“Some women were watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women had followed and supported him, along with many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him.” (Mark 15:40-41) We know from all four gospel writers that a […]
Do Not Enter, Employees Only, Faculty Only, Keep Out, Staff Only Beyond This Point, No Entry: Ticket Holders Only, No Trespassing, Members Only. We’ve all encountered signs like these. Signs that exclude. Signs that denote privilege and entitlement. Signs that leave us longing for the right to access the treasures and opportunities which wait behind the doors. […]
A lot of Black women occupy pews in churches that privilege maleness, and even teach and uphold certain cultural norms from an ancient culture that some argue relegate women to “second class” status. Resisting patriarchy and making a different choice about the lens through which we view the Scriptures empowers us to reshape how we think about ourselves. God is a brown girl too, after all.
My family doesn’t look like a family in a lot of ways. Meaning, we don’t look like one another. At all. We are a mix of races, disabilities, eye colors, athletic abilities (or in my case; lack thereof) , heights, etc. We were brought together through adoption. Nobody thinks we look alike. That doesn’t stop […]
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.
Today Dave Johnson, Lead Pastor of Neighborhood Christian Fellowship (a Wesleyan church in Southern California) writes about his belief in biblical equality. His response is an excellent model of how to articulate the egalitarian position briefly but clearly in conversations with friends.
I believe that the bible, the church and even the totality of Christian history affirm the role of women in church leadership.
Although women have made great social and political strides over the years, the church has moved at a slower pace. Yet women in scripture were clearly more than the “helpmate” that my complementarian brothers and sisters would describe.
Here are three reasons I am in favor of men and women serving equally as co-laborers in the Kingdom of God.
This moment would become the very cornerstone of our faith.
Preached in millions of sermons, proclaimed in every nation and tongue, written about by every theologian and Christian thinker.
But before all that, it was just a woman and the Teacher, the Rabbi, the Son of God she worshiped and followed and knew like a brother.
Deeply grieving, Mary Magdalene wept at his empty tomb, thinking that she’d been robbed of her last opportunity to look upon him, and anoint him. There was a man; she thought, maybe, the gardener. Weeping and distraught, she asked him where the body was.
This week we are pleased to bring you three Easter reflections on women disciples who were an integral part of Jesus’ live and ministry. Like them, may we follow close despite the cost.
The symbolism of his anointing by Mary of Bethany just days before his death was not lost on Jesus. He understood and said her act “will be told in memory of her.” She poured the oil to memorialize him, but he says to remember her. It is significant that a woman serves as the anointing agent. In this moving account of the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany we have the chance to reflect in new ways on this prophetic act.
Many Christians have inherited the supposition that the Church has been built on the backs of men. Masculine, courageous, and often oddly wigged men.
When we read philosophy and theology addressing the roles of pastor, apostle, disciple, missionary, etc., we subtly assume a masculine context unless women are specifically brought up. Yet, failing to recognize the essential role of women in Church history is, in my opinion, to wrongly conclude that we should interpret our own story through the broken lens of “he shall rule over her” (Gen. 3:16) in place of humanity’s original commission for partnership (Gen. 2:18). Like the post-Fall curses of death and toil, the curse of unequal partnership is certainly worth fighting as Christianity seeks to understand the leadership behind our historical identity.
In this series I will examine the role of women in different phases of Church history in order to offer a truer picture of Christianity which will benefit women and men alike. In each installment, I will briefly highlight the gender-relevant context of a section of Church history before overviewing important female figures. I will be primarily citing two works called, Her Story(HS) and Discovering Biblical Equality (DBE) for reference. My hope for these posts is to simply offer readers a more complete picture of Christian history which by focusing on the women who are too often footnoted and forgotten.
I really never understood the sister relationship. I grew up as the only daughter and only granddaughter on both sides of my family. But in the past 21 years I have had a crash course in what it means to be a sister through my four girls.
I have learned that sisters can be very similar and still very different. No matter how many times this one may borrow that one’s sweater, she will never know when it was ok to take it without asking. I have learned they may fight with you at home but anyone else will have to deal with them first hand if they speak poorly about you.
