Sometimes I find it amusing that our churches of today seem to be more anti-women than the Bible is. We doubt women’s ability to preach truth, when the first person to share the gospel – He is risen! – was a woman. We question the idea of women in leadership, when once upon a time […]
On the third Wednesday of each month I set up camp in a conference room at the hospital where I work. I set out water bottles, a tray of cookies, and boxes of tissue. I post signs throughout the hallway, and then sit down and wait. As the clock nears 6:00 pm they start to arrive – the surviving spouses of the hospice patients I have served. Sometimes they smile when they see me, other times they make it through the door just barely, a bewildered and tired look in their eyes.
It seems odd that I, a 29 year old with less than 5 years of marriage under my belt, would be tasked with running a support group for bereaved spouses. In reality I do very little to ease the burden of grief. I give group members permission to talk about their loved ones and their loss. I sit and bear witness; sometimes I have to tell myself to stay and be present, and other times I am captivated and drink in their stories.
The latter was the case with a man who attended my group in March. He was old enough to be my parent and then some, but by far the youngest person in the group. He was also the most reserved.
It’s wedding season! Today Katie Manning shares some creative ways she and her husband, Jon, applied their egalitarian values to the engagement and wedding experience. At the end of the post is a link to our free resource for planning an egalitarian wedding ceremony. Here’s Katie: As my husband and I approach our 12th wedding anniversary, and as we’re attending another round of friends’ weddings this summer, I find myself thinking again about the many ways “traditional” engagements and weddings in the U.S. still rely on symbols and rituals that portray women as property to be exchanged between men.
So to celebrate our anniversary, here are some things that worked for Jon and I when we wanted our engagement and wedding to reflect our egalitarian relationship. THE PROPOSALS – The final “s” in this heading is not a typo. Jon and I had been dating for over two years and knew we wanted to get married. I decided to propose. He needed a new Bible, so I got him one as a Valentine’s Day gift, and inside I placed a homemade bookmark that said some lovely things and concluded, “Will you marry me?” His face was beaming.
In a recent Christians for Biblical Equality blog post, Kevin Giles showed how people used the Bible to justify slavery in a way that is similar to the justification of gender-based hierarchy. In the 19th century United States, pro-slavery theologians made a comprehensive biblical case for the rightness of slavery. Based on a flat reading of […]
Here are 20 free audio (A) and video (V) resources that present biblical gender equality (egalitarianism) in a clear, compelling way, have high production quality, and are available for free online.
At times I have been frustrated by the number of churches that claim egalitarian theology, but are not actually practicing it. I’ve been overwhelmed by example after example, and feeling like the church as a whole would never get anywhere. Then a pastor encouraged me to focus on churches that are doing it well instead, and […]
I never thought I would ever write a book about politics! But as my husband (and co-pastor) and I led our congregation through the election season of 2012, we were confronted with the fact that there is no way to NOT be political. We have to live with people and in communities and what happens to those people in our communities, big and small, matters. That’s why we wrote Kings and Presidents: Politics in the Kingdom of God.
Churches have political structures as well. These structures are intended to care for the people and communities living in the Kingdom of God. They ought to look different than the structures of this world. But too often we see the same kinds of power dynamics at work within the church that we see on the campaign trail.
And this is bad news for women in leadership in the church. Advocating for women in ministry has never been more important. Here are my recent reflections on women in church politics:
Certain passages in 1 Peter are sometimes used to support the idea of hierarchy in Christian marriage, but a closer look reveals that this letter is one of the strongest biblical commentaries on the injustice of such a model. In today’s post, Heather Celoria lays out a convincing argument that “In the same way” that all believers are being urged to submit to governmental authority, wives are being encouraged to suffer in an unjust hierarchical institution for the sake of Christ.
It was November 2013. The conference had already started, and I was running late. I walked quickly along the sidewalk with my lunch crew, and we made our way inside. They went straight to their tables, but I wanted to put my coat and scarf away. I walked to the coatroom and grabbed a […]
I used to work for a church that went through the tedious process of changing the church bylaws to allow for the full participation of women in ministry, including in the role of senior pastor. When it came time for a pastoral search, the church sent out a job description containing only masculine pronouns. When I asked why this was the case given that the bylaws allowed for female candidates, I was told that the bylaws do allow for a woman to be hired, but they had decided to hire a man. They were not even taking applications from women.
