Arise: the official blog of CBE International. Mobilizing Christians for biblical gender equality

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In the past few years, numerous people have asked me why I make such a big deal about gender equality. Have I experienced such extreme inequality? What traumatic experience drives my activism? Why am I so passionate and outspoken about this issue? People often assume that a tragic event in my personal life led to this behavior. I am not sure what they have in mind, but I have seen: Women discouraged from and not chosen for church leadership Men and women shamed for not fitting culturally-defined gender roles Exclusion born from semantics and titles Sexual harassment such as groping, leering, and unwanted comments Women shrinking themselves to be more socially acceptable, both inside and outside the church I have witnessed all of the above examples of gender inequality... Read more
Recent revelations in the news and social media have once again highlighted the discriminatory and sometimes dangerous environments that women must navigate, both in the world and the church. Women expect to face discrimination and mistreatment in the world, but we hope to find comfort, shelter, and respect in the church. Too often, this is not the case. Too often, women are devalued in their church communities. They are told that their role is "equal but separate,” and they should only use their gifts under the authority of men. Too often, women are relegated to strictly supportive roles in the body of Christ rather than fairly considered for preaching, teaching, and leadership positions. Too often, women are pushed to the sidelines despite their clear gifts and cal... Read more
"There were several women who had never heard that the Bible says they can be leaders. It brings me to tears every time... more women have been freed by the truth to join God's mission! Praise God!" We rejoice in this hopeful observation from a long-time CBE member, donor, and volunteer. Her words represent the heartfelt wish of the CBE community—to see women freed to join God's mission as empowered leaders. CBE labors toward that beautiful vision of biblical gender equality every single day. 30 years ago, CBE had no staff, no furniture, and no bank account. In fact, we didn't even have an office! Since that time, God has taken our resources and multiplied them beyond anything we could have imagined. Today, we have much to be thankful for... Read more
[Editor’s Note] This is the final installment in a two-part of a series by Dr. Bob Rakestraw on the relationship between complementarian theology and subordination in the Trinity. See Part 1. How is male-female authority involved in the controversy over subordination in the Trinity? As alluded to in Part 1, there are two main groups within evangelicalism debating the issues of subordination (lesser authority) among the members of the Trinity and subordination among male-female relationships. Complementarians believe, among other things, that women should be under the authority of male leaders in their churches, and wives should be under the authority of male leaders (their husbands) in their marriages. Their main organization is the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CB... Read more
[Editor’s Note] This is the first installment in a two-part series by Dr. Bob Rakestraw on the relationship between complementarian theology and subordination in the Trinity. What is the controversy all about? At the risk of overwhelming serious readers with yet another piece on Trinity and gender, I offer this contribution with the hope that some may gain a bit more clarity on an aspect of the dispute that continues to smolder and even burst into flames regularly. In this series, I will address and support the necessary qualitative distinction between the eternal inner life of the Trinity and the temporal inter-relationships of women and men in church and marriage. The debate about the Trinity within evangelical Christianity, especially since the beginning of the twenty-fi... Read more
In the last few years, it has become popular for people (especially celebrities) to identify as “feminists” on the secular stage. While this may sound like a positive trend, it has effectively rendered the term “feminist” meaningless. Anyone can join the club. You can be a pornographer or hold deeply sexist attitudes toward women while simultaneously self-identifying as a “gender equality advocate” because you supposedly “love women.” But this version of equality doesn’t threaten the status quo, it reinforces it.   Defining feminism as an ambiguous ideology of “equality” may destigmatize the movement and get more people on the bandwagon, but doing so also neutralizes its power. Patriarchy, power, and privilege... Read more
In a recent Arise article, Amy Buckley recounted an exchange between herself and a group of men who accused Christian feminists of using a hermeneutic of pain to interpret the Bible. It was their way of suggesting that feminists do not understand Scripture because they identify strongly with people who suffer. Amy and her friend, Patti, countered that those who suffer injustice have a unique and profound grasp of the cross. Is this true? Do the oppressed detect something in the cross that eludes the powerful? Could the cross both justify humanity and highlight humanity’s injustice? Is it possible that to correctly apprehend the cross, we must embrace both its literal message of personal redemption and its symbolic commentary on earthly power? Indeed, the cross is all about g... Read more
I don’t really like reading the creation story. This is partly because I skip ahead to what is often described as the “sin story.” I don’t like being told that “the man shall rule over” me (Gen 3:16). To Christians who do not ascribe to gender equality, this verse is prescriptive. It's used to explain and justify the hierarchy of patriarchy. It's used to support male headship, and deny women full inclusion in the church as people of God. If this is your reaction to the first few chapters of Genesis too, I empathize! But it’s time we flipped the script. Egalitarians shouldn’t shy away from this passage. Correctly interpreted, Genesis 3 is a foundational text in a theology of equality.  What is it that you have done?... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, I promised to further explore two questions related to a core resource on male-headship theology, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (RBWM): Does male-headship theology have overtones of male superiority?   Does male-headship theology dehumanize women in anyway? (As covered in Part 1, dehumanization requires oppressors to rob the oppressed of their human qualities, personality, and/or spirit).   There is an ongoing debate in the church around the role and nature of women. Two groups aim to answer this question, each very differently: complementarians and egalitarians. Complementarians believe that men and women are equal in value but called to different roles in the home and church, namely that men are called to leadership and women ar... Read more
Bitches Bunnies Chicks Heifers Vixens Shrews Women Are you offended by anything in the above list? If so, why? Is it the mention of a certain derogatory term for women that also means “female dog”? Is it the implication that women are less than human and belong in the category of animals?  Without a doubt, this list is provocative. Many of you are probably wondering how it is connected to the subject of this article: male-headship theology. Allow me to explain. Before an individual or society can effectively discriminate against, exploit, disempower, abuse, and sometimes even kill another individual or people group, the oppressor must first establish superiority over the target. Oppression is generally justified by the “confirmed” inferiority of... Read more

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