An Immodest Proposal to Fixing the Church: Let Women Run It

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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What if women ran the Church?

Roger E. Olsen published an article on Patheos recently titled A Modest Proposal for Fixing the World: Let Women Run It in which he argued that women are naturally better human beings than men.

He cites numerous studies showing that female leadership styles are useful in solving major conflicts, that women make better doctors, and that relief organizations give life-saving commodities to women because they distribute it more fairly than men do. Through all of this, and more, he builds a relatively convincing case.

Is it true? Do we really believe that women are better human beings than men?

I do not believe that this case can be made from scripture, as both man and woman were created in the image of God and both are equal at the foot of the cross. But when we look at the stats and studies, there seems to be a familiar theme.

Considering this interesting information, let’s take a moment and entertain this idea. What if women actually were better human beings than men- more moral, more spiritual, more peaceful, more humanitarian – how would that change our understanding of their place in the world? How would it change our understanding of their place in the Church?

In the previously mentioned article, Olsen argues that because women are better human beings, the United States, and perhaps the world, should try an experiment:Put all public leadership in the hands of women for ten years to see what happens. How would the world be affected by allowing women to make all governmental decisions? Interesting, right?

Here’s a question: What if we did that in the Church?

  • What if we removed all the priests in the Catholic Church from their offices and put all the nuns who have been working in slums around the world into them?
  • What if we put all the female Christian CEOs, CFOs, and senators into our church leadership structures and let them make decisions?
  • What if all the women’s ministry leaders and female Sunday school teachers got promoted and the male deacons, elders, and pastors had to take a seat in the pews?

Would it help the Church?

  • Would there be more cooperation between denominations?
  • Would there be more financial stability in our churches if women held the purse strings, as there has been in developing countries when women are given business loans?
  • Would the Church be less about hierarchy if female leadership was given a chance to thrive? 

Just maybe.  It would be an interesting experiment for sure.

But I don’t think we can reconcile the idea that women are better human beings with our Christian faith.

As an egalitarian, I do not believe that there are scriptural grounds to legitimately argue that one sex is naturally inclined to be more moral, or more spiritual than another. However, I do believe that Genesis chapter 3 may give us some good insight into this particular question. In verse 16 we read:

“To the woman He said … ‘your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you’.”

Here God talks about how women will have a desire for men and men will rule over women, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. It is not part of God’s original design for humans, as it only occurs as a result of sin’s entrance into the world.

And when we look at history, isn’t that true?

Genesis chapter 3 seems to give us a good starting place for piecing together an answer for why all but one of the mass shooters in the last 3 decades have been male, why the majority of corrupt rulers have been male, and why so many men have abused and used women to assert power. It has nothing to do with how men were created, it seems to have more to do with the sinful inclinations of some men, perpetuated by centuries of learned behavior. Men have held power over women for a long time. Maybe that is a part of this equation.

Our hope, though, is in Christ.

We know that through the power of Christ, we can overcome sin and be restored to right relationship with God and with others. And maybe this experiment would help us get there. Maybe if all the men in the Church had to give up their power and privilege, they would learn to be “better human beings,” by Olsen’s standards, simply by having to go through what women have always gone through.

How might their lives change if they listened to women preach every Sunday, if they learned to receive communion from women, if they were led in worship by women, and if they saw their main role in the Church not as leaders, but as community members?

Seriously, think about it.

  • If priests were taken out of office and put in the slums, might that change them?
  • If popular evangelical pastors no longer had microphones, and instead served in the nursery, how might they become different?
  • If the men on elder boards had to serve through the giving of baked goods on Sunday mornings instead, might that alter their perspective?

Even though it is extreme, it is an intriguing proposal. It calls into question what we believe about the nature of men and women, what it means to be “good,” and what kind of change might benefit the Church and the world as a whole. If women ran the Church for 10 years, maybe, just maybe it would have an impact.

It is an interesting idea for certain, but are we up for it?

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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52 Comments

  • Women are not superior to men, and the idea that they are is so plainly ridiculous that I can not take this article seriously.

    • Exactly! This is satire – it is ridiculous to say that one sex is superior to the other. The point of the article is how ridiculous it is to think that by nature of their anatomy or order of creation, men are superior to women and more suited to lead in the home and the church. Quite ridiculous, indeed.

    • You’re not meant to take it seriously.. that’s the point. Humour is a helpful characteristic for life and the truth is that neither gender is superior to the other, so your comment is equally applicable whichever gender is being referred to.

  • Coming from a denomination that has a woman at the top, I can tell you we have seen a ton of very healthy change. We went from being led by three men (Who were all great in their own regard) to one woman. We have seen a growth in all of our churches, a slimming of the organization and a huge emphasis on the poor and marginalized. Our entire denomination has felt the effects of this one woman who is obedient to God. Part of the transition has simply been structural, but our General Superintendent says what needs to be said and doesn’t shy away from any issues. Maybe it is because she is a woman and her genetic makeup is different but I’ve just seen Christ in her so much. So if you’re looking for a model, look at the Wesleyan Church.

    • And one other thing…the only thing that would make me disagree with this idea is that I believe in a more congregational church governance, which would mean, it would be up to the local church to make a change. But, I am always looking for woman who are gifted to teach and lead to share the load, since I’ve been a senior pastor I have had very little interest from women who want to preach or lead. Keep your work up, we need more women to go through seminary and to lead in the church! I’d welcome women who were called to lead/teach.

      • Dave, I completely agree about “congregational church governance.” The idea of one pastor leading the church has led to a lot of problems, and why wouldn’t we want to use more people’s gifts? I’ve encountered a lot of the either-or attitude because of the one-pastor model, that is, your church is either going to be led by a man or a woman. If a woman is pastor, the men won’t have any male leaders to follow. With a model of church leadership that includes more leaders and more diversity, we can address this more easily.

    • Thanks for that great input Dave! That is very encouraging!

