I have two daughters.
They are little spark plugs of utter joy and complete chaos. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They remind me to view the world through childlike wonder. They remind me that I am not what I do, but who I am. They teach me what selfless love actually looks like … every day … day after day … early morning after early morning … nasty crap diaper after nasty crap diaper. They make me realize how much I have to learn about parenting and our place in the world.
Most every night from the moment they were born, I have quietly held them in my arms or rested my hand on their backs while they sleep and prayed for them.
I pray for their continued breath. I pray for their development as little, unique human beings. I pray the Spirit of God to fill them and empower them. I pray the Lord’s Prayer over them. I pray for them to be protected from evil. I pray for them to love those who aren’t often loved. I pray for them to live confidently into who they have been created to be, free from the pressure of imposed reputation and expectation.
I pray for their past, present and future.
In learning to love these little girls, I began to ask more and more questions about the place of women in the world, in the church, and in everyday life.
During interviews with more than a dozen Afghan women leaders, researchers, international aid workers and former Afghan government officials, we learned of persistent dangers and threats to the country's future.
Afghan women face continuing repression. They are witnessing the erosion of previous gains as Taliban control spreads in the countryside and reactionary warlord influence increases within the Kabul regime. The government's own security forces are often responsible for violations of women's rights. Check back in a few days for a more detailed account of what we learned.
The withdrawal of foreign forces will produce an economic crisis for the government of Afghanistan, which remains almost completely dependent financially on the U.S. and other foreign governments, especially to pay for its huge 300,000-person security forces. I wrote about this funding failure in an earlier post.
A new security agreement between Kabul and Washington is likely to call for the continued presence of U.S. military forces in the country beyond the 2014 transition deadline. This is seen as necessary to provide security for Kabul, but it could also have the effect of prolonging the insurgency and impeding prospects for reconciliation.
It was clear from what we heard that maintaining security requires more than deploying a large number of troops.
What is wrong with the typical photo of world leaders making decisions for their countries? The general absence of women -- at the table, in the room, and, as a result, from the agenda.
In last week's post, I argued that because the apostle Paul commended the work of Phoebe-a deacon (Romans 16:1-2)-the tradition of female deacons continued throughout the early centuries, as noted both by the archaeological evidence and also in Christian literature preserved from this period.
As you may know, the question of whether women can serve as deacons has been recently debated among many evangelicals. Since scripture makes clear that Phoebe served as a deacon in the church in Cenchrea, there is an abundance of historical and archeological evidence that women deacons were upheld by the apostles. Both Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom recognize Phoebe was a deacon.
Just recently, more than 100 bookstores controlled by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) removed the recent issue of Gospel Today-an issue whose cover highlighted the gospel-work of women.