This paper seeks to begin to correct the equation of biblical egalitarianism with liberal feminism by considering them on a foundational level—looking at where each locates its authority and how each understands the Bible’s authority.
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?
If you’re looking for a beautiful model of an egalitarian relationship in the midst of a decidedly non-egalitarian culture, the love story of Angelina Emily Grimké (1805–1879) and Theodore Dwight Weld (1803–1895) is especially inspiring.
But authors in this issue of Mutuality provide many examples of amazing evangelical pioneers from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whose commitment to biblical authority and to fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission convinced them that women needed to be free to use their ministry gift s and equipped to answer God’s call wherever it led.
Though limitations on women in institutional leadership continue, Holiness and Pentecostal women continue to carry out evangelistic ministries using the venues of revival and camp meetings as well as women’s conferences and conventions.
If we want to see women free, we have to challenge the message that passivity is godly. We have to encourage women to boldly exercise their God-given authority. We must image Bible women who took direct action to further God’s vision for the world.