On Forgiveness and the Corporate “Family”

I’ve never watched “The Apprentice.” The fact that the star of the show is now the President of the United States hasn’t made me any more inclined to watch it. But I’m familiar with the show’s famous tagline, and I occasionally use it with my daughters, because it reinforces one of our family’s most sacred values, one that is the very heartbeat of the gospel.

Whenever one of my girls has legitimately dropped a logistical or behavioral ball – carelessly broken something, not followed through on a task they owned, said something disrespectful to me – and they’re genuinely remorseful and asking for forgiveness, after granting it, I look them in the eye lovingly and say “You’re fired.” They respond as they should, and do, with a rueful giggle, and maybe roll of the eyes. They know I’m joking. They know, to the depth of their souls, that there is nothing they can ever do that can separate them from my love. At least, that’s what I’m teaching them.

We’re a family. Family doesn’t fire each other. Family forgives.

It also repents, and makes restitution, and builds boundaries, and lays down paths, so that each family member in it grows into the human being God created them to be. But all along the way, it forgives.

Companies in my city are increasingly fond of not just self-identifying as a family, but of setting up structures and perks to persuade current and potential employees that they are one. From three meals a day, exercise facilities and after-hours activities, to onsite medical clinics and daycare, Silicon Valley companies go to extreme lengths to telegraph care for their employees’ needs to enable their optimal contribution and commitment.

Few companies take this concept as far as Google. Ironically, their standout benefits all have to do with employees’ nuclear families.  Parental leave is generous – 18 weeks for moms, 6 weeks for dads. (Do I dare note the inequity in that? Hold that thought.) They even throw in “baby bonding bucks” – a bonus to cover diapers, formula and the plethora of other needs new parenting creates. Should tragedy strike and a Google employee dies, the surviving spouse gets 50% of the Google employee’s salary for 10 years, their children younger than 19 receive $1000 a month each, and all of their stock options vest immediately. Then again, if you’re a woman concerned that your biological clock is ticking too fast while you’re trying to establish your career, Google will help you pay to freeze your eggs to delay family building altogether, indefinitely.

As nice as this all might sound, this week, one Google employee learned a hard lesson about the limits of the Silicon Valley corporate definition of family.

Google has been one of a number of Silicon Valley companies struggling recently under a weight of allegations of varying types of discrimination against women – from unequal pay, to disproportionate representation in leadership, to various hostile work environment behaviors. For the past three years, Google has been working to actively address the imbalances, spending in excess of $250M in recruitment efforts to build a more diverse workforce.

But it’s not working.

Last Friday, one of Google’s own (a “Googler”, to borrow the Google term) wrote a ten-page internal memo to try to do his Googley part to help solve the problem.

In the memo, the engineer (now identified at as James Damore) asserted that part of Google’s challenges with diversity stem from observable disparities in aptitudes and interests between men and women that scientific studies indicate are traceable, in part, to biology. Consequently, he asserts, Google should not be striving for absolute equal representation. They should, though, work to narrow the gender gap by creating policies that both acknowledge and account for generalized gender differences -e.g.  make engineering more people-oriented and collaborative – while continuing to resist tribalism in viewing both men and women as individuals, rather than uniform members of a group. (His most thought-provoking and regrettably overlooked suggestion? Addressing the current inflexibility in the male gender role.)


Damore works hard to make his intentions clear – he observes a problem inside his company, he wants to help solve it, he wants Google to succeed. That feels like a worthy goal for anyone who identifies as a Googler. Notably, he acknowledges that biases and blind spots are universal, which means he himself is likely to possess some, and thus is looking to promote dialog and discussion as a means of collective growth. Nevertheless, he framed his assertions, conclusions, and recommendations in ways that guaranteed the merits of his arguments would be ignored, subsumed as they were in a sea of generalizations and inflammatory phrasing.

In the name of doing something Damore thought was in line with Google’s family values, Damore dropped not just one ball, but a whole bunch of them. The question became how Google was going to respond.

Later that same day, Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance sent out an internal memo stating that Damore’s manifesto “…advanced incorrect assumptions about gender….it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes, or encourages.” By the end of the day, Damore confirmed that he’d been fired.