  • I find it interesting, actually quite revealing, that people become so very upset when it is suggested that women take over. It’s as if the very idea shocks us to the core – and it should. We have become so conditioned to think women in leadership is something odd, something to be frowned at, that we have missed the mark by a mile, or more. If God didn’t create women to lead, why do mothers lead their little ones on a daily basis? Why do they teach children to do good and not steal, lie, and cheat, only to be told that when that child becomes a grownup, she no longer has a right to teach him how to do good and not steal, lie, and cheat; as if the idea of a woman teaching a man to do God’s will is somehow repugnant, out of order. Somehow men are more qualified to teach God’s truth to grownups. I beg to differ, and so does the Bible. Deborah was a teacher of the law to the entire nation of Israel. God didn’t disapprove; God was the one who sent her to lead a rebellious nation that did what was right in their own eyes back to God. As long as Deborah was alive, for 40 years, the nation of Israel knew peace. After she died, people reverted back to idolatry.

    Why do we think women are so superbly good at leading and teaching children, but not allowed to teach grownups? Children fuss and fight, they don’t reason, they cry and throw tantrums. Everything must be repeated several times before anything happens. Now, how does this invalidate women as teacher to thoughtful grownups who are able to listen without interrupting, reason without crying? I never understood this – unless it it because men don’t want to listen to women because of the curse that has separated us into two camps. Sin causes us to ignore others; we listen only to inundate others with our own ideas, we don’t really care what others have to say. It takes authority to make men listen to other men. Why do we think men don’t want women to have authority? Less competition means more opportunities, especially for those without the gift of teaching and leading.

    • You made so many great points in this comment Susanna! I had never thought about how much more difficult children are to teach than grown ups. That is such a great point!

  • I’m in favor! Of both proposals, Roger’s and yours!

  • What I love about this post is that it raises the question, “What if?” So many churches and institutions operate on the assumption that there is nothing wrong with one gender dominating their leadership…so long as that gender is male. Does this stop the kingdom of God from advancing? Of course not, but NEITHER would an entirely female leadership staff at a church.
    Where I see sexism most clearly in the church is in the way they advocate for men at the expense of women. Of course we want men in church, we want fathers and brothers and husbands and sons following Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. HOWEVER, it is not MORE important for men to be in church than women. In many churches desire to bring men into the church, they have ignored women; they have demonstrated in their practice that one gender probably needs to suffer, and it had better not be the men. I’ve heard Mark Driscoll preach this multiple times with his comments about fatherhood; the most important influence on a child and a family is the father, and compared to his influence the mother’s is obsolete.
    C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, ” He [the devil] alway sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposits. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors” (part 4, ch. 6 “Two Notes”).
    I will not advocate for one gender or the other running the church, but I appreciate that this article challenges our assumption that as long as it’s the correct gender (i.e. men), it’s not that bad for one to take over. This is wrong. Neither male nor female is more or less important to the body of Christ, and our churches need to operate as if this is true.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! It is really sad that people do not recognize that all male leadership might just be sexist. I also love that you referenced C.S. Lewis. He has such insight into how the devil likes to tempt us. And isn’t that true? I find myself facing that temptation sometimes. Thank you for your great insight!

  • Hey Kate!

    I don’t know you in person, but I’ve followed The Junia Project for a while now, since the topic of gender relations within the church has been of interest to me for some time. I have to be honest.. as a guy who has lived most of his life with a complementarian mindset, this post was not easy for me to swallow! hahah. I have, however, been reading up on both sides of the argument and do wanna approach it with the most honest mindset possible.

    With that said, I was wondering if you’ve read the following article by Sarah Sumner? (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/june/28.41.html?paging=off) I believe she’s an egalitarian, but she makes a good point in saying that egalitarians should rely less on political ideologies in making the case for egalitarianism.

    You do pose a very interesting thought experiment though! I would only disagree with any actual follow-through of the idea (removing all men from leadership in the church) because I think to do so would be to emasculate men and estrange them from the church, given that men do have a God-given desire to lead (uh oh, looks like some on my complementarianism is showing through.. oops) — not to say that women don’t either! In fact, I am all for women teaching and holding positions of leadership in the church, especially in a way that allows them to lead as women (not needing to take on “masculine” mannerisms or feeling like they have to imitate the leadership style of men). So yes, I oppose the idea of all men being stripped of leadership, but because I believe that God has wired men and women differently, the church would do well to include women in positions of leadership! Their giftedness brought together would bring about a much more well-rounded way of doing ministry.

    Lastly, (this has nothing to do with this blog post, but I’d love to hear your thoughts/pushback, given that you’ve done your homework on the subject), I just have a really hard time embracing the idea of eliminating all gender roles completely. No, I don’t think women should be subservient to men and make them sandwiches and clean the kitchen all day and whatnot. And yes, I am all for strong, independent women pursuing their passions with gusto, whether that is pursuing a corporate career or being a stay-at-home mom (I’d also argue that most men find that kind of strong independence rather attractive in a woman 🙂 And given different personality types, different cultural contexts, etc., I don’t think there is a set, rigid way — a list of do’s & dont’s for each gender, if you will — that masculinity and femininity are _supposed_ to express themselves (ie. the woman always cooks, the man always works, etc). However, in calling husbands to love their wives as Christ has loved the church, I believe men are called to protect their wives and be willing to sacrifice their lives if need be. Yet is this life-giving sacrifice not a role? I know that if I was on the Titanic for example, we could have discussions all day about the equality of women to men (yes, they are equal), but when push comes to shove, there is absolutely no question that women and children go first on the lifeboats. Though some would say this is unfair (I don’t know anyone who would), I strongly disagree. I think godly masculinity is best expressed through self-giving sacrifice (which I’d like to think that most egalitarians advocate as well!). In my estimation, an elimination of all gender roles would be an elimination of that call to sacrifice, for such sacrifice is a role in itself. Also, in regards to male leadership within the family, I find that there is a tendency for egalitarians to paint it in a very negative light, when I think it can, in fact, be a very positive thing when looked at in terms of this light of self-sacrifice and putting the needs of his partner above his own. Of course, this is not to say that women aren’t called to sacrifice either, or that there aren’t cases in which male leadership becomes selfish and abusive (in which case, the women has EVERY right to defend herself and get the help she needs. That is unacceptable). I can’t help but think that egalitarianism eliminates the distinctiveness between male and female that I think are so essential to each of their personhood. I don’t want to move toward a “genderless” church, as Sumner puts it, but I am very affirming of women in leadership. I just find it hard to not follow the egalitarian train of thought into eventually eliminating role distinctions and eventually gender distinctions. Of course, that could be a gross misunderstanding of the egalitarian position on my part, but that’s exactly why I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

    Hopefully this didn’t come off as argumentative. Granted, yes I am a complementarian, and as such, we will have disagreements and differences in perspective. However, I do hope that this blog can be a place that fosters healthy and charitable discussions on the topic 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to read this comment!
    Blessings!

