Welcome to CBE’s Library

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A Christian pastor and national trainer on strategies to prevent and end situations of domestic violence within faith communities reflects on the most frequently asked question he receives from male clergy and congregation members. He also challenges the commonly held notion that males have been granted special divine privileges to assume headship over females.

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Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative?

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“Most likely to become a pastor.” I was embarrassed, really. How could I be voted that? Sure, I volunteered a lot, but out of everyone in our conservative, non-denominational high school youth group, why me? I was a girl—a quiet girl with no framework for becoming a pastor.

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A massive amount of ink has been spilled in analyzing the decline in male participation in the American church. Even as the number of women leaving the church rises, you can find countless articles pointing to a variety of root causes for the dearth of men. Many blame the “feminization” of the church. Some fault the church for not engaging men’s sense of adventure enough; others suggest that men in our culture have developed a lazy streak.

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Instead of allowing fairy tales to reinforce gender stereotypes, Christians can use them as an opportunity to show girls how they can live out the calling of all followers of Christ to follow in his footsteps.

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Here are 5 practices of a church culture that seeks to empower and invest in women, based on what I’m learning through current experience and being graciously taught about the church’s largely unheeded role in the development of women.

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It first came up in my theology class. My professor read aloud 1 Timothy 2:11–12 (for some reason he failed to read the verses above or below) and claimed that there was no solid evidence that this verse was intended only for a particular cultural context. Instead, it was applicable to all churches at all times. I then asked about women who feel that preaching is their spiritual gift, women who feel a deep desire to be pastors. He nodded his head at me and asserted, “Well, that is why it is important to understand spiritual gifts as really just roles in the church we participate in. With this understanding, we can see that women simply have different roles in the church.”

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Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, I came to the tomb. I came alone in that time before dawn, when fear and doubt get the best of us, and when God seems farthest away. 

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One woman shares a story about her everyday encounters with racism and sexism and the double bind women of color experience. She also explores how we can see one another as God’s image bearers, regardless of race or sex.

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One woman’s story about experiencing sexual abuse and sexism in the #ChurchToo, and how learning about consent from Jesus can show us how to reclaim our God-given bodily agency and have healthy relationships.

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