Yesterday, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai,  sent out yet another memo, in which he asserted that “to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.” Damore’s manifesto actually concurs with this assertion, and some of its arguments are centered on ways to counteract that issue. Nevertheless, Pichai notes that as a result of the memo, some groups within Google are hurting and feeling judged. Consequently, Pichai states, he’s cutting his own family vacation in Europe short to come back to Google to help continue to steer the conversations.

When the story first broke, it triggered some vivid memories about time I myself sent off an email at work that got me in some temporary hot water (although not fired). The experience left a sufficient impression on me that, years later, when someone who worked for me did the same thing, I intervened on his behalf to mitigate the consequences.

I’ve read that those kind of empathetic impulses are more attributable to women. Perhaps that explains Damore’s recommendaton in his manifesto that Google de-emphasize empathy as a corporate value. And given Google’s still problematically male leadership, it perhaps also explains why they de-emphasized empathy in their treatment of Damore, and just stuck with the facts as they interpreted them.

The cycle of commentary on Google’s response, and the underlying issues that triggered it, don’t show any signs of slowing down. In the meantime,  James Damore is free to spend as much time with his own family as he would like.

One other than Google, that is.

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Women Are Not Footnotes in God’s Story

For the last few months, the binding on my ten year old ESV has been slowly giving up maps and index pages one by one, signalling that it was nearing the end of its life. I’ve been a loyal reader of the ESV since its inception in 2001. The recent controversy over its latest revision strategy had me questioning my loyalty, and considering at least looking into other translations, but a sixteen year habit is hard to break.  

On my desk amongst the many books I acquired at TGC has been a shiny new copy of the updated Christian Standard Bible inviting me to take and read. When I recently started the book of Hebrews in my morning devotions, I decided to accept the invitation. Yesterday, my morning reading brought one of the distinguishing features of the CSB into sharp relief, in way that moved me to worshipful tears of thanks.

The introduction of the print version of the CSB uses the helpful term “optimal equivalence” to represent its general translation strategy. It also provides a short summary of its approach to gendered language. A more complete explanation of this approach is on their website. I had read the introduction on the plane ride back from TGC, but not the lengthier explanation. Consequently, when I came to yesterday’s reading in Hebrews 2 and 3, I was  both generally expectant about how the CSB would tackle the passage, but startled at the impact as I read.

Two of the most commonly used Greek words in the New Testament to connote Christian family relationships are “adelphos” and “adelphoi” . Together, they’re used over 500 times throughout the New Testament, and five times in Hebrews 2 and 3 alone. For centuries, these words have been translated as “brothers” or “brethren”,  to represent the English usage that was most common at the time. As with other words like “man” or “mankind”, various strategies have been employed to communicate that these terms are representative of people as a whole –  men and women, brothers and sisters. In many Bible translations, the terms have been translated “as is”, with the onus on the reader to presume that the terms are inclusive of women. Some translations, including the ESV, place the traditional language of “brothers” in the text, and add a footnote that indicates they can be read/interpreted as “brothers and sisters”.

In the CSB, in accordance with their translation philosophy, they put the more inclusive translation of “adelphos/adelphoi” as “brothers and sisters”  into the text directly, with no footnotes. 

Consequently, as I read Hebrews 2 and 3 yesterday, this is what I read (see ironic footnote below):

“That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brothers and sisters.” Heb. 2:11-12a

“Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.” Heb. 2:17

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.” Heb. 3:1

“Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Heb. 3:12

 

The CSB translation of Hebrews 2 and 3 reveals with beautiful clarity the way Jesus’ redemptive work has always been for, and on behalf of women, as much as it has been for men.

Jesus is not ashamed to call us sisters. (Heb. 2:11-12a)

In his humanity, Jesus had to be like us, his sisters, to become our merciful and faithful high priest.  (Heb. 2:17)

Women share in the heavenly calling. (Heb. 3:1)

Women share in that calling’s warnings, and its accountabilities. (Heb. 3:12-13)

In the CSB, women are not footnotes in God’s redemptive plan; we’re an integral part of it. Our union with Christ makes us His sisters, and thus sisters to all those, men and women, who are united to Him as well.

