Wycliffe Women’s Breakfast

This morning,  Wycliffe College is having a women’s breakfast to raise funds for bursaries for female students. I have been invited to share briefly about why I’m at Wycliffe. What follows is the manuscript of my talk. (update: the audio file is now available.)


When I started seminary in Saskatchewan my daughter Beth was 6 months old. During the four years of seminary work, she was joined by Nora, and Malcolm. It was, to say the least, an extremely busy time.

And yet, through my time at seminary, several wise mentors suggested that I had a gifting for teaching and theology. My husband saw this vocation as well, and after much prayer and reflection, we decided that my educational journey wasn’t done quite yet.

As we considered PhD programs, I was looking for a school that understood that theology is done in and for the church and because of that, it is, at its very core, a discipline of prayer. Wycliffe embodies this both in its deep desire to serve the church, and in its commitment to creating a space for prayerful theological reflection in the classroom and in the weekly practice of community Eucharist.

I was looking for a school that understood that academic rigour and the Christian faith are not inimical. The quality of scholarship offered by the professors at Wycliffe is probably the best of all theological institutions in Canada.

My husband and I were also trying to figure out how we could be good stewards of God’s resources. PhD studies are expensive, and we knew that we would need my husband’s pay cheque to cover the costs of raising 3 kids and paying for PhD tuition. And, my husband loves his job, and has his own callings and giftings. If we all moved to Toronto, not only would the cost of living be significantly higher, but it was highly unlikely that he would be working in his field.

And so, with prayer, and faith, and my husband working two jobs to support us, it was decided that the best way to steward all of God’s gifts was for us to become a bi-provincial family. My husband and the kids (who are now 6, 4 and 2) would stay in Saskatchewan, and I would live on the 3rd floor of Wycliffe during the school year. I skype in for dinnertime every day, and Chuck puts my skype face where I would normally sit at the dining room table. Yesterday, when I skyped in, Nora, who is now 4, was sitting at the dining room table, frantically writing. I said to her, “Nora, what are you doing?” “Shhhh. Momma I’m busy doing my homework. I have a class to teach in 5 minutes and I have a paper to write.”

The women at Wycliffe all have their own challenges (some even more complicated than mine) and yet they all have a deep sense of God’s calling in their lives to study the Word of God.

There’s a collect or prayer in one of the Anglican prayerbooks that is assigned for this Sunday (November 8th) that I think perfectly encapsulates the heart’s cry of the women at Wycliffe as we are here at seminary. Will you pray this for these gifted and called women?

Eternal God, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning,

grant us so to hear them,

read, mark, learn, and inwardly ingest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast

the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.




Jackie Kennedy Onassis as an Example of a Good Complementarian Wife?

Courtney Reissig at TGC asks, ed Can Jackie O teach us to be good complementarians?

There are three issues with the article that I wish to highlight:

1. This is a rather muddled article, healing with Reissig on the one hand suggesting that we should not go back to past eras’ understandings of gender roles, sovaldi but on the other hand, suggesting that we should look to Jackie O as a great example of what gender roles in marriage should look like today. She argues that all cultures are flawed, and that our understanding of gender has been flawed since the Fall, but then doesn’t interact with the idea that her understanding of ‘biblical womanhood’ might be just as flawed, and just as ‘cultural’. She argues that submission is good and right, but then suggests that submission in marriage that doesn’t point to Christ is meaningless.

2. I really shouldn’t comment on her use of John Piper’s definition of submission, but what always gets me is that it’s only a definition for a woman. What does submission look like for all Christians? (Since we all are called to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21), to submit to Christ (James 4:7), and to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1))

Reissig writes,

While we are not defined by changing cultural norms, we can see some elements of truth in how women like Jacqueline Kennedy support their husbands. Her devotion to President Kennedy is one that, as Christian women, we can admire and desire to emulate. This unswerving commitment to his success and good is reminiscent of the biblical command given to women by God in Genesis. God made woman to be a suitable helper for her husband, to submit to him and honor him. John Piper defines submission as “the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.” Kennedy’s support of her husband and desire to make her home a haven of rest for him is a picture of what God intended when he created men and women.

3. And the biggest struggle I have with this article is that it completely falls for the magical facade of Camelot. What about John’s indiscretions? It’s easy to gloss over them for the sake of the fairy tale, but by buying into the facade it can be implied in Reissig’s presentation that Jackie’s devotion in light of John’s indiscretions is a good thing. What kind of message is that sending to women? “Submit to your husbands, even when he defiles your marriage vows and chooses to dishonour you.” But then again, if she’s following Piper’s definition, it wouldn’t be surprising if this is the message, since Piper has also suggested that a woman who is being abused by her husband should “endure for a season”.