Female Pastors = Vicodin

CNN.com columnist Roland Martin has an op-ed piece today on Lifeway Christian Store's decision to keep the latest edition of GospelToday, which features five female pastors on the cover, behind the counter.

Martin does not say what sort of prescription is needed to access those magazines...possibly a letter from your pastor affirming you meet certain guidelines? Maybe only men can buy it, since it would give the ladies certain ideas...

Hey, Lifeway, maybe you could let your customers decide if they want to read the magazine or not. Maybe you could let us think for ourselves, and ponder theological issues like this in open dialogue. Then I wouldn't find myself siding with a magazine that once put Star Jones on its cover.


  1. yikes yikes yikes. absolutely ridiculous.

  2. LOL! I keep picturing 13 year old boys trying to get up the nerve, and ask to purchase one of the magazines behind the counter.

  3. I don't know. I mean, it's a bookstore, not a public library. Shouldn't they be allowed to choose what materials they provide? In some ways I applaud the fact that they are being consistent in their belief on the issue.

    I'm a leader in the church (I'm an ordained elder in the PC(USA), on staff at a church and working toward my MDiv) who just happens to be a woman, so these are issues that I deal with everyday. Having people circumvent you to get the approval of a man is a common occurrence for women in ministry.

    I would rather have Christians who are standing behind their interpretation of the Bible, even when it's unpopular, instead of Christians who are uninformed on the complexity of the roles of men and women in the church and believe that what's good for a man must be good for a woman. I think that you lose the nuance of how we are created.

    Instead of bashing or boycotting, maybe this is an opportunity to open up some dialogue over a really difficult and misunderstood doctrine.

    In the midst of my ministry I still find myself questioning what God's designed roles for men and women are in the church. There are no easy answers, which has allowed me to serve but has kept me humble as I try to seek God's will. So I'm thankful for the people who are willing to question, but I pray that they have open ears for answers.

  4. Melody,

    I hear what you're saying, and you should know that I have great respect for your opinions, and that I am particularly enjoying your new writing project. You're right when you say that Lifeways should be able to choose which products to stock in their store. But Lifeways hasn't pulled the magazine; they've hidden it. They are not taking a principled stand because they disagree with the perspective of the magazine. They're keeping it behind the counter. They're fine making money by selling the magazine.

    Everybody else,

    And why are they hiding the magazine? Because they don't want to offend their customers. At what point did we become so afraid of being confronted with ideas different than our own? Have we become so incurious? Are we that insecure in what we believe?

    And what must this say about the other materials on the shelves at Lifeways? We can only assume that every book is coming from the same perspective, parroting the same ideas. I've never been in a Lifeways bookstore before. Those of you who have, tell me, is it like being in a giant echo chamber with Thomas Kinkade paintings on the wall and little mints with Bible verses at the front counter?

  5. One last thing:

    I agree that this is an opportunity for dialogue. So was the publication of the magazine. Conversation occurs when we respect opinions other than our own enough to let them see the light of day.

  6. i totally agree that this was a bad decision.

    but i also respect that it is a business and they can do as they please.

    i think this reflects badly on Christianity, but I do not think they represent the whole of what Christianity can be.

  7. Here's a link to another interesting discussion on the topic.

  8. John, thank you for the kind words, although they are completely unnecessary. I'm happy when we're able to challenge each other in this forum.

    You are right that hiding the magazine instead of pulling it is a move of cowardice, not fortitude. I hadn't really thought of it from that perspective. And maybe there is a problem when something like this DOESN'T offend me. Maybe I have come to believe that I should expect this sort of behavior, and I don't think that is right either.

    Kimberly- Thanks for passing along the link. I haven't had the chance to look at it yet, but I'm excited to hear other voices in this discussion. It's clear I have a lot of thinking to do!

  9. I think a business should have the right not to serve minorities, but I also think we should then boycott and picket outside said restaurant.

    Maybe that's a bad analogy, but it's a bookstore, a place where ideas should be exchanged.

  10. When I worked at Borders, the "adult" or gun enthusiast magazines were kept behind the counter. It was always an awkward situation when I had to reach for one for a customer.

    Why is Lifeway treating a gospel magazine like something a 13 year old can't buy?

  11. This has hit me too close to home. I saw Martin's article yesterday and it touched off a crisis of conscience.

    Lifeway asked me to write an article for their college magazine. I did, and they paid me pretty well. They also sell one of my books. My mom recently told me -- and this one makes me feel sick in light of this story -- that they put a stack of my books in the front of the store in my hometown.

    I've thought about trying to get out of my contract for the article and returning the money. I can't really pull my book -- the publisher kinda owns it now -- but I've thought about writing a protest letter.

    I worked hard on my book and even on that article. I have four little kids and we need money. But this kind of crap turns my stomach. I honestly don't know what to do.

    Right now, I'm soothing myself with the notion that they're selling my book about dating which promotes gender equality. Trying to ease my conscience by thinking of myself as an infiltrator.

    Ugh. This is where they catch you -- forcing a choice between standing up for the right thing or compromising and feeding your family. This sucks. Pray that I make the right decision.