It’s not hard to see the positive impact this translation strategy could have on Bible teaching and discipleship, especially in this era of ever-cycling conversation and controversy over complementarianism, transgenderism, the Mike Pence rule, and how to best encourage and steward womens’ voices toward speaking God’s truth in the age of the Internet(2).

That’s why I’ve decided embrace the CSB as the translation I’ll use to study for myself, and for sharing with others, especially with other women. It’s deepened my understanding of the implications of my identity in Christ, not just as a person, but as a woman, and as a sister.

That’s worthy of more than footnoting – it’s worthy of celebration, and worship.


(Footnote – the current online CSB is, well, not nearly as much of a blessing as the translation itself. Rather than be confusing and link to another translation, I’ve just noted the verses as they are in the CSB.)

(2) Added Thursday, April 27, in light of today’s…..spirited….conversation about women in informal ministry, ecclesiology, authority, and orthodoxy.

Women and Words: Eve, the First Woman

If I’m being honest, Eve’s first recorded words in Genesis 3 are painful for me to read. When Adam’s first words are so beautiful and quite literally perfect, why, I ask myself, aren’t Eve’s the same?

I think part of the answer lies with the one to whom Eve is talking.

It’s easy to read Genesis 3 through 21st century lenses and raise a skeptical eyebrow at the Dr. Doolittle-esque idea of a snake talking to a woman. But when God has just called the whole universe into existence with his words, it seems completely consistent that the creatures He made for His glory might possess some echo of this attribute of their Maker.

The more significant detail in this passage isn’t so much a snake talking to Eve; it’s how, and why, Eve is talking back to the snake.

Genesis 2:4-23 reads like the opening scene in a Disney musical, with its once upon a time beginning, and its lush descriptions of gardens, rivers and gold to set the scene. Moses describes the beautiful way in which God makes Adam his necessary ally- someone who is both like him and not. Adam responds to God’s work with poetic exultation. You can almost hear the music begin to swell into the opening notes of a duet.

But then a third character suddenly breaks into the scene, and the music stops abruptly.

Moses introduces the serpent by calling out what makes him unique, but not in a way that negates the essential truth of what he is. He’s just a beast of the field. His wits may set him apart, but in all other respects he’s just one of the many creatures who move over the earth, over which God called Adam and Eve to rule, together.  So how is Eve drawn so unquestioningly into talking with him as if he’s an equal?  Why aren’t Eve’s first words directed at Adam, about who on God’s green earth this creature is to presume to strike up a conversation with her, uninvited and unintroduced?

The answer lies in his crafty, conversational strategy.

True to Moses’ description, the serpent engages Eve by framing his question in terms that presume upon the things they share in common, even spiritual things.  Both of them were made by God. Both of them have a role to play in God’s creation mandate. What could be more natural, even fruitful, than clarifying conversation between two of God’s creatures about His commands, just to make sure they were both on the same page?

Eve unquestioningly follows the lead of the serpent’s questions. Her answers stretch, and shape, and smooth God’s words until He looks like someone altogether different than who He actually is.

With her words, Eve:

  • puts herself and Adam in front of God, sidestepping His authority.
  • reduces the scope of God’s provision, reducing His generosity.
  • redraws the lines of God’s protection, exaggerating His boundaries.
  • diminishes the scope of God’s transcendence, diluting His glory

all in the space of a single sentence.

The god Eve’s words depict is a god Satan knows how to work with.

Eve’s words form the fatal framework for the lies Satan feeds her, and Adam, and all of us.

That’s why my heart aches when I read Eve’s words in Genesis 3. Because in her words I hear echoes of my own – in every time I’ve put my will ahead of God’s, in every complaint I’ve made over what it seems God has withheld, in every chafing at His protection, in my lust for glory that robs God of His.

The bitter consequences of Eve’s words, and all of ours like them, are what makes Jesus’ words in Luke 4:1-13 all the sweeter.

Several thousand years after Satan meets Eve in a garden, he meets Jesus in the wilderness. He deploys the very same strategies he used with Eve (Satan may be crafty, but he’s hardly creative), questioning authority, testing God’s boundaries, proffering power he doesn’t possess in exchange for the worship he continually craves.

But where Eve succumbed, Jesus prevails.

In the wilderness, Jesus, the Living Word, speaks over Eve’s words with the word of the living God.

