Scripture says they are my most powerful allies, that we are equipped to partner together to spread God's love & justice in this needy world (Genesis 1:27-28).
But, specifically, I love my brothers because . . .
Todd Render stuck up for me in seminary preaching class, reading Scripture with female pronouns as I sat there grinning, the only woman in the class. Later, he attended at least two of my sermons at my church.
Jim Kane provided me with my first preaching opportunity at his church, preparing me for it and standing behind me all the way. He dialogued with me on a variety of pastoral subjects—and most recently, blogged about Reclaiming Eve.
Kurt Willems showed up on a popular online blog in which I was being roasted and stuck up for every one of his sisters in a single comment. He later gave me an opportunity to post on his blog.
Scot McKnight reposted Kurt's blog post about what women will do after seminary, talking about his sisters in ministry over and over again on his blog and in the process, making room for us.
Ed Cyzewski wrote a slam-dunk endorsement for Reclaiming Eve because he believed it was a message that needed to be heard, and even took time to chat via Skype about seminary, ministry and the writing life.
Two pastors, Chuck and Rex, said use your gifts alongside us in this church: preach the word, teach the word, lead the graveside service, visit the sick in the hospital, love well. I follow in their footsteps.
My literary agent, Tim Beals, went to bat for the Reclaiming Eve book and stood behind it no matter what challenge arose. Immediately before its release, he said: You must have courage and fortitude. It is time for you to steward this message well.
Over and over again, my husband David has said: be obedient to the calling of God in your one heart and life no matter the opposition. Shine brightly.
Then this little book released, and the men multiplied. I have seen them in the crowds and my heart soars. Uncle Micky and Steve and Bill and Eric and Tim and Ross and John and Doug and Jeremiah and Ryan and Chris and Scott and Gerald and Richard and Donovan and some of whom I don't even know their names. Some would lean in and whisper: Everything you have said is so important. Be encouraged. Keep up the great work.
And all of this changes my perspective and challenges my tired assumptions. I marvel at the beauty of the blessed alliance and the strong partnerships God has placed in my life.
Then last week, I featured Beth Bruno and Chris Bruno and their groundbreaking book End: Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking. Beth shares a searingly beautiful example of men and women partnering to advance God's love and justice on page 58:
I participated in a different outreach ministry to the women who danced at our local strip club. A group of men always sat in their car in the parking lot praying for us [women], watching us, and timing us. They knew to give us 20 minutes or come in because something had gone wrong. How can you offer physical protection to women you know who are taking risks for the cause?
What if the primary truth about Eve is different than our strongest impressions of her? What if women are not primarily dangerous, easily deceived and inferior, but brilliant image-bearers of the living God?
What if the primary truth about Adam is that he is also a brilliant image-bearer of God, equipped to defend and uplift women rather than to abuse them? And that men can only be raised up to truly shine and flourish when women are right there beside them, serving together?
And what if, all across this beautifully diverse earth, men and women started to reach out to one another, looking for ways to uplift and partner with one another? What if?
As I was writing this post, I pictured these men strung together in a line, forming a strong wall of encouragement. Then I decided my word picture needed a decidedly different setup. Instead these men are lined up, linking arms with the women in their lives as they advance God's purposes on this earth.
As I think on this image, I picture a world where hatred and brutalization and manipulation no longer rule the day. Instead, I imagine God's vision and justice flourishing, right here, right now, as it is in heaven. The amazing men in my life prove this is possible, even though there is so much work to do.
That is why I love my brothers.