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Short Answers to Tough Questions

Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! Eight years ago, my family and I spent an afternoon on a beach in Barcelona. Aware that parts of the beach were “clothing optional,” we opted for the first crescent—the one deemed “safe for the whole family.” My husband, my three daughters, and I learned quickly that tops were optional everywhere. This was our first exposure to cultural norms in Spain and it was a bit of a shock. We saw a lot of women’s bodies, the five of us un-sun-kissed Americans. We saw families playing frisbee, couples swimming together, and women and men lying in the sun letting it do its golden sun thing. Do you know what we didn’t see? We didn’t see a single man on that beach assaultin... 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
Many Christians, certainly most egalitarians, are familiar with Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (NIV). But as well-known as this passage is, it’s still common to wonder what mutual submission actually looks like in practice. Here’s my take on it: Isaac and Me A friend of mine, Isaac, and I recently went out for a meal together. Neither of us had an agenda. We ate our burgers and chatted for a while. Then we each paid for our own food and left. Isaac is the worship minister where I attend church and play in the band. At Wednesday evening rehearsals and on Sunday mornings, he’s my leader. His authority over me, of course, isn’t absolute. It also isn’t eternal. As a good leader, he has my best interests in min... Read more
Most evangelical egalitarians know that the Bible has words that mean “man/men” and words that mean “person/people, human(s).” Many egalitarians also know that some Bible translations use “man/men” to translate words which aren’t limited to men. This is especially common, for example, in the King James Version and the pre-2011 editions of the New International Version. But recognition of the distinction between “man” and “human” is growing. It has influenced modern translations such as the English Standard Version (Crossway, 2001) and the Christian Standard Bible (Holman, 2017). Though the translators of these Bibles tend to be strongly complementarian, and though I don't believe they’ve gone far enough to accurat... 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
Not long ago, I served on an advisory board for a Christian organization. After a morning of listening to departmental reviews from operational staff, I shared my opinion on the notable differences in the last two presentations with a male fellow board member. Sally, I’ll call her, gave a warm interpersonal overview of her journey into her new role and department yet did not provide us with much vision for where she planned to take the department. On the other hand, George, a young male director, provided clear vision for where he wanted to take the department and gave his perspective on what the CEO and founding chair needed to do differently. The two presentations were starkly different. I wondered: Was it gender? Was it an issue of the confidence? Was it a style difference? Was... Read more
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! A massive amount of ink has been spilled in analyzing the decline in male participation in the American church. Even as the number of women leaving the church rises, you can find countless articles pointing to a variety of root causes for the dearth of men. Many blame the “feminization” of the church. Some fault the church for not engaging men’s sense of adventure enough; others suggest that men in our culture have developed a lazy streak. The hypotheses are many, but usually boil down to one of two culprits: women, or some defect in men. The offered remedy is typically the same: the church needs to become more “masculine.” Various churches have tried to do this—and still, the nu... Read more
Paul makes a few statements that seem to limit women. Did he intend for these to apply to all women, or only to women among the original recipients? Some interpreters argue that Paul considered his words directly applicable, not only to the women of Corinth (in the case of 1 Corinthians) and Ephesus (in the case of 1 Timothy), but to all Christian women in his era (in Philippi, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.). Such an argument often proceeds as follows: Since Paul himself intended broad ancient application, the next sensible step is to apply his words directly to all Christian women of subsequent generations. One key text for accomplishing this move to universal application is 1 Corinthians 11:16, which has often been used to show that Paul himself applied his restrictions on women beyond a par... Read more
Why can’t Christians just agree? Or, when they must disagree, why can’t they disagree quietly? Many people, both inside and outside the church, feel impatient and frustrated with in-fighting and dissent in the body of Christ—even over critical issues like racial and gender justice or domestic violence. See the recent response to Australian journalist Julia Baird’s coverage of domestic abuse in the Christian church. Many of the initial responses accused Baird of undercutting the church in highlighting the issue. Essentially, because we, the church, are meant to be one body—united in faith and newness in Christ—disagreement is sometimes seen as a threat and a liability. And certainly, unity is the ideal for Christian community. But does striving for uni... Read more

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