  • Where Eve’s words set aside God’s authority, Jesus’ words submitted to it.
  • Where Eve’s words dismissed God’s provision, Jesus’ words rests in it.
  • Where Eve’s words rebelled against God’s boundaries, Jesus’ words revered them.

Eve’s words were the beginning of humanity’s undoing; Jesus’ words were the beginning of its rescue.

With His words, the second Adam spoke with perfection where Eve, and I, have not. And with His words, He modeled for me, and for all of us, the kind of speech that crushes the crafty serpent into the dust – speech that centers itself on the words of God, and the worship of God, all for the glory of God.

Women, Words, and the Word of God

When you’re gifted with words, and you make your living by using them, you feel the sting of the moments when you’ve said something wrong and hurt someone, or said something right and been ignored, more than the average person.

Or is that just me?

For a long time I viewed my gift with words the way some people view their gift of singleness. I couldn’t deny I had it;  I just wanted God to take it back. I was raised in a complementarian context that equated  womanliness with being quiet. Being a woman with  gifts that have anything to do with being heard make you feel like you live with a giant 1 Peter 3 penalty flag perpetually flapping over your head. Or like you have a genetic condition.

In my case, that’s entirely possible. Because having a strong voice, and the compulsion to use it to help people, seems to be literally codified in my DNA.

The  branches of my family tree are laden with pastors, writers, published authors, and even heralds (my maiden name is Horner).  I followed in my ancestors’ footsteps  by earning an English degree at a Christian liberal arts college. For more than twenty years, I’ve put my gifts to work in the technology industry, helping people improve the way they communicate so they can make gazillions of dollars building the technologies on which all of the the Internet runs.

(Please choose from any of the following options: A. I’m sorry. B. You’re welcome. C. Both)

I’ve been a front row observer of the digital revolution’s transformation of the way people communicate, and have been part of the work to shape that transformation, so that people are helped more than they’re harmed by it.

Home decorating projects give me panic attacks, and the time I spend volunteering in my daughter’s fifth grade classroom is the hardest 45 minutes of my month.  But I can string sentences together, and nothing makes me happier than when I learn that a collection of them has been helpful to someone.

So when my words fail me, by being unhelpful, unkind, or just plain stupid, the weight of that failure feels particularly heavy.

A while ago, my words failed me (or rather, they failed God)  twice in the space of a month. So I sat under the weight of the Holy Spirit’s conviction over it in an intentional way.

There was one time in my Christian life when my conclusion would have been that my two-footed stumble was a sign I  wasn’t actually gifted with words at all – that the fruit I should bear in keeping with repentance was the fruit of learning to sit down and shut up. But in my womens’  Bible Study on the Gospel of John this year, Jesus’ words in John 15 have caused me to think otherwise.  I’m learning to see that God grants these moments of stumbling as a means of pruning, to make me more fruitful in my gifts, not to mention more humble in acknowledging the true Source for that fruit as it comes.

The questions I began to ask of the Holy Spirit was what shape this pruning should  take. The bad fruit had been of a particular varietal – speech that was injudicious. How did God want me to produce better fruit that was the opposite? Not just me as a Christian, but me as a Christian woman?

So much of the messaging targeted at Christian women focusses on the Bible’s words about the pruning of our speech and being silent; I haven’t read nearly as much focussed on what the Bible says about when women are to speak, and when we should know we’re meant to listen.

So I’ve spent the last several months digging into that topic.  I’ve studied the words of the women of the Old Testament, the women of Proverbs 7, 8 and 9, and the women who followed Jesus. I’ve studied the context for their words, and the consequences, for the women who spoke them, for the people who listened to them, and for the people who refused to listen as well.

What God has been teaching me has been startling and strengthening, convicting and emboldening.

There’s no question that the Bible contains strong warnings against certain types of womanly speech, speech that endangers the soul of anyone who heeds it. But the Bible is equally clear that there is a kind of womanly speech that brings life, and it’s every bit as dangerous to our souls when we ignore it.

As I’ve sought to replicate the patterns of speech God affirms in Scripture, and put off the ungodly ones, God has graciously produced the fruit in my life, in encouraging and unexpected ways. That fruit has come not just from speaking differently, and, yes, in saying less in certain circumstances; it’s also come from speaking differently and saying more in others.
I’m  posting some of the results of that study here in the coming days. I hope it will bear fruit in your life as well, whether you’re a woman wanting to be a better steward of your words,

or you’re a woman, or a man, wanting to be a wiser listener when a woman speaks.

