Chaplain Mike ends his post with the following points:

In our sexualized society, it is easy to understand why some people might want to erect strong, rule-based boundaries about cross-sex relationships. I have news for you. Those boundaries haven’t stopped or even slowed down immoral behavior, and if I read Paul correctly, trying to control sin by implementing law only exacerbates the problem (Romans 7).

I believe God calls us to maturity and wisdom in all of our relationships. I have long been “egalitarian” in my theological position (I’d rather say I believe in full partnership and mutuality between men and women). But this article has caused me to question a huge blindspot in egalitarian teaching and practice. We have not truly learned to welcome each other, live with each other, and serve one another as true brothers and sisters until we can learn to be friends. Without benefits.

Very important points again, although I have some quibbles with his title. I’d say that the friendship itself is enough of a benefit, not? I already don’t like the expression of just friendship’. There is something very wrong if there’s an actual friendship going on and you call it being ‘just’ friends, a if being friends is not something worth celebrating in this superficial lonely culture… So as my own title here says, I’d say that ‘the friendship is the benefits’!

In a world where people of the other sex (or any sex you find attractive) are so often reduced to a commodity to satisfy your lustful thoughts actually seeing people as humans like us made in Gods image, and treating them as friends, and sisters and brothers of equal value as we have ourselves might be a revolutionary way of living. But in the end it’s just a very logical application of ‘love your neighbour’.

Not dehumanising people into sex objects -to abuse or run away from as a temptation- and just being friends with them are two extremely basic ways of loving your fellow human I would say… And that’s the core of the question. When we grow on our spiritual Path with Christ -who friended all kinds of women including prostitutes, which were never referred to as sex objects of either category by Him, but as fellow human beings in need of love- we should  be able to go much deeper than that. Just being brothers and sisters is the beginning, like learning the ABC when there are whole libraries to read, and all of us will add our own book to them.

peace

Bram

See also on this blog:
Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, and the Risen Jesus
Jesus against the sexism of his time: Martha and Mary
10 old traditional and/or biblical Christian ideas that are sometimes mistakenly seen as ‘progressive’…
Some thoughts on the myth that ‘men are visual’
On nudity in game of thrones, and some American bloke again…(the ‘bloke’ being John Piper)
On similar misandry in Christian fundamentalism and consumer capitalism?
‘Male christianity’ vs Mother Teresa
A Christian reaction to porn that doesn’t dehumanise the objectified further?
sexual dominoes vs the fruits of the Spirit
on sexy porn models and human dignity
Meditating on sexy models

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Interesting links elsewhere (summer 2015 edition)


Summer break is over, and so is my blog silence, so I better make up for my IMG_1899missed link-list… The featured picture is one with 2 types of stuffed ‘olive cucumbers’ as we call them in Dutch, or achocha (Cyclanthera pedata on the right and under, cyclanthere brachystegia on the left). Which is a very interesting addition to our assorted tapas… These ‘stuffing cucumbers’ are an easy to grow and very cool but rather unknown vegetable…

So what did I see on the internet that was worth reading while in ‘inactive mode’?

In which she underfines femininity by Rachel Heston-Davis  on Jesus creed.

A very interesting impression of 2 wiccans at the hypercharismatic church of Bethel that I’m still processing and might blog about later. part I part II part III. Check also the prophecies she received at Bethel. (makes one think, not?)

The true story of Kudzu, the vine that never ate the South. Lies, media, tall tales and shifting baselines…

Heart-breaking piece by David Bentley Hart about a man who was able to see the spiritual realm until modern psychiatry and medicine messed with him. “Sometimes it is difficult to exaggerate how strange, barbaric, and superstitious an age ours really is.”

Are plants intelligent?

New plant species discovered via facebook. One of the biggest Drosera-species on the planet, and already almost extinct…

A church grown from trees…

Secret Belgian operation to save 244 Christians from Aleppo.

How C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien responded to ‘envirenmental holocaust’

Interesting angle from India: Yes, men get raped too, and they mostly  suffer in silence.

Sensationalist title, but interesting fossils nonetheless: Stunning Fossils Rewrite Evolutionary History of Life on Earth

20 priceless monuments lost in war.

When I came back on the internet, I learned what Ashley Madison was. I wishI had remained ignorant about the existence of that kind of  #@&% but now that I know about it I can as well share some perspectives by Tall Skinny Kiwi and Dan Brennan about it…

that’s it for now…

see you all later

Bram

Some interesting things elsewhere VIII


If you want to get rid of an evil by means of a revolution, work for finding a way of life completely without that evil. Anything just built on reactions to that evil is still bound to said evil and is never going to take its influence away…

I didn’t have the time to finish my first capitalism post yet (it’s getting too long anyway) but I hope it will be ready for this wednesday. Things have been hectic again, and to make up for not that much interesting stuff here I present you the resurrection of the ‘some interesting things elsewhere’ series, with various dreadlocked guys, feminists, fundamentalists, and even the gospel coalition…

Let’s start with some music: The most interestpsaltersing band on the planet (and one of the most distinct bands in the galaxy) has its music available on bandcamp now: the psalters! (Not all albums are there yet…) If you don’t know the psalters, just listen…

Philip Ryken on the Gospel Coalition with ‘how to discourage art in the church’ has some very interesting points.

