Introduction to the Special Issue on Gender and Christianity

By Anderson, Tamara L.; Hall, M. Elizabeth Lewis | Journal of Psychology and Theology, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Introduction to the Special Issue on Gender and Christianity


Anderson, Tamara L., Hall, M. Elizabeth Lewis, Journal of Psychology and Theology


It is with pleasure that we write this introduction to our special issue on Gender and Christianity. This issue represents a logical next step in a research endeavor that has been a focus of ours for the past several years. It began with a discussion regarding whether or not it would be possible to arrange our time, both professionally and personally, to pursue our interests in mentoring students in research and gender issues. Little did we know that this "balance" between the personal and the professional would come to be a central theme that would be defined and redefined, in our research and our personal lives, throughout the years that followed. Along the way we found new terminology that seemed to capture our experiences and the experiences of our participants. An example of this is our movement away from the term "balancing" and toward the more descriptive, experiential term of "weaving;" a concept that flowed from one participant's description of her life as both professor and mother (Hall, Anderson, & Willingham, 2004).

In researching the lives of women who are professionals and/or academicians, as well as mothers we found glimpses of our own lives and nuances that were both delightfully and poignantly unexpected. Our students have joined us on the journey, resulting in dissertations, publications and presentations (e.g., Carruthers, 2003; Deweese, 2004; Lee, submitted for publication; Phanco, 2004; Thorstad, in press), but as they have since shared with us, more importantly they gained a much desired insight into, "How does one really manage both family and career?" Hopefully, what they have witnessed is the reality that there is no perfect weave. Each life (cloth) is a unique blend of threads and colors.

Our presentations and publications in this area have brought us into contact with many individuals in Christian circles who have resonated with our ideas and experiences and have expressed interest in continuing dialogue on these important issues in the Christian community. In response, this special issue on Gender and Christianity provides a forum for the introduction of some of these ideas, which will hopefully result in continued dialogue on these important topics.

We have especially come to value the broader context in which our issues of interest are held. Concepts such as gender, Christian faith and vocation have taken on a depth and richness we hope will be reflected in this issue. Included here are studies that cover a range of topics particular to gender and Christianity. We considered gender an inclusive term that would invite a range of research into female and male issues. The articles included in this issue reflect the broad nature of the term gender (relating to such concepts as sex, gender identity, gender roles, gender stereotypes, masculinity/femininity, etc.), and in some unexpected ways.

The choice to consider gender in light of a Christian belief system rather than the less specific and more nebulous domain of "spirituality," was deliberate. In discussing the integration of psychological concepts and Christian theology, McMinn and Hall (2000) state:

Psychology, deeply rooted in a scientific epistemology, places great
value in systemic and measurable observations. Christian theology is
bounded by central doctrines, forged over centuries of dialog and based
on the authority of a sacred text. Those integrating psychology and
theology most effectively have learned to value both epistemologies.
(p. 251)

Christian theology (providing special revelation) and psychology (general revelation) may be seen as cornerstones, each with its own set of principles and doctrines that provide a contextual framework from which to view a variety of concepts. How gender is defined in Christian theology will certainly differ even among the various (evangelical or fundamentalist) Christian sub-cultures (Ingersoll, 2003). Included in this issue are some intriguing and thought-provoking articles that will hopefully broaden the reader's thoughts on gender and how it relates to Christianity. …

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