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

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“He’s kicking.” Few words can elicit as much excitement from me these days. A few times a day, my sister rests her hand on her stomach and proclaims my new favorite phrase, “He’s kicking.” I try to wait patiently, hoping she’ll grab my hand and place it over the offending limb. Sure enough, when she does, the baby is kicking away. Or dancing. Or boxing. Or finishing up a tough session of power yoga. It’s a strong kick, sure and steady. To me, it feels a bit like a warning. It’s like the siren before a tornado. Here I come, people. I’m a force of nature. It’s going to be beautiful, and a little bit scary, and you can be sure that I’m going to make a mess. Can’t wait, little one. My sister usuall... Read more
Recently, a friend of mine was asked why she chose to work, and not stay home full-time with her child, even though her husband makes enough money to support their family. The question is unsurprising given the ongoing pressure on Christian women to prioritize home and family over career. It seems that Christian women are still expected to choose between the public and the private. Being a more even-tempered person than I am, my friend sidestepped the question. Later, she asked me how I would have responded. I work outside the home, because it’s the best fit for my family and marriage. But virtually all parents are trying to do what’s right for their families. We all have different callings, and we all live them out in unique, creative ways. Some women pursue professional... Read more
I have gone through some significant theological changes in my twenty years as a follower of Jesus. I’ve moved from Calvinist to non-Calvinist. I’ve moved from thinking the church of today knows better than the church of old to believing the church of old might have more to teach us than we them. I’ve moved from occasionally celebrating the Lord’s Table to longing for it each and every week. And for our purposes today, I’ve moved from a complementarian view of gender roles to an egalitarian view. Embracing a fully egalitarian perspective was a long twelve-year process. When all was said and done, there was one final hurdle to overcome. By the time I began pastoring in 2008, I already understood that God gifted both women and men with “spee... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, we established four points: Jesus affirmed Mary and Martha’s learning. Jesus intended for all “sitters at his feet” to act on his teachings. Jesus’ life demonstrated that he valued practical service. Martha studied at Jesus’ feet, just like Mary. With these points in mind, I’d like to reframe the story around Mary and Martha’s individual callings, and how Jesus directed and nurtured those callings. Mary and Martha have been my Bible story companions since childhood. My mother used to read their story from The Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. In the book, Mary was pictured sitting sweetly at Jesus’ feet, while Martha, broom in hand, angrily looked on from the kitchen. It was clear to me that... Read more
Mary and Martha continue to stir up heated dispute in the church, but their contribution to egalitarian arguments appears to have been wrung dry. I propose a new look at the sisters—a look that goes far beyond the tale of a “Mary” trying to fit into a “Martha” world. The Old Interpretation The primary takeaway from the traditional interpretation of Mary and Martha is the importance of putting “first things first.” In other words, crumbs under the sofa cushions are a sign of correct priorities. Jesus is said to be admonishing us to cut housekeeping corners for the sake of Bible study. Let’s examine the usual discussion points. Do we really believe these sisters were too wimpy to settle their disagreements themselves? How would our int... Read more
Before I met my husband, I was adamantly opposed to marriage. Much of my aversion to marriage stemmed from the lack of positive earthly examples of it. Because of the brokenness around me, marriage simply did not appeal to me. As a college student, I was indoctrinated with complementarian theology and surrounded by relationships that reflected it. In my Christian community, men were eager to enforce their so-called God-ordained leadership, and women filled their patriarchal (but ambiguously defined) “biblical role.” I saw power struggles, manipulation, passive-aggressiveness, gender jokes, and abuse in the relationships around me and that skewed my perception of marriage. I thought to myself—if what I have been taught is true, and if this is what marriage is suppose... Read more
Deborah, the prophet, was a judge of Israel. That sentence needs to stand alone, because it seems we’re unable to take the Bible at its word on Deborah’s position as judge. Christians who struggle to believe that God would intentionally appoint a woman to lead often argue that Deborah was chosen because no man stepped up to fill the role of judge. But the text does not support this. Some suggest that God appointed Deborah to shame the men of Israel. The text does not support this claim either. Deborah, the prophet, was a judge of Israel. Let’s allow that to sink in. She held court under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramal and Bethel in Mount Ephraim. Israelites came from all over the country so she could rule on their cases. Deborah was also given the title... Read more
As many of you are aware, a particular debate involving the doctrine of the Trinity is causing no little stir in American evangelicalism. This past Thursday (June 16, 2016) Christianity Today even felt it necessary to write a primer on the discussion. Since my area and career focus is on systematic theology (and gender), I have watched with particular interest but have let others (more seasoned) do the “heavy-lifting.” I also happen to be the moderator for the Evangelicals and Gender Study Group at the annual ETS meeting this October, which is themed “the Trinity.” I did not think this topic would publicly escalate so fast in the months prior to this event, but it apparently has. (So, although I won’t be speaking there, I may be wearing a flak jacket... Read more
I recently spoke with a mental health case manager about the importance of male vulnerability. He shared with me that most of the men who use his services do so because they never learned how to process and express emotion beyond two extremes: happiness and anger. I was unsurprised by his admission, because I have long observed and grieved the intense cultural pressure on men to suppress their emotions and by extension, their humanity. It’s a problem I’ve seen in both male-female and male-male friendships. Men are usually socialized to believe that emotion itself is indicative of weakness. In the gender dichotomy, emotional vulnerability is associated with femininity. Men often reject what they perceive as feminine, because their masculine identity exists and thrives in star... Read more
Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai—international women's education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner—was invited by TED to share his experience as a mentor and father to his influential daughter. His words were both wise and simple. What had he done to make Malala "so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised?" "Don't ask me what I did," he instructed, "ask me what I did not do." Ziauddin concluded his TED Talk with the now famous phase, "I did not clip her wings, and that's all." Malala Yousafzai challenged the ugly face of patriarchy and endured threats, injury, and harsh criticism in the name of justice for women. Significantly, her father takes no credit for her strength or her accomplishments.... Read more