Welcome to CBE’s Library

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The epidemic of women’s unpaid work is a serious problem and it’s one that should concern us as Christians. Whether by implication, necessity, or demand, women aren’t being credited or compensated for their work. They are often taken less seriously as professionals and expected to take sole responsibility for housework and other traditionally feminine kinds of work. Not all labor—such as household work—is the kind of work for which we give and receive a paycheck. But it remains that for much of history, patriarchy has ensured that all of women’s work—official and unofficial and paid and unpaid—is seen as less than, and that women’s labor can be taken for granted. 

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If abuse is a power problem, then what does the debate about gender roles have to do with it? Put simply, our views on gender and authority grow out of and reinforce our philosophies on power.

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What is the difference between a leader and other workers? If you wait until someone asks for your help, you are a follower, not a leader. But if you recognize a need and then pitch in to make a difference, you have taken your first step in leadership.

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Seven years ago, just a few quarters shy of college graduation, I discovered the cost of my belief in biblical equality. I chose to ask questions and push boundaries, but those actions had consequences.

This fall, thousands of students across the country started their freshman years at Christian colleges. Ten years ago, I was one of them.

As a journalism student, my experience was probably quite different from what the majority of my peers experienced. Journalists are trained to observe, to notice incongruities and to question. And while these characteristics won the respect and friendship of a few professors and staff members at the school, we journalists also gained enemies — particularly among the administration.

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“Lord, help me to know where you have gifted and motivated me to serve, so that I might be more fully used by you.” This had become my heart’s cry, yet as I began to sense the direction of the Lord in my life like never before, the doors of the church seemed to close. The words were different each time but the message was always the same: “There’s no place for you ... woman.”

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"For the husband is the head of the wife, is that not what the Bible says?" my friend asked in all earnestness.

"No," I replied, "that is not what the Bible says. Paul says that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. How is Christ the head of the church?"

"I guess," he responded, "he is the Holy Spirit."

On the way home from church, my preoccupation with our conversation puzzled me. Why is it, I thought, that someone like my friend had spent so much time serving as pastor and yet had not grasped this basic truth of which Paul spoke? A lifetime of sermons and I had rarely, if ever, heard about how Christ is the head of the church. The essential exposition is not the husband as head of the wife. The critical question is, "How is Christ the head of the church?"

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“Delighted” would accurately describe my reaction to discovering Christians for Biblical Equality. I’m a man who knows something about marginalization and alienation — two themes central to CBE’s concerns.

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We live in a world brimming with competition. This can be seen through the widely enjoyed form of sports, or in the competing (and not so enjoyable) cultural standards for beauty. Desire for success even leads to aggressively competitive relationships in the workplace. No matter where one turns today, the main message seems to be “Get to the top no matter the cost.”

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Whether through sermons or wedding vows or Christian books, we have been conditioned to see different primary roles for husbands and wives. Many churches teach that a wife’s role is one-way submission to her husband. Sometimes we are vague about what submission means, but feel strongly that there is hierarchy in marriage and that it is of utmost importance. The apostle Paul’s letters are often the basis of these teachings. Yet, is Paul advocating hierarchy in marriage, or is he encouraging mutuality?

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Jesus submitted to His Father by actively and freely choosing to yield to weak politicians and wicked soldiers. And now Peter says likewise? Is a woman to submit to God by yielding to ungodly husbands the way Jesus willingly yielded to ungodly men? Yes.

After reading these words from an assigned reading as a master’s student, I began to question much of what I’d learned in the church about the Bible’s teachings on gender. Did the verse this quote refers to (1 Peter 3:1) really mean women should passively submit to abuse? If not, what is it about?

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