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Editor’s Note: This article is part of a nine-part series on difficult Bible passages titled “What to Say…” 1 Timothy 2 is a tricky passage to interpret well. Verses 11-15 alone contain four biblical “buzz phrases” often employed by those who oppose women’s equality in the church. Paul writes:[1] 1. Women should learn in silence (2:11). 2. I do not permit a woman to teach or dominate a man (2:12). 3. The woman was deceived and became a sinner (2:14). 4. Women will be saved through childbearing (2:15). These troubling verses form, for many, the foundation of the case for women’s submission to men and against the legitimacy of women’s preaching and teaching in church and/or to men. Though it would appear those opposed to women... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! “Your pastor is a woman?!” I was seventeen years old when I first heard this surprised remark. The askers looked at me with such disbelief when I told them “yes, my pastor is a woman.” I looked at them with similar wonder, dying to ask in return: “You go to a Christian church, right?” I grew up in a Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God church. It was normal to hear a woman preach there on any given Sunday. We called them pastoras—pastors. We didn‘t give them any other title because pastoras is what they were. Much to my surprise, few English-speaking churches I’ve encountered allow women to preach, much less give them an official title.... Read more
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a nine-part series on difficult Bible passages titled “What to Say…” You’re at a holiday event and you mention that you’ve been asked to guest preach at your church. Your grandpa or your aunt or cousin brings up 1 Corinthians 14. In your college theology class, you mention that your pastor is a woman and a male student cites this troubling verse. You mentioned your egalitarian beliefs at Tuesday night Bible study and several of the members invite you to explain or defend your position. What do you say? How do you explain your egalitarian interpretation of this complex passage? Here’s a few ideas: The book of 1 Corinthians is all about how to be in a mature community of people who have the Spirit of God. Pa... Read more
By now, you’ve probably seen Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” ad. Launched last week online, the ad depicts several examples of toxic masculinity, including bullying, harassment, mansplaining, and the notion that “boys will be boys.” For those that may not know, toxic masculinity refers to masculinity that encourages aggressive and violent behavior and discourages emotion and self-control. In other words, masculinity that is both dangerous for women and harmful to men. It's also crucial to note that toxic masculinity does not mean that all masculinity is toxic. The ad ends by exhorting men to embrace a healthy vision for masculinity, with text that reads: “it’s only by challenging ourselves to do more that we can get clos... Read more
Trigger warning: this article contains numerous graphic accounts of sexual violence. “What’s wrong with me?” I’ve asked myself this question each time I’ve been assaulted by a Christian man I trusted. Each time it happened, I felt guilty, alone, and sure it was my fault.   For decades, I hid these painful secrets from everyone. I was a Christian. An excellent student in my native Finland, then in Japan, and then in the US. An accomplished pianist. A missionary. A minister’s wife. A professor. A pilot. A social reformer. I had a PhD. I was well-known in my circles. Nobody knew. Nobody guessed my secret shame. But, I knew it was my fault. It had to be. Otherwise, why would I be the repeated target of sexual offense by Christian ministers and lea... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! I was seven years old—sitting in a hard, metal desk, staring at the hole-y paddle hanging ominously on the wall, and wearing a skirt that reached three inches from my knee—when my teacher told us God didn’t want women to be pastors. Shocked, I thought, “How can this be? Why does God like boys more than girls?” I went home that day and cried to my mom that I wanted to be a boy. I was in fifth grade, standing with my parents in the church parking lot and staring at the black asphalt beneath my feet as I listened to a grown woman weep. Her ministry had been shut down by church leadership, she told my parents. The elders had determined that even though her minis... Read more
Sarah Lindsay
Editor’s Note: This article is based on an interview conducted by the author. In 2016, pastor Ray Kollbocker felt convicted to examine the issue of women’s leadership in the church. Two years later, in early 2018, his church opened all of its leadership positions to women. Kollbocker has been in ministry for many years, with over twenty years as the senior pastor at a church in Glen Ellyn, IL. During his years there, he’s guided the church through significant growth and a variety of other changes. For several years, Kollbocker knew that, at some point, he and the church would have to confront the question of whether women should be restricted from some leadership roles. So, during a sabbatical in 2016, Kollbocker dove into a study of Scripture and scholarship. As he d... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! In May of 2018, John Piper responded to a young woman struggling with persistent, unrelenting body hatred. In his article, he suggested that there’s a good form of body hatred because the body is the site of sin. His response quickly went viral, and many took issue with Piper’s authority to write on the topic of body hatred and mental illness in general, and in particular, with the statement that there is a right and biblical way to hate your body. Most women don’t need even the slightest encouragement to hate their bodies. We live in a culture that teaches us to do this. We starve, shave, pluck, pierce, and adorn our bodies to gain social acceptance, and we bond sociall... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! The few men who have kissed me did not ask my permission first. They didn’t ask if I wanted their tongues in my mouth, or about any of the other things they’ve tried either. It seems this is the standard today—even among Christians. We wait until someone objects instead of truly gaining someone’s consent before proceeding. As “unsexy” as the topic of consent may seem, it’s something we need to talk about in the church. I’ll personally take an awkward conversation about consent over the alternative any day. I’ve gone home in tears more than once after a date made a move on me without asking. I’ve said “no” repeatedly, a... Read more
Gricel Medina
Last week, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram uncovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and affiliated institutions, across forty US states and Canada. According to the Texas-based paper, these churches covered up widespread abuse, muting victims and permitting abusers to serve as leaders and live among congregations. Sarah Smith, author of the Star-Telegram exposé, has made it her mission to uncover these systemic injustices. Because of courageous advocates and truth-tellers like her, we’re finally aware of the abusers and predators lurking in our midst. Yes, we’re finally beginning to hear a crackling, thunderous sound as injustice crumbles brick by brick. Many are shocked by this exposé. But we... Read more