In Which I’m a Jesus Feminist Too.

You have to own what you’re doing here. If you’re wanting to give people a new way to see this, then you have to give people a new way to see this. Don’t tuck it in…People get a book because they want to hear what this person has to say. So if this person turns all the knobs down to the left and sort of says, I don’t know, I just sort of have a couple of thoughts, that’s not interesting. –  Author Rob Bell

Author Sarah Bessey is interesting. And so is her little yellow book, Jesus Feminist, which dropped yesterday. The title alone promises her entree into hot water with just about everybody, but good for her. She did her homework, took the stage and turned her volume up.

Whether I agree with her is premature and frankly kind of irrelevant. Since when do we only read books we’re certain to agree with? Bessey’s moving the conversation in an interesting direction, much like Rob Bell did with Love Wins – the book that earned him the title “heretic.” So let ‘er rip Sarah, I’m already stomping my feet and cheering you on for saying things I think, but can’t yet muster. Things like this:

“We are among the disciples who are simply going outside, to freedom, together, intent on following Jesus; we love him so. We’re finding each other out here, and it’s beautiful and crazy and churchy and holy. We are simply getting on with it, with the work of justice and mercy, the glorious labor of reconciliation and redemption, the mess of friendship and community, the guts of walking on the water, and the big-sky dreaming of the Kingdom of God.

So if that’s what it means to be a Jesus Feminist, count me in.

Because at this very moment, more women are exploited and enslaved on this planet than any other time in human history. One in three American girls is sexually abused before age 18. The average age of a child sex slave worldwide is 11. Why? Because among a thousand other poverty and gender-based reasons, there is demand, or to put it bluntly, there are lots of men who like having sex with women and children against their will.

And THAT is an abomination.

So, if ever there was a time for educated, resourced, liberated women of God to stand up and bang the drum for the lives of their sisters who can’t, this is it. Because if not us, who?

Can you tell God’s been dealing with me about something lately? Open your mouth Erin. Open it.

Open your mouth for the dumb [those unable to speak for themselves], for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless; Open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9

When I was just a feminist – no modifier – I would have considered the phrase “Jesus Feminist” an oxymoron and maybe even rattled off some caustic remark. But I didn’t know then how much Jesus loves women, how he defended them, listened to them, corrected them and healed them. I didn’t know everything he did was a model for the rest of us, including occasional, chair-tossing, whip-cracking outrage. Don’t forget, Jesus didn’t just carry baby lambs around, he flipped over tables in the Temple too.

And for all the things I’ve heard about women and the church, I’ve heard the following point made exactly once. It was said by a powerful woman of God, who 30 years ago was kicked out of her church for preaching the gospel.

Q: According to the Gospel of John, who was the first person to see the resurrected Christ?

A: Mary Magdalene.

Q: What happened next?

A: Jesus said to her, Do not cling to Me [do not hold Me], for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brethren and tell them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God. Away came Mary Magdalene, bringing the disciples news (word) that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her. John 20:17-18 (emphasis mine.)

Q: Do you know what that makes Mary Magdalene?

A: The world’s very first gospel preacher.

Pause and calmly consider that. I’ll wait.

Maybe my volume’s up a little high for you today. Believe me when I say, I don’t mean to raise your blood pressure with theological debates. I’ve wasted enough time arguing, so you’re welcome to disagree with me. As Bessey says, there’s room for all of us.

I’m just saying there’s work to be done in this beautiful disaster and we need all hands on deck. Let’s not tie up half of them, especially those who can galvanize and lead others into battles that desperately need fighting.

**As ever, the views expressed herein are my own and not that of my employer.

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Did You Get What You Wanted for Christmas?

Present

Present (Photo credit: ejorpin)

All I wanted for Christmas this year was to stop doing nothing about the condition of the world, to be more like Jesus in the exact way he calls his followers to be – light.

After calling himself the light of the world, Jesus passed the mantle. WE are now the light of the world and WE are meant to shine like a city on a hill. It’s so simple, but I have sipped countless lattes with my smart, beautiful friends discussing hunger and poverty and slavery and AIDS, fixing our hopes on some opaque redemptive body and wringing our hands.

But Jesus Christ did not ruminate over why the Jewish mental health system failed the demon-possessed man. He just stopped what he was doing and healed him.

So a month ago, I began raising money for The Exodus Road, a coalition of covert investigators rescuing child sex slaves out of SE Asian brothels.

By Christmas day, 18 people, from my parents, to friends, to complete strangers had contributed $1000 of our $1400 goal. That means all of us are engaging the problem of sexual slavery, not just talking about it. We are advancing an army of light, which the darkness cannot suffer. We have done as Proverbs 31:8 says:

Open your mouth for the dumb, for the cause of all who are left desolate.

And yet many people still gaze at all the sticky, black tar fouling the earth and say, “It’s too big, too dark. God can’t possibly be here.”

But He is and here’s how I know:

Careful readers will note we fell short of our $1400 goal. I did the best I could by my deadline and handed the rest over to God.

Yesterday, a couple I don’t know in Minnesota donated the last $400 – our biggest single donation.

candles

candles (Photo credit: rogerglenn)

They gave on behalf of Urban Servant, a blog written by my childhood friend Dorothy, who has adopted nine of her eleven children, many of whom were damaged in utero by booze. If there were no Dorothy, there would be nine more needy, little people dropping through the system like metal balls in a game of mousetrap.

But there is a Dorothy and she is a beacon. This woman has 13 mouths to feed thrice daily, yet she made time to blog about us in such a compelling way, people I don’t know made a sizable gift in her name.

This is how God works. After we agree to serve Him, He uses us like melodies in other people’s songs.

When we get less selfish with our time, our money and our hands, when we accept that we don’t know what we’re doing and may mess things up, when we engage one another in sometimes slow and inefficient ways, that’s when the light shines through us and people can see it. Then the world is a little less dark.

I’m grateful for all of you. Happy New Year.

Team Kirk is the #3 Exodus Road Fundraiser!

Did you know we are the #3 Exodus Road fundraising team now? Fifteen of you have joined me in raising nearly $700. Thank you!

We have one week to raise the other half. I blogged here about my commitment to help this non-profit raise $1400 to raid a brothel selling imprisoned children for sex. The Exodus Road is taking two of its top fundraising bloggers back to SE Asia to see the operation firsthand. That could be me!

Here’s why this work matters:

1. There are more human slaves now than at any other time in human history.

2. An estimated 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked over international borders, including into the US, each year. Seventy percent are female and half are children.

3. Human trafficking is the third largest organized crime after guns and drugs.

Ugh, thanks Erin, I really needed more bad news.

Don’t despair! It is easy to help and you don’t have to solve the whole problem, you just have to refuse to do nothing. Your contribution matters to rescued sex slaves like Sarah.

So here is not one, but two options for fighting sexual slavery.

Donate to The Exodus Road coalition and support the people performing covert surveillance and organizing raids on SE Asian brothels.

dream_centerDonate to The LA Dream Center, which operates the United States’ largest transitional care and recovery center for victims of human trafficking. Even though I was at the Dream Center in November, I know little about this program, because security for it is super high. In LA that is expensive.

As Chris Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign says, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Tomorrow, I’m bringing the noise from Sweden – a nation which sex traffickers consider “inhospitable for business.” Solutions abound y’all. Be a part!