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

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Sometimes Paul gets a bad rap. The slave narratives are replete with sentiments from former slaves who loved Jesus but hated Paul, because slaveholders regularly quoted Ephesians 6:5, "Slaves, obey your masters." What the slaveholders didn't bother to quote was the rest of the passage, which goes on to say, "masters, do the same things to them" (6:9). That is, if slaves have to obey their masters, masters must also obey their slaves! Did anyone in the first century take Paul literally on that point? Probably not. But that doesn't change that what he actually said expressed one of the most radically antislavery sentiments of his day. He wasn't talking about violently overthrowing the institution; even the failed slave revolts of his era had never attempted... Read more
As a justice advocate, I thought I understood racism and sexism. But it wasn’t until I became a youth pastor to a multiracial group of teens that I realized just how deeply racial and gender injustice is woven into our society. Prejudice is subtle. This became frighteningly clear when I observed how the kids in my youth group were treated by others because of their race and/or gender. I quickly recognized their experiences as unjust, but the kids didn’t seem to see it. After a while, I realized why. They were used to being treated that way. They had already been exposed to injustices because of their gender and/or skin color, so much so, that they were normative.  That realization shook me. I realized that other Christians might also be relatively ignorant of the... Read more
Editor's Note: This ongoing series of articles entitled, "My Awesome Egalitarian Husband: #LoveGrowsMutuality" was inspired by blogger Rachel Heston Davis, who shared her and her husband's story here and invited other egalitarian women to do the same. As I wrote this article, I was en route to a conference for Air Force Reserve chaplains. Only three hours before, I received a call from my baby's pre-school. They informed me that my daughter was running a fever and needed to go home. I rushed to pick her up, take her to the pediatrician, and drop her and her antibiotics prescription off with my husband so I could get to the airport in time to catch my flight.  I had one foot out the door when my husband, Ryan, stopped me and reminded me to calm dow... Read more
There are several passages in the New Testament that list the spiritual gifts believers receive for the purpose of building up of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4). Much has been written about these lists and their implications, particularly for how we ought to recognize and understand spiritual gifts in the church. We are called to honor and uplift all the different parts of the body of Christ, celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of believers’ spiritual gifts. I believe that these lists are intended to serve as simple reminders to Christians that the purpose of having gifts is to serve God and our fellow believers. In other words, all gifts are meant to be used and used well, regardless of gender. “Each of you should use whatev... Read more
The other day, a good friend of mine was told that she looks like a "pastor's wife." She was a bit confused about how she could possibly "look like a pastor's wife." I assume she was told this because she has a heart for the lost. She helped start and build a thriving youth ministry. She organizes events, preaches, and holds Bible studies. Any man doing the same (or even less) would be told that he could be a pastor. So why the difference? Sexism is lurking in the walls of the conservative church. In subtle ways, the church is telling women that they aren't invited to the decision-making table. There is a quietly oppressive system in place that ensures women know their place (which is not behind the pulpit or in any position of leadership). M... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, I shared five strategies for helping churches create space for women in church leadership positions with the ultimate goal of ensuring equal opportunity for women at all levels of leadership. These strategies are based on my own experience as a lead pastor and now a candidate pastor searching for a position. Here are five more strategies to promote the full inclusion of women in church leadership. 1. Use Biblical Narrative Biblical narrative can be a powerful tool in leading people toward paradigm shifts. When our stories are directed by God's story, we are more likely to make intentional changes. As Christians, we must be aware of God's broader plan for humanity. God's over-arching message of inclusion and equality for men and women... Read more
“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16b The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.  If these realities aren’t horrific enough, women experience more than inequity. They are often in physical danger of assault and gendercide as well. In their book, Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn tell us, “Women ag... Read more
Once in a while it makes me cringe. Occasionally, I argue the point in the rather limited space of a comment box on Facebook. As you can tell, most recently, it has prompted me to write this article for the Scroll. Maybe I should quit taking it so seriously, but it bothers me when people state, as if it were an indisputable fact, that mothers “just have an instinct” when it comes to caring for their children. It’s not that there is no instinct. There might be. I admit I don’t know a lot about the biology that underlies instinctive behavior. But I do know that instinct is too often assumed to be the reason women “just know” what to do for a crying infant or a fussy preschooler when, more times than not, we women don’t have a clue the first sev... Read more
I’ve seen you do it a thousand times. You speak, but you hedge, qualify, and apologize for your words. You backtrack. You surrender. You question your experience and viciously undermine the truth you speak. You tread softy and sit small. And who can blame you? It is what the world taught you to do. It is what the church taught you to do. You patrol the boundaries of your ideas carefully, allowing only the softest, sweetest version of the truth to slip through. You trim the jagged edges of your story away so men aren’t made uncomfortable. You’ve been trained to protect their privilege, so protect it you do. Women are used to suppressing and minimizing their opinions. For many, the instinct to capitulate to men is as natural as breathing. Many have even come to see... Read more
Check out a follow-up list of "Four More Sexist Myths That The Church Should Reject."  We’ve all heard them. Stupid jokes and thoughtless comments. Sexist sayings and caricatures. From the pulpit, at the altar, in school, from boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, parents, and friends. People pass off myths as facts and case-by-case examples as universal truth. Women are like this and men are like that. Women are obnoxious. Men are arrogant. Women are needy and men are emotionally unavailable. These statements are infused with cultural and gendered assumptions. They have no basis in the gospel and what’s more—they are rooted heavily in socialization. And yet, despite Christians’ pledge to reject unhealthy and sinful cultural messages, these pain... Read more

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