Reflections on “Becoming New”
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Christians for Biblical Equality international conference in Los Angeles. Picture a hotel ballroom full of passionate, committed egalitarians, gathering for a time of learning, community, and focusing on the Biblical theme of gender equality, and you’ve got yourself quite a meeting.
Hey Tertullian, watch your back!
I thought I would offer a selection of reflections from my experience at the conference, my first ever CBE event:
First, overall, I was proud to simply be present. Don’t get me wrong…I hope that, one day, a group dedicated to the earnest and thoughtful promotion of Biblical gender equality will be flat out unnecessary, because that would reflect a church that has embraced the full and equal participation of women and men in ministry. Until that day, however, I’m proud to be a part of a community of believers who is committed to challenging the status quo in this area.
Second, I loved the culture of the group. For instance, right off the bat the emcee exhorted us to charity and grace with those with whom we might disagree. May it be so! Next, before every plenary speaker, a brother or sister from around the world would pray for us, both in English and in their native tongue. I found it to be a beautiful reflection of God’s Kingdom (and CBE’s international scope). And then there was the high value for Scripture. As one example, I spent an hour in a seminar on Paul’s letters led by Philip Payne, and while I left with my head spinning, I also left more convinced than ever that Paul preaches a message of gender equality. In fact, perhaps the only thing missing was a bit more space to chew on what was delivered in community. Every session was screaming for processing conversation that came only through my own initiative.
Third, I was helped to think about gender equality through the lens of justice. Because the truth of the matter is that gender inequality is indeed an issue of injustice. And so I straightened up in my chair when plenary speaker Eugene Cho, referencing the global scourge of human trafficking, called gender justice “a matter of life and death.” Strong words, but, in my heart, true ones.
Fourth, the age demographics of the room were fascinating to me, as it looked to me like the majority of the conference was 45+. On one hand, this is terrific; I love that an older generation of believers is all-in on behalf of gender equality. On the other hand, the cause also needs a younger generation to take it on. And so I was challenged to think about my role as a campus minister; how can I mobilize the young ministers that I am privileged to lead, as well as students, to advocate for gender equality in their contexts?
Finally–and this was perhaps my strongest impression from the weekend–it was great to network with like minded (and hearted) folks. Because, to be honest, sometimes all of this blogging, reading, writing, studying and speaking feels pretty isolating. Being at CBE, then, was a powerful experience in community, for which I was grateful.
So, who’s with me?!? To join up with CBE, go here.
PPS…one final highlight. Here’s a shot of me and two of my staff friends with CBE President Dr. Mimi Haddad: