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Sarah Lindsay
In mid-December, an article was published on the Desiring God website titled “Husbands, Get Her Ready for Jesus.” Written by a Philadelphia pastor named Bryan Stoudt, this piece argues that husbands have a responsibility to challenge and correct their wives in order to keep them on course through the path of sanctification. For Stoudt, husbands have a unique responsibility for their wives’ sanctification, a responsibility that wives do not share for their husbands. He describes this responsibility as “the staggering privilege of getting our wives ready for Jesus, their true husband.” This is indeed a staggering responsibility to lay on the shoulders of husbands. Indeed, we might call it a staggering burden, much like the ones Jesus accuses the Pharisees of l... Read more
This submission is one of our top ten CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! I was thirty years old when I first met a female pastor. At the time, I was wrestling over a decision to quit my freelance job and attend seminary in order to pursue a long-denied call to pastoral ministry. A decade earlier, I was a college student and leader of a campus ministry, considering seminary as the next step in my calling. I nixed the idea after considering what I thought were my options after getting a degree and going into debt: finding a male pastor to marry or resigning myself to a church job that women were “allowed” to hold. I had never been exposed to the idea of female pastors, and the leadership at my church was all male. I thought I had misconstrued my life trajectory, so I buried my... Read more
I once worked as a young adult director in a church. This church was and continues to be a great church, filled with people who love God, one another, and the world with genuine affection and generosity. During the time I worked as a director, they gave me freedom to lead and preach and dream with great liberty. But because they did not license women as pastors, I was called a director. While my male friends got licensed, sought ordination, and received recognition for being ministers of the gospel, I did not. I advocated for women in leadership and pressed the church to consider the ordination of woman. Some listened, but not enough to do much about it. In hindsight, the rejection I felt, and the intense confusion I dealt with—why the men, and not the women—took a toll on my... Read more
Sarah Lindsay
A few years ago, when my middle daughter was three, we were discussing her favorite preschool job: leading the lunchtime prayer. I said that maybe she could be a pastor, like our own pastor Todd, when she grew up. Her eyes lit up and she proclaimed: “Yes! I will be pastor Todd! And I will live in his house! And I will be Olivia’s daddy!” I got a good chuckle out of that, as did pastor Todd when he heard the story. But the truth is, as the reality sets in that she can’t actually be pastor Todd, my daughter isn’t likely to see many women as pastors—women who can serve as her role models. While numbers are hard to pin down, probably only 10% of senior pastors are women — which means that even denominations that ordain women don’t see anything... Read more
Becky Castle Miller
Abuse is an abstract concept for many people, and it’s a word heavy with cultural misconceptions. When talking about abuse, I’ve learned to bridge the communication gap by defining and describing it: abuse is a pattern of coercive control based in an abuser's feeling of entitlement to power over another person. An abuser gains and maintains control through various tactics that can be physical, emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, or spiritual. Abusers actually target churches to find victims and to move into positions of power, so church leaders must be prepared to prevent abuse, to deal with it in their congregations, and to provide healing for abuse survivors. The first step in addressing abuse is to grasp how prevalent it is. Half of... Read more
When I critique oppressive systems and ideologies, I generally ask two simple questions: Does the system or ideology give one group unearned power over other groups, and especially over others who already have less social power? If the answer is “yes,” then I ask a question I already know the answer to: Is the system safe for the less powerful? Naturally, social hierarchies are safe for those at the top. They’re designed to preserve the existing social structure, which already prioritizes the needs and perspectives of the group with power. Social hierarchies don’t make less powerful people and groups safer. Rather, they exacerbate any vulnerabilities and pose danger and harm to marginalized people. If a system relies on the powerful group behaving rightly and n... Read more
Many girls and women find models of subversive, change-making women not in the Bible or the pulpit, but in popular media and secular culture. Lack of representation in the church matters, and it has wide ripples in the body of Christ. Have you heard of the Black Madonna? Black Madonna statues and paintings—images of Mary with dark, brown, or black skin—can be found all over the world from Asia to South America to Africa. But in the West, Mary is often erroneously depicted as a white, European woman. We co-opt Mary—erasing her dark skin, masking her non-European features, claiming her as a symbol of our story and experience. For many Christians of color, accurate images of Mary as a woman of color are restorative and liberating. These portraits confirm that people of co... Read more
My first lesson on the dangerous pitfalls of sexual sin and subsequent public scandal came one ordinary day in 1988. I arrived home from church to witness my dad sitting in his comfy chair, mesmerized by something on the television. Popular televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was confessing that he had sinned against God with a prostitute as millions of people watched. He knelt at the podium with tears streaming down his face and beseeched God to forgive him. Years later in my US government class in high school, I watched Bill Clinton stand trial for lying about his numerous sexual interactions with Monica Lewinsky. Both of these men marked my youth, shaping the way I perceived men in positions of power. I first learned of the “Billy Graham Rule” in college. The rule was simple: Bil... Read more
Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here. Many Christians believe that Christianity and feminism are incompatible. But this assumption is drawn from biased definitions of both feminism and Christianity. Some Christians have an extremely negative perception of feminism. Feminism conjures up images of angry, man-hating, bra-burning women fighting for unnecessary ends. After all, they argue, what more do women need when they can work outside the home and vote? They believe that women are already equal, but need to accept their different roles. With this skewed definition of f... Read more
For most of my life, I didn’t understand the significance of Advent. It paled next to Christmas. And I felt the same indifference for Advent that I had for every other church season. As a young girl in a strict Lutheran elementary school, the arrival of Advent meant that I was required to attend yet another school chapel service. It meant two extra hours of acute religious boredom, and it triggered the same hyper-awareness of my femaleness that I always experienced in church. The students sat in straight-back wooden pews, some of us so young that our feet barely touched the floor. A male pastor with a booming voice encouraged us to reflect on our innate depravity. Jesus’ impending birth was celebrated chiefly as the remedy to our shame. The pastor wore a spotless white robe... Read more

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