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"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov.15:1, TNIV) Dealing with the emotions that swirl around the gender debate in the church today can be very challenging. The discussion often touches upon beliefs that are very core to us as Christians. Few remain truly “neutral” on women’s leadership. This is exciting, but it also warrants caution and wisdom. It is exciting because people are intensely interested in the topic of gender, authority, and the church. They are eager to explore the biblical material on gender, prayerfully looking for opportunities to study and examine the Scriptures with others. People are digging deeply into Scripture and they’re asking others to join them. It is fantastic to see so many thoughtful Chr... Read more
"They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…" (Acts 2:46b, TNIV) As I walked to the platform to participate on a panel at Princeton recently, a woman walked up to me and asked, politely, if I worked for CBE. When I said “yes” she lowered her clipboard, looked directly into my eyes with tears in hers and said, “Can I give you a hug?” She went on to tell me that CBE’s ministry had given her great encouragement and she wanted to thank me. This is a rather common experience for those of us who work with CBE. Yet, every time it happens, I am reminded of the faithfulness of God who works quietly, mysteriously, and powerfully among Christians to provide help to those who are alone. To know that you are not alo... Read more
“There’s a video I want you to see,” my roommate Kate told me earlier this week. “I think it might be really bad.” Of course that piqued my interest. “Bad” You Tube videos come in many different flavors: Would this video be poor quality, offensive, or just plain bizarre? With wide eyes and low expectations, I turned toward Kate’s computer. As it turned out, the video's humor was based on a grossly exaggerated negative stereotype of a U.S. American man of one culture hitting on a woman of another at the cinema. Kate had been introduced to the clip after the Bible study she co-leads, and while she chuckled at it ridiculousness, she found it completely offensive, inappropriate, and unfair. Against the opinion of many friends, I ag... Read more
A friend of mine recently wrote in to say that her denomination is considering giving women greater responsibility and leadership, as the Bible consistently teaches. In a recent discussion with denominational members, one man said that giving women greater leadership will mean that men will soon be placed “in the back seat of the car.” One woman was quick to respond that men should never be unhappy with sitting in the back seat, for after all, women have been told for years that it is a good place to be. While her response was as humorous as it is true, many Christians today imagine that leadership, like driving a car, is the sole function of one (male) person. In contrast, leadership in the New Testament seems to center on service. Though the apostle Paul refers to himself... Read more
How many of you devote some portion of your summer vacation to visit family members, or to participate in a family reunion? This summer my husband and I will travel to his family farm, to reunite with extended family members in order to learn the latest news, both happy and sad, and to share a Sunday worship service together. Everyone looks forward to hearing how our lives have changed since the last reunion. We’re all excited to spend time together praying as a family, too. Like our extended family, many church families also meet during the summer months, to learn what Christ is doing in their local communities, and how Christ is leading them as an extended church family. Like the worship service I will share with my husband’s family, many church families meet in order to p... Read more
I think there's nothing more important than revision. When God matures us and leads us to a new vision or better understanding, we must revise our way of thinking even if it's a complete embarrassment to ourselves. Looking back on my life, I can see so many times when I was sure of a thing and then it turned out differently. I don't have regrets about following Him down those paths because of the lessons I learned as a result of them, but it's funny how in the end, it was not as I was so convicted about. For example, having an egalitarian view for marriage and the church is completely different than what I had taught and been so convinced about for so long. Only a few years ago, you would find me teaching that men should lead and women should follow. I taught it quite... Read more
Recently I happened upon an interview from Christianity Today with the new President and CEO of evangelical publishing giant Zondervan. To my surprise, "Moe" Girkins' first name is actually Maureen, and she is a proven leader in the technological sector, as well as a current MDiv student at Trinity Evangelical Seminary—not exactly who I would have pinpointed as the company's top choice. I'm really excited about Girkins for two reasons: First, she's a woman. And not only that, but a woman with experience in other male-dominated industries. I would expect this gives her a healthy awareness of gender dynamics in the workplace—including the unfortunate existence of sexism—as well as the confidence to take charge... Read more
Women, are often told that emotions are invalid, or that feelings are a sign of weakness. I have heard time and time again the statement against women in leadership, on the basis of protecting the “weaker sex,” that leadership is reserved for individuals (presumably men) who possess a thicker skin. At a conference a couple weeks ago, I came across a booth selling a series of paintings depicting Christ. This artist portrayed Christ as a good-looking tan gentleman who glowed in oil pastels. His white robes were unsullied by the dust and the movement of the crowds around him. His smile was practically an advertisement for White Strips. The paintings didn’t jive at all with my mind’s picture of the person of Christ. If we cannot portray Christ realistically—as... Read more
I just browsed through the latest catalogue from the largest Christian bookseller in Australia and one of their latest titles is "His Brain, Her Brain" with the subtitle "How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage". A few pages later there are books suggesting there is a 'feminine heart' (created in the image of an intimate God) and a 'masculine heart' (defined in the image of an intimate and passionate God). The first book is written by a couple with many years experience in marriage counseling which could give it credibility, but with our more than 35 years marriage counselling my husband and I have discovered a diverse range of 'brains' among both women and men. One outstanding example was a guy who was... Read more
Sitting in a sunny hallway the other day, I caught sight of a young girl coming my way. She was tripping along, tailing her brother, and together they were playing a silly game. As she passed me, she held out a tiny arm and giggled, “My wing is broken.” Two minutes later she returned, still flapping her arm, and without any sense of adult contradiction, chirped, “Watch how I fly!” At CBE, we recognize the long journey women have been on toward wholeness and healing. We understand that women have often felt as if their wings have been broken, their spirits grounded, their gifting denied. They have been told that a woman leading is a contradiction. It is easy to get discouraged on a road that often is full of potholes, contradictions, and disappointments. However,... Read more