I was out to coffee with a friend and we were discussing gender equality in the church, or the lack there of. Recently, I went through the membership process at my own church. It’s a newer establishment still finding its bearings, and rooted within the Evangelical Church. I grew up nondenominational and find it ironic that I wound up at a church that identifies with a denomination notorious for its lack of gender equality. In the membership course, what is referred to as “secondary theology” was briefly discussed (albeit with a 10-foot pole mentality) specifically, the theology of gender roles. The short and skinny of it: I attend a church that believes there are certain roles meant solely for men; teaching, eldership, the usual culprits. But men and women are still equal, even though, you know, they can’t do the same things. So my friend asked, “Why are you at a church that doesn’t support the equality of both men and women?” She was hinting, fearfully, that I was okay with it, or worse, passive. My answer? It’s complicated. But here are a few of my reasons:
I am a woman I am not a sex object I am not an afterthought I am not a toy I am a woman I am strong I am intelligent I am more than capable I am a woman I bear the image of the Creator I reflect God’s strength, dignity, and compassion When […]
It seems that in many Christian communities being a “biblical man” or a “biblical woman” is just as high of a priority, if not more so, than being a biblical person. How did we come to the conclusion that men and women are to imitate Christ in different ways? I’d like to know where people see Jesus mentioning or even emphasizing that a man’s highest calling is to be a leader and a decision-maker, and a woman’s highest calling is to be a nurturer and “advice-giver”. From what I know about the life of Jesus, he called us to love God and love others selflessly. That’s all Jesus seemed to really care about.
Patriarchy is an oppressive cultural norm with a history that predates Christianity.
Fortunately, it is fading from our global community. Unfortunately, it persists in some corners of the institutional church today, where some Christian leaders still teach that it is the God-given right of men everywhere to exercise authority over women at church and at home. From my vantage point as a male social worker, psychotherapist, and former department head at a multi-denominational Bible college, I’ve had many opportunities to observe how patriarchy impacts people every day on a very practical level.
There was a time I tried to keep both a hierarchical view of authority in the church and a freedom for women to use their Spirit-given gifts as they felt called by God. I had started wrestling through the issues of a woman’s place in the church. But I got caught in the middle where I was undecided about how far I would go along the spectrum of beliefs. I was certainly moving away from complementarian theology (women can only teach and lead other women; husbands lead, wives submit) which took shape during Bible college and was reinforced in my church.
I was raised by egalitarian parents and my first meeting with gender division in the Church was when I was studying theology at Bible College. All throughout the year there were little digs at it – women can‘t preach, they shouldn’t even teach our classes, people saying they would not go to lecture if there was a female lecturer (this never became an issue, I was always taught by men), even refusing to take communion if it was administered by a woman. Then it culminated in a special seminar where all the female students were gathered and explained what their role was in the Christian Church – or that is, what their role was not.
What he had always been told he deserved
What he expected from me, with nothing in return
But it was not mine to give, not in the way he asked for it
Because I had already given that kind to someone else
To the One who had died for me on a cross
Believe it or not, I’ve actually had people say to me, “Why do you care so much about women? What’s the big deal? You have the right to vote…” I would laugh if it weren’t so common to meet people with this opinion. As if gaining the right to vote was the only problem women faced—and as if we’ve actually achieved equal political representation. Clearly, the work is not done. If you’ve never read the full text of “The Declaration of Sentiments,” I highly encourage you to do so.
Written in July 1848 as part of the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, it holds some of the most powerful words I’ve ever read.