    • Hello! I am clearly not Kate, but I help out with The Junia Project and just wanted to address a couple things you wrote.

      Firstly, Egalitarians don’t believe that there are no differences between men and women or that men and women are exactly the same.

      Secondly, you mentioned that you believe that “godly masculinity is best expressed through self-giving sacrifice.” Then you say “Of course, this is not to say that women aren’t called to sacrifice either.” This seems somewhat contradictory to me. Is self-sacrifice a masculine calling or something that all people are called to do, regardless of gender? Egalitarians believe that self-sacrifice is something that Christ calls all of us to, whether male or female.

      Thank you for sharing your views and questions in such a friendly manner- it is so appreciated! I’ll let Kate address the rest…

      • Hi Katie!

        Thank you for clarifying that for me. For the sake of making this brief, I will say that yes, that was an inconsistency on my part. I do agree that self-sacrifice is something both men and women are called to do.

        I did enjoy reading your article today btw! It was refreshing and I’m glad you pointed out that it does go both ways, that in being equals in the relationship, women are also equally responsible for their own spiritual well-being, which I think is a great point. I also enjoyed the Keith Urban reference haha 🙂

        • Thanks Jake! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And I’m glad you enjoyed the Keith Urban reference, haha. I hope you find our articles helpful 🙂

    • Hi Jake!
      Thanks for checking out The Junia Project! Your comment did not come off as argumentative, it was actually quite refreshing 🙂 I think healthy and charitable discussions are much needed! I also appreciate that you recognized that this was a thought experiment. I know it was not an easy one, but thank you for seeing it as such and responding so nicely 🙂

      I will try my best to fully respond to your comment in the same manner:

      I am familiar with Sarah Sumner’s writing on egalitarianism and rights. I agree with her that one Christian ethic is to give up our rights, and not cling to them. I disagree with her, though, on a few points.

      Mainly, I would say that you first have to have rights in order to give them up. Also, sometimes in culture, there is a huge disparity of rights between people (people of different races or different genders). Jesus spent a good portion of his time addressing this in his own culture and turning his culture’s values upside down (Matt 5-7, Luke 6). In so doing Jesus protected the rights and dignity of women and children in his Kingdom (Luke 10:41-42, Matt 19:14, John 8:1-8). We cannot forget that this is part of being the Body of Christ as well.

      I also very kindly want to point out to you that you seem to be holding onto the idea of “rights” when it comes to men in leadership. To say that we shouldn’t take all of them out of leadership because it would emasculate them and goes against their God-given nature, seems a lot like saying it is their natural “right” to be in those roles. It comes across as saying “it is inappropriate to use the discourse of ‘rights’ when talking about female leadership, but it is fine when talking about male leadership”. Just want to throw that out there 🙂

      Another point I disagree with Sumner on is her assumption that understanding “head” as “source” is inaccurate. I am not a theologian, but I am familiar with the main egalitarian theologians and from that particular article, it seems that Sumner doesn’t quite understand what they mean by “head” as “source” (mostly because she only references Ephesians 5 there, where most scholars reference 1 Cor. 11 when talking about head as source).

      Coming back to your point about her article and political ideology – I think the Church in the United States is far too connected to politics in general. With the rise of the religious right in the United States, we saw many Christians mixing their theology with conservative political ideology (think Moral Majority). The problem is that remnants of this thinking still exist in the American Church today (you can’t be a democrat and a Christian, etc.). Keeping in mind that this political ideology is already in the theology of many Christians and many churches, I have found that it can be useful to appeal to political ideology to point out inconsistencies in application. For example, the Moral Majority claimed to adhere to a classic liberal political ideology and a complementarian understanding of gender roles/traditional family. The problem with that is that classical political thought focuses on the rights of the individual (which is exactly what Sumner is claiming we shouldn’t do), but they were not looking at the rights of ALL individuals, just Christian men. So, when we are addressing the remnants of this kind of thinking in many (not all) complementarian teaching today, it is helpful to appeal to political ideology, even if they are unaware that their views are informed by it.

      Coming back to your personal thoughts – I agree with you that having men and women serve together in the Church would do it good! I do not think that men are hardwired to be leaders, simply because they are men, and I think there is something in the idea that ‘learning to follow’ teaches us to be better leaders. But I do agree with you that women need to have the freedom, not to simply be the same as men in their leadership styles, but to find their own leadership styles that fit them better (and studies show that female leadership styles would do people good!).
      I do not believe men and women are the same, but that spiritual gifts and leadership are not distributed based on gender. Men and women may have different ways of showing these gifts due to their gender, but their gender does not exclude them from having the gifts in the first place (or being able to use them in the Church).

      On your thoughts on gender roles – I agree with you that the ‘women cooking and men working’ seems to be a funny way to try to live out biblical ideals.
      You said that “godly masculinity is best expressed through self-giving sacrifice”. I think there is scriptural evidence for this, but it is a far leap from “self-giving sacrifice” to “male leadership”, and THAT is where I find issue with the complementarian teaching of gender roles. The term “male leadership” is not found in scripture (niether is “head of the household”), neither is the idea that the man should make the decisions in marriage or that he has some sort of “tie breaker” in decisions. One adult claiming the right to make the decisions for another adult seems more like rulership (the result of sin in Genesis 3) than “self-sacrifice”.

