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Former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China said, “The speed of a fleet is judged not by the fastest ones in the front, but by the slowest ones trailing at the end.” This imagery, unintended though it was for the women’s movement, provides a vivid depiction of women and girls who are left behind. Though gender equality has seemingly made significant strides inside and outside the church in the past few decades, there remain many overwhelmingly horrid stories of women and girls whose lives are severely broken by extreme abuse and exploitation. In the biblical framework of creation-fall-redemption, and against the cultural backdrops of China and Cambodia, we look into God’s intention in restoring lives of these violated girls. Read more
As a boy, I lived on a small family fruit farm. When springtime came, grasses and weeds that coexisted between the rows of fruit trees were ripped and carved so that the soil could breathe and be prepared to support the trees for the coming season. As the weeds were turned over, an important cycle of life was encouraged. When the spring rains came, the enzymes did their work to break down the organic matter to support new growth. The parable of the sower is included in the three synoptic gospels of our Bible. The parable describes scattered seeds that fell on hardened paths, where the birds have a feast; or in shallow soil amid rocks, where, after a brief life, the plants shrivel for lack of moisture and nourishment; or some that fell among thorns, where life was short as the vines and dominant plants monopolized the moisture and nutrients, smothering the fragile plants. Each picture represents the life-giving word of God, which does not take root due to unwelcoming conditions. In the lives of the people I work with, as it is for all of us to some extent, God’s invitation to true wellness is unable to be fully realized due to various, often significant, hindrances. 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
The unilateral authority of males is evident in shaping nearly every culture throughout history. Further, when patriarchy is framed as a biblical ideal, it is not only at odds with the teachings of Scripture and the purposes of God’s covenant people, it also becomes a deadly spiritual disease that chokes life all around it. As Jesus said, if the fruit is bad, the tree also is bad (Matt 7:17–20). This is not to say that gifted men should not exercise authority, but, at the same time, they should affirm the gifts and authority that God grants women as well, working mutually to lead and serve the church and the world. As a balance, it was thrilling to see three women receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their courageous activism in advancing democracy and justice for women. Three days later, a blog appeared by CBE member Jenny Rae Armstrong, who wrote: I haven’t stopped grinning since I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. You see, it was in Liberia that I first witnessed the true ugliness of gender injustice, first understood that a tiny seed of pride and superiority dropped into the heart of a man would blossom not into a sheltering tree but into an ugly, invasive weed that choked...life...around it. Read more
This issue is about ideas having consequences, finally centering, as we always do, on our target area: making sense of gender relations. As all issues of Priscilla Papers, this present one has been pieced together over months (and sometimes years), and each editorial is written on a topic relevant to the issue. But, at the same time, each editorial is also written within a life context.  Read more
The student council at the seminary I attended called a special meeting to decide one matter: Should supporters of biblical equality have access to student funds to host forums on gender equality, when only a portion of the student body supports this position? In fact, should gender egalitarians be represented on student council at all? The dean of students came to observe deliberations. No one was in high spirits. In fact, the mood was tense and divided. The discussion was circular, until one voice was raised. Read more
Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) has come a long way in 15 years, according to Susan McCoubrie. As CBE’s first membership coordinator, she remembers when the organization’s membership information was organized in a recipe box on a TV tray. “We were very hopeful, but we knew we were on an uphill battle,” said McCoubrie. “We had to continually prove ourselves as possessing a high view of Scripture.” Since January 2, 1988, when CBE was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds, not only in the space required for record-keeping, but in influence as well. Read more
At the heart and soul of our lives as followers of Christ is this: We are trying to walk the talk. In the Scriptures and in the healing witness of Jesus, we have encountered the powerful, life-changing invitation to an alternative way of living. We have been given a vision of the realm of God, and invited to live out that vision in the particular soil of our lives. How do we incarnate Jesus’ values in our life choices? As I seek to answer this question in my own daily life, I find myself constantly confronted with contradictions, with times when my ideal paradigms meet the person I am — my limitations, my gifts, and the challenges of my unique circumstances and social location. Read more
Quick Bible quiz: Name one African person in the Bible. Did you mention Hagar, Simon of Cyrene or Apollos of Alexandria? What about the Ethiopian eunuch, or Queen Candace? If none of these characters came to mind, perhaps it’s due to a lack of understanding of the cultural and ethnic forces at work in the Bible. Understanding these forces can bring new light to familiar passages. For example, even though the word “Africa” is not mentioned in the Bible, the word “Cush” is, which scholars think refers to Ethiopia or to Africa as a whole. Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya are also mentioned. While they might not correspond exactly to the countries on a 21st century map, they do refer to places in Africa. Read more
In the movie Swing Kids, a German teenager joins the Hitler Youth and is assigned a job delivering packages. At each house a child or woman answers the door, and as the teenager turns to leave after making his delivery, he hears screaming and crying from the house. Shaking with fear, he opens one of the packages to find a gold wedding band in a pile of ashes. Tears of rage and guilt begin to flow as he realizes he has unknowingly participated in a cruel system: delivering the remains of husbands and fathers who have been murdered in the name of Hitler. To be white and middle class in America is to be a participant in a privileged power structure. Often unknowingly, we lay poverty and discrimination at the door of communities of color. The challenge to white middle-class people who follow Jesus is to begin to notice the cries of pain from these communities. Read more

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