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Christian Relationships

“Everyone who thinks that men should pay on the first date, stand on the left side of the classroom. Everyone who thinks women should pay, the right. Everyone who thinks men and women should split the bill, gather in the center,” our professor called out. Twenty-eight students, men and women at my Christian liberal arts university, gathered on the left side of the classroom. Looking around, I noted that only one other student had joined me in the center of the room. For the remaining hour of class, we debated our positions vigorously. When I say I prefer to split the bill on a date, I get a lot of reactions. Most people respond negatively. They often wonder if I’m one of those women who (gasp) hates all tradition or who rejects all attempts by men to be “gentl... Read more
In Davis Abdallah’s last blog, she laid the ground work for a discussion on the complex nature of intimacy and how it extends far beyond mere sexual intimacy. In this blog, she explores the complex issue of intimacy as it relates to gender, power, and selfhood. Both articles are excerpted and adapted from The Book of Womanhood (Cascade Books) to be published in November, 2015. It is okay to want deep intimacy, to not have it, but to not choose false intimacy—and to sit in the longing. God meets us there. Really? Then, why do I desperately want to avoid sitting in the longing? It is okay to want deep intimacy, to not have it, but to not choose false intimacy—and to sit in the longing. God meets us there. Really? I first came upon this concept of “sitti... Read more
The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) conducted an outreach project on campus. They set up a large board and invited all passing college students to write down their “Questions for God.” Some of the responses were given to panelists to discuss at a large group meeting. I was honored to be one of those panelists. To give us a chance to prepare for what might be coming our way, the group leader emailed us a list of possible questions. On the list was: “Why do Christians think sex is bad?” My first thought was: Bring it! We need to talk more openly about this topic. My second thought was: What? Christians don’t think sex is bad! Well… maybe some do, but not all of us. My husband, Brian, and I... Read more
This article is excerpted and adapted from "The Book of Womanhood," (Cascade Books) to be published November, 2015. "Let’s talk about sex, baby; let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. . ." Do you remember this song? I was an innocent Evangelical freshman in college when Salt-n-Pepa debuted it. I never learned the lyrics, since Christians weren’t supposed to talk about sex, think about sex, or have sex. But sometimes, I would hear the song, and that catchy refrain would be stuck in my head for hours. I thought sex was the greatest form of intimacy out there, and that after I finished my BA (and my MRS. degree), I would finally have that ultimate fulfillment in sex with my sp... Read more
I was in the lunch room with my friends. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of seven months—a big deal for a seventeen year-old. I was consumed with all the awkwardness that comes with figuring out who to sit with at the lunch table now that the relationship has ended. An annoying teenage boy voice interrupted my inner monologue: “He broke up with you, because you wouldn’t let him kiss you, didn’t he?” Tears in my eyes, I picked up my lunch tray and walked away, defeated. There was no way around it. I was the know-it-all virgin who wouldn’t give boys what they wanted, and would probably die a virgin in a house full of cats. No, not cats. Dogs. I didn’t like cats. A year later, I met the man who would eventually become my husband.... Read more
This is the third in a series of posts on the concept of headship in the Christian church and community. The articles will offer a clear outline and critique of the headship practice and system and will further explore the consequences of headship on men, women, relationships, the church, and the broader world. Catch up with Part 1, Part 2 , Part 4, and Part 5 of the Headship Madness series. The headship litmus test is rigged. How? It is a simple chain of logic that can be summarized as follows: Women can do anything, as women, that doesn’t “violate male headship.” What does or does not “violate male headship” is (inescapably) subjective, and therefore requires local definition. Local definitions of what constitute “he... Read more
In a world divided, the resurrection of Jesus Christ calls us to embrace and embody a new creation. We celebrate Jesus as the firstborn of that new creation. A prayer and vision of that rebirth is found in Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17—a prayer Jesus knows can only be answered when he goes to the cross. Jesus' prayer is a visionary call to unity in which we are in Christ, he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. We are in him and in the Father, both male and female. The resurrection serves as a source of reinvigoration for the church—to continue to pray for the unity Jesus called us to. But, praying for unity unaware of how cultural definitions of masculinity have divided the body of Christ is counter-productive. By courageously integrating feminine typol... Read more
As the film industry promotes "Fifty Shades of Grey," launching on Valentine's Day, I sit beside sixty scholars, activists, and faith leaders from more than twenty countries at a forum convened by the Carter Center: "Beyond Violence: Women Leading for Peaceful Societies." Working to end the domination of women worldwide, these leaders recognize that "prejudice, discrimination, war, violence, distorted interpretations of religious texts, physical and mental abuse, poverty, and disease fall disproportionately on women and girls, as Jimmy Carter notes in Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power. Together, these human rights defenders are refining bold and creative strategies to overturn systems, structures, and worldviews that abuse, mar... Read more
I try very hard not to dominate conversations when the topic turns to gender and faith. I really do! But when a pastor came to our home for dinner, joined by a member of his board, I just couldn’t resist. We were discussing the incidence of abuse in among American Christians. Holding court, I found myself citing the research from Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home: Raising Voices for Change (Wipf & Stock: Eugene, OR, 2008). These researchers interviewed pastors and Christians on their experiences of abuse. Here is what they found: According to pastors: 1 in 5 couples in their congregation is violent 8% feel well-equipped to respond to domestic violence 9% have counseled 5 or more abused women in the last year 83% have counseled at least one abused woman 31% have... Read more
Sometimes I worry that since I haven’t dated yet I’m missing out on companionship and adventure. What it would be like to date someone? To avoid feeling this way, I create grateful hypotheticals: If I’d dated during college, I wouldn’t have had time to invest freely and deeply in as many friendships. Singleness gives me a different kind of relational satisfaction. If I’d been engaged after graduation, I couldn’t have moved to Kenya at a few months’ notice for my dream job. If I was married, I couldn’t have travelled to Ethiopia recently on less than a week’s notice. Singleness frees me to go wherever God calls me (1 Cor. 7:34). While I’ve had embarrassing moments and regrets, I’ve never gone through a breakup. Ma... Read more

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