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What the example of Deborah reveals about gender authority: As women have gained increased influence in society, and as Bible scholars offer a consistent egalitarian interpretation of Scripture, gender traditionalists have had to work harder and more creatively to justify the subordination of women within the church and family—even to themselves.

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I’d like to correct some of the most common false assumptions about egalitarian theology. I hear these a lot, but they’re simply not true.

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Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4–5, NASB)

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Hebrews 11 is widely known as a chapter that acclaims the men and women heroes of the faithpowerful, bold, and courageous. Led by that strong faith, these heroes "shut the mouths of lions," "conquered kingdoms," and "quenched the fury of the flames."

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Excerpts from the booklet, The Feminist Bogeywoman, written by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis and published in 1995 by Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group. It is used here by permission. 

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Judges does not offer a command to promote women, but it only takes one example like Deborah to show that women are just as capable in leadership as men.

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Women advanced the gospel by ministering beside Paul, building the church as teachers, evangelists, prophets and as an apostle—Junia. Paul offers the theological foundations for the shared authority of women with all of its spiritual and social implications, throughout his epistles.

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Christ engaged women theologically, expecting them to respond not as a distinct class, but as people, as disciples, and as heirs of God’s kingdom. In Jesus, the second Adam, women share a spiritual dominion, just as Eve was created for equal authority and dominion with the first Adam in the Garden.

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Despite sin and patriarchy—consequences of the fall—women continue to live out their identity as bearing God’s image and as strong rescuers throughout the Old Testament, particularly as prophets. God uses female prophets to provide moral and spiritual leadership to God’s people and especially to Israel’s leaders.

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If you want to understand gender and identity from a biblical perspective, the early chapters of Genesis are an excellent place to begin.

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