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This is part 1 of a four part look at New Testament passages on the topic of marriage, singleness, and family. Today's post focuses on Paul's message in 1 Corinthians 7.

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What if Paul is saying something contextual, specific to a time and place and circumstance, relevant to the culture that he is speaking to? 1 Timothy is a letter from Paul to Timothy, a church leader in Ephesus. Paul is writing to Timothy telling him how to handle false teachers—teachers who are misrepresenting the gospel.

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I am fortunate to belong to a global denomination that affirms and supports women in ministry. Since its official formation in 1908, the Church of the Nazarene has ordained women right alongside their male colleagues. I’ve often heard it remarked that Nazarene women could preach twelve years before they could vote in US elections!

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Life doesn’t come with a manual, and neither does marriage. Whether we’re making difficult decisions, entering new seasons, or dealing with unexpected changes, most of us married folks are just figuring it out as we go.

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Critics have done a brilliant job of establishing all that complementarianism isn’t. I am grateful for their groundwork. But today, I want to explore what egalitarianism is. I want to move beyond a justified critique of complementarianism toward a strong egalitarian theology against abuse.

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“Healthy” is not exactly the adjective I would match with the word “sexuality,” especially when it comes to the ways the church and Christians have portrayed and lived out what we believe about sex these past few centuries.

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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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Many complementarians want to respect women’s needs and stories and benefit more concretely from their insights, but are not sure how to begin moving in that direction. I used to leave church in frustration every week because of the implicit marginalization on display in services. A childhood, or lifetime, of watching women pushed further to the edges of leadership and visibility has an immense impact on a woman’s self-worth.

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We need to pay attention to how we speak about female biblical characters. Are we affirming their personhood? Or are we communicating that they are extensions or property of men?

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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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