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In recent years, the term “toxic masculinity” became a part of the public conversation surrounding gender, power, and violence. Actor Terry Crews spoke to congress last week about his own experience with sexual assault. He took the opportunity to condemn what he called a “cult of toxic masculinity” and urged congress to implement the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights.   But what is “toxic masculinity”? Without a more detailed explanation, the term can leave us with a bad taste in our mouths. It can inspire defensiveness, largely because it’s been misunderstood to mean that all masculinity is toxic. But it actually refers only to negative cultural expressions of masculinity that encourage violence, aggression, misogyny, and entitl... Read more
In 2018, the #MeToo movement came to American Protestantism. Emboldened with the hope that they will no longer be silenced, women are speaking out to expose the misogyny and abuse they’ve long endured in Christian homes, churches, and seminaries.    In recent weeks, controversy swirled around Paige Patterson and the Southern Baptist Convention. As the Washington Post reported, the revered patriarch and now former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fell from grace in light of revelations that he’d counseled an abused woman to stay with her husband, provocatively drawn attention to a teenage girl’s appearance, and allegedly instructed a female student not to report her rape, but instead to forgive her assailant. Upon his removal, Patterson in... Read more
I was sixteen years old when Bill Gothard’s curriculum, “Basic Youth Conflicts,” came to the California Bay Area. For readers who don’t know, Gothard was a popular Christian minister and speaker in the 1970s-early 2000s in conservative Christian and homeschool circles. Gothard once filled auditoriums throughout the US with audiences as large as ten thousand people. He founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), which sought to educate Christians with conservative teachings on family, marriage, homeschooling, modesty, authority, etc. IBLP is also known for its strong emphasis on male authority and female submission. Many folks from my local church attended the seminar, including my family. I still remember the excitement in the air as the crowd gathered... Read more
Recently, the Gospel Coalition (TGC) published an article entitled, “21 Places Women Emerge Front and Center in Scripture’s Storyline.” While I often disagree with TGC, particularly their theology of women’s equality and leadership in the church and home, I really appreciated the piece. I read it in its entirety and found myself, apart from the opening few paragraphs, nodding along. Yeah, I wish the author recognized women’s countercultural leadership and ministry in the Old and New Testament, and its relevance for how we treat women in the church today. But still, I’m grateful to the author for this simple truth: women mattered in Scripture and they matter now. In such a time as this, it must be said, and said again. Amen, brother. Thank you for that... Read more
Many Christians, certainly most egalitarians, are familiar with Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (NIV). But as well-known as this passage is, it’s still common to wonder what mutual submission actually looks like in practice. Here’s my take on it: Isaac and Me A friend of mine, Isaac, and I recently went out for a meal together. Neither of us had an agenda. We ate our burgers and chatted for a while. Then we each paid for our own food and left. Isaac is the worship minister where I attend church and play in the band. At Wednesday evening rehearsals and on Sunday mornings, he’s my leader. His authority over me, of course, isn’t absolute. It also isn’t eternal. As a good leader, he has my best interests in min... Read more
Today, advocates and activists from around the US will gather at the For Such A Time As This Rally in Dallas, Texas. The rally—led by abuse advocates and faith leaders such as Ashley Easter, Gricel Medina, and Mary DeMuth—will lament and challenge the Southern Baptist Convention’s inadequate response to sexual abuse and poor treatment of women. Leaders are urging SBC leadership to: Honor and respect women in the church. Create an SBC clergy sex offender database. Train all pastors and seminaries on abuse and sexual assault. The gathering was certainly spurred by recent events surrounding SBC giant Paige Patterson. But for many Christian women and especially Southern Baptist women, it’s so much bigger than that. It’s a biblical response t... Read more
School’s out for summer! Well, some of us have technically been out of school for quite a while, or maybe it’s our kids who are finishing up the semester. But summer is often a time when bookish folks knock a few titles off their to-read lists. So if you have time; you like to set lofty summer reading goals; and you’re egalitarian, here’s your 2018 dream list. Do the whole list in three months or keep it light and nab just one or two books—it’s your summer. All titles have been vetted by CBE Bookstore staff and can be purchased in our store. We loved these books and hope you do too! 1. Birthing Hope: Giving Fear to the Light (2018) by Rachel Marie Stone “In these profound reflections on the mysteries of life and death, Stone unpacks how chi... Read more
Gricel Medina
I was fourteen the first time I rode the subway alone. I remember my parents drilling me about practical safety and how to spot a predator. But in making me aware of the danger and how to respond to it, they trained me to guard myself against abuse. Conversations like these are crucial. They promote wisdom and awareness, and they also arm us against those with predatory intentions. The church would be a safer place for vulnerable people if we had these same conversations on what abuse is and how we can protect ourselves from it—not just with church board members and staff, but also with entire congregations. As a pastor, I’ve facilitated many conversations on how to identify predators and protect young people, especially young girls. Here are some of the principles I use to id... Read more
I’m sixty-five years old. In the time and culture in which I grew up, equality for women just didn’t exist—not in the church and not in the workplace. But I also had the privilege of growing up in a family with strong female role models and three older brothers. I didn’t learn about gender equality sitting in a church pew, but it was always taught around our dinner table. My parents didn’t expect less of me than my brothers because I’m female. Rather, I was taught that my gender wasn’t a barrier to achieving my life goals; I could do anything I wanted. And yet, my gender continued to be a massive barrier in the church for much of my life. For a long time, I saw gender equality in the church as an abstract idea. The issue of women in vocational ch... Read more
To live in the American South is to be connected to Baptists. Raised in non-denominational churches, my own young signature was nevertheless scrawled on the pages of guest books of numerous Baptist churches along the way. While the landscape of Small Town USA is dotted with other denominations as well, it is no secret that Southern Baptists are the self-declared public voice of evangelicals in the Bible Belt. Evangelical Protestants make up between 40-50% of the Southern population [1], and of this dominant demographic the largest portion, 33%, still belongs to the Baptists.[2] Yet it is more than just a numbers game when it comes to the preeminence of Baptist cultural influence in Southern life and beyond. Southern Baptists have been at the forefront of a political and cultural revolutio... Read more