      I disagree that we somehow need gender roles to distinguish who is a man and who is a woman. Of course men and women are different, but that difference shouldn’t mean that one is ALWAYS leading and one is ALWAYS following. Let’s remember what you didn’t like about egalitarians pointing to the “rights” of women, and put that back on the complementarian view. To say that it is the God-given “role” for men to lead, and the God-given “role” for women to follow, sure seems a lot like saying it is the God-given “right” for men to lead, and taking this away would disrupt the whole order of things because his “rights” would be taken away.

      Furthermore, I believe that teaching identity based on gender differences is just as harmful as teaching gender androgyny. Men and women are different, but their differences are not the point. It is what we have in common that is the point. Look at the creation account. It isn’t how Eve was different than Adam that was shocking or appealing, but how she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. We need to stop making gender-specific gospels of biblical manhood and biblical womanhood, because our differences are not the point, our human-ness and our faith in Christ is the point.

      I think today’s post by Katie Hickman addresses more of the idea of male leadership in the home. Check it out and let me know what you think.

      I truly value your comment Jake and I hope you feel my response did your questions justice. Thank you for being so respectful! Much love from your sister in Christ!

      • Thanks for the thorough response! Because I now know that this blog is more a supportive community than a platform for debate, I’ll keep this comment super brief.

        Good point on appealing to political ideology to point out some inconsistencies within the church. Also, touche on “It comes across as saying ‘it is inappropriate to use the discourse of ‘rights’ when talking about female leadership, but it is fine when talking about male leadership'”. That was an inconsistency on my part that I am now aware of. Last, I really enjoy the point you made of focusing on the commonalities between the genders and looking back at the creation account to support that.

        And I did find the post by Katie to be a good read!

        I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to everything so thoroughly and in detail. Sorry for not responding to every point you made in your comment; I didn’t wanna belabor my point of view when, again, the purpose of this blog is geared more towards supporting other egalitarians. Suffice it to say that your response did do my questions justice 🙂 Much love to you as well, and I look forward to reading future blog posts!

        • Thanks Jake! You are much appreciated here!

    • Jake, you wrote “I would only disagree with any actual follow-through of the idea (removing all men from leadership in the church) because I think to do so would be to emasculate men and estrange them from the church, given that men do have a God-given desire to lead…”

      Have you considered that prohibiting (removing) all women from leadership in the church also has negative consequences and estranges them from the church? For more on this, I highly recommend the book “The Resignation of Eve” by Jim Henderson.

      Also, I don’t see where the Bible says “men have a God-given desire to lead”. I read in Genesis 1-2 that God created both Adam and Eve in His image and gave them both a mandate to rule and multiply. Could it be that you’re mistaking the consequences of sin (“he will rule over you” – Gen 3:16) as a God-given desire?

      I would add that while Sumner gives us some good food for thought, her arguments have been widely critiqued by both the egal and the comp camps, so I haven’t found her writing to be helpful. I think a better starting point is Discovering Biblical Equality, edited by Pierce, Groothuis, and Fee.

      Unfortunately, due to some recent comments I need to say that the purpose of our blog to provide a supportive online community for our egalitarian readers, rather than a platform for debating egalitarianism vs. complementariansim. There are plenty of other places for arguing. So please watch for an official statement about that and a formal Comments policy to be posted soon. That said, I do appreciate the respectful tone of your note and do hope you will be back if you want to learn more about our perspective!

      • Gail, I do appreciate you suggesting that I consider that removing all women from leadership would estrange them as well. I did think about this! In fact, removing women from leadership is not something I endorse; I am all for women being included and actively involved in leadership in the church. In saying this, I guess the point I was trying to make was that removing ANY one gender (male or female) completely from leadership in the church is unhealthy, hence why I disagreed with men being removed from leadership (and why I am equally against barring women from leadership). Thanks for the book recommendations! Something I’ll definitely have to check out.

        Also, from here on out I will respect the purpose of this blog being supportive community rather than a forum for debate. Thank you for articulating that. Again, I do apologize if my comments came off as ‘debate’, as my intent was to gain some clarity from your side rather than ‘argue’. To re-iterate my original comment addressed to Kate, as a male who has gone through life with a complementarian perspective, being able to look at both sides as objectively as possible will take some work on my part, hence why I am reading this blog in the first place! I will admit that my view of egalitarian theology has not been the most positive growing up, but as a byproduct of having some egalitarian friends whom I genuinely love and have great discussions with, I have been forced to really critically examine my own views! As with all issues (not just gender), I do seek to represent the other side’s argument in its best possible form, out of respect but also because that is the only way I believe I can be confident in whatever convictions and conclusions I end up at. But thank you for taking the time to respond! I look forward to reading future posts!

  • Dear Kate,

    I am saddened when I read your post because I believe in your attempt to be equal with men you are really starting to believe you are better. When I read the below comments you make in your post I can’t help but wonder if you see something in Scripture but something else from the world…

    You say…

    I do not believe that this case can be made from scripture…But when we look at the stats and studies…

    And….

    I do not believe that there are scriptural grounds…However, I do believe…

    So what do you believe? Are women more spiritual, moral and overall better? You say you don’t believe Scripture says that but your whole post would seem to indicate you do think it is possible and maybe women could do it better then men!

    You reference Genesis chapter 3 when sin entered the world and then go on to reference many examples of the corruptness and abusiveness of men. I would agree with you about man’s bend toward that type of sin and I would also add that women have been given a bend too we can’t just read part of the verse…what was she told…your desire will be for your husband…sadly I think that much of the feminist agenda spurs women on to dominate their husbands and as a result I believe many marriages are filled with sin. But that is a whole other talk.

