Thursday, 30 June 2011

Achieving gender equality

The other day I came across this article about a Swedish school with a gender-neutral language policy. Basically, they are trying to raise the children to be unaware of their gender differences by changing the way they talk to them.

The staff are told to avoid any "masculine and feminine references". 
These words (or rather, their Swedish equivalents) are banned:

They also "read books featuring gay and lesbian couples, single parents and adopted children, instead of fairy tales such as “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” which are rife with gender stereotypes."

The comments below the article make interesting reading.

Although the motives are admirable, I think this kind of exercise is flawed. And, to be honest, a little bit disturbing. Gender is a key part of a person's identity, and by refusing to acknowledge that someone even has a gender, that person will not develop a healthy sense of identity. The point of gender equality is not that girls and boys are actually identical (and we just haven't noticed), it's that they are equal despite their differences.

My friend Phil might come across more of this when he moves to Sweden next month.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Choice and freedom

This is a response to Dave Warnock's post "Choice and Freedom of Male Headship". This is the main gist of it:

"Male Headship and Freedom of Choice for Women: they are alternatives, you cannot have both at the same time."

Freedom of Choice. That's a human right isn't it? We should all be free to choose. Most of the time, we (in the West, at least) are free to make lots of choices.

We are free to choose what to eat for breakfast.
We are free to choose what clothes we wear.
We are free to choose who we pursue relationships with.

But I believe that when Jesus calls me to surrender my all to Him, I do not have the liberty of withholding my rights.

I am free to choose revenge,
but Jesus calls for forgiveness.
I am free to choose greed,
but Jesus calls for generosity.
I am free to choose malice,
but Jesus calls for gentleness.

To follow Jesus, I must daily lay down my right to Freedom of Choice and say "not my will, but yours". I propose that this statement is therefore true:

Following Jesus and Freedom of Choice: they are alternatives, you cannot have both at the same time.

So the question that remains is "does Jesus call for elders to be male, and for wives to submit to their husbands?"

[Update 24/06/11: Please read my comment below (the second comment) for clarification of what I'm trying to say here]

Monday, 20 June 2011

Newfrontiers: Borderlands Conference

I spent a damp weekend at this lovely Welsh camp site for a meeting of Newfrontiers churches in our region. Despite the drizzle it was a fantastic few days. God is really good. Instead of writing my own review, I'm going to be lazy and just concur with the last five paragraphs of Dave's.

Interestingly, I went to a seminar on leadership where some comments were made about male/female roles so I thought I would talk about that a bit. The seminar was led by Tony Smith, whose wife Kay also spoke about training leaders. You'll soon be able to download the talk, but for now I'll have to settle for what I can remember.

Tony understands the Bible to teach that positions of governmental eldership of a local church should be held by men. He went on to say that women should be actively encouraged to develop and undertake all other leadership roles in the church.

In an interesting anecdote, he told how after a local Vineyard pastor challenged him on the issue he counted the number of women in positions of leadership (small group leaders, children and youth leaders, worship leaders etc.) The result was that there were proportionately more women in those roles in the Newfrontiers church than the Vineyard church.

Obviously every church is going to be different, but I think that is helpful in debunking the theory that women in Newfrontiers are always in the kitchen or the créche.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Engaging with the gender debate

My previous post about Newfrontiers generated this response from Dave Warnock.

The issue of gender roles is obviously a hot one, and I've decided that it's going to help me understand the issue better if I engage in some creative discussion around it. So I'm going to read some posts on the topic, and respond here.

It seems I'll be have to tread carefully though...

"I am pleased Andy has dared come through that and say he is willing to engage, although I don't think he knows quite what he is letting himself in for!"

Mm hmm. 


Tuesday, 14 June 2011


A quick search of this blog confirms my suspicion that, no, I have never published a post about Newfrontiers. The word "Newfrontiers" only appears in this post about Newday. The lack of coverage might seem surprising, considering I've been in the movement for the majority of my life. However, despite the absence of contributions from myself, you will probably not run out of things to read about Newfrontiers on the blogosphere.

Notable posts for me have been...
Phil's reasons why he's happy to be a leader in Newfrontiers, and Dave's similar list. Both guys subsequently wrote a post titled "Newfrontiers Weaknesses?" - Phil's here, Dave's here.

Terry Virgo is currently posting a series of videos on Newfrontiers vision and values.

And then there are the anti-Newfrontiers rants that sporadically appear, none of which I would call 'notable'. Hostility towards the movement usually stems from issues about gender, and while I won't dismiss any genuine concerns, nor claim that Newfrontiers is without flaw, it is a great movement to be in.

My reasons won't be much different to Phil and Dave's:
- Commitment to plant and grow churches
- Preaching the gospel
- Teaching the Bible
- Serving the community
- Being a family
- Working with the poor and needy
- Valuing the call of God
- Emphasising the work of the Holy Spirit
- (plus Paul Oakley, Stuart Townend and Phatfish - and that's just one church!)

There's a lot in there to be happy about.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Do dogs go to heaven?

This book seems quite clear on the fact that yes, you will see your passed-away pets when you reach the golden shore. The author's confidence seems to come from some vague reasoning based on creation and the goodness of God. As you can tell, I'm not convinced. Friar Jack Wintz raises a few questions, like "does God's plan of salvation only include humans?"

That's not quite the same as "is Scruffles the hamster waiting for me in heaven?"

To anyone who would answer that in the affirmative, I'd like to pose a few questions of my own:

1) If pets can go to heaven, can they also go to hell?
2) Do pets get to heaven in the same way humans do? In that case...
3) How do you know if an animal has faith in Jesus Christ?
4) Can animals repent?
5) Can animals sin? (I'm thinking of that time Scruffles chewed up the curtain. Naughty Scruffles.)
6) What about animals who lived under the Old Covenant?
7) Do lower life forms, such as insects, bacteria and plants also go to heaven when they die?
8) If there are wasps in heaven, will they still sting me?
9) What will happen when the Christian cows meet the Christian McDonald's workers?

Seriously, I don't mind people mourning the loss of a pet, but I don't think there's going to be any furry rendezvouses (well, what is the plural of rendezvous?) in the afterlife.

Let's have an opinion poll to conclude:
What are you looking forward to most about heaven?
A) Seeing Fluffy again
B) Seeing Auntie Flo again
C) Being able to fly (I hope)
D) Jesus

Why not ask the audience?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Hi Andy

Thank you for your application to audition for Britain's Got Talent series 6.

To confirm your email address and receive audition details and updates via email please click on the following link.

Good luck!
The Britain's Got Talent Team


Oh yes. I have applied. Along with (I'll hazard a guess) about 200,000 others. I'll let you know if I get an audition, but that won't be til November probably.