I have learned that even the best of sisters try hard not to compare themselves to each other, but often fall into this trap anyway.
Consider the story of Mary and Martha. In the Church we have often compared these sisters to ourselves and others.
There is no evidence in the bible or church history to suggest that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute or the wife of Jesus.  The Catholic Church formally rejected this characterization of Mary in 1969, yet this tarnished picture continues to be perpetuated through books and films like Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Passion of the Christ (2004), The Da Vinci Code (2006) and most recently, Risen (2016), a new Columbia Pictures film starring Joseph Fiennes.  Since Mary is not around to defend herself, I’d like to set the record straight.
I can’t imagine a world in which it would be culturally acceptable for a hostess to walk up to her guest of honor and ask him to have a word with her sister, who was not anticipating the needs of her guests with the same alacrity as the hostess (especially loudly enough for at least one eyewitness to hear and write about it). That is not the world that I live in, and it was certainly not the world that Martha of Bethany inhabited.
I’ve heard quite a number of sermons about “Mary and Martha” over the years, and they have all had the same tenor: Strive to be more like Mary and less like Martha. Martha has come to represent the influence of the world (with her distraction and busyness) and Mary seems to represent the ideal Christian woman, sitting at Jesus’ feet, at least, in the eyes of many Christians I’ve heard speak.
Just over a year ago, I was captured by the story of Martha. It was a season of recovery for me. I was having trouble finding the strength to “do” my faith the way I’d been taught through my formative years. Have you ever had a Biblical person reach out and grab you, asking to be noticed? That is what happened with Martha. I haven’t been able to stop reading her story since, over and over.
An argument often brought up in discussions about women in church leadership is that Jesus’ twelve apostles were all male, and, because there were no females among the Twelve, this means that women cannot be church leaders.
This argument is usually countered with the fact that, as well as no women, there were also no Gentiles among the Twelve, so if we genuinely want to use the Twelve as a paradigm of people suitable for church leadership we should restrict leaders to Jewish men.
I find neither of these arguments useful in discussions on church leadership because they miss a critical point: Jesus’ earthly ministry occurred before the Church was in existence.
Jesus’ ministry occurred at a vital juncture between the Old Testament and the New Covenant – between “Israel only” and the inclusive, universal Church. The New Covenant had not yet been inaugurated when the Twelve were called. And so, at that time and at that place (Israel), Jesus chose twelve Jewish men to be his first disciples.
It is all too easy for the loudest and most prolific voices to dominate what a young Christian hears about gender relationships in the Christian church and family.
My twenties were found during the 1990’s. Looking back on that era now, it seems like there was a considerable amount of effort directed toward Christian men to “reclaim” what it meant to be a godly man. As a young husband and father, I recall going through parenting workshops and reading family and parenting books emphasizing ideas I now understand to be based on patriarchy and complementarianism to varying degrees.
On the surface these ministries, classes, and books made quite a bit of sense to a young Christian wanting to live right and “biblically.” And I was almost taken in by them. Almost. But there were things that continued to bother me. They taught what appeared to be a singular vision for what a godly man, a godly woman, and a godly family looks like. The implication was that anything else was less than the biblical model.
For over a decade I didn’t know what to do with the discomfort I felt about what was taught to me as the traditions of gender and family in the church. Then a few years ago I began to encounter blogs and books showing there are other ways that Christians interpret and apply biblical texts, including those dealing with gender.
I read Matthew 27:55-56 recently and saw something I had not noticed before. There were many female followers at Jesus’ crucifixion – many. I had previously imagined that only a few women had accompanied Jesus and made the trip all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem – usually a journey of several days.
These women had travelled to be with Jesus and to minister to him by taking care of his needs. From this group of many, Matthew identified just three of the women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the unnamed mother of the sons of Zebedee. Mark, in his parallel account, also lists just three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome, but he adds that many other women from Galilee were near the cross with them (Mark 15:40-41 cf Mark 16:1).