What is biblical equality? It is the belief that all people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race. We believe this because the Bible and Jesus Christ teach it to us.
Esther shows us that leadership is responsiveness to God and to those who are hurting. It is a readiness to self-sacrifice, and it has everything to do with character, intimacy with God, and closeness to those who are vulnerable.
So when some argue that the Bible opposes the equal standing of man and woman in the church and home, they are taking the issue to the final court of appeals, as they should. Twelve seemingly strong biblical pillars support their argument...
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?
The book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish woman who rises from obscurity into the royal court as the new queen of King Xerxes. This narrative includes models of leadership that could not be more different from each other.
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.
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.
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.