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Together, Let's Tear Down the Gender Wall

On June 30, 2014

This month marks the 27th anniversary of the famous "Tear Down this Wall" speech.

"Tear down this wall!" was the challenge issued by United States President Ronald Reagan to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall. Reagan said. “We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. General Secretary Gorbachev … tear down this wall!”He continued, “Across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom." [1]

Similar to other epochal times in church history, (E.g. the Protestant Reformation and the abolition of slavery), we believe it’s time to revisit church gender/marriage views.

For example, reviewing centuries of human and church history, church leaders supported slavery based on their infallible interpretation of a handful of Bible texts. [2] To get an idea of how church leaders viewed slavery, read this Presbyterian resolution from the mid-1800s.

Resolved:—“That as the relative duties of master and slave are taught in the scriptures, in the same manner as those of parent and child, and husband and wife, the existence of slavery itself is not opposed to the will of God; and whoever has a conscience too tender to recognize this relation as lawful, is ‘righteous over much,’ is ‘wise above what is written,’ and has submitted his neck to the yoke of men, sacrificed his Christian liberty of conscience, and leaves the infallible word of God for the fancies and doctrines of men.”[3]

Let’s also consider the issue of slavery as it relates to one of our key American founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. [4]

Stop and consider this fact, the person who wrote those historically significant, almost revered words in the Declaration of Independence believed in slavery. Reviewing Thomas Jefferson’s life, he had slaves, he fathered children with women slaves, and he believed that both slaves—and woman—were not equal to men.

We understand that the issue of slavery is difficult for many people to grasp based on the culture and season of history we currently live in. Nevertheless, for centuries slavery was defended by church leaders. Please take a moment right now and review our end note listing Bible passages that religious leaders used to support their belief in the despicable practice of slavery.

Likewise, as we review many church leader’s current church gender/marriage views and infallible interpretations of a handful of scriptures … it makes us wonder:

Might it be wise to revisit centuries old church gender/marriage views, and gender biased church leadership/authority structures, that are based on a handful of infallibly interpreted Bible texts?

Is it possible that many church gender/marriage views have been birthed out of ancient, male dominated, misogynistic, hierarchical, and patriarchal soil?

Is it more Christ-like to seek first the kingdom of God [5]; and make our primary focus love, equality, and mutual submission?

To echo President Reagan’s prophetic declaration (and taking the liberty to add italicized words in parenthesis); “Across Europe (the world), this (gender) wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The (gender) wall cannot withstand freedom."

Similar to believers in other epochal seasons in church history, we believe God still speaks. The Bible reminds us, “We know in part.” [6]

In closing, let’s together … tear down the gender wall!


Endnotes:

[1] Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” Speech - http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/speeches/reagan_berlin.htm

[2] Bible texts addressing slavery: include: Colossians 3:22 (NIV) “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” Colossians 4:1 (NIV) “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”Ephesians 6:5 (NIV) “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Titus 2:9-10 (NIV) “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

[3] Pamphlets on Slavery: Volume 10 (London: J. Hatchard and Son, 1833), 30.

[4] Declaration of Independence

[5] Matthew 6:33

[6] 1 Corinthians 13:9

 

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