The introduction of the word “submission” into a Christian conversation about adult human relations immediately strikes different responses. For some Christians, submission is a happy word describing the proper biblical relation of a wife to her husband or of a woman, whether married or single, to the males in the church congregation.
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.
As I wrote this article, I was en route to a conference for Air Force Reserve chaplains. Only three hours before, I received a call from my baby's pre-school. They informed me that my daughter was running a fever and needed to go home. I rushed to pick her up, take her to the pediatrician, and drop her and her antibiotics prescription off with my husband so I could get to the airport in time to catch my flight.
Although the issue of low self-esteem in women often headlines glossy magazines, we the church are responsible for addressing it. But women’s low self-esteem is directly related to the church’s theology of gender as well as how we read Scripture.
If we read the Bible without preconceived ideas about “roles” that men and women should play on this earth, we can begin to see its true teaching. Unfortunately, most of us have been brought up with predetermined concepts of what the Bible says that men and women should be like and in what ways they should serve the Lord.
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.