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I came across a book recently that reinvigorated my dedication to the mission of CBE. This book argues that because men are God’s appointed leaders in the home they are therefore God’s chosen leaders in the church as well. As I read the author's perspective, I wondered why he failed to insist upon male authority in society as a whole. To be perfectly consistent, male authority, if divinely appointed, should be ubiquitous—it should be practiced everywhere. It seems to me that if God intends for men to hold final positions of authority then women should not become CEOs of companies, nor should they hold final positions of authority as elected officials, nor should they be allowed to run hospitals, schools, businesses, or ministries where women make decisions apart from... Read more
Why do some people say that there is no evidence kephale can mean 'source' or 'origin?' The Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott Greek lexicon lists, among the possible meanings of the Greek word kephale (translated as ‘head’ in English), ‘source’ or ‘origin.’ This is the word translated ‘head’ in 1 Corinthians 11:3 ("Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God") and Ephesians 5:23 ("For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior"). Here’s the reference from the lexicon, and a... Read more
'You should learn how to play the piano or something... since you'll be a minister's wife someday.' An older gentleman said this to me as we were walking along toward the Sunday school class where my husband Sam and I were to share about our missionary experiences. When we were single, Sam and I had both individually heard God's call and confirmation to be long-term missionaries, and both of us had taken steps of faith on short-term trips to answer that call. And, though they had invited my husband to be the speaker that morning, as equal partners in all things Sam of course wanted me to share my story as well. Sadly, the assumption was that Sam was the minister and I was the minister's wife! The gentleman's comment left me dumbfounded and speechless. I... Read more
A friend of mine was recently asked to explain the gender prejudice noted in many Christian churches. Seated next to a stranger on an airplane, she was asked why the world’s major religions all fail to include women among their leaders. How would you have responded to this charge? The failure to engage the talents and leadership of women discourages many people from participating in churches. Research suggests that gender prejudice is one of the most significant reasons young people become involved in pagan religions like Wicca—an issue addressed in Catherine Edwards Sanders' important book, Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality. As Christians, we boldly declare the truth that knowing C... Read more
"… the righteous will live by their faith" (Habakkuk 2:4, NRSV). Even before South Africa began to dismantle apartheid, Desmond Tutu did something very profound. Though he had no official platform or office, though he was without institutional power, he invited his opponents to join him. He treated them as colleagues who one day would work together as equals. His actions were prophetic and filled with faith in God’s redeeming work in our world. His actions reminded me of another story I heard recently, from the front lines of the gender debate within the church. A scholar working at an institution unsympathetic to biblical equality quietly shared his journey away from gender-hierarchy. He said that though he had grown up in a church that gave authority in the h... Read more
"Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father so we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4, NRSV). As Christians who are called to walk in newness of life, we oppose, rather than advance, the consequences of the fall. Most Christians I know eagerly resist death, pain in childbirth, and toiling against other thorns and thistles—all the results of sin. We are thankful for good medical care that prolongs our lives. Most women are also grateful for pain medicines used during delivery. And, the agricultural industry invests billions of dollars to lighten our labor in producing food. However, men’s inclination to rule over women—also a consequence of the fall, is... Read more
(Adapted from a paper given at the 2007 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society) My interest in women and missions of the 1800s is reinvigorated, of late, by a number of experiences I’ve had lecturing at Christian colleges and seminaries around the county. When invited to speak for chapel services, I make an effort to learn something about the school, particularly the achievements of the founders and their graduates. In doing so, I have discovered the vast number of women alumni, who were also leaders on the mission field in the United States and abroad. And, they had the full support of the school’s founders. As I include these findings when I lecture, I am often surprised at the responses I receive… some of these Christian colleges appear almost emba... Read more
Sometimes we hear things or see things or read things that we can't forget. Sometimes we wish desperately that we could forget them. Sometimes we're willing to give every ounce of who we are to keep on remembering. Sometimes it's a mixture of both. I just can't get it out of my mind - this passage in Proverbs 31 (verses 6-7) about poverty and injustice. It's the verse that says to let the poor drink beer so that they might forget their misery and anguish. It won't stop running through my mind that there are people so impoverished that Wisdom would say to let them drink so that they won't have to remember their misery! The amount of despair that is revealed in these verses makes my heart ache so much I wish I could forget it. And yet, this amount of very rea... Read more
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ—the logos of God—we rejoice in God’s promise to us given in Isaiah 55:10-13. That Scripture, faithfully preached and interpreted, will accomplish all God desires according to God’s own purposes. The fruitful return of Scripture, faithfully delivered, is a pledge we cling to at CBE. Promoting the biblical foundations of gift-based ministry is accompanied by God’s promise and therefore God’s power. We see this in so many ways here at CBE! As churches, denominations, and Christian organizations take time to study the teaching of Scripture on gender, the power of God leads hearts and minds to truth and to change. The Spirit of God is active as we read the text. Because of this, we encourage gro... Read more
Recently a CBE member sent me a note reminding me of the consequences of coming to the right conclusions regarding women’s service in the church. He said: When I stand before Jesus, if I were to learn that 'they' were right and 'we' were wrong, I’d much rather have to explain equipping and encouraging my sisters in Christ than be required to defend why so many never heard the gospel because I preserved a presumed purity of gender roles. Even writing that brings new meaning to gagging at gnats while swallowing camels. His words remind us that there are significant consequences resulting from the position we take on women’s kingdom-service. This is why CBE will host a symposium this summer on missions and gender in Toronto. We recognize the importance... Read more