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The news coming out of Willow Creek Community Church recently has been nothing short of tragic. It has been painful to hear the stories of the women who were victimized, and heartbreaking to know that their church and their pastors betrayed them, neglected to help them, and called them liars. Sadly, the mishandling of abuse allegations is not unique to Willow Creek. We have seen and read story after story of women reporting abuse to a pastor or church leader, only to be told that they were somehow responsible, or to have their stories ignored. We have seen pastors stand up and “confess” their sins only after they have been exposed and backed into a corner, while congregations give standing ovations. We have seen churches protect leaders over victims, and keep abusers in their... Read more
Dorothy Greco
This is a two part series. In part one, we’ll trace the history and impact of misogyny. In part two, we’ll explore what Jesus has to say about healthy, whole, male-female relationships in a more just world. The #MeToo movement uncovered a fault line running across the entire country. Revelation after painful revelation exposed the pervasiveness of misogyny and sexual brokenness in the United States. Among the accused were Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, politicians Roy Moore and Al Franken, talk show host Matt Lauer, physician Larry Nassar, and perhaps most shocking, Willow Creek’s founder and head pastor Bill Hybels. The charges certainly didn’t come as a surprise to the 321,500 Americans who are victims of sexual assault or rape every year. After... Read more
Does God prefer “debt-free virgins without tattoos”? A recent viral article claims that men do, and that women should avoid college, independence, career, and the world—lest they fall into debt and sexual failure and be unattractive to Christian men. Notably, tattoos, after the title, get precious little mention! And there's our first clue that the author doesn’t support her claims well. The article says nothing further about tattoos and also says little about biblical values regarding fiscal responsibility and sex. Despite the author’s well-intentioned desire to teach young women to live biblically, she promotes a culturally-influenced view of Christian womanhood. Fundamentally, this cultural view of women assumes they’re more susceptible to world... Read more
My church recently learned the song, “Sound of Adoration,” written by Bryan Torwalt and performed by the band, Jesus Culture. It begins like this, “When we were lost ones, You were the Shepherd that carried us home. When we were prodigals, You ran to meet us with open arms.” The opening sentence refers to Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep, and the following line comes from his parable of the prodigal son. Most people understand the shepherd of the lost sheep to symbolize God. One of the most influential books on Jesus’s parables (by Joachim Jeremias) supports this claim, calling the shepherd “an image of God’s activity of love.” Bible readers, ancient and modern, have made this connection—after all, “The Lord is my shepher... Read more
Our expectations for how men should treat women are often stated in the negative—don't abuse; don’t oppress; don’t sexually assault. These are obvious, bare minimum standards for male behavior that shouldn’t have to be stated, but here we are. Sometimes, Christian men will reference their sense of responsibility for women in their lives—mothers, sisters, daughters—to support taking a strong stance against abuse. For example, in response to recently resurfaced comments concerning domestic violence by SWBTS president Paige Patterson, LifeWay president Thom Rainer wrote:  "These are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our granddaughters, and our wives. We thank God for them. And I stand with all who say 'no' to any type of abuse... Read more
Did the pastor really just say that? Mouth hanging open and holding my infant daughter, I looked over at my husband. “I know. Don’t freak out. I know,” my husband whispered. The pastor’s sermon was good—until he made some demeaning comments about his wife’s years as a stay-at-home mom. He went on to explain that now she was “working hard,” because she has a job outside of the home. I’ve heard many problematic remarks like these over the years. I usually just roll my eyes and carry on. But that morning, the pastor’s comments shattered something in my spirit. I was broken-hearted for all of the times I’ve heard male pastors demean their wives from the pulpit. I was angry for all of the times I’ve heard people say,... Read more
In late January, Dr. John Piper argued that if the Bible doesn't permit women to be pastors, then they also shouldn’t be seminary professors. As an Assemblies of God minister, I’m shaking my head and asking: are we still having this conversation?  The Assemblies of God is a Pentecostal fellowship of churches. Pentecostals believe that God poured out his spirit on both men and women at Pentecost, inspiring both sons and daughters to prophesy (cf. Acts 2:16-8; Joel 2:28-29). We believe Scripture indicates women’s inclusion in the ministries of the new covenant age. Not only do we not have a theological problem with women in ministry in my denomination, but we fully embrace them. But do we really embrace women in ministry? Do we hi... Read more
Most of us—no matter our stance on gender roles or faith background—are stunned by the vast number of people demeaned by sexual abuse and harassment. Tragically, girls and women are abused at essentially the same rates inside and outside the church. It’s clear that complementarians and egalitarians alike must press toward humility, self-reflection, and an honest assessment of Christian complicity in gender-based violence (GBV). Like many other Christians in the age of #ChurchToo, John Piper is searching for the root cause of GBV. He believes he has found it: egalitarianism. In a recent Desiring God podcast entitled “Sex-Abuse Allegations and the Egalitarian Myth,” Piper argues that egalitarians are to blame for abuse of girls and women because we neglect God... Read more
During Women’s History Month, and especially on International Women’s Day, we have a unique opportunity to correct the marginalization of women’s accomplishments and influence. Those blindspots exist in the church too, especially when it comes to women pastors. Women pastors are not a new phenomenon, but many Christians aren't aware that there is a long tradition of women pastors in the church.  Women in history were faithful to their pastoral callings—against all odds. Many pursued ministry against the cultural tide of patriarchy in the church. These tenacious women are a vital part of our Christian legacy. But also, when we celebrate women pastors in history, we open doors wide for women in ministry today. With that in mind, here are ten awesom... Read more
Last week, theologian John Piper made headlines for saying that women shouldn't be seminary professors, because seminaries train men to become pastors, and since women shouldn't preach, they have no place training men for those positions.  I'm not a seminary professor, so I'm not writing this because I'm vying for a job.  I'm not a theologian, so I'm not going to break down the Greek words and the context to show you why he's wrong (though plenty of other theologians have done so.) I'm just a small woman with a big voice in my soul that doesn't come from me. When I read Piper's comments, I was a little angry and a lot sad.  I was sad for sisters like me with big voices in their soul they know they're meant to share, who ge... Read more

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