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Since my first week at Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), I’ve heard stories from women who have struggled with their faith in God because they were abused by men. These women were emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually abused by husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, pastors, or other men close to them. Their abusers believed that Scripture (and therefore God) gave men authority to monitor, manage, and discipline women. Longing to please God, these women submitted to abusive men, regardless of the cost to themselves. Some nearly lost their lives, others went into hiding. All are deeply wounded. To protect these women, CBE developed a comprehensive privacy policy that predates standards now used by the medical industry. CBE’s first president, Cathie Kroeger, e... Read more
Before I met my husband, I was adamantly opposed to marriage. Much of my aversion to marriage stemmed from the lack of positive earthly examples of it. Because of the brokenness around me, marriage simply did not appeal to me. As a college student, I was indoctrinated with complementarian theology and surrounded by relationships that reflected it. In my Christian community, men were eager to enforce their so-called God-ordained leadership, and women filled their patriarchal (but ambiguously defined) “biblical role.” I saw power struggles, manipulation, passive-aggressiveness, gender jokes, and abuse in the relationships around me and that skewed my perception of marriage. I thought to myself—if what I have been taught is true, and if this is what marriage is suppose... Read more
Check out a follow-up list of "Four More Sexist Myths That The Church Should Reject."  We’ve all heard them. Stupid jokes and thoughtless comments. Sexist sayings and caricatures. From the pulpit, at the altar, in school, from boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, parents, and friends. People pass off myths as facts and case-by-case examples as universal truth. Women are like this and men are like that. Women are obnoxious. Men are arrogant. Women are needy and men are emotionally unavailable. These statements are infused with cultural and gendered assumptions. They have no basis in the gospel and what’s more, they are rooted heavily in socialization. And yet, despite Christians’ pledge to reject unhealthy and sinful cultural messages, these painful and div... Read more
As I begin, it’s essential that I emphasize that I believe gender-inclusive Bible translation matters much more frequently than seven times. In fact, I have often made the point that the King James Version and the pre-2011 New International Versions each include more than 1,000 occurrences of the words “man” and “men” which are not found in the Greek New Testament. When I demonstrate that vast numerical discrepancy, I am driving home the point that people who claim that the New Testament has a masculine feel, and claim that gender-inclusive translation tactics do damage to that masculine feel, are expressing a truth about certain English translations, not a truth about the Greek New Testament. That is to say, gender-inclusive translations such as the NRSV, NL... Read more
This is a list based on Peggy McIntosh’s now famous article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” In her article, McIntosh examines how racial privilege impacts her everyday life, expectations, and experiences. Her article inspired others to create “privilege lists” of their own. So, in this tradition, I’ve decided to create a list of the daily effects of male privilege in the context of the church and Christian community, or the knapsack (backpack) of male privilege. This list seeks to address gender privilege in the Christian sphere, not in the broader world. Based on my observations as a woman and conversations with men, I have constructed a list of conditions that a man can count on at church. Disclaimer: Factors such as race, geogr... Read more
Identity foreclosure is a psychological term for the phenomenon in which a person makes premature conclusions about his or her personal identity without a time of exploration and discovery. Identity foreclosure happens when a person adopts the identity of others around them or is forced to accept the identity expectations assumed or given to them. Identity foreclosure occurs for many reasons. But for me personally, patriarchy and complementarianism drove me to prematurely define myself. Early in my life, pastors, teachers, theologians, Christian books and movies, Bible studies, friends, and Western church culture in general painted a strong, confusing, and often conflicting image of “ideal” biblical womanhood. As a woman, I learned through spoken and unspoken rules that I... Read more
This is Part 1 in a two-part series on the ten myths we often believe about domestic abuse and the reality checks that prove them wrong. Here are the first five myths. Check out Part 2 and the second half of the list. #DVAM (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) Most Christians agree that abuse [1] is wrong. Don’t we? Rarely (it does happen) does anyone decree, at least blatantly, that a person should endure abuse by their partner, and if they do, most of us look reasonably horrified at the suggestion. The majority of Christians agree that abuse should not happen. And yet, abuse continues to happen in our neighborhoods, friendship groups, families, and churches. So, we have to conclude that our theology on abuse is often either misguided, toxic, or both.  Years ago, I s... Read more
I was recently perusing the comments on a blog post by complementarian Tim Bayly. Two female commenters were sparring over feminism’s simultaneous assertions of female strength and female subordination through socialization. The women went back and forth on the supposed contradiction of asserting that women are, by nature, capable of “standing up for themselves” and at the same time, arguing that many women don’t have the tools to do so as a result of patriarchal socialization. The complementarian commenter felt that feminists contradict themselves by saying that women are strong, but arguing at the same time that they are still victimized by patriarchy. I was sad to see this argument leveled like a feminist Catch-22—like it is the trivia question that egalita... Read more
Purity culture is pervasive across the church. It is most starkly seen in fundamentalist church cultures. Yet even in many progressive Christian communities, there are implicit messages reinforcing purity culture. Below are just some of the lies purity culture teaches women and girls that we as the church must work to undo. 1. Women are responsible for men’s sexual sin. Purity culture claims that women’s bodies and clothing can cause men to “stumble” with lust. Rather than placing the responsibility for sexual thoughts or actions on the man or boy who enacts them, purity culture places the responsibility on the woman or girl being looked at and lusted after. It’s almost as if Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, go and tell the thing you... Read more
Recently, the world was shocked (or not so shocked) by the revelation that Josh Duggar—of the hyper-conservative Duggar clan—was caught seeking to have an affair on the now infamous Ashley Madison site. His name was dropped, along with countless other pastors and public figures, who must now answer for their behavior. I don’t want to recycle better and more informed analyses of how the Duggars’ beliefs can lead—psychologically, sexually, relationally, and spiritually—to this kind of moral failure. I also don’t want to devote an article to what Josh individually did wrong. It's my hope that the body of Christ can agree that the depth of violation and abuse is inarguable and heartbreaking. There are also plenty of writers who have followed the D... Read more

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