And then from the ortodox side this article by Father Stephen on Prayers and the One God of all that I’m still processing.

From the feminist side: Libby Anne is blogging through some weird American book called ‘created to be his helpmeet’ which like me looks like the manual for spousal abuse and more disaster in marriage, and she as a non-christian is a lot beter at exegeting proverbs 31 than the writer of that book. This confirms my idea that some things that go under the name ‘fundamentalism’ might say that they take the bible serious, but actually just follow their own (very weird) tradition and use some bible verses here and there to back it up…

Speaking of feminism and women in the church, this breaks my heart. Something is very wrong with how women are viewed in our society, including Christian circles. Be sure to also read this post from just beloved. It is beyond my understanding why women are judged so easily because of their looks, but it still is a very pervasive evil!

Speaking of evil: Roger Olson about ‘satanic realism’ (part 2)

Andrew Jones AKA tallskinnykiwi, the grandfather of Christian blogging, has a 10 year anniversary for his blog so he decided to start again with a whole new blog here.

15 things Jesus didn’t say

Totally unrelated: mosses frozen inside a glacier dating from the little ice age 500 years ago are still able to come back to life!

I leave you with some dreadlocked guy who reads you what he considers the best sermon ever:

peace

Bram

Some interesting things elsewhere VII


It’s still the first 2 weeks of the school-year over here, which are utter chaos for me as a teacher of protestant religion in Flemish secondary schools, so not much has been happening on this blog. I left this SITE-list half finished at the end of August, so maybe it’s time to finish it and publish it before it loses all relevancy in this constantly changing world.

The random picture today is quite cute. Having small children makes one like cute pictures of fuzzy apes…

Ray Hollenbach on how Jesus welcomes sinners at His table. Who do we welcome at our table?

Morgan Guyton actually has written a lot of posts that are worth reading since my last SITE-list. This one is about submission and leadership.

Thank you Lord for hearing me @ godspace.

2 interesting posts by Jonalyn on soulation. One about egalitarian marriages and one about friendships between men ans women. I still don’t have no idea who the mentioned Sally and Harry are, and I don’t think they’d interest me…

Roger Olson on the problems with John Pipers view of Gods sovereignity and sin.

Busyness as moral lazyness on internetmonk

An orthodox approach to sacrifice and atonement (I guess you all know I find those things very interesting)

Andrew Jones of Tall skinny Kiwi on homeschooling with the whole planet as a home… I wish I could go to all those places to learn those things…

shalom

Bram

Some interesting things elsewhere


Travelling missiologist Andrew Jones, the blogger also known as Tallskinnykiwi, wants to write a book (that I want to read!!!) and needs some help with money to be able to do the stuff he’s doing, which is travelling around with his family to meet with all of gods children on planet Terra, and helping all kinds of Christians and Christian communities around the world.  There’s only one Andrew Jones on the whole planet Terra who does what he does, so consider helping him! Or at least read what he’s up to on the blogpost I’ve linked to…

Matt stone on glocal Christianity has started a very interesting series, which starts with six different Christian approaches to war and peace, something we need in times when it seems like a false dichotomy between ‘just war’ and ‘pacifism’ (which sometimes is explained really poorly) is dominating the discussion, while there are much forms of Christian pacifism on one hand, and ‘just war theory’ isn’t really followed by much people on the other hand actually.  His position is ‘apocalyptic pacifism’, and the other posts are OT bible verses that he sees as pacifist prophecies (part 1, part 2, part 3) to back his position up.

Apocalyptic pacifism starts from an ‘already and not yet’ framework, in which the ‘coming age’ (the Kingdom of God)  is breaking in into this age, and in which we as Christians are already living in the reality of that new age. Living as radical peacemakers is one dimension of the Kingdom, but if we read the gospels there is another one that can’t be denied: the supernatural signs of the kingdom are as clear and confronting in the gospels as the radical love for our fellow humans that includes enemy-love… And Ray Hollenbach has a very interesting meditation on this aspect of the Kingdom of God on Students of Jesus. The anabaptist peace tradition and vineyard Kingdom charismatics can learn a  lot from each other and make the Kingdom vision more complete together!

He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9: 1 – 2)

[The perfect soundtrack here would be this gungor song, that we’ve sung last sunday in Vineyard Antwerpen. I love me some bluesfunk from time to time, and Michael is a very good musician!!]

