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This submission is one of our top ten CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! Editor's Note: We’d like to see all churches embrace egalitarian theology, but in the event that a church is not yet prepared to do so, we offer these four ways they can move closer to being a safer and more positive space for women. Many complementarians want to respect women’s needs and stories and benefit more concretely from their insights, but are not sure how to begin moving in that direction. I used to leave church in frustration every week because of the implicit marginalization on display in services. A childhood, or lifetime, of watching women pushed further to the edges of leadership and visibility has an immense impact on a woman’s self-worth. So, if your church of choice is firm... Read more
This is a reflection from CBE's president, Dr. Mimi Haddad, on the #MeToo and #ChurchToo conversations around sexual abuse and harassment.  My husband and I begin most weekends at our local coffee shop, enjoying breakfast with neighbors. Recently, one neighbor—a renowned poet—recalled his experiences studying poetry at Columbia University. Students were asked to submit a recent poem they’d written. These were returned the following day with the name of each student’s favorite authors scribbled at the end. The professor could discern, with 100% accuracy, who they had been reading. Students were stunned! They’d unknowingly expressed in their work what they’d absorbed in their imaginations. This same reality—we express what our im... Read more
Two years ago, I made friends with a woman in another state via social media. We communicated through Facebook and Instagram, and sometimes on Twitter. She was thoughtful, caring, and generous. She wrote about her children, her family, and the ways God was working in her life. She has several kids, and always seemed to be laughing about the ups and downs of raising a big family. I admired her, was maybe even a little jealous of her overflowing life. One day, she shared that a gang of teenage boys had raped her young daughter. Her daughter was fifteen years-old. The boys had been harassing her for several months, and she’d done her best to avoid them, but in an opportune moment they cornered her, and raped her. My friend has been and continues to be a devout practicing Christian. Th... Read more
This submission is one of our top ten CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! A massive amount of ink has been spilled in analyzing the decline in male participation in the American church. Even as the number of women leaving the church rises, you can find countless articles pointing to a variety of root causes for the dearth of men. Many blame the “feminization” of the church. Some fault the church for not engaging men’s sense of adventure enough; others suggest that men in our culture have developed a lazy streak. The hypotheses are many, but usually boil down to one of two culprits: women, or some defect in men. The offered remedy is typically the same: the church needs to become more “masculine.” Various churches have tried to do this—and still, the nu... Read more
Paul makes a few statements that seem to limit women. Did he intend for these to apply to all women, or only to women among the original recipients? Some interpreters argue that Paul considered his words directly applicable, not only to the women of Corinth (in the case of 1 Corinthians) and Ephesus (in the case of 1 Timothy), but to all Christian women in his era (in Philippi, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.). Such an argument often proceeds as follows: Since Paul himself intended broad ancient application, the next sensible step is to apply his words directly to all Christian women of subsequent generations. One key text for accomplishing this move to universal application is 1 Corinthians 11:16, which has often been used to show that Paul himself applied his restrictions on women beyond a par... Read more
I recently went public with my egalitarian beliefs. I admit, it took a while. Coming from a complementarian tradition, I knew that such a major shift in ideology would not be taken lightly. I expected questions, disapproval, and debates. Needless to say, I was right. It wasn’t taken lightly. Since publicly changing my views, I’ve had a lot of conversations about egalitarian theology with complementarian Christians. Conversations with a tad more progressive complementarians typically go something like this: “I believe women can be teachers, like Beth Moore. But they can’t serve in other leadership roles—like as pastors, for example.” I sometimes respond, “Well, where do you get that?” They typically respond with something along the lines... Read more
Growing up in a complementarian, Baptist church environment, I thought I knew exactly what God expected a Christian wife to be. I was confident that a good Christian wife keeps her house clean and orderly; it is to be her hard-working husband’s haven. She ensures that her husband comes home to a homemade meal every evening. She stays out of the financial affairs of the home because her husband is the breadwinner. She obeys him without question. She supports him no matter what. She does not complain. She does not rebel. She is her husband’s faithful (albeit often silent and invisible) helper. I am an introverted people-pleaser and a rule-following perfectionist. From a very early age, I eagerly awaited the day when submissive and total obedience to my husband would become my jo... Read more
Don’t miss the forest for the trees. In the well-known maxim above, I’m thinking of “the trees” as the numerous fine points of interpretation that we encounter when grappling with those 1 Corinthians passages that are frequently featured in complementarian /egalitarian discussions. In chapter 11, for example, these “trees” include the metaphorical meaning of kephalē and the phrase “because of the angels.” In chapter 14, the phrase “as the law also says” and theories about the authenticity of verses 34-35 quickly come to mind. Please don’t misunderstand—there would be no forest without the trees, and I join many readers of Arise in being especially interested in each of those “trees” and even their several... Read more
This submission is one of our top ten CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! I was thirty years old when I first met a female pastor. At the time, I was wrestling over a decision to quit my freelance job and attend seminary in order to pursue a long-denied call to pastoral ministry. A decade earlier, I was a college student and leader of a campus ministry, considering seminary as the next step in my calling. I nixed the idea after considering what I thought were my options after getting a degree and going into debt: finding a male pastor to marry or resigning myself to a church job that women were “allowed” to hold. I had never been exposed to the idea of female pastors, and the leadership at my church was all male. I thought I had misconstrued my life trajectory, so I buried my... Read more
I once worked as a young adult director in a church. This church was and continues to be a great church, filled with people who love God, one another, and the world with genuine affection and generosity. During the time I worked as a director, they gave me freedom to lead and preach and dream with great liberty. But because they did not license women as pastors, I was called a director. While my male friends got licensed, sought ordination, and received recognition for being ministers of the gospel, I did not. I advocated for women in leadership and pressed the church to consider the ordination of woman. Some listened, but not enough to do much about it. In hindsight, the rejection I felt, and the intense confusion I dealt with—why the men, and not the women—took a toll on my... Read more