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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
A tidal wave of confusion is rocking the world of young evangelical men. Evidently, increasing numbers of men are questioning if gender-based roles are as clear as some proclaim. Recent studies suggest that an onset of doubting occurs in males between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Social scientists suggest a possible link to the age of accountability observed by varying evangelical churches. “What this could mean,” one researcher explains, “is that a boy who reaches the age of ‘manhood,’ as determined by his community, is prone to confusions about what it means to exercise male leadership.” Ralph, twelve, sheds light on questions he faced after reaching the age of accountability. “After a baptism ceremony, the church threw me and... 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 and in our upcoming installments, 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 told the inspiring story of Shannon Lucid, a woman who persevered against the prevailing biases of her day in order to become part of the first class... Read more
Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here. Many Christians believe that Christianity and feminism are incompatible. But this assumption is drawn from biased definitions of both feminism and Christianity. Some Christians have an extremely negative perception of feminism. Feminism conjures up images of angry, man-hating, bra-burning women fighting for unnecessary ends. After all, they argue, what more do women need when they can work outside the home and vote? They believe that women are already equal, but need to accept their different roles. With this skewed definition of f... Read more
Sarah Rodriguez
Today is the second Wednesday in Women’s History Month as well as International Women’s Day, a global event where we celebrate women’s social, economic, and cultural achievements. This is the second 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. The following three articles by 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 persistenc... Read more
History is, quite obviously, a story. And like any story, it at times prioritizes the experiences of certain characters over others. If we try to do too much with one story, we obstruct our own efforts. Thus, good historians are wise and fair synthesizers of data, but they accept that no one story can include everyone and everything.  And yet, some stories are more than just garden-variety incomplete. From a distance, broken things can appear whole. To the untrained eye, a sloppily-patched quilt might appear cohesive; a cracked window, smooth; and a rigged game, fair. But the quilt's pattern is disrupted, faithlessly altered. The fractured glass is no longer capable of withstanding a storm. And the outcome of the game has already been decided.  Similarly, history is comprom... Read more
Recently, my husband wrote about his own journey in realizing that sexual aggression toward women is not about his own moral purity (not all men!), but about the worth and value of women. He was responding to a colleague’s story of a man’s verbal sexual aggression toward her just two weeks ago–in church. My husband writes: “It took me years to realize that such aggression is embedded in the male culture in which I participated daily at school, work, and church. I cannot begin here to unravel that culture but I know that we very much need to do it. We need men to own their culture and the actions it helps to create. We need to call sexism what it is–abhorrent.” Sexism is multi-layered, but we can start unraveling it by acknowledging the simple inte... Read more

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