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This submission is one of our top ten CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! When I was six I asked my father, “Daddy, why can’t Mommy be a deacon?” I don’t remember my father’s response, but I remember puzzling over gender roles in my Southern church from an early age. My dad was a member of the all-male deacon board at our church. Complementarianism was like the carbon dioxide in the air I breathed. It was there in my church and my congregation—flowing in and out of my lungs moment by moment though I was rarely conscious of it. Keeping women out of leadership in my church didn’t give spiritual life to me or my loved ones, but we accepted it as part of the atmosphere Despite being raised in such a conservative, complementarian church, my family wa... Read more
Why can’t Christians just agree? Or, when they must disagree, why can’t they disagree quietly? Many people, both inside and outside the church, feel impatient and frustrated with in-fighting and dissent in the body of Christ—even over critical issues like racial and gender justice or domestic violence. See the recent response to Australian journalist Julia Baird’s coverage of domestic abuse in the Christian church. Many of the initial responses accused Baird of undercutting the church in highlighting the issue. Essentially, because we, the church, are meant to be one body—united in faith and newness in Christ—disagreement is sometimes seen as a threat and a liability. And certainly, unity is the ideal for Christian community. But does striving for uni... Read more
This post was previously published at and was re-posted with permission.  There are many male leaders in the church who want to empower women leaders, but they’re stuck. They want to empower, but don’t know how to go about doing it. As a male leader, I have a strong conviction of the need to empower women in their God-given talents, passions, and leadership. Over the past several years, I’ve moved from passive agreement with the idea of women leaders to active engagement and advocacy in order to serve and encourage our sisters for the sake of Christ and his church. I long for other male leaders to do the same. But, there have been many times where I’ve wanted to encourage and empower, but I didn’t exactly know—on t... Read more
For the last five years, it seems that sex trafficking has become the social justice issue—the cause that everyone can get behind. Diverse groups of people who agree on nothing else are united in their conviction that sexual slavery is evil. Still, many groups diverge over which method best eradicates it. Many focus on cutting off the “supply” (i.e. how to help women and children be less vulnerable), but few focus on the “demand” (i.e. male buyers, prevention, rape culture, normalization of sexual violence). This is where things get a little too personal and a little too political for most. Between one in five to one in six men in the US self-report purchasing a human being for sex.[1] The numbers are most likely even higher because many more will not admit... Read more
This August, CBE International held its first-ever popular writing contest: Write for Gender Justice! Thanks to the creative gifts and enthusiastic participation of our diverse audience of writers, speakers, preachers, advocates, and story tellers, it was a great success! We’d like to thank all the writers who participated. Thank you for being courageous and vulnerable with your stories; for taking a risk and showing yourselves to us and to this community of believers; for believing in something enough to stand strong and sometimes alone; for being shalom people who long to see wrong set right in a broken world. We honor you. We intended to choose only ten winners, publishing three in Mutuality and seven in Arise. Call us indecisive, but we ended up with eleven winners, seven to be... Read more
Recently on Arise, Jeff Miller wrote about the long history of women in the church, dispelling the idea that egalitarians are merely adopting current cultural ideas about women. He rightfully points out that women have served and led in the church for centuries. As a corollary to this, we should also acknowledge that patriarchy and the oppression of women have also played large roles in both culture and the church for centuries. In fact, far from being countercultural, many complementarian claims about men and women are echoed outside the church. Today, I’m looking in particular at the claim that women are biologically disposed towards emotion and relationships and thus not as well suited for fields based in logic (like science and technology) or for leadership positions. We can fi... Read more
Gricel Medina
Does egalitarian theology have anything to say to people of color? It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. The myth that egalitarian theology has nothing to say to people of color is reinforced by the movement’s tendency to centralize white people. Many women of color have accused the woman's rights movement as a whole of being a white movement. Indeed, the feminist movement has often demonstrated a disregard for the needs of women of color. Although feminism and egalitarianism are distinct ideologies in many ways, both have struggled to affirm, include, and empower people of color. In an article called “Race and Feminism: Women's March Recalls the Touchy History,” Karen Grigsby writes: “The fact that the feminist movement was so white for... Read more
Gricel Medina
Today, we rebuke fear—fear of the judgment of other Christians; fear of how they will respond to our God-given callings; fear of landing outside the box of “biblical womanhood”; fear that they are right about our limitations. Today, we rebuke any doubt of our sacred and complex callings as women of God. We banish all uncertainty surrounding our capacity to succeed and change the world with God’s help. As daughters of the Creator, we refuse to bow to injustice. We oppose the man-made hierarchies of this world and the powers that try to silence and erase us. We reject the toxic influence of patriarchy in our lives, our gifts, our marriages, our families, our churches, and our communities. We won’t throw in the towel—today or any other day! We will not g... Read more
Complementarian/egalitarian discussions and debates can be complex. Some involve arguments from the finer points of Greek and Hebrew. Others may require an understanding of theological themes that span the entire Bible. Still others require solid grounding in the social sciences. Because of such complexities, I find it refreshing when someone asks a question that is easily answered. The question that forms the title to this blog entry is just such a question. Essentially all readers of Arise have heard the claim that egalitarians are following culture. This claim is typically intended to point out that egalitarians are being seduced by feminism. And the feminism in question is usually a reference to the movement called second-wave feminism, which began in the 1960s and lasted for twenty-p... Read more
Gricel Medina
This Litany of Mutuality celebrates the equal creation of men and women in the image of God, and with equal giftedness and purpose for carrying out kingdom work. The Litany of Mutuality is centered on the biblical mandates for submission to God and mutual submission to one another in the body of Christ. A single person should lead the congregation in each statement, and the congregation should respond to the leader wherever a line is marked “All.” Leader: We are God’s temple. God´s Spirit dwells in our midst. All: As believers, male and female, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Leader: We are made in the image of God. All: Male and female, we were created. Leader: Brothers and sisters, be strong and steady. All: We are enthusiastic about the Lord... Read more