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"I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit" (Lev. 26:4 TNIV). Is spring your favorite season? If you live in a cold climate any hint of warm weather, longer days, and the return of flowers and birds is cause for rejoicing! Regardless of where you live, spring is a season of encouragement. We are encouraged by Easter celebrations in spring, reminding us that in our Risen Lord, all things are made new. We are inspired by the accomplishments of graduates in the months of spring. And, many couples cheer us as they make vows of marriage, often in the spring. Spring is also the season when we honor our mothers—those who have sacrificed and devoted their lives to our nurture. At CBE, we begin to see the fru... Read more
"Be properly scared and go on doing what you have to do"  - Flannery O’ Connor. Do you experience physical discomfort when facing conflict? Would you prefer a visit to the dentist to an argument? If so, then you’re entirely normal. In fact, you’re in the majority! Most people prefer harmony and unity to conflict and division. Most of us in ministry have encountered enough conflict for a lifetime, right? Yet, when it comes to the great moral issues of the day, like declaring the scriptural basis for the shared leadership of women and men, one must be ready to face conflict, and that takes enormous courage! Justice, as taught in the Bible, always demands bravery. C. S. Lewis once said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form o... Read more
One of my most trying journeys during college has been learning to give others grace: to forgive my roommate, to be patient with other white people’s ethnic journeys, to stop calling myself “an evangelical that doesn’t like other evangelicals.” One of the areas I still struggle with is in giving grace to women and men that don’t see eye-to-eye with me on gender issues. Every year our UNC InterVarsity chapter holds two events called Ladies’ Night and Men’s Night. Each involves one gender performing comical skits and serving food to the other, as a way to show them appreciation and honor. While attending Ladies’ Night and working on Men’s Night are great fun for most women in our chapter, for me, they are bittersweet. At some point e... Read more
I was shocked. I remembered the old Bryan*, the Bryan that put on the brakes during a discussion of Large Group speakers at our Coordinating Team planning retreat. “Why is it suddenly illegal to bring in white men?” he asked, frustrated. As Multi-Ethnicity Team Leader on our exec, I was pushing hard for more female and ethnic minority speakers during our weekly InterVarsity chapter meetings. Some of the other C-Team members were fairly supportive; Bryan was making it an uphill battle. How did that same Bryan end up sitting next to me on a flight home to North Carolina, rattling on excitedly about speaker Brenda Salter-McNeill and other highlights of Urbana 06? I had noticed how carefully InterVarsity had crafted its triennial missions conference, putting wom... Read more
Have you ever heard a speaker who explains something that has perplexed you for years? Perhaps it may be something as simple as how to cook eggplant or how to understand new tax laws. Or perhaps it may be something as crucial as why violent crimes are perpetrated against women. This weekend, I was privileged to hear some of the most impressive lectures of my life—at the Gender and Justice conference sponsored by the Women’s Study Center at Vanguard University. I highly recommend to you, for example, the work of Jackson Katz, author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help. Co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, and a leader in preventing gender violence initiatives among professionals and in college athletics, Katz too... Read more
February 20 was the release date of Susan McLeod-Harrison's first book Saving Women from the Church: How Jesus Mends a Divide (Barclay Press, 2008). Upfront I have to say I'm not sure I can review this book objectively. Susan's story is very close to my own. Reading this book, I wished it had been published about eight years earlier. That is when I was going through my own struggle on whether or not to remain in the Church. And I do mean Church with a big C. I wasn't thinking of only leaving my denomination, I was thinking of leaving the Church period. I was in seminary and on the ordination track. I did not see a place for myself in Christian ministry. I was single; I was evangelical; and I was called to preach and pastor. I was also asked in various churches i... Read more
The following is from the second paragraph of the United States' Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. The mention made of 'men' above refers to both men and women; right? Wrong! When Thomas Jefferson and those who helped him draft the Declaration of Independence wrote of governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, they did not include women. In fact, in 1787 they gave white male property owners over the age of tw... Read more
"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Cor. 12:26, TNIV). If you were to pinpoint the most discouraging aspect related to the gender discussion in the churches today, what might that be? For many CBE members the real challenge is an inconsistent interpretation of Scripture that suppresses the gifts God gives women for evangelism and missions. For some, the notion that women are equal to men but under their authority is not only illogical, it begs the question—is there something wrong with women that they need male authority to oversee all of their decisions? Yet, for others, the real challenge comes from a lack of self worth and intimacy in relationships which results when women are told that their opinio... Read more
"Great is the Company of Women Who Proclaim the Glad Tidings!" (Psalm 68:11). Have you ever been so discouraged you wondered if God had abandoned you? Have your problems ever mounted so quickly that you questioned God’s faithfulness and power to save you? I imagine Christ’s disciples must have felt that way as they watched the Romans crucify Jesus. How confusing it must have been to watch Christ walk on water; turn water into wine, heal the ill, and also die a criminal’s death. Consider how difficult it must have been for Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother James to bring the spices to Christ’s tomb, resigned to say farewell to their beloved teacher—the man they thought was the Messiah. Can you visualize how unprepared these women must have been... Read more
As I write this, my sister is in labor, giving birth to a daughter. This child, whom none of her expectant family have yet laid eyes upon, has already showered us with an abundance of joy—not least because my sister had nearly given up hope of conceiving a child. When I see lived before me what the promise of a little girl can offer to a family, I shudder to remember the countless baby daughters who have been sacrificed because of their gender, left in the rubbish heaps of previous centuries to die of exposure in exchange for the “greater blessing” a brother would offer. I (unsuccessfully) try not to stand in judgment, because I cannot understand the grinding poverty and insurmountable social structures that drove past (and, dreadfully, still drives some present) par... Read more