Of summer jobs and ontological submission

If you ask my fifteen-year-old daughter about her career goals, she’ll instantly tell you they involve “being invisible.” This isn’t just because she’s an introvert. It’s because she has a passion for technical theater and stage managing, which is, as simply as I can describe it, the art and science of doing the parts of theater that orchestrate what happens on stage, without requiring you to ever be on it. It involves a lot of pushing buttons, and plugging and unplugging cables, and wearing black from head to toe. But the biggest part of the job involves her broadcasting a constant, quiet stream of instructions to a team of light, sound and stage technicians via a headset. And so now I have a problem with her summer job.

Traditional complementarian teaching would consider my daughter’s aspirations to a vocation that involves being a quiet helper of others as commendable, even womanly. What could be more feminine than not wanting to be up front and center, but preferring to work quietly in the background, literally shining the lights on other people on stage? But the complementarianism attached to the latest iteration of the Trinity debate, while affirming my daughter’s natural reserve, would take issue with the requirement that she be giving orders to big burly stagehands about when they should be raising and lowering backdrops. Unless the burly stagehands are women. (But then, they’d take issue with the burly women stagehands.)

This is why challenging distorted theology about the Trinity and its attachment to gender definitions matters.

This is where it matters

Right here, today, as my eldest daughter is getting ready to start her first paid summer job as a stage manager for a local children’s’ theater.

According to the arguments for the stream of complementarianism outlined by the authors of “The Grand Design” (and the increasingly vocal leaders of an aspirationally and aggressively influential organization dedicated to it),

my daughter’s exercise of her emerging abilities to flawlessly orchestrate the actions of a team of men (and women) to bring Frozen to life on a community theater stage, will distort her femininity, the masculinity of every man she instructs, and the gospel.

According to CBMW, my fifteen-year-old girl needs to get a different summer job.

I’ll gladly take suggestions in the comments. But remember that lifeguarding is out, too. (Too much potential for more distortion of her womanhood because of all that yelling at men to get out of the water if she spots a shark).

On Imago Dei and Ways Forward Down Winding Roads

“Are women human?” Dorothy Sayers asked the world that question in an essay she wrote in 1947. And the evangelical church, at least in the last century or so, has tried to dodge the issue by pulling a Princess Bride – “Skip to the end – say man and wife!” Conversations, conferences, books and blogs about biblical womanhood abound, but not about biblical person-hood. But there are a myriad of problems in considering the practical implications of womanhood, without understanding their foundation in a woman’s humanity.

The most common model for examining, and then defining, biblical womanhood has been to consider the passages where women are addressed or featured prominently, and then to stretch and pull the applications from those texts across as many groups of women as possible, like so much pizza dough on a peel. Women who fit the demographic in question are privy to a plethora of books, memes, and ministries dedicated to the minutiae of obeying a subset of a single chapter of Scripture. For women outside the demographic – those not yet married, not married anymore, or currently without children – the conversation becomes either about making yourself perpetually ready for a particular season, like some kind of womanhood- prepper, or about supporting other women in it – as though womanhood were some kind of spectator sport only certain women are qualified to play, while the rest stand on the sidelines with pink pompoms and cheer.

I found the beginning of a path through my frustrations with the biblical womanhood framework that was simultaneously confining and full of holes, by way of a book called “Made For More”. In it, Hannah Anderson challenges the “identity myopia” of concentrating our definition as women (and men) on segments of life that are narrow in scope, and temporal in nature. In this “nearsightedness of the soul…(w)e can see the details well enough, but we can’t grasp their significance; and when we glance away from them, even momentarily, everything else is out of focus and blurred.” (pg 12) Anderson argues that the clearest lens through which to view ourselves as women, and then walk accordingly, is not one of temporal roles which last only for a season (if they occur at all), but the lens of the One from Whom, through Whom, and to Whom both women and men live, in every moment of life. Womanhood begins with who God is (in His nature), and what He has done (in the gospel), before it is about the things we do for Him as women. “We forget”, Anderson states, “that we can never understand what it means to be women of good works, until we first learn about the goodness of a God who works on our behalf. We forget that nothing about (our works) will make any sense if they are not first grounded in the truth that we are destined to be conformed to (God’s) image through Christ.” (pg. 105)

