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Holly Fletcher
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! Here’s a hypothetical situation to consider: You and your spouse and family move to a new town. You find a church and decide to place membership there. A few years down the road, you learn you have a strong disagreement with the church’s position on women’s roles. Additionally, the church’s views on women’s roles are having a negative impact not only on you but also on your children—specifically your daughters. However, your spouse really likes this church, especially the senior minister’s preaching style. But you want to leave and find another church. Who decides whether you stay or go? During my growing up years, I spent many hours sitting in a church pew. In thos... Read more
Jenn Smith Chen
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! The sun was high, burning and taunting its victims below. The air was so hot it suffocated each hopeful breath. I grew up in the central California heat and knew this was our way of life. Despite the unsavory conditions, my chance for freedom, for play, for a brief break in a long day in the life of a fourth grader would not be stolen by the relentless sun. As soon as our teacher, Ms. Roberts, dismissed us, one of my best friends, Jamie, and I ran out of the frigid, air-conditioned classroom and into the warm, melting light. We bounded towards a promising patch of grass—a patch with dandelions just waiting for us to turn these weeds into stunning jewelry. As we worked on making beautiful things for our... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. It was my first year of seminary. I looked over the worksheet our spiritual development professor had just handed out. “Place the amount of time you spend on each activity in the blank beside it.” Quickly, I scanned the listed activities. Sermon prep. Check. Studying. Check. Visitation. Well, I didn’t really do that. No check. I kept scanning, then slowly raised my hand. “Ah, where are the blanks for making dinner? Cleaning the house? Childcare?” Silence. “Shopping?” A couple clear—if immediately checked—snorts rose from the men in class. They had been busily filling out their forms. To ask that question had never occurred to them. Most clearly didn’t want... Read more
Constance Phelps
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. [Domestic violence trigger warning] Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4–7, NIV) There isn’t a better or more beautiful explanation of what I wanted to both give and receive in my marriage. I had spent my life aching, consciously and unconsciously, for the relationship that could follow this North Star of decency and dependability—note how “always” is repeated in the p... Read more
Welcomed with handclapping and glee, the demeaning of women and people of color was celebrated on the platform and by attendees at the recent Truth Matters Conference. Leading the way was John MacArthur, a mega-church pastor, radio personality, and seminary teacher. His diatribe against women began as MacArthur offered two words that came to mind when he thought of Beth Moore. With impunity he said, “Go home!” His remarks provoked not silence from the audience but laughter and applause. The African American theologian, professor, and author, Dr. Voddie Baucham, was also criticized. In explaining Baucham’s absence on the panel, the moderator said he was too exhausted to participate, that “he’s not here because... he’s weak, is what it is. He’s weak.... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. [Domestic violence and spiritual abuse trigger warning] “I want you to come into the church and have a meeting with me and the elders, so we can tell you God’s plan for your marriage,” said the pastor as we spoke on the phone. Did I hear him right? He was going to tell me God’s plan? God and I had already discussed it. I knew what I had to do. Let me go back. I suffered over eighteen years in a marriage to an abusive man. I had experienced every form of abuse there was: psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, and more. The abuse started even before we were married, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Constantly wanting to know where I was and who I was with was not... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! Standing in an old church with a red prayer book in my hands, the voices of the small number of worshippers seemed to magically fill the high, vaulted ceilings. I had recently moved and was visiting Episcopal churches searching for a good fit. Each week, I crossed my forehead, lips, and heart as the priest read the gospel in the middle of the sanctuary. Each week, I took communion with strangers who I recognized as spiritual siblings. And each week, we recited the Nicene Creed. ... We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, she is worshiped and glorified. (emphasis added) I felt all the breath go out of my lungs and tear... Read more
For egalitarians, the book of Judges clearly demonstrates God’s approval of women leaders. From Deborah to Jael, women lead the way in these passages. They demonstrate persistence and courage when others, including men, do not. Yet many who view women’s leadership as unbiblical dismiss the pattern of God-affirmed female authority in Judges. They attempt to dismiss Deborah and Jael as flukes or necessary concessions due to lack of available male leaders. But the text doesn’t support this erasure. In fact, the text depicts women in dynamic, authoritative roles. So, what should we say when someone dismisses women’s leadership in Judges? Let’s look at the passage: “And a woman named Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.... Read more
This August, CBE International held its third annual writing contest! We received many quality, insightful submissions, making our job of picking just fifteen winners very difficult. We’d like to thank all the gifted writers who participated. Thank you for being brave, vulnerable, and gutsy with your stories and insights. Thank you for speaking hard truths in a world where easy answers and comfort are often preferred. Thank you for being way-criers for peace, healing, justice, equality, and freedom. We honor your gifts, stories, and courage. You’ll see the contest winners published on our website in the coming months along with other amazing entries! Congratulations to our top fifteen winners (in no particular order): 1. Mikaela Bell Mikaela Bell was born and r... Read more
1 Peter 3 is a tricky passage. It’s often been twisted to pressure abused women to stay with their husbands as a sign of submission. But this passage is not meant to subject women to fear or violence. Rather, the passage is supposed to encourage primary loyalty to Christ, not to husbands. So, what should you say when someone tries to use 1 Peter 3 to suggest that wives should endure abuse to win over husbands? The Purpose of 1 Peter The situation of 1 Peter is a crisis—the persecution of the church (1 Pet 4:12). Slander and suffering are major themes in this letter. 1 Peter also teaches that Jesus is in authority over all things. Suffering can have dignity because the all-powerful Christ suffered on the cross and rose. However, human suffering doesn’t accomplish red... Read more

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