    Anyways, I believe in your post you are trying to appeal to people’s emotions and when your readers read about all the horrible things men do it makes sense why they think women could do things better. But when I look at history sadly I see a whole world that is filled with sin. Romans 3:23 supports what we see when we look at humanity “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You seem to highlight the faults of men while not speaking of those of women. Yes, all but one of the mass shooters in the last three decades have been male and many corrupt rulers are male but sin is in the heart of men and women (Matthew 15:18-19). So what about women? Are they really that compassionate, moral and good? What do the majority of women do when they are given control and a choice over what to do with those who have no voice and are literally the weakest, most helpless and vulnerable in this world? The answer…they KILL them! Sounds harsh, it is! The world health organization estimates there will be anywhere from 40-50 million abortions this year worldwide which is about 125,000 per day…all committed by women. Just go to worldometers.info/abortions and you will want to cry as you watch the number of abortions increase at more than one per second. According to the Guttmacher Institute by age 45 about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy and nearly 1 in 3 will have an abortion. To put this devastation in prospective just compare the number of abortions worldwide yearly to the death tolls of Nazi Germany in World War II at the hands of corrupt male leaders. There are many numbers given for the total death toll depending on who is included but the numbers range from 6 million (just including the Jews) to the largest estimate, which is 26 million. The Holocaust was an absolutely terrible and devastating event in history and yet women are killing more babies yearly than those corrupt leaders. We must be carful and cannot be naïve about the millions of women who are murdering unborn babies. Just because you cannot hear the cries doesn’t mean they are not there.

    Men and women are both corrupt; putting women in leadership will not change that. Seeking to follow God’s plan for both men and women is what we should be pursing as believers. You cannot judge a system by its abuses which is why my stats on abortions are not the reason I believe women shouldn’t be in leadership but I also believe that your stats about men being corrupt and about women doing so well in leadership should not be the reason you do what you do either. A system is right or wrong based off of God’s word, not its abuses.

    I am a complementarian so I know we have different views and you are definitely entitled to yours but I just want to encourage you to exhort people with Scripture. You know when I study the Bible I am absolutely amazed at God’s plan for his women from creation to consummation…it is so beautiful. When I study Genesis, when I study Proverbs 31, when I study passages in 1 Peter, Ephesians, Colossians and so many more I am given this amazing picture of what God desires from me as a woman. Yes not one book of the Bible was written “to” me but rather to certain groups of people and churches and for specific purposes. BUT they are all “for” me. Even though I was not living 2,000 years ago when I read 1 Peter I am humbled. Peter is writing to persecuted believers and encouraging them to live victoriously in the midst of their hostility (Nero was persecuting Christians everywhere). And in chapter 3 he tells the women “In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.” Wow he is telling women that they should submit to their husbands even if their husbands are unbelievers. But why? Why should a women do this? Well first to win her husband to Christ but second because of Christ! If I read right before in chapter 2 verses 21-25, it is all about Christ and how He suffered and bore our sin and yet He did not sin in the midst of his suffering. He is our example as a women…wow how humbling and convicting! It makes me look inside my heart and examine how I treat my husband, even though he is saved. I am blessed to be married to a man who lovingly leads me in the Lord but I have sat with many women who are married to unsaved men and have been able to encourage them with these verses.

    I guess that is what I want to say…when I read your posts I see you pointing to the world for examples and seeking to get people’s (especially women’s) emotions going but is that really what we should do as believers? I don’t want to be told how great women are in the world! I want to be challenged with the woman God calls me to be which is laid out in Scripture! I want someone to put God’s word in my face and say where are you? Does your life match that of Scripture? I trust this is you what you would want as well. I know we will always fall short but I want to see my sin, be brought to my knees before Christ and repent from my wretched ways!

    I don’t want to be great in this world but rather I want to be like the holy women of old in Scripture that Peter says are models of inner beauty, character, modesty and submissiveness to their husbands, these were holy women, these were godly women and Peter says we become their children if we do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Peter 3:5-6)! I pray that your posts and articles would always turn your readers back to God’s word and challenge them to search their hearts. That is what women need! And that is how they will grow!

    • Hi Theresa,

      In your comment you ask a few questions and make a few assumptions. I would like to address those:

      1. “I believe in your attempt to be equal with men you are really starting to believe you are better”
      I am sorry you feel this way, as I state in my post that I do not believe women are better than men. Also, I am not attempting to be equal with men. I believe God created everyone equally, and therefore do not need to fight to be equal. What I am doing is advocating for women to have the chance to serve in the Church in a mutual fashion, and addressing unequal behavior.

      2. ” in your post I can’t help but wonder if you see something in Scripture but something else from the world”
      Yes, I do see one thing in scripture and another thing in the world. In regard to this post, I see equality between men and women in scripture and I see inequality of men and women in the world. I like to talk about what I see both in the world and in scripture, because it is God’s world and He placed me in it. I am supposed to observe and evaluate.

      3. “So what do you believe? Are women more spiritual, moral and overall better?”
      I do not believe that women are more spiritual, moral, or overall better than men. I also do not believe that men are more spiritual, moral, or overall better than women.

      4. “sadly I think that much of the feminist agenda spurs women on to dominate their husbands and as a result I believe many marriages are filled with sin”
      I am curious to hear which feminist writers you are reading. Feminism is a wide camp, as is Christianity, and many within it don’t agree with each other on various issues. I personally have never read any feminist writing that tells women to “dominate” their husbands, as you put it. That sentiment probably does exist somewhere, but I doubt it would be proclaimed by mainstream feminists. But if you have someone specific in mind, I can address that specifically for you.

      5. “You seem to highlight the faults of men while not speaking of those of women.”
      Because this is a response to another post, yes I highlight the things that the previous author stated. I also included studies that support this thinking. I didn’t talk about women’s sin in this post because that was not the topic of Olsen’s post either. I do not believe anyone is silly enough to think that women are faultless, so I didn’t think it was necessary to add that in.

      6. (In regard to sin) “I would also add that women have been given a bend too we can’t just read part of the verse”
      I appreciate this sentiment. I strive to look at a whole passage and scripture as a whole. In this particular post, I encourage readers to read the whole chapter of Genesis 3, and I even put a link to it. But, unfortunately, this is a blog post not an academic journal, and I can’t address every verse in every blog because there isn’t room. But thank you for the great reminder.

      7. “sin is in the heart of men and women (Matthew 15:18-19). So what about women?”
      I agree with you. Women are sinful too.

