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By now, you’ve probably seen Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” ad. Launched last week online, the ad depicts several examples of toxic masculinity, including bullying, harassment, mansplaining, and the notion that “boys will be boys.” For those that may not know, toxic masculinity refers to masculinity that encourages aggressive and violent behavior and discourages emotion and self-control. In other words, masculinity that is both dangerous for women and harmful to men. It's also crucial to note that toxic masculinity does not mean that all masculinity is toxic. The ad ends by exhorting men to embrace a healthy vision for masculinity, with text that reads: “it’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get clos... Read more
Trigger warning: this article contains numerous graphic accounts of sexual violence. “What’s wrong with me?” I’ve asked myself this question each time I’ve been assaulted by a Christian man I trusted. Each time it happened, I felt guilty, alone, and sure it was my fault.   For decades, I hid these painful secrets from everyone. I was a Christian. An excellent student in my native Finland, then in Japan, and then in the US. An accomplished pianist. A missionary. A minister’s wife. A professor. A pilot. A social reformer. I had a PhD. I was well-known in my circles. Nobody knew. Nobody guessed my secret shame. But, I knew it was my fault. It had to be. Otherwise, why would I be the repeated target of sexual offense by Christian ministers and lea... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! I was seven years old—sitting in a hard, metal desk, staring at the hole-y paddle hanging ominously on the wall, and wearing a skirt that reached three inches from my knee—when my teacher told us God didn’t want women to be pastors. Shocked, I thought, “How can this be? Why does God like boys more than girls?” I went home that day and cried to my mom that I wanted to be a boy. I was in fifth grade, standing with my parents in the church parking lot and staring at the black asphalt beneath my feet as I listened to a grown woman weep. Her ministry had been shut down by church leadership, she told my parents. The elders had determined that even though her minis... Read more
Editor’s Note: This article is based on an interview conducted by the author. In 2016, pastor Ray Kollbocker felt convicted to examine the issue of women’s leadership in the church. Two years later, in early 2018, his church opened all of its leadership positions to women. Kollbocker has been in ministry for many years, with over twenty years as the senior pastor at a church in Glen Ellyn, IL. During his years at there, he’s guided the church through significant growth and a variety of other changes. For several years, Kollbocker knew that, at some point, he and the church would have to confront the question of whether women should be restricted from some leadership roles. So, during a sabbatical in 2016, Kollbocker dove into a study of Scripture and scholarship. As h... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! In May of 2018, John Piper responded to a young woman struggling with persistent, unrelenting body hatred. In his article, he suggested that there’s a good form of body hatred because the body is the site of sin. His response quickly went viral, and many took issue with Piper’s authority to write on the topic of body hatred and mental illness in general, and in particular, with the statement that there is a right and biblical way to hate your body. Most women don’t need even the slightest encouragement to hate their bodies. We live in a culture that teaches us to do this. We starve, shave, pluck, pierce, and adorn our bodies to gain social acceptance, and we bond sociall... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! The few men who have kissed me did not ask my permission first. They didn’t ask if I wanted their tongues in my mouth, or about any of the other things they’ve tried either. It seems this is the standard today—even among Christians. We wait until someone objects instead of truly gaining someone’s consent before proceeding. As “unsexy” as the topic of consent may seem, it’s something we need to talk about in the church. I’ll personally take an awkward conversation about consent over the alternative any day. I’ve gone home in tears more than once after a date made a move on me without asking. I’ve said “no” repeatedly, a... Read more
Gricel Medina
Last week, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram uncovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and affiliated institutions, across forty US states and Canada. According to the Texas-based paper, these churches covered up widespread abuse, muting victims and permitting abusers to serve as leaders and live among congregations. Sarah Smith, author of the Star-Telegram exposé, has made it her mission to uncover these systemic injustices. Because of courageous advocates and truth-tellers like her, we’re finally aware of the abusers and predators lurking in our midst. Yes, we’re finally beginning to hear a crackling, thunderous sound as injustice crumbles brick by brick. Many are shocked by this exposé. But we... Read more
I was home visiting my parents recently when I noticed a book on the coffee table: 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics. There’s something almost humorous to me in writing a book about books others should be reading, but I was intrigued to see which works the editors chose. Flipping to the table of contents, I was frustrated and saddened (though not surprised) to see that—with two thousand years and the vast world from which to choose—they included just two works written by women and none from beyond the Western canon. It should be obvious why this matters, why this is a problem. Earlier this year, blogger Sarah Thebarge responded to John Piper’s statement that women shouldn’t train pastors. She wrote: "The cr... Read more
Trigger warning: This article recounts Bible passages that contain graphic violence against women. Read with caution.   I’m a first year student in Divinity School with less money in my bank account than I’d like, so I work the occasional night shift at the college library. I return home at 4 am, traveling alone in the university’s taxi service. I’m on edge the whole time, keys and phone in hand and a potential escape route planned—just in case. History dictates that women don’t have the luxury to not do this type of mental preparation. We live with the real possibility of violence every day. And actually, that shared female experience shapes how I read and interpret the Bible, especially stories that include sexual violence. A professor in m... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! I propped up the corners of my mouth in a smile when I saw the elder’s wife weaving towards me after Sunday service. Although I’d been attending the church for over a year, she’d never before attempted conversation. I was a youth leader and she had teenagers who weren’t allowed to participate, one of a few signals I’d received that she might not approve of me. Immediately, I was conscious of the new ring in my nose. We didn’t have a policy on piercings, but I’d been asked to reinforce a dress code for the girls on discipleship training school or short term mission trips in the past. Shorts must not be too short. Tank straps must not be “spagh... Read more

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