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Could it be that the complementarian notion of “biblical womanhood” (especially the claim that women’s distinct personhood makes no room for women as teachers and leaders of men) is a recent, Western perspective?

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As one might expect, much of the research in the area of wife abuse has been done by feminists, some of whom themselves have been victims of wife beating. They speak with an understandable bitterness and anger toward a society so insensitive that it only publicly acknowledged the plight of battered women decades after having established laws to prohibit the abuse of animals. And often they have given up on the hope that change will come through social institutions such as the church. Rather than seeing the church as part of the solution to the abuse of women, they almost unanimously perceive the church as a big part of the problem.

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Ephesians 5:15-6:9 is a Haustafel (a table of household duties) and is the central passage for Pauline teaching on Christian marriage. The passage, along with its reduced parallel in Colossians, is well known by persons of all persuasions on the issue of the relationship between wives and husbands. Often used in wedding ceremonies, these verses are home to the traditionalists and to biblical feminists as well. (Unfortunately, secular writers such as Bullough 1 see only subordination in this passage.)

Hazards exist for us any time we approach a familiar, well-worn passage of Scripture. The mind and heart can wander down familiar ruts and miss the beauty of sauntering down different parts of the pathway. It is the thesis of this paper that we need a fresh look at these verses. While volumes could be written on the deep truths found here, we will limit ourselves to looking freshly at issues of the text, issues of the context, the need for new terminology, and ramifications of the passage.

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A prolific British hymn writer, Frances Ridley Havergal created poetic texts for the glory of God, but she also saw writing as her profession and livelihood.

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Two hundred years before Martin Luther’s reformation, a woman now known as St. Bridget of Sweden (1302-1373) challenged wayward kings, priests, and popes, calling them to repentance. 

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I have had a burden for women for about ten years, but, with my African background of marginalization and oppression of women, I had failed to stand alone and fight for equality until I discovered Christians for Biblical Equality. My burden for women was burning because of the oppression my own mother went through.

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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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Margaret Fell, known to many as the “Mother of Quakerism,” is arguably one of the most fascinating figures in Western religious history. Though frequently overlooked by historians, Margaret Fell played a germinal role in the development of the Friends (Quaker) movement, and her life presents a compelling picture of the power of faith and the cost of discipleship.

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After languishing in obscurity for many years, the work of Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) has been rediscovered by church historians and scholars. Palmer was a widely-recognized religious figure in her day—a woman whose concern for the holy life enabled her to transcend the limitations of both gender and denominational affiliation. 

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Perhaps one of the most often-asked questions of a child concerns what he or she wants to do or be upon growing up.  While many of us probably did not fulfill our own childhood expectations to be president of the United States, a supermodel, a superhero, a professional athlete, or an astronaut, the topic of one’s calling – of which career is an aspect – still warrants consideration in adulthood.  In the realm of theology the doctrine of vocation comprises such reflections.  Defining this area of study, Nancy Duff states, “The doctrine of vocation affirms that every individual life with its unique combination of gifts and limitations has divinely appointed purpose and that we are called to glorify God in all that we do." Every individual has a divine calling and is to give God the glory in the pursuit of this life mission.  In considering the applications of this doctrine, Christian feminists have a twofold charge, both in understanding their own vocations as well as in service to others who are attempting to discern and fulfill their own life purpose given by their Creator. 

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