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We all know about schoolyard bullies—kids who rely on physical strength to dominate others and rule the playground. The strict gender dichotomy some Christians argue for similarly elevates physical strength, furthering the myth that men's physical strength uniquely qualifies them for the role of protector. In this flawed gender dichotomy, men are the protectors of and providers for women. This role is supposedly paramount to their manhood. Women are thus in need of men’s protection and provision, and they passively receive it. Women are not, then, co-agents who help to create a safer and more secure world. Yet, God clearly commands the man and woman in Genesis to rule over and care for the earth together. While there are many examples of men protecting women in... Read more
This article was contributed on behalf of the CBE Voices of Color chapter, a CBE chapter specifically devoted to amplifying the voices of people of color in the egalitarian conversation. We’re grateful for their work. The church has long overemphasized male sexuality in marriage. In prioritizing the male sexual experience at the expense of the female sexual experience, the church has contributed significantly to gender inequality. Pastors seldom preach specifically about marital sex. But when they do, few offer a balanced perspective that equally considers men’s and women’s experiences. Instead, most choose a one-sided, male perspective on marital sexuality, or they fail to ask actual women about their experiences. I’ve observed many male pastors preach about the... Read more
We asked our supporters what concrete measures churches can take to combat abuse in Christian communities and strengthen their internal response to abuse. Some of you weighed in with some great ideas and examples (and I chimed in with a few ideas too), which we’ve compiled below. We talk a lot about the theological roots of abuse, and we regularly critique theology that puts women and girls in danger. We also call for greater transparency in churches and Christian organizations, greater accountability from Christian leaders, and better theology that empowers women and girls. But systemic change takes time. So, what practical steps can churches take to prevent abuse now, and what can they do to keep survivors safe if it does occur? We asked; you answered (responses have been edited f... Read more
Jesus was sitting near the temple treasury one day, observing all who passed by. He witnessed many wealthy people give large sums of money to the treasury. He also saw a woman—a poor widow—give two small copper coins, worth just one penny. But Jesus declared, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44). I didn’t fully understand the woman-who-gave-everything-she-had until recently. And in fact, I’ll probably never fully grasp the laying down of self that Jesus prized and practiced. But I’m learning. I’ve become increasingly aware... Read more
When I critique oppressive systems and ideologies, I generally ask two simple questions: Does the system or ideology give one group unearned power over other groups, and especially over others who already have less social power? If the answer is “yes,” then I ask a question I already know the answer to: Is the system safe for the less powerful? Naturally, social hierarchies are safe for those at the top. They’re designed to preserve the existing social structure, which already prioritizes the needs and perspectives of the group with power. Social hierarchies don’t make less powerful people and groups safer. Rather, they exacerbate any vulnerabilities and pose danger and harm to marginalized people. If a system relies on the powerful group behaving rightly and n... Read more
The Western sexual revolution brought renewed emphasis on consent, body affirmation/confidence, female pleasure, and women’s equal (and enthusiastic!) sexual participation in marriage. We should celebrate those gains. But it also brought a slew of toxic, oppressive ideas about female sexuality. When we consider God’s holistic vision for human sexuality, we see that some of the things women are told will be “liberating” are actually exploitative. God calls women (and men) to see through the bluster to a corrupt system that only wants to use us. Ironically, the world tells women that we will find our power in men’s desire for and sexual use of us. Some people even claim that women are empowered by the Fifty Shades phenomenon, hook-up culture, and porn. And the... Read more
Women often underestimate themselves. We minimize our abilities and authority because we’re conditioned to think that to be a woman is to be passive and insecure. We accept the lie that confidence is worthy of censure in women and cause for praise in men. Assertive women are often accused of being vain, proud, or deliberately rebellious. Observing this, many of us censor our words and actions to avoid appearing too aggressive or assertive. From a young age, bold girls are shamed for being “too bossy.” Strong women are punished for defying the patriarchal model for submissive womanhood. Tragically, some Christian women defend and bolster patriarchy and some even persecute strong women, labeling them arrogant and sinful. Some women choose to strengthen the existing patria... Read more
Many girls and women find models of subversive, change-making women not in the Bible or the pulpit, but in popular media and secular culture. Lack of representation in the church matters, and it has wide ripples in the body of Christ. Have you heard of the Black Madonna? Black Madonna statues and paintings—images of Mary with dark, brown, or black skin—can be found all over the world from Asia to South America to Africa. But in the West, Mary is often erroneously depicted as a white, European woman. We co-opt Mary—erasing her dark skin, masking her non-European features, claiming her as a symbol of our story and experience. For many Christians of color, accurate images of Mary as a woman of color are restorative and liberating. These portraits confirm that people of co... Read more
Genesis 1 perfectly illustrates God’s mutual design for men and women: Then God said, "Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be master over all life—the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals” (NLT). We were meant to reign together and yet, the world subjugates women of all colors to men, stripping them of their authority, power, and influence. And it can all be traced back to a misinterpretation of God’s good vision for humanity after the fall. God's original design was mutual; it gave male and female shared dominion over the earth, not over each other. God commanded the first humans to co-exercise their power—to responsibly rule and care for creation. The... Read more
“At the heart of every woman,” a pastor once commented on Mother’s Day, “is a God-ordained desire for beauty, marriage, homemaking, and motherhood. If you doubt it, check out the covers of women’s magazines at the grocery store.” I chafed at his generalizations. I couldn’t deny that magazines marketed to women tend to cover beauty, decorating, recipes, and finding the perfect [insert project, costume, snack, etc.] for kids, among other stereotypical topics. Some women I know relate to them, while others just roll their eyes. But I wondered if that pastor would have a different perspective if he could become a beetle on a wall at a women’s retreat. Would it surprise him to learn that most of us don’t sit around curling our eyelashes, v... Read more

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