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Personal Stories

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
Babies love contrasting colors, repetition, and music. Some brilliant people realized this attraction and created baby sensory videos. My granddaughter has a few favorites. One of them is set to classical music and begins with a black background and a bird dropping a seed. Then, a rain cloud comes and waters the seed. A tree grows, and the cycle of seasons begins: a fruitful tree becomes an autumn tree, which becomes a wintery, snow-covered tree, which becomes a springtime, blossoming tree, which becomes a fruitful tree. This repeats over and over again. One of my daughters recently commented about her niece, “You can actually see on the baby’s face when she is learning something, processing something.” And, this is true! You can see, on her face, in her eyes, and i... Read more
Women make up 19% of active duty service members in the Air Force. I’m a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, and the numbers in my career field are even lower. The last statistics I saw reflected fewer than twenty female chaplains in the Reserves out of about two hundred.  And yet it’s in Air Force chapels where I have felt most welcomed, most encouraged, and most supported in my ministry. Yes, I have stories of harassment and marginalization, of being singled out because of my gender. And by highlighting the positives about my experience, I don’t intend to gloss over these challenges and offenses. Many women do experience sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the military, and those issues certainly should be addressed. But the military is also one of... Read more
“I'm okay with a woman sharing, but not preaching,” I said. “Why?” the woman responded. With that pithy question, I was forced to take a hard look at a theological position I had long held. I confess that I had extra incentive to take her question seriously; the sister-in-Christ with whom I was speaking had gone out on several dates with me, and I was hoping that would continue. But despite my mixed motives, I did honestly feel the need to wrestle with her question. “Why?” was not something I had ever really asked myself about my complementarian view of women's roles in the church. In truth, my conviction—that 1 Timothy 2:12 taught that women should not preach to a mixed-gender crowd of adults—was not very well thought-through, and... Read more
"I am an egalitarian." I make this statement with pride, but my journey into egalitarianism was a long one. In fact, my students are often shocked to learn that my once-traditional view of men and women's roles led to the biggest fight my husband and I had before we married. We argued over whether God approved of women preaching—with my husband trying to convince me that God calls women to be pastors. But I'm getting ahead of myself. My egalitarian journey didn't begin with a debate with my fiancé. It began with my parents who, though holding to traditional roles, raised me to think for myself and to appreciate my headstrong temperament. My parents worked as a team and had absolute respect for each other. They are two of the most unselfish people I... Read more
In January, Kristin Rosser wrote an excellent article entitled "The Consequences of Complementarianism for Men." It began with an imaginary conversation between a complementarian husband and wife. The wife expresses frustration that her husband has not prioritized finding a solution to a broken dishwasher, because the burden of hand washing dishes has fallen on her. Specifically, we learn that he does not wash dishes and has been absent at dish time. When the husband perceives that his wife is undermining his decision to purchase a new dishwasher instead of fixing their current one, he ends the conversation by saying that she must support his choice, and she agrees. While this certainly reflects the dynamic in some households who practice one-way submission, it does not reflec... Read more
For a seminary internship, I became involved in a non-profit organization dedicated to building peace and safety in Christian homes. Assisting Catherine Clark Kroeger, I began to see into the shadowy corners that hide the horrific treatment many women face behind closed doors. Most of us don't realize that intimate partner abuse affects Christian homes just as frequently as secular homes. A 2010 national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have, "experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime." Sixty-five percent of children are also impacted by domestic violence. It happens to people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and cultures. At least 2... Read more
I live in an age of fearless women. I live among the fire-starters, earth-shakers, and pot-stirrers. I live among women who cannot be bought, shifted, or erased. They are powerfully present, steady on their feet, and certain of their worth. I live in an age of fearless women. It’s a story as old as time, and we’re still telling it. We’re revisiting the book of fearless womanhood, picking up the scent of sage and fire still clinging to worn pages. And we’re stitching in our own pages too. They’re crisp and white and covered in elegant script. But they’re also full of scribbles, addendums, and messy cross-outs. Because we’re still learning how to be fearless women. Our script is flawed, and our shaking fingers are hopelessly spotted with ink. We... Read more
It’s probably not good Christian decorum to admit this. But decorum isn’t really my thing anyway. For a time in my life, I genuinely thought God was the worst. There, I said it. I never doubted he was real and active in this world, but with every ounce of my angry heart I doubted his goodness. I resented God for making injustice his standard. I saw him siding with the powerful and forgetting the marginalized, and I resented him for it. I recognized inconsistency in a God who would create women to subjugate them. For much of my life, I viewed God as preferential, legalistic, and distant. But I still accepted that God, even though my place in “his” hierarchy made me feel less than. I held onto my faith through high school, just barely. I rationalized. I took deep... Read more
Christians for Biblical Equality is a resource ministry—our mission is to develop and distribute biblical resources on the shared leadership of women and men. For over forty years, CBE has been active presenting, creating, and distributing biblical resources on gender at the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). ETS is perhaps the most academic and male-dominated audience we engage with on an annual basis. As an organization, CBE has a long history of engagement with ETS. While this history is often forgotten, CBE founders were among the founders and past presidents of the ETS. For years, egalitarians have served as ETS plenary speakers. They've contributed to the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS). They have also been a part of the ETS executive... Read more