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In stumbling after Jesus, the church has sometimes faltered. Sometimes, we’ve been the ones holding women’s bruised and bleeding hearts in our fists. And sometimes, for all our good gospel intentions, we've salted the wounds we should be binding.  Sarah Bessey  launched a conversation this past April about the abusive #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear which morphed into the more hopeful #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear, initiated by egalitarian advocate Bronwen Speedie. This is the church many of us both love and lament—flawed and holy, mistaken and striving, haplessly human and somehow still sacred. The church is washed clean in Calvary blood, but it is still the stuff of flawed people. I hold the church in the tension of holy imperfection. But I don’t t... Read more
I cannot express how much I appreciated Tina Osterhouse’s recent essay, “Why Christians Can Do Better Than The ‘Billy Graham Rule.’” I have been confronted with this rule growing up in a Christian church, participating in various venues at a Christian college, serving as a youth pastor, etc. And every time, it's baffled me. “What am I, an animal?” Of course, there was no room to ask that simple question, for to even doubt such rank legalism was immediate evidence that I was ripe for the fall, pretending to be “wiser than Solomon and stronger than David.” It was only a matter of months before I’d be “purpling” with some temptress who was also apparently as mindless and indecent as myself.   The rule had the... Read more
Last night, Sarah Bessey (we’re fans!) began a conversation about the strange, sexist, abusive, and toxic things Christian women are told on a regular basis. We’ve been leaning into the conversation and doing our best to keep a record of the profound and heartbreaking stories women and male allies are sharing. We’ve collected some of the most powerful tweets so far in a list, and we're inviting our audience to follow the ongoing conversation happening on Twitter under #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. If you have a relevant story or experience, please join the conversation yourself or share in the comments below. 1. “You can teach the women and children, you just can’t teach the men.” –Charlie Grantham 2. "You are an amazing leader! You... Read more
Today marks the final installment in CBE's Women's History Wednesday series. We opened the series by exploring the ways history has tried to erase women. We followed up with three articles on history-making egalitarian women. In this final installment, we'll lay a path for courageous advocacy in the tradition of the bold leaders who walked this path before us.  I’ve been invested in equal rights for women in the church since I could talk. At eight years-old, I made a tape recording of myself preaching the gospel to imaginary people. Like a good Presbyterian, my persuasive sermon tackled original sin: “Adam and Eve became sinners, and we became sinners, too!” My little girl voice rings out on the recording with passionate fury. I was full of hellfire and... Read more
Language matters—what we say, where we say it, and to whom. If, for example, a Victorian era Brit planned to “knock someone up,” he meant to get a person out of bed. Listeners in his day would have understood the popular phrase from a Sherlock Holmes novel. If a 21st century North American plans to “knock someone up,” however, he expresses less-than-honorable intentions toward a woman. Depending on the context and intent, it would be appropriate to say, “Thank you.” Or, it would make sense to take out a restraining order and install an extra bolt on the front door. Context matters. I heard it all the time in seminary. It’s no small thing to translate biblical passages from Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek into English. This re... Read more
This article was first published with Missio Alliance. Do egalitarians overlook the deeper truths of Scripture to promote social-economic equality? Does our commitment to biblical gender equality render us secular wolves dressed as biblical lambs? In “The Bible Never Says All Men Are Created Equal: How the New Testament Offers A Higher Calling Than the Declaration of Independence,” Andrew Wilson wonders why Galatians 3:28 is so often cited as the biblical basis for gender equality when the Greek term for equality, equity, and fairness (isotes) is strangely missing from this passage. The question of oneness According to Wilson, Scripture does not teach that Jews are equal to Gentiles; that slaves are equal to masters; or that women are equal to men. For Wils... Read more
My first lesson on the dangerous pitfalls of sexual sin and subsequent public scandal came one ordinary day in 1988. I arrived home from church to witness my dad sitting in his comfy chair, mesmerized by something on the television. Popular televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was confessing that he had sinned against God with a prostitute as millions of people watched. He knelt at the podium with tears streaming down his face and beseeched God to forgive him. Years later in my US government class in high school, I watched Bill Clinton stand trial for lying about his numerous sexual interactions with Monica Lewinsky. Both of these men marked my youth, shaping the way I perceived men in positions of power. I first learned of the “Billy Graham Rule” in college. The rule was simple: Bil... Read more
Humanity is ferociously hungry for God. But we often misdirect our sacred hunger, worshipping stone, sun, earth, wealth, and power in place of a living Creator. And because we have such a hard time sorting God from not-God, we study the sacred. Theology is the critical mind’s answer to sacred hunger. We have tasted something impossibly sweet—a God-prepared meal that far surpasses the false apple we fell for long ago. And so, in our hunger, in our longing, in our curiosity, we study God. But what happens when the hall of theology becomes an echo chamber? What happens when half the sky meets God but the church doesn’t want to hear their story? What happens when the theological insights of women are pressed to the margins of Christianity? In prioritizing the theological... Read more
Sarah Rodriguez
This is the third installment in CBE’s celebratory series: Women’s History Wednesday. In our first installment, Rachel Asproth explored four strategies that patriarchal history has used to erase women. In our second installment, third installment, and in this installment, Sarah Rodriguez, a former CBE intern, will profile three subversive egalitarian women who bucked gender expectations to make history.  In shining a light on these women’s stories, we will defy patriarchy’s attempts to marginalize the historical contributions of women. Instead, we will unashamedly celebrate their courage and persistence. Last week, we wrote about the life and work of Jo Anne Lyon, the first female general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church. This week’s... Read more
I recently attended my denomination’s annual pastors’ conference. At the gathering, I saw men and women equally represented in the pulpit, on the worship team, and among those making announcements. The diversity I witnessed made me smile. I saw many women leaders in attendance and I celebrated them. Yet, I know that their journeys have not been easy. There are female pioneers in the church ministering without mentors or role models. There are women with a gift for preaching who have been restricted and diminished by legalism. There are women with broken hearts who have been betrayed by the body of Christ. And there are women who have been forced to serve without an official title—simply because they are women. Many of these women were born into churches that expected th... Read more