For years I had lived with a tension I felt deeply but struggled to understand fully – that my mission to follow Christ was somehow mitigated by my gender, that my ability to be like Christ was limited by the fact that He was and is a man and I was not, and that the real working out of my salvation seemed to be mediated through my identity as a wife and mother. In rediscovering the importance of the doctrine of imago dei to my identity, I began to see Jesus’ incarnation, life, death and resurrection, as not merely about my restoration as a woman, but more importantly, my restoration as a human being. Consequently, the living out of my restored humanity as a woman was as equally about reflecting the full nature of the triune God in my womanhood, as it is for a man in his manhood. And to do so faithfully requires a lifelong pursuit of the triune God whose nature is revealed to us in 66 books about one Person, not just a couple of chapters and prooftexts and characters sketches about women.

In that light, the term “complementarianism”, as it has been traditionally defined, appears be as least one cause of the identity myopia so many women like me have experienced, instead of its cure. In its centering on gender roles, the boundaries of our identity are drawn imprecisely around separate, temporal states (adult manhood and womanhood) and what we are to do in them, instead of more broadly but precisely around the shared state of our humanity – a state that is fixed and constant from the moment of conception to natural death. In its narrow focus on headship and submission, complementarianism distills all of the orbits of the collective creation mandate down to two, and to one relational dynamic within them, in that same temporal season of adulthood. No wonder so much of the current debate has been about what the term “complementarianism” doesn’t mean, or about what 51% of the human race can’t do. A term that is bounded so narrowly doesn’t leave too much room inside it for “is” or “can.”

But the term “ImagoDeian” does.

Inside the meaning of ImagoDeian, there is room for:

  1. The emphasis of Genesis 1 and 2 on male and female’s joint definition as image bearers as the foundation for the way we should see ourselves and every other human being.
  2. The glory of woman being derived from the way in which God makes her – uniquely forming her from one who is already alive with the breath of God, into one who displays the life-giving power of God.
  3. The argument that the order in which God made man, then woman, is about man’s incompleteness, not his supremacy.
  4. The definition of the nature of woman’s completion of man as that of a “necessary ally” instead of the ameliorated “suitable helper”.
  5. Multiple relational pictures of Christ’s oneness with His people: –marriage, and singleness (as depicted by Paul and by Jesus Himself), and the church as HIs unified Bride.
  6. The recognition  because of the Fall,, our bodies to fall short of the glory they were created to display, through aging, disease, sin, and defects whose causes are sometimes known and sometimes yet to be discovered . Nevertheless, as with every other aspect of our humanity, the dignity of our body is found, not in the measure of its functionality, or the degree of its beauty, but in its very existence, which was initiated by God and for God.
  7. The primary axis of conformity to the image of Christ is guided by our common living out of the one anothers, the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit, Who indwells men and women in equal measure, and our common living of the life to which we have been called . The secondary axis of our conformity to the image of Christ is guided by the distinctions of maleness and femaleness through which His image is expressed, the contexts in which those distinctions operate (wife, husband, employee, employer, marriage, home, church) and the specific commands God gives regarding each one. These two axes form the framework inside which we exercise our gifts and callings, in the way God directs, through the power He supplies, with Christ’s life as their source, and His glory as their object, the glory of the One in whose image we are all made.

In viewing a woman’s place in the world, and in the kingdom of God, through the lens of imago dei, a host of things – from the context for submission, to the exercise of our gifts in different seasons of life – fall into clearer focus (too many to begin detailing in a post that’s already too long, but that merit an entire series of their own). I agree with Fred Sanders – in general, because that is the way of wisdom, but also in this particular point- that imago dei does not necessarily make the way from the doctrine of God to the doctrines of human society more direct. But I would argue that imago dei can still serve as a type of true north for the twists and turns of the journey, especially as the winds of a dying secular culture blow harder and hotter in our faces. More importantly,  it can steer us clear of the potholes and rabbit trails that more imprecise terms can, and have, served to steer so many so far off course.