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Christians for Biblical Equality: St Louis

This summer, July 24th-26th, the annual meeting for Christians for Biblical Equality will be meeting in St. Louis — and there are scholarships for those who are  full-time students and in financial need.

Let’s hear from those who have attended these sessions.


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Dave Leigh

posted June 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I’m a longtime friend and supporter of CBE and its positions. I think their perspective on the “Mars/Venus” mentality is much needed. The mega-church I belong to, for example, is considered by some to be a bastion of egalitarianism, since one of its earliest leaders was also key to CBE’s beginning. Yet my church lapses often into a “Mars/Venus” mentality. For example its Fathers Day “Dad Fest” majors on cultural stereotypes of males, while Mothers Day leans toward arts and cultural female stereotypes–as if it’s not masculine to enjoy the arts, music, literature, philosophy, and all that other stuff so often produced by men! My church’s use of gender-inclusive translations has fallen off in the past year or so with a change in staff. And even one of its teaching pastors, who is a woman, invoked gender stereo types in her most recent sermon.
And so, although discussion of the Mars/Venus model is not as trendy as it might have been when John Gray first hit bookshelves, it is a much needed topic to revisit. I applaud CBE for continuing to hold high the banner of Biblical equality and inclusivity.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Hmmm… So I read the CBE mission statement and I’m on board with it, and I read Gray’s first Mars/Venus book some dozen or so years ago (when I *wouldn’t* have been on board with the CBE mission statement), and I’m scratching my head because I don’t see how they are necessarily mutually exclusive. I mean, I still find a lot of the concepts in Mars/Venus (Mr. Fix-it, The Home Improvement Committee, waves, rubber bands) helpful in my new found sensibilities. Am I missing something?

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posted June 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Speaking of reading….Any takers on Discovering Biblical Equailty? Tis a fine read and a much needed corrective (though few seem to be listening).

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Dave Leigh

posted June 19, 2009 at 5:51 pm

#2 Kenton
As I understand it, equality exists despite any created differences between the sexes. And there are some wonderful differences to celebrate!
However, there are also some cultural expressions of masculinity and femininity that can create unnessary problems, such as internal conflicts for a person’s sexual identity or inter-relational conflicts. What if a man loves to shop and his wife thinks working on cars is fun? Is he less of a man and she less of a woman? What if he’d rather spend a day at an art museum and his wife loves the Cubs? The Mars/Venus mentality tries to build ways of interrelating that may not apply to this couple. If Gray had just said “some of us” are hunter-gatherers etc., then there’s no problem. But he doesn’t. He actually places us on different planets based on supposed sexual differences, which he seems to suggest are rooted in our biology.
What if a young person, for example, accepts that this is how the world should be, but sees themselves as not fitting the mold? What are they to do? Might it not even create some kind of gender confusion for them or lead them to make sexual choices based on how their peers have judged them, rather than based on their true sexual identity?
And then, might not these kinds of supposed differences also play into the agenda of those who would promote male dominance?
I’m just getting started! But it would probably be better to let the experts develop CBE’s case. Might even be a good reason to go to the conference, eh?

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posted June 19, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Thanks for the clarification! In response:
Didn’t Gray put a disclaimer in Mars/Venus that the stereotypes don’t always hold, and that like your example, sometimes even the roles are reversed? I read the book (and apologies again, but it has been a *long* time) as part of a small group study, and seem to remember various couples bringing up their role reversals in the conversation.
Because of that, I would think the book would do more to clarify the gender confusion you mention than it would to add to it. (That going to an art museum does not make one less of a man or should somehow cause you to question your sexual identity.)
Also, isn’t the book a relationship book, more than a biology book? (You did read the book, yes?) Gray saw problems in how he and his wife were not only “not on the same page” but “not on the same planet” and the patterns were/are repeated in other male/female relationships. The book is more about resolving the resulting conflicts by seeing the other’s view than it is about reinforcing the stereotypes. (Which in turn, I would think would better promote gender equality.)
Finally, if people are looking for evidence to support a notion of male dominance, I gotta believe they can do better than Mars/Venus.
It sounds interesting, but I won’t be able to make it to the conference in St. Louis. :(

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posted June 20, 2009 at 8:41 am

I have been to several wonderful CBE conferences, and think year’s is an important discussion to have. As aware as I try to be of cultural and gender stereotypes, I, too, find myself lapsing into generalities sometimes. This cracked eikon needs to remember we were all created in God’s image, female and male, with unique capabilities, passions, and giftings to build the Kingdom of God.
CBE has been a lifeline to me as a woman called into ministry, and I heartily recommend their conferences and the book recommended above, ‘Discovering Biblical Equality’. ]


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posted June 20, 2009 at 9:40 am

My impression
what is good:
He did put in disclaimers, it is a relationship book – and it has many useful insights in building relationships. First and foremost it emphasizes thinking about where your spouse is coming from and adjusting response and expectations accordingly. This alone is significant – and it is in essence loving your spouse as you love yourself isn’t it? In this sense it is an excellent book.
What is wrong:
He makes statements intimating that his divisions are correct 90% of the time and even occasionally suggests that something went “wrong” in those cases where his divisions don’t really fit. I think that this is overly simplistic – many (almost all?) people are more complex.
Outside of a marriage relationship there are problems with this basically black and white (or Mars and Venus) kind of thinking.
The generalizations can hurt because instead of making the diversity in response normal – it suggests that diversity is abnormal and even that the person who is abnormal is flawed.
The generalizations can also hurt because they become walls that prevent those who are “abnormal” from being welcomed and engaged in the church (using this as an example since we are talking about CBE).

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posted June 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm

RJS & Dave,
Thanks both of you for those thoughtful responses. Maybe we’re at an impasse. At the time he wrote the book, there was a widely held notion that there were no differences between men and women. That the only differences were reproductive body parts. When Gray published his book he argued this radical notion that contrary to the zeitgeist, men and women were different. They thought differently and viewed the world differently. And while it may not always correlate, it was gender based, and that was OK – indeed it was a great thing! Not that one sex was better or smarter or more advanced than the other (so it did not contradict a notion of gender equality), and not that the rules correlated 100% (so that if you discovered areas were you diverged from the norm that you should feel “flawed”), but if they didn’t correlate at all, then the whole premise of the book falls apart.
I don’t know, but I think we’ve only been able to arrive at the place we are at today where somebody like me could get on board with the mission statement of the CBE because someone 15 years ago had the courage to say our genders make us different, and the differences are not just OK, but they’re truly wonderful.

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D C Cramer

posted June 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I’ll be reading a paper at the conference on “Creating a Culture of Equality.” Looking forward to it and will be sure to report back.

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Joe B

posted June 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I heard a pastor named Tim Timmons speaking on Focus on the family years before the Mars and Venus book. The similarity was incredible. Mars & Venus was goob-humored, but Timmons was absolutely hilarious.
Mrs Joe B and I are exeptions to most of the Mars & Venus rules, but it is still very insightful, and anyone who loves human beings can enjoy the book.

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