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Personal Stories

One of my friends works in Christian ministry at a large, secular university. She is passionate about Christ; she is a gifted teacher, preacher, and apologist. Her tenacious use of her spiritual gifts, her holiness, and her love for others is a model to us all. She said to me once, “Mimi, do you realize that my church spends thousands of dollars so I can lead college students, both men and women, to Christ, yet they won't let me preach from the pulpit because I am a woman? This is not only inconsistent, it says to me that there is something wrong with being female!” Her logic was compelling, and yet her experience may explain a sad phenomenon. Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in America, particularly among women. According to one expert, the idea of a goddes... Read more
Many engaged couples tend to read books together, and sometimes have a few pre-marital sessions with a counselor in preparation for marriage. When we were engaged, we too read books and met with our pastor, and understandably, both were invaluably helpful and hilariously uncomfortable. We also were lucky enough to stumble upon three key principles for a partnership in marriage through a hobby we both love: rock climbing. They are communication, trust, and give and take.  As Adam was maybe ten or twelve feet in the air, Caroline, his belay (the one connected to and supporting the climber by the rope), had the revelation, “Hey, this is sort of like our own pre-martial counseling!” Caroline continued, “Your life is literally in my hands! I could drop you if I wa... Read more
Many engaged couples tend to read books together, and sometimes have a few pre-marital sessions with a counselor in preparation for marriage. When we were engaged, we too read books and met with our pastor, and understandably, both were invaluably helpful and hilariously uncomfortable. We also were lucky enough to stumble upon three key principles for a partnership in marriage through a hobby we both love: rock climbing. They are communication, trust, and give and take.  As Adam was maybe ten or twelve feet in the air, Caroline, his belay (the one connected to and supporting the climber by the rope), had the revelation, “Hey, this is sort of like our own pre-martial counseling!” Caroline continued, “Your life is literally in my hands! I could drop you if I wa... Read more
“I don’t believe God loves me—not really.” These words erupted from my wife in a season of personal crisis. One of the deep roots of the crisis—not the immediate trigger—was the traditional teaching of the church that women must be subordinate to men and are not qualified for certain offices of leadership. This lie had rooted itself in Debbie’s heart from her childhood years growing up in church. At the very same time as these words came forth from my wife’s lips, a sliver of glass, the result of a moving accident when a mirror slipped and crashed on my head early in our marriage, made its way to the surface of my forehead. I picked out this irritating sliver that had been working its way to the surface for some time. I thought at the time... Read more
On December 11, 2005, eight Youth with a Mission staff workers were killed in a tragic road accident outside Port Hourcourt, Nigeria. One of those lost, Brianna Esswein, was a graduate of Wheaton Graduate School’s Intercultural Studies Department. My book Women Crossing Borders is dedicated to her memory. Four days before the accident, Brianna expressed her commitment to the Lord in a letter:  He has called me to a life of both joy and suffering. I am willing to live and die for my Lord and will follow him to the ends of the earth, knowing that it may cost me everything, but that there is no greater joy than serving my God and only through him can my life and my joy be made complete. Brianna exemplifies the dedicated women who have given everything to cross borde... Read more
A while back a friend asked me my thoughts on gender issues and, particularly, a certain prominent “complementarian” organization. Here’s what I had to share about my personal journey: In high school and college I was a sure “complementarian,” based on arguments such as those of such of the organization alluded to above and the biblical texts often cited to support such views. I remember having arguments with one of my egalitarian professors about how he could possibly view this issue otherwise. Then in my second semester of seminary in a New Testament epistles class taught by a prominent complementarian scholar, he presented his soft complementarian view, concluding that each of us should decide what the biblical line is for women’s leaders... Read more
I recently traveled to Israel for a tour of biblical sites. The unexpected beauty of the Galilee, the historic walls of Jerusalem, and the tranquility of the Garden Tomb highlighted my trip but my most cherished memory was standing in the muddy Jordan River asking my daughter the essential question that every pastor asks before they baptize someone: “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?” My journey to this place began two years earlier… My friend Lou Ann invited me to visit a local church. Over the next several weeks, we agreed that this assembly appeared to be Biblically based. Soon, however, it became apparent that something was amiss—women were relegated to an inferior place. For example, women weren’t allowed to share in coed discussions; only men were... Read more
Two months later and I can still picture Isabella: her small arms gently rock a baby with more expertise than a fourteen year-old girl should have. Her tiny-heeled shoes and grown-up blouse seem out of place with her girlish dimples. I left Guatemala almost three months ago and still my mind brims with stories and pictures—Isabella among them. A soft-spoken, indigenous girl, she worked as a nanny for my host-mom, caring for a baby not her own instead of going to school.  But then again, she didn’t have many options. Guatemala has a prevalent machismo society. The many “rules” of culture revolve around men. Men’s wants are more important than those of their female counterparts. Discrimination and battery toward women can be commonplace. People are... Read more
My little boy started preschool this year and picked out a pink backpack with flowers. At first I was hesitant to let him have it for fear that he would be teased, but decided that if we were truly going to be egalitarians we had to take that risk. Concerned, I asked him what he would do if anyone made fun of him for having a pink backpack. He replied, “punch them in the nose”. Sexism, simply put, is the value of one sex over another. This is rampant in our culture still today. Men use “cry like a girl” or other feminine references as put-downs. It is glorified if a girl is a tom boy, but shunned if a boy is a tom girl. Colors are assigned genders and while all colors are permissible on women, some colors such as pink and purple, threaten the masculinit... Read more
The CBE Scroll presents “Learning to Thrive”, a five-part series that will feature stories from members of CBE’s “Thrive” Chapter at Biola University in Southern California. We hope this will serve as an encouragement to all of you and deepen your understanding of the true meaning of the Gospel! Today we will hear from Ronald Pierce, a member of the chapter, longtime CBE member, and editor of Discovering Biblical Equality. I grew up in a traditional Christian family in the 1950s. My father was expected to be the leader and provider, while my mother was to be the homemaker who reared the children (six of us). And, we generally assumed that men should take the lead in the small Church of the Brethren we attended in rural Pennsylvania. Years later, whe... Read more

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