And then for something else: Laura Ziesel has an interesting series on Christianity, intersex people and eunuchs in the bible. Thanks to Sarah Moon for  making me aware of them and posting an orderly list of them! We should stop seeing this kind of things as ‘issues’ and start looking at it as people who are loved by Christ and should be loved by us all the same!

shalom

Bram

the emerging Joneses and my anarchist marriage…


I’ve been following the emerging blogosphere the last days, and I notice that there has been a bit of a storm around a post from Andrew Jones (the tall skinny kiwi) whose blog post had been interpreteted as another announcement of the end of the emerging church. I didn’t read it that way, and I don’t care much about labels, so I won’t even enter the discussion about emerging/emergent being dead or emerged or going up in whatever mainstream is supposed to be or moving on to the smurf village… And My opinion wouldn’t change much either… But a lot of other people did, including the other emerging Jones: Tony

But there is another disagreement between the emerging joneses one that I want to get into. Tony has posted an article “A Call to Clergy: Stop Performing (Legal) Marriages!“. His reasoning is that “it requires the clergyperson to act as an extension of the state.” So I guess he argues the best would be to give the marriage business completely over to the state. Which Andrew did not agree with and which I do not find an interesting option at all I am affraid. Marriage is way too serious to be defined by something as trivial as the State. But I may be controversial too, or onorthodox… I think I have a more realistic view on marriage as a creation reality, and an more relativistic (anarchistic) view on the state and its right to define marriage…

Now, I do live in a secular european country where only the state can perform a marriage. You cannot marry for the church. You can do such a thing later afterwards, but it has no official meaning except for the church… And marrying to the church before you marry to the state (something I did btw) would be considered illegal.

And I do strongly believe in marriage. I do think it is an important subject as a Christian. But I do not think that ‘legal marriage’ equals ‘biblical marriage’. If we would look at the gospels, it is very significant that when the pharisees try to trick Jesus into a discussion about divorce and the law of moses, that He does not refer to that law at al, God-given as it may be. No, Jesus points to the Creation, where God created man and woman to ‘cleave to each other and be one flesh’.  So marriage is not first and foremost something any law can define, but something that has been instituted and defined in the creation of man and woman.

Marriage is contextualised differently in different cultures. And it is good that there are laws to protect it. But no state can define what is already defined within creation. When man and woman become one flesh, they are married. And it is incomplete without confirmation to society (and God), but in the end it is God who joins people, not any human authority… In some cultures and times people just went to live with each other and they were considered married and a family, in other situations there are lots of laws and regulations to be followed. But they do not say what a marriage is. ‘living together without being married but with a legal contract’ as is the norm for my generation here is just fooling yourself. A legal contract for living together is some kind of ‘legal marriage light without sing the name’ anyway, and You become ‘one flesh’ and form a family, so it is marriage, or at least it should be treated like one…. Paul even calls sex with a prostitute ‘becoming one flesh’ so the problem is not that there is no marriage, but the problem there is one, or there is something that should be one… The same problem with ‘pro-marital sex’, it may more likely be a unhealthy unbalanced ‘pro-marital marriage’ that might even get aborted before it gives birth to a family. (and it damages people, it’s sin for a reaon…)

Now to my own story… Due to some complicated situations, I have been married ‘illegally’ for a while myself before marrying officially to the state.  We made vows to each other and God in a self-invented church ceremony (with a catholic priest off-duty) with the ones present as witnesses. It was a sacred moment. Some of my Christian friends thought it was a bad idea or possibly even heresy to do it that way(but they mostly didn’t dare to tell me, and I don’t want to know what had been said behind our backs…) But to others, and especially to some non-Christians, it was really impressive, and they started thinking about the seriousness of marriage. It is not just a legal contract. Our vows were much more real. They still are.

[Btw, our ceremony was very ’emerging church’, without even knowing about the term or the ideas behind it, we had deconstructed all human constructions and reconstructed them in a way that did make sense to us -unlike most traditions surrounding marriage we knew of- and to do it together with God in a new way, even if the church wasn’t ready for it -we had asked the catholic priest and used his chapell because no-one in the evangelical churches around us wanted us to help with it-]

Half a year later we did it over again with our confirmation to the state. It was okay, but in the end it was just a legal transaction… The state has never been the one who joined us… Jesus never says anything about what the state Joins, the state can tear apart again… I still believe it was right to affirm it to the state, and if it would’ve been possible we wouldn’t have separated both. And still, I wouldn’ve done the church first, and speaking the vows in the face of God is much more real and binding than any legal contract can be.

So I would say do not mind too much about how the state defines marriage, and let the marriage be sealed with vows of 2 people with God as their witness, and the community. That includes the state too yes, but that’s just a cultural contextualisation of marriage. It has nothing to do with the essence of it. The essence is 2 becoming one flesh, one unit of life, and being serious about that in a life-long commitment. And if we as Christians can show the world around us that love is real in our marriage relationships and family , they might be touched by it more than any law or contract forced to the whole population could ever do…

Love is the first law, vive la revolucion!!!

shalom

Bram