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Biblical Equality 101

We just saw the end of January, the month of fresh starts and new beginnings. For many Christians, it also marks the beginning of an attempt to read the Bible in its entirety, from Genesis to Revelation, in a year. In light of that, I’d like to cover a few basic egalitarian principles that can help us read and understand the Bible. In the past, reading Scripture was difficult for me because I was taught that Genesis established a God-ordained hierarchy between men and women in which men ruled. This complementarian understanding of Genesis led me to believe that the subsequent biblical accounts were evidence of God’s desire for strict gender roles and male leadership.  I couldn’t reconcile why God would create women in his image only to will that they be ruled by me... Read more
In the past few years, numerous people have asked me why I make such a big deal about gender equality. Have I experienced such extreme inequality? What traumatic experience drives my activism? Why am I so passionate and outspoken about this issue? People often assume that a tragic event in my personal life led to this behavior. I am not sure what they have in mind, but I have seen: Women discouraged from and not chosen for church leadership Men and women shamed for not fitting culturally-defined gender roles Exclusion born from semantics and titles Sexual harassment such as groping, leering, and unwanted comments Women shrinking themselves to be more socially acceptable, both inside and outside the church I have witnessed all of the above examples of gender inequality... Read more
In the last few years, it has become popular for people (especially celebrities) to identify as “feminists” on the secular stage. While this may sound like a positive trend, it has effectively rendered the term “feminist” meaningless. Anyone can join the club. You can be a pornographer or hold deeply sexist attitudes toward women while simultaneously self-identifying as a “gender equality advocate” because you supposedly “love women.” But this version of equality doesn’t threaten the status quo, it reinforces it.   Defining feminism as an ambiguous ideology of “equality” may destigmatize the movement and get more people on the bandwagon, but doing so also neutralizes its power. Patriarchy, power, and privilege... Read more
I’d like to correct some of the most common false assumptions about egalitarian theology. I hear these a lot, but they’re simply not true. 1. Egalitarians don’t respect Scripture. It’s time to debunk the notion that egalitarians do not uphold the authority of Scripture. That we do not have a wild, reverent love for the Good Book. Egalitarianism is an interpretation of Scripture. So is complementarianism. And when we interpret Scripture, we do it with the millstone of bias around our necks, the same millstone the skewed the interpretations of Augustine, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, CS Lewis, Óscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Sojourner Truth, Aimee Semple McPherson, and every Christian who has ever lived. Even these giants of th... Read more
Did you know that there are twice as many women academics in the secular academy as in the Christian academy? Worse, women comprise only about six percent of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). And despite a recent study exposing the shaming experiences of ETS women, some members of ETS passed a resolution that identified gender as the basis of personal identity for Christians. Without actually defining "manhood" or "womanhood," the resolution asserts that the essential or fundamental characteristics of gender are more formative and definitive for Christian identity than our spiritual renewal in Christ. It is not our newness of life in Christ, our journey as Christian disciples, or our corporate service that form Christian identity but the "dist... Read more
This is the second in a series of posts on the concept of headship in the Christian church and community. The articles will offer a clear outline and critique of the headship practice and system and will further explore the consequences of headship on men, women, relationships, the church, and the broader world. Catch up with Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the Headship Madness series. “Headship” in large sectors of American evangelicalism functions as a theo-political tool. It is the means by which competition in relationships—at home, work, school, and church—is quickly and effectively eliminated. It is also a flexible tool, conveniently subjective according to the one who wields it. Headship therefore takes on a number of faces, manifestat... Read more
This is the first in a series of posts on the concept of headship in the Christian church and community. The articles will offer a clear outline and critique of the headship practice and system and will further explore the consequences of headship on men, women, relationships, the church, and the broader world. Catch up with Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.  “Headship” in American evangelical Christianity is probably most popularly known as an amalgam of ideas and attitudes related to male authority, control, and power, especially in the context of marriage. Although there are various paradigms surrounding the concept, the “complementarian” or “traditional” model(s) might very well stand out as the most influential and common—though this... Read more
As I noted in my previous post, the resurrection of Jesus Christ marked the inauguration of the New Covenant. Depending on which theologian you read, one might say this “inauguration” period reached its peak with Pentecost, the day when the promised Spirit was poured out on the church (Acts 2). Whatever the case, Christians today—generally since the time of Christ—are living in the age of the “New Covenant.” Being “new,” the New Covenant is different from the “Old Covenant,” which (again, depending on theology or context) may refer to the Mosaic covenant, or all of the covenantal administrations prior to Christ (e.g., Abrahamic, Davidic, etc.). For simplicity and convenience, most Christians typically refer to the “Old Co... Read more
Every Easter, we celebrate a definitive victory. We experience the Easter effect—a boundless global freedom for a once enslaved and broken humanity. Easter represents personal newness, freedom from sin's condemnation, guilt, shame, and inadequacy. Easter also grants collective freedom from the plight of humanity, to sin and die separated from God. Yet, the consequences of Easter extend beyond the triumph of salvation. In light of Jesus' example, Christians are grafted into a mission—to give voice to the silenced. In honor of his sacrifice on Easter Sunday, we are called to mobilize as one, moving beyond our individual redemption to a collective condemnation of oppression, domination, and injustice. The ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ offered a sea... Read more
It was the summer of 2012 and President Obama had just announced "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," after Congress failed to pass the Dream Act. I was the executive director of the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network at the time. We convened a meeting of all the various agencies who worked with and supported immigrants--from schools to law practices.  After the meeting of community leaders, people were talking in small groups and debriefing. An attorney, a woman, from an international organization came up to me and out of earshot of the other participants shared, "I really appreciate how you chair a meeting. I feel like everyone gets an equal opportunity to talk and that you especially make sure women are being heard." I must have looked shocked and sligh... Read more

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