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Enter the CBE Writing Contest! CBE is always looking for fresh stories and revolutionary ideas! And we’re always brainstorming new ways to give our readers a platform. We’re privileged to host a diverse community of readers, writers, advocates, pastors, theologians, and deep thinkers, and we don’t want any of their creative gifts to go unused. For many years now, we've held an academic paper competition prior to our annual conference and—thanks to our talented audience and help from other great blogs, publications, colleges, and organizations—it's been a great success! But not everyone is an academic writer. We want to give our popular writers a chance to flex their creative muscles too!  So we're inviting you to enter the CBE... Read more
Becky Castle Miller
Abuse is an abstract concept for many people, and it’s a word heavy with cultural misconceptions. When talking about abuse, I’ve learned to bridge the communication gap by defining and describing it: abuse is a pattern of coercive control based in an abuser's feeling of entitlement to power over another person. An abuser gains and maintains control through various tactics that can be physical, emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, or spiritual. Abusers actually target churches to find victims and to move into positions of power, so church leaders must be prepared to prevent abuse, to deal with it in their congregations, and to provide healing for abuse survivors. The first step in addressing abuse is to grasp how prevalent it is. Half of... Read more
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed" (Isaiah 1:17). "Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right" (Psalm 106:3). "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never ending stream" (Amos 5:24). "Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). "For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate wrongdoing" (Isaiah 61:8). Clearly, justice matters to God and was important to biblical authors. The gospel indicates that justice-doing is a central tenet of Christian theology and practice. Oft-quoted Galatians 3:28 and other like Bible verses make clear that the gospel undermines hierarchy. It follows that to “do justly,” Christians must dismantle hierarchies of any kind. D... Read more
“She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20). I sit with her as she weeps over the trauma-heavy stories of women in her care. I dream with her as we look for land for her growing ministry. I hear the confusion in her voice as she describes Western ministries who claim they can solve all her problems without understanding her culture. I cry with her at the grave of an abused child. I join with her in songs of exuberant praise. I watch her smile with delight as she wins a game in a sport dominated by men. I swell with pride when I hear of her sole female leadership on her city’s ecumenical council.   She’s the only female pastor in her city, and her name is Tek.[1] She’s a hero. She’s also the onl... Read more
Four years ago, I was invited to contribute an article to the women’s health section of a South African magazine. The editor asked me to keep it light and practical, so I wrote about self-esteem. As a therapist who specializes in helping women who have been abused, cultivating self-esteem in women is close to my heart. The editor asked if she could share my email address, and I hesitantly agreed. But I was still unprepared for the emails I received. Women from all walks of life reached out and their emails weren’t surface-level. They were raw and broken. Although the issue of low self-esteem in women often headlines glossy magazines, we the church, and complementarian and egalitarian alike, are responsible for addressing it. We need to address it in our schools, our homes, an... Read more
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

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