Recently, I was looking through the website of a friend’s church. The pastoral staff consisted only of men, and all of the numerous online sermons were preached by men. I asked one of the pastors about this, and he assured me that both he and the lead pastor held egalitarian views, and fully supported the equality of women in all levels of church leadership and in the home. He told me some of the logistical reasons for the lack of female presence in their leadership, and said that they have made an effort to have women preach, but haven’t been able to accomplish it yet.
I also went to a worship service at the church of another male pastor I know. He holds to egalitarian theology as well. There was not a single woman present in the leadership of that service. The pastor, associate pastor, scripture readers, and the entire musical worship team were all men. When I asked him about this, he explained some of the logistical reasons for this, and assured me that this wasn’t the case every week. However, it is also true that there is never a week when there are no men up front.
In the case of the first church, they claimed to be egalitarian in their bylaws, but in reality, they are not. They did not even consider a female pastoral candidate, and assured none would apply by the wording of the job description. In the cases of the second two churches, I know these pastors personally, I appreciate both of them, and they have been very encouraging to me and many other people I know.
The creation accounts in Genesis are of utmost importance when discussing gender relations within the Church. “Creation order” is a foundational claim of complementarians, who root their beliefs in the idea that since man was created first, it means that men must lead women. But does Genesis truly reveal a God-ordained male headship through creation order? A close look into the creation account will provide us with a fuller understanding of God’s intentions for men and women.
Genesis 1:27 states that, “God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”. Verse 28 goes on to say that God blessed “them” and spoke to “them”. This is the first mention of mankind. It’s important to see that male and female are mentioned, and the blessing that was bestowed on “them”.
The Hebrew word used for mankind in verse 27 is “‘adam” which refers to humanity as a whole .
We don’t see the proper noun, Adam, used until Genesis 4:25, so this common noun refers to the whole human race. One thing that is important to note is that the Hebrew language does not contain a gender neutral pronoun, therefore the word mankind was used.
Many complementarians do not refer to Genesis 1 in the formation of their doctrine, unless it is to make the announcement that God created Adam first, not necessarily acknowledging the fact that the more accurate definition of ‘adam would be humankind. Egalitarians find Genesis 1 to be very telling of God’s heart for equality because these verses make it clear that both men and women were created in God’s image, after which he blessed them.
Empowered by higher education and the willingness of thinking people to judge others on their merits rather than their plumbing, more women are moving into senior roles in the corporate world, politics, churches, mission groups, and charity organisations. But there’s a fly in the anointing oil…A mentor is a tremendous gift to a rising leader, but for those in contexts stuck on single gender mentoring, the grim truth is that most female leaders will never be mentored.
Like most kids, our children love their candy. A relatively rare treat in our house, every piece of candy is something to be cherished, savored, and, above all else, hidden from your siblings. I mean, God forbid your older brother finds your hidden stash of Jolly Ranchers!
I think a lot of us view power in a similar way. I’m talking about social power, like who has authority, who exercises leadership and who commands attention in a given situation. As with my kids and their candy, in our guts, we see power as something to be guarded and kept safe, under lock and key. Over the last several years I’ve been wrestling with what to do with the social power that culture gives me as a man, and my conclusion is this:
Out of reverence for Jesus, I am to release my socially-granted power so that others, particularly women, may thrive.
My first official contact with women struggling for equality was as a young reporter. Some women had chained themselves to the front of a government building. I arrived with an open mind, but they refused to talk to me because I was “a man”. So I headed back to the news van. In those days, […]
Hundreds of pages have been written on this chapter, with almost as many interpretations, proving this to be one of the least understood and most contested passages of all time. Yet many Christians continue to cite 1 Timothy 2 as the foundation for their belief in male only leadership in the church. In today’s post Gail shares her “elevator speech” about why we need to stop using this passage in the debate.