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Perhaps one of the most often-asked questions of a child concerns what he or she wants to do or be upon growing up.  While many of us probably did not fulfill our own childhood expectations to be president of the United States, a supermodel, a superhero, a professional athlete, or an astronaut, the topic of one’s calling – of which career is an aspect – still warrants consideration in adulthood.  In the realm of theology the doctrine of vocation comprises such reflections.  Defining this area of study, Nancy Duff states, “The doctrine of vocation affirms that every individual life with its unique combination of gifts and limitations has divinely appointed purpose and that we are called to glorify God in all that we do." Every individual has a divine calling and is to give God the glory in the pursuit of this life mission.  In considering the applications of this doctrine, Christian feminists have a twofold charge, both in understanding their own vocations as well as in service to others who are attempting to discern and fulfill their own life purpose given by their Creator.  Read more
During the past several years, I worked as senior chaplain of women at one of the nation’s largest jails in Orlando, Florida. My experiences have left me with many conflicts and questions that I am still sorting out about women, our world, and the role of faith in it. Read more
As one might expect, much of the research in the area of wife abuse has been done by feminists, some of whom themselves have been victims of wife beating. They speak with an understandable bitterness and anger toward a society so insensitive that it only publicly acknowledged the plight of battered women decades after having established laws to prohibit the abuse of animals. And often they have given up on the hope that change will come through social institutions such as the church. Rather than seeing the church as part of the solution to the abuse of women, they almost unanimously perceive the church as a big part of the problem. Read more
Ephesians 5:15-6:9 is a Haustafel (a table of household duties) and is the central passage for Pauline teaching on Christian marriage. The passage, along with its reduced parallel in Colossians, is well known by persons of all persuasions on the issue of the relationship between wives and husbands. Often used in wedding ceremonies, these verses are home to the traditionalists and to biblical feminists as well. (Unfortunately, secular writers such as Bullough 1 see only subordination in this passage.) Hazards exist for us any time we approach a familiar, well-worn passage of Scripture. The mind and heart can wander down familiar ruts and miss the beauty of sauntering down different parts of the pathway. It is the thesis of this paper that we need a fresh look at these verses. While volumes could be written on the deep truths found here, we will limit ourselves to looking freshly at issues of the text, issues of the context, the need for new terminology, and ramifications of the passage. Read more
In Saint Paul, Minnesota, during the 1970s, the first shelter in the nation opened “for battered women,” a phrase I had never heard before. This was not all that was happening in the city. Read more
I met Catherine Clark Kroeger over a ball of yarn, so to speak. The year was 1996. We had both been invited to a think tank on abuse. At the opening event, the twenty or so women present introduced themselves with a sentence or two and threw a ball of yarn to another woman who would then take her turn. As personal introductions were made by one woman after another, a web began to form in the midst of our circle. We were knitted together—the twenty of us present—by our interest in helping the Christian church wake up to the reality of abuse in our midst. I introduced myself as an evangelical by persuasion and a social scientist by vocation; I think I said something about teaching at a secular university and researching issues of abuse in families of faith. At the first break that followed our web-making, Cathie marched over to me, smiled broadly, and said in words I will never forget, “We need to work together!” And her words came to pass. Read more
Ideas have consequences. This is particularly true in addressing domestic violence. Men who abuse hold ideas—or, as we will term them, beliefs—that support their abusive behaviors. And, like the verbal abuse and lethal neglect of Nabal in the biblical account of 1 Samuel 25 that nearly led to his own and the death of his servants and children, such behaviors have dire consequences for the men themselves and those who live with them: wives, aging parents, partners, and children. To understand the cycle of abuse and the beliefs that support it, we must first understand the details and reality of those living in abusive homes by defining terms, reviewing the types and frequency of abuse, and examining the beliefs of men who abuse as well as assessing the consequences of these beliefs—and the subsequent actions they engender—on their female partners and children who witness abuse. Finally, I will close with some basic tenets in challenging men who abuse and their belief systems. The standard in the domestic violence field is to address the issue using multidisciplinary teams or coordinated community responses. Read more
Religion is the most deadly tool of oppression, according to Eugene Peterson. “More people are exploited and abused in the cause of religion than in any other way.” What is the first line of defense to exploitation driven by religious zeal? God’s prophets! Read more
The pastor asked me, “Mama, why do we have women’s groups?” I said, “We have women’s groups to build up the church. Could you as a pastor deal with all those problems alone?” — Congolese woman Read more
In 18 years of counseling and 37 years in the pastorate, I have discovered that people tell their counselor much more than they tell their pastor. While I won’t share the confidential information of specific clients, I want to share some insights about what my clients have taught me, about how they have learned to see their world. Many of the statements, by my clients who report abuse in their relationships, demonstrate how the traditional theology of female submission contributes to the prevalence of women tolerating and staying in violent situations. Read more

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