The temptation is always there. When discussing gender equality, it’s easy to let righteous anger in the face of injustice eclipse the call to represent Christ well, even in painful disagreement. On the other hand, we can become so concerned with unity in the body of Christ that we are silent in the face of injustice. I spoke with a brother about this struggle. He turned me to the Lord’s Prayer.
Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative?
As I read the church’s brief report, my anger mounted. We knew that my friend had been abused. But we were now being told by our spiritual leaders, people with no professional training or knowledge on the subject, that she had not been abused.
Over the years, I have volunteered at many such conferences and have discovered that conversations vary as much as individuals I meet. Discussing biblical equality with people—of differing experiences, personalities, giftings, and circumstances—always challenges me.
Here are 5 practices of a church culture that seeks to empower and invest in women, based on what I’m learning through current experience and being graciously taught about the church’s largely unheeded role in the development of women.