Arise: the official blog of CBE International. Mobilizing Christians for biblical gender equality

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Our character as human beings is determined by what we do when no one is watching. When no one is watching, many in the church are watching porn. Pornography has been declared a “public health crisis” by political officials. At least a third of US men self-identify as being addicted to it.[1] In April, Time magazine featured a front-page article exposing the harmful impact of porn on society. Despite this, two-thirds of practicing Christians feel no guilt about their porn use.[2] What does this extreme level of consumption (and lack of guilt about it) say about the condition of the church as a whole? For readers unfamiliar with the state of modern porn—it looks less like sex and more like sexual assault. Unlike yesterday’s softcore porn industry, mainstream... Read more
“For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2:14).  It was the week of my final interview for ordination. I had turned in my paper on pastoral theology, passed one round of interviews at the conference level, and was headed into my interviews on the national level. I was taking a class that same week with fellow ministers, male and female, in various stages of the ordination process. It just so happened that those of us in the final stage in the class were women.  I’ll never forget the moment the entire class surrounded us, laid hands on us, and prayed for our interviews. One prayer has never left my head or my heart. A brother thanked God for breaking down the wall of hostility that once... Read more
One of the biggest flaws in complementarian theology is that it relies on men rather than God to designate leaders and assign gifts. Complementarians forbid women to equally lead in marriage because they are convinced that male headship is God’s clear design for humanity. Some also believe women can't preach because God didn't design women to lead. On the other hand, some complementarians believe that women can preach and lead, as long as they are under the covering of a men—as if the covering of Jesus Christ isn't enough! But gender should have no part in determining who gets to lead and/or preach. Scripture says multiple times that the Spirit guides our words. Luke 12:12 says, "...because at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you w... Read more
Recently, there has been a lot of conversation on the relationship between complementarianism and abuse. The conversation was reignited when Ruth Tucker released her book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. Since then, many complementarians have critiqued Tucker’s argument that male headship theology allows for and sustains abuse. In response, more moderate complementarians and egalitarians have lent support to Tucker’s thesis with testimony and analysis of their own. I want to be very clear. I believe that male headship theology makes abuse both more possible and more likely. I believe that power differences between functional equals are emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually destructive. However, I do not believe that all complementarian men are abu... Read more
I remember how embarrassed I was the day I walked into work with a black eye. I dreaded the questions, knowing I would have to reveal my lost battle with lawn equipment, and worrying that someone might wrongly suspect my husband of abuse. I turned on the office lights, sat down at my desk, and interacted with people all day. No one said anything about my black eye. No one, until my boss privately asked about my injury. I told him the whole story of my wrestling match with a weed eater.  I was relieved that the day’s conversations did not revolve around my black eye, but by evening, it really had me thinking. What if I had been beaten? What would it be like live in fear, to be one of the 5.4 million women in the U.S. who are battered each year?[1] I have recently begu... Read more
I overheard an amazing conversation on my way back from lunch at a conference I recently attended. A university student casually mentioned the history of strong women leaders in the early church, using Priscilla as an example, to his friend. He then passionately contended for women as equal partners in church leadership. I quickly realized that I knew the student who was advocating for female pastors and teachers. Two years ago, I was invited to teach a session about women in ministry to a group of bright, young students. One young man was quiet and seemed unresponsive to my words. During the class, he mentioned his conservative upbringing, which excluded women from ministry. I left not knowing his response to my session. At the time, I wondered how, or if, those few hours of teachin... Read more
Since my first week at Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), I’ve heard stories from women who have struggled with their faith in God because they were abused by men. These women were emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually abused by husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, pastors, or other men close to them. Their abusers believed that Scripture (and therefore God) gave men authority to monitor, manage, and discipline women. Longing to please God, these women submitted to abusive men, regardless of the cost to themselves. Some nearly lost their lives, others went into hiding. All are deeply wounded. To protect these women, CBE developed a comprehensive privacy policy that predates standards now used by the medical industry. CBE’s first president, Cathie Kroeger, e... Read more
On Tuesday, July 12, Alvera Mickelsen was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus. Our beloved leader, mentor, mother, and friend died at the age of ninety-seven. A founder of CBE, she was CBE’s first board chair in 1997, worked with grassroots CBE chapters, and served for years as a CBE board member. She authored accessible books that remain bestsellers not only in CBE’s community, but around the world. Alvera and her husband, Dr. Berkeley Mickelsen, a Bible scholar, were among the founders of Christians for Biblical Equality. They devoted much of their efforts to teaching, writing, and participating in public debates on biblical gender equality. A gifted teacher, writer, and editor, Alvera attributed her skills to her own mother who taught Bible at their Swedish Bapt... Read more
Join me, for a moment, in a thought experiment. Does it seem to you that women are equally, or nearly equally, represented in the ministries of your church? Think especially about activities with high visibility, such as preaching, reading, serving communion, leading worship, teaching Sunday school classes, and participating on boards or leadership teams. Now that you have your impression, take another step with me. Actually count, as best as you can, how many women serve and lead in visible ways in your church. Do the numbers match up with your impression? If not, you’re not alone: one of the reasons I loved the church I attended before I moved was because, despite the fact that they did not ordain women or let women preach, women seemed extensively involved in every other asp... Read more
I want to confess something to you: I am a sinful woman. To some, I am sinful when I preach. To others, I am sinful when I teach. To even more, I am sinful when I serve communion, lead worship, or read the Bible aloud to a mixed group of people. I have committed these “sins” time and time again—willingly, even eagerly. Let me confess something else to you: I will continue to live in such “sin.” I’m sure I am not the only one, not the only sinful woman in the room. Can I get an “amen”? Who else here has been condemned for their preaching? Silenced for their teaching? Who else can raise a hand to these “sins” in agreement? Yes, me too! Here is a hopeful truth, love: you are in good company. These days, I am h... Read more