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[Editor’s Note] This is the first installment in a two-part series by Dr. Bob Rakestraw on the relationship between complementarian theology and subordination in the Trinity. What is the controversy all about? At the risk of overwhelming serious readers with yet another piece on Trinity and gender, I offer this contribution with the hope that some may gain a bit more clarity on an aspect of the dispute that continues to smolder and even burst into flames regularly. In this series, I will address and support the necessary qualitative distinction between the eternal inner life of the Trinity and the temporal inter-relationships of women and men in church and marriage. The debate about the Trinity within evangelical Christianity, especially since the beginning of the twenty-fi... 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 will c... Read more
In a recent Arise article, Amy Buckley recounted an exchange between herself and a group of men who accused Christian feminists of using a hermeneutic of pain to interpret the Bible. It was their way of suggesting that feminists do not understand Scripture because they identify strongly with people who suffer. Amy and her friend, Patti, countered that those who suffer injustice have a unique and profound grasp of the cross. Is this true? Do the oppressed detect something in the cross that eludes the powerful? Could the cross both justify humanity and highlight humanity’s injustice? Is it possible that to correctly apprehend the cross, we must embrace both its literal message of personal redemption and its symbolic commentary on earthly power? Indeed, the cross is all about giving... Read more
I don’t really like reading the creation story. This is partly because I skip ahead to what is often described as the “sin story.” I don’t like being told that “the man shall rule over” me (Gen 3:16). To Christians who do not ascribe to gender equality, this verse is prescriptive. It's used to explain and justify the hierarchy of patriarchy. It's used to support male headship, and deny women full inclusion in the church as people of God. If this is your reaction to the first few chapters of Genesis too, I empathize! But it’s time we flipped the script. Egalitarians shouldn’t shy away from this passage. Correctly interpreted, Genesis 3 is a foundational text in a theology of equality.  What is it that you have done?... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, I promised to further explore two questions related to a core resource on male-headship theology, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (RBWM): Does male-headship theology have overtones of male superiority?   Does male-headship theology dehumanize women in anyway? (As covered in Part 1, dehumanization requires oppressors to rob the oppressed of their human qualities, personality, and/or spirit).   There is an ongoing debate in the church around the role and nature of women. Two groups aim to answer this question, each very differently: complementarians and egalitarians. Complementarians believe that men and women are equal in value but called to different roles in the home and church, namely that men are called to leadership and women ar... Read more
Bitches Bunnies Chicks Heifers Vixens Shrews Women Are you offended by anything in the above list? If so, why? Is it the mention of a certain derogatory term for women that also means “female dog”? Is it the implication that women are less than human and belong in the category of animals?  Without a doubt, this list is provocative. Many of you are probably wondering how it is connected to the subject of this article: male-headship theology. Allow me to explain. Before an individual or society can effectively discriminate against, exploit, disempower, abuse, and sometimes even kill another individual or people group, the oppressor must first establish superiority over the target. Oppression is generally justified by the “confirmed” inferiority of... Read more
In recent years, we American evangelicals have struggled more than ever to manage our “image.” In 2016 alone, significant numbers of abused women and children have exposed one prominent evangelical leader after another. These evangelical leaders have betrayed the trust of thousands who invested in their theology and leadership, leaving a trail of victims in their wake.[1] And instead of denouncing this abuse and giving victims a voice, evangelicals have consistently allowed perpetrators to resume their positions of prominence as speakers and leaders on evangelical platforms. Religious patriarchy has fueled the devaluation, marginalization, and abuse of girls and women globally.[2] For too long, we evangelical Christians have colluded with the powerful and failed to challenge... Read more
Babies love contrasting colors, repetition, and music. Some brilliant people realized this attraction and created baby sensory videos. My granddaughter has a few favorites. One of them is set to classical music and begins with a black background and a bird dropping a seed. Then, a rain cloud comes and waters the seed. A tree grows, and the cycle of seasons begins: a fruitful tree becomes an autumn tree, which becomes a wintery, snow-covered tree, which becomes a springtime, blossoming tree, which becomes a fruitful tree. This repeats over and over again. One of my daughters recently commented about her niece, “You can actually see on the baby’s face when she is learning something, processing something.” And, this is true! You can see, on her face, in her eyes, and i... Read more
Recently, I received a couple of e-mails from a few well-meaning friends suggesting that I tone it down with social media posts advocating for women in ministry. These friends suggested that my posts cause tension, make the church look bad, and turn people away from attending church. I took their words to heart, prayed, and pondered them for some time. I asked myself, do these posts truly have a negative effect on the church, or do some Christians mistakenly believe that advocating for women in ministry disrupts church unity? As a former lead pastor and a fairly new advocate for women in ministry, I hear many unfounded myths like this about the inclusion of women in church leadership. Let’s explore some of those myths. Myth #1: Advocating for women in ministry will turn people a... Read more
When I was a senior in high school, I engaged in a one-woman feud with the football team and school administrators after the opening night of our musical was cancelled to accommodate a conference championship football game. My brother, a sophomore on the football team, told me that the seniors were complaining about me in the locker room. He said they were insulting me and saying all kinds of awful things. To this day, almost 11 years later, he still refuses to tell me what they said—it was that bad. So when a candidate for the President of the United States dismisses the seriousness of bragging about sexually assaulting women as mere “locker room talk,” I can’t help but think back to high school. The locker room is this male-only space where (apparently) men can... Read more

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