      8. “What do the majority of women do when they are given control and a choice over what to do with those who have no voice and are literally the weakest, most helpless and vulnerable in this world? The answer…they KILL them!”
      This is an interesting statement to me because it is in direct opposition to another one of your statements a few sentences later. You also said “by age 45 about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy and nearly 1 in 3 will have an abortion.” So, it isn’t the “majority of women” who will have abortions, it is one third. With that clarified, yes the fact that abortion exists is extremely sad. However, one of my main areas of study is gender justice and I have to say that abortion statistics are far more complex than you have made them out to be. As one example, my understanding of that particular stat is that it includes both planned and “spontaneous” abortions (miscarriages). So the number of intentional abortions would actually be lower. If you are citing a study that shows something different, please send it to me, as that would be very helpful. Furthermore, you say that all of these abortions are done by the women or are the fault of the women. In fact, India and China have some of the highest abortion rates in the world. In China, parents are only allowed one child and the government consistently rounds up women who have gotten pregnant with their second baby, and forces abortion on these women. Those are not the fault of the women, as you have stated. In India, patriarchal custom has taught people that girls are a liability and boys are valuable, so poor families will kill or abort their baby girls in favor of a son. They don’t do this because of unplanned pregnancies, as you wrote, they do this because of corrupt social views of gender. Additionally, I do not appreciate your statement, “We must be careful and cannot be naïve about the millions of women who are murdering unborn babies.” I do not believe I am naive about these issues, but have studied them at length and am actually working with people around the world to bring light to the complexities of these stats, and the atrocities happening to women and girls. If you want to learn more about this, here is a link to an article I have written about gendercide: http://hicentre.org/2013/03/23/the-invisible-genocide/

      9. “Men and women are both corrupt; putting women in leadership will not change that”
      I agree that both men and women are corrupted by sin, but I disagree with the thought that having women in charge will not change things. I believe that having women and men share leadership will indeed change many things for the better.

      10. “when I read your posts I see you pointing to the world for examples and seeking to get people’s (especially women’s) emotions going but is that really what we should do as believers… I want someone to put God’s word in my face and say where are you? Does your life match that of Scripture?”
      So, you don’t look anywhere outside scripture for information? You don’t read commentaries or theologians? You don’t listen to pastors or mentors? You don’t look at human nature or human tendencies? You can see where I am going with this. All of us look outside of scripture, because we know that we alone cannot understand scripture without help. It would be prideful to think that we would have all the answers. It would also be theologically incorrect to believe that God doesn’t work and isn’t present in the world today. We see God in our friends, in our families, in creation, in acts of service and love. All of us look outside of scripture, and we should.

      As you and I have never spoken in person about this topic, I was unaware that we disagreed. I am sad that you felt the need to display such a personal reaction to me on the blog, because I really value your friendship and our time together in high school, and I would have loved to sit down with you and talked about these issues face to face.

      You are welcome to come back and check out The Junia Project whenever you want, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that seem argumentative and personally attack our writers, as this one did. If you have honest questions and can ask them in an unoffensive way, they will be published and responded to.

      • Theresa,
        I read through your aggressive responsive to Kate’s article which i found kind of defensive to be honest (which usually means you’re trying to prove that you’re right when you’re actually not in my opinion).

        Out of all the things you said, I was most taken aback by your last paragraph when you said: “I don’t want to be great in this world but rather I want to be like the holy women of old in Scripture that Peter says are models of inner beauty…(1 Peter 3:5-6)!”

        Just curious, but what do you define as great? are the things in that scripture not great? and if you want to be those things that you say in the scripture than you should look at the whole chapter and not braid your hair (get off that Pintrest account!) or wear jewelry and makeup. I’m not trying to be rude, i’m just a sarcastic person… looking at the historical context of versers, as well as the context in the chapter they are in is very important. Peter was giving past examples of women in the Old Testament (which Jesus came to fulfill). He was referring to character references of Sarah.

        Just some food for thought, and I do want to be a great woman, and I one day hope to be like Kate Wallace. I hope to have the courage to get online and get in front of people, live and share my thoughts and opinions that God has passionately placed on my heart to transform and bring His kingdom to earth.

        • Laura, when I read your comment I thought of some more unusual “holy women of old” who God used in a mighty way. For example, you mentioned Sarah. Sarah was so important to God’s plan that He rescued her twice in miraculous ways when her husband gave her up to other men to protect his own skin. And when she insisted that Hagar be sent away (because it was becoming obvious that Abraham was tempted to let Ishmael inherit the promise and not Isaac) God told him to listen to Sarah and do what she said. (Interestingly, Rebekah also has to intervene when it appears her husband has a different plan than God – she is often vilified for deceiving her husband, but she was simply doing whatever she could to ensure that God’ prediction that “the older would serve the younger” would be fulfilled.

          I also thought of the women in Exodus who are responsible for Moses staying alive to carry out his own role – the midwives who defied Pharoah, his mother who hid him at great risk, his sister who was brave enough to approach the princess on his behalf, his wife Zipporah who intercedes when God is ready to strike him dead. Not to mention prophets like Miriam and Huldah, warriors like Deborah and Jael, and the interesting women in the line of Jesus like Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth… 🙂

        • Dear Laura,

          Thank you so much for your response and I didn’t think you were rude at all. I am grateful that you asked those few questions. I would love to clarify what I said and also explain to you 1 Peter 3 because I do always want to read each verse within its historical and biblical context.

          So first, “what do I define as great” and “are the things in that scripture not great”? Yes what I see in Scripture would be what I define as great. That is the woman I desire to be, as Titus 2:5 says so that God’s word is not dishonored! So referring to Kate’s post I meant I didn’t want to be great according to the world standards but wanted to be more concerned about being great according the Lord, which is laid out in Scripture.

