Welcome to CBE’s Library

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Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai—international women's education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner—was invited by TED to share his experience as a mentor and father to his influential daughter. His words were wise, simple, and elegant. What had he done to make Malala "so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised?" "Don't ask me what I did," he instructed, "ask me what I did not do." Ziauddin concluded his TED Talk with the now famous phase, "I did not clip her wings, and that's all."

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Karen and Mark are both pastors with vibrant ministries, but their marriage is at a crossroads. Karen has been offered a large church in a growing area that sounds like a perfect fit. Mark has no desire to leave his flourishing ministry. They love the Lord and each other, but they can‘t agree. How can they decide?

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Life would have been easier, at least outwardly, if we had followed complementarian theology. We might have stayed at our church.

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Embracing a fully egalitarian perspective was a long twelve-year process. When all was said and done, there was one final hurdle to overcome. By the time I began pastoring in 2008, I already understood that God gifted both women and men with “speech” gifts such as prophecy. I also believed women were allowed to teach and preach, even with men present.

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No one says the word “failure” out loud, of course. No one would dare. But when marriage is the ideal that everyone is working toward, anything that falls short feels like you did something wrong.

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My mother was a godly leader — though I’m sure she would never have described herself that way. She had a high school education, and her only employment outside the home was either in a hosiery mill or a dime store. If she had been asked to speak to an audience of adults, she would have been terrified.

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It is crucial that we women who don’t fit into the church’s too-neat “happily ever after” narrative share our stories. Because God sees our struggles and the church should too.

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“My minister was blurring all women together with the term ‘wives’ in his sermon,” my friend told me over a cup of coffee. “It was so disheartening. It was really hard to hear. 

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Growing up in a complementarian, Baptist church environment, I thought I knew exactly what God expected a Christian wife to be. I was confident that a good Christian wife keeps her house clean and orderly; it is to be her hard-working husband’s haven. She ensures that her husband comes home to a homemade meal every evening. She stays out of the financial affairs of the home because her husband is the breadwinner. She obeys him without question. She supports him no matter what. She does not complain. She does not rebel. She is her husband’s faithful (albeit often silent and invisible) helper.

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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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