          Second, about 1 Peter 3, I think that is a great question you brought up (I would be inconsistent if I said wives must submit to their husbands in verse 1 but didn’t handle verses 3 and 4). Thanks! I would love to respond! Yes I do braid my hair sometimes, wear jewelry and makeup (and ha ha I don’t have a pinterest but that is not for a spiritual reason, I just don’t happen to have one). So what are these verses talking about because I do believe they are still applicable to us today, as well as submitting to our husbands? Peter says “Do not let your adorning be external- the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear; but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is precious.” Well we first know that Paul is not outlawing all hair braiding and jewelry because to be consistent he would then be saying women shouldn’t wear any clothes (yikes we would have a whole other problem). He also is not saying “women don’t do these things externally”, but rather in verse 4 “do these things externally”. No he makes a comparison between the external and internal in verses 3 and 4. Peter is explaining to the women that their adornment should not be all about the external but rather the internal; their beauty is not about what is on the outside which passes away but what is on the inside and is eternal, which is what is precious to God. That is how the holy women of Scripture desired to act, that is how those during Peter’s time should have acted and that is therefore how we should act. Have women always done this well, no not at all, the Bible is full of examples of women who acted sinfully and I only need to look at myself and I can say the same. But this is what we should desire. The application for today’s women, don’t be consumed with adorning your outside but rather focus on those imperishable qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit!

          Laura, I hope you get to share your passion about the Lord with others and I just pray that all you share would always be grounded and rooted in Scripture! Thanks again for your reply!

      • Dear Kate,

        Thanks so much for your prompt reply, I really appreciate it. Sorry mine was not as prompt as life has been a little busy.

        First, please forgive me if I said anything wrong or unchristian as that definitely was not my intention at all. I do believe we can disagree and speak the truth in love and I will definitely be mindful of how my tone may come off.

        I also do not believe that I personally attacked you because I said nothing in my response about you personally. Everything I commented on is what you have shared publicly which is why I responded publicly. I believe that once you post your thoughts for the world to see, they can be commented on by anyone which is why I did. It had absolutely nothing to do with you being the author but rather that as I read your post I was concerned about some areas and wanted to bring that forth for you and others to think about. If I had a blog and shared my beliefs and you had concerns I hope you would do the same. I love the truth and want it defended and spread just like you do.

        I know you believe wholeheartedly that your view is right and please understand that as convicted and convinced as you are, I am the same but with a different view. And I know for me I believe ideas have consequences…both bad and good. So bad ideas have bad consequences and good ideas have good consequences. I believe you would agree with that, which is why you created this blog. When you see complementarian ideas, patriarchy and ideas that men are the leaders and women should follow, you believe that they produce bad consequences (in your mind women not being allowed to be in leadership in the church, etc), which is what you are advocating against. It doesn’t offend me that you disagree with me but understand that when I see egalitarian ideas I believe they can produce many bad consequences too. I know you do not agree with that but please understand that that is where I am coming from. We are both passionate just about opposing beliefs.

        I will not readdress all of your responses back but I would love to make a few clarifications of what I said. Please understand that I am seeking to say all of this in a loving way though I know we disagree on some things.
        #4-The feminist agenda and women’s sin: No, I was not referring to a specific feminist but rather the movement as a whole. In Genesis 3:16 “yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The construction of Genesis 3:16 in Hebrew is the same as Genesis 4:7 which talks about sin crouching at the door, and its desire being for you. Many women will/do desire to be over their husbands (just as sin desires to lord over us or rule over us). When I see women seeking to be equal with men in their roles and functions I believe that is contrary to what the Bible teaches and is therefore women usurping authority and therefore overpowering her husband. Creation pictures for us beautifully a man who is the head and leads and a woman who follows (Genesis 2). Just because the Fall happened didn’t mean that the roles of men and women became obsolete because the New Testament affirms these roles. Women are called to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1). A wives submission does not lessen her as a creature created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) but rather is an example of how the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5) and also how Christ submitted to the Father by going to the cross to die for our sins (1 Peter 3). Women have always struggled with being led by their husbands and submitting but I believe that Feminist ideologies have only helped increase this desire in women.

        #8-Abortion- “Majority” may not have been the best word and I apologize for that. A better word would have been “MANY” women. I got these statistics on U.S abortions from guttmacher.org (which used to be closely associated with Planned Parenthood) and they do not include spontaneous abortions (I verified this through contacting the organization). Also the worldwide number of abortions was from worldometers.info and also does not include miscarriages which they state on their site. I think the things happening in places like China are absolutely devastating. How sad that so many little ones are being killed by the millions each year. Also, I never said that all women had abortions because of an unintended pregnancy (that was connected to the U.S stat but not the worldwide one). Abortion is a devastating reality right now in our world and I am grateful for your article, though I believe that leaders of countries need Christ and with that they will have a proper understanding of the sanctity of life (Psalm 127:3…that children are a gift from the Lord). Women and men were both created in the image of God and when people believe this they will value the lives of both girls and boys. My point of bringing up abortion was to point to the sinfulness of women (33% of women in the U.S choosing to kill an innocent life is still a very big number and this does not include all of those who take the “morning after pill”- 5.8 million according to a recent study published in U.S. today.)

        #10-Looking outside of Scripture- Again I may not have said this as clearly as possible and I apologize for any misunderstanding. Yes I listen to commentators, pastors, mentors and theologians…and yes I look at human nature and tendencies. But when I look at these or listen to these I seek to bring it through the grid of Scripture to test it and see if it matches up. I want to be like the Bereans in Acts 17 “for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” If I bring something through the grid of Scripture that does not match up then I do not hold onto it or entertain ideas about it.

        Please understand that I very much value your friendship and thoroughly enjoyed our time in high school together too. I only responded to you because I wanted you to clarify some of your points and I wanted to challenge you and your readers with some ideas. Thanks so much for your time!

    • Theresa, life isn’t black and white, even in the Scriptures. Sometimes, we just have to disagree agreeably – and couple that with a sense of humour to discern when something is said tongue in cheek is always helpful when reading/listening to what others say.

    • Theresa, much has already been said in response to your comments, but I’ll just add that if you read the original post Kate was responding to, it should have been obvious that this piece was a form of satire. Kate was not saying (and neither is The Junia Project) that women should take over the church because they can do it better than men. Yet some corners of evangelicalism today ARE saying this – only from the opposite viewpoint – that only men can run the church because they can do it better than women (just as you implied in your own comments.) The point of the post is that we need BOTH men and women to lead the church today. When God said it was not good for the man to be alone, I think He meant it to apply to all spheres of life.

      What I always find baffling when complementarians start talking about wives submitting to husbands is the way those verses are cited yet the surrounding verses are ignored. EVERY time wives are told to submit to their husbands, SLAVES are also told to submit to their masters (Ephesians 5:21-6:9, Colossians 3:12-4:6, 1 Peter 2:11-3:22). These instructions had to do with aspects of the Greco-Roman household codes that the early church was struggling to align with their newly found freedom in Christ. In the same way that the church no longer supports slavery, there is no reason to continue supporting sexism.

      Those readers interested in learning more about these household codes will find some great resources here: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/four-interpretive-pitfalls-around-the-new-testament-household-codes.

  • Hmmm…Atlas Shrugged Goes to Church!?! The women “go on strike” until everything falls apart — and the men beg them to come back and set things right? As interesting as this idea is, I think it is a swing of the pendulum from one side to the other. It is right on that women have been socialized to being, well, more social and helpful and service-oriented. But I also believe that the next generation of men are very different. Certainly my three young sons (18, 15 and 12) see life VERY differently from all the generations before them.

    I think it has to be in the men giving way and serving, just as the women give way and serve. When we begin to have mutuality in equality — when we begin to live in the reality of our life IN CHRIST, with the Father and the Spirit, we will begin to live in right relationships with each other.

    Coercion won’t do it, I don’t think. As in the wilderness, we may just have to wait the the older generation — who wanted to go back to Egypt — to pass away before the People of God enter the Promised Land!

    Hmmm…think about that one for a while….

    • Peggy, I like the wilderness reference. Very interesting. I agree with you that is will have to be men giving way in order for the Church to change, but I thought this would get people thinking 🙂

  • What a brilliant paradigm shift! Thanks for making my brain do somersaults, Kate!

    • I’m glad Jess! It brings up some interesting questions huh?

  • Great post Kate. Cool idea but I agree with you that sin isn’t gender based, although our inclinations to sin can tend to genderise. I chuckled at the thought of a number of male leaders I know who’s style would be very cramped were they confined to the creche or to baking ministries. On the other hand, I know a lot of sensible, godly women whose input would of great value.

    One great problem in the Church, however, is that many/most women shy away from such position because they are untrained. When given an opportunity, many fall on their faces and determine never to put themselves out there again, but the reason for their failure is that, unlike the male emerging leaders, they are rarely given training opportunities.

    When we treat women and men equally with training and opportunities, there is a far greater ability for women to lead with confidence.

    • Love this! We definitely need more training opportunities for women in the Church—safe places, where they can practice and be mentored and flourish as leaders.

    • SUCH a great point Bev! We need to be training women!

    • Yes, training opportunities for women! I have a masters degree in finance and economics, and I am also a teacher and musician. In my old church I was never asked to participate in anything but kitchen and nursery. Is it any wonder that women are leaving the organized church in record numbers? It really is time for a revival.

      • Laughter (albeit rueful) is about the only answer to that VV. How absolutely ludicrous. Sometimes the sheer pompous myopia is incredible.

        I have a masters in global leadership and I am about to leave UK, where I have been instrumental in developing within my own context a culture of equality, to live in Australia, which I understand has not made great strides in terms of women in leadership. I’ll be interested to see what’s ahead of me as I determine to develop a leadership consultancy.

        • Bev, you will be in some good company as an egalitarian in Australia! The Sydney chapter of CBE is a good place to start, and by now I think you’re aware of the work of Margaret Mowczko, who is in the greater Sydney area: http://newlife.id.au. Theologian Kevin Giles is also there – or at least from there! http://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Giles/e/B001IXO4RS. What a loss your move will be to the Kyria Network:(

          • Thanks for all those names, Gail… and CBE specifically.. I will be joining. And… we’ve had some talks with Kyria, it seems to work for me to stay part of what is happening. I will inbox you.

    • Also, I wouldn’t want to be the only party to run the church. That would give men the chance to say “see I told you so” when we fail because of the lack of training or experience.

      • Very true VV. It is important to work together with men in this next phase of Church leadership.

    • Hi Bev~

      I like your thoughts and wanted to add my own experience regarding women shying away from leadership. Not only are women lacking the leadership development and training, but it’s a lot more work to try and lead in an environment tolerating discrimination. I have had extensive leadership training, but I find myself shying away because it’s a lot of work to lead in a place that doesn’t really understand or value equity in the workplace. To even discuss whether women can lead in the secular workplace would be considered intolerant, hostile, offensive, and sexist. I have come in and out of the church in roles of leadership, and in my experience, it is alot easier to lead in secular environments not clouded with theological paradigms discussing whether or not women can lead. Just wanted to add my two cents on the topic! Thanks for sharing.

      • I agree Heather. Any woman going into that environment has to have counted the cost before hand… the God Police can be brutal, with a gentle smile and a fatherly glint in their eye. It’s not just about training, it’s about re-enculturating and you can’t do it from the outside, nor can you do it overnight, or en mass. It has to be the steady, continuous drip method… and there are seasons when that fits and seasons when it’s not for you.

  • Very fun idea to think about! Reminds me of Jim Henderson’s book, The Resignation of Eve, in which he paints a scenario in which the women just don’t show up for church one day. I’ve found it’s easy for many to say this is a “secondary” issue, but it might not be labeled that way if men were restricted in the roles they could have in church governance, if they heard from only women week after week, if mostly women were on the platform, etc. I don’t think they would as patient as women have been.

    • I don’t think they would be so patient either. There would be a lot of bluster and posturing and calls for heads to roll… chuckle.

  • That is an interesting proposal. It might be good for everyone. We’ll never do it IRL, of course, for all the “rational” reasons people can come up with–but mostly because it’s the “wrong” order of things. It might be very good for people who are usually at the top of the “right” order of things to try the bottom for awhile, and vice versa. We could learn a great deal about God, all of us, from trying this experiment.

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