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I got on the phone with a number of like-minded women, who are also moms and floated the idea of a “retreat for the whole woman.”

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It was all I could do to keep from applauding as I sat in church last week listening to the pastor speak about submission: a characteristic of Christian life. 

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In our younger years, marriage held great promise; the skies were blue, the sunsets golden. We had worked together to meld our individual strengths and weaknesses into a loving union, strong and secure. We were team members who were in love, who attended church every Sunday and who had never heard about how God wanted us to relate to one another in marriage. Nor could we see clouds looming on the horizon.

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When I have heard discussion about love and respect it is often applied as gender specific: a woman needs love, a man needs respect. But it isn’t that cut and dry. Men need to be loved as well, and women need to be respected, too. 

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Peter states what should be common sense: husbands, live with your wives in a considerate and respectful manner. He then goes on to say that if a husband does not do this, his relationship with God will suffer.

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In his treatment of women as equals, Paul followed Jesus’ lead. Jesus defined servant-leadership in Matthew 20:28 (NRSV), “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

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"For the husband is the head of the wife, is that not what the Bible says?" my friend asked in all earnestness.

"No," I replied, "that is not what the Bible says. Paul says that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. How is Christ the head of the church?"

"I guess," he responded, "he is the Holy Spirit."

On the way home from church, my preoccupation with our conversation puzzled me. Why is it, I thought, that someone like my friend had spent so much time serving as pastor and yet had not grasped this basic truth of which Paul spoke? A lifetime of sermons and I had rarely, if ever, heard about how Christ is the head of the church. The essential exposition is not the husband as head of the wife. The critical question is, "How is Christ the head of the church?"

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Karen teaches adult education in her church. Her classes are exciting. Despite her denomination’s support of gift-based roles for men and women, she is frequently questioned and criticized by a few who challenge — not the fruits of her labor, but whether women should even be fruitful. The more she tries to persuade her critics, the more weighed down she feels.

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When I was five, my grandfather gave me a fishing rod. I practiced casting my line for hours in our long, skinny back yard using a rubber practice sinker. When a friend offered to take me fishing, I caught my first fish: a round, orange and yellow sunfish called a pumpkinseed. I admired its beautiful colors, then carefully smoothed down the spiny dorsal fin and removed the hook. As the pumpkinseed swam away, I wondered if it knew a few moments earlier I’d held its life in my hands.

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“Delighted” would accurately describe my reaction to discovering Christians for Biblical Equality. I’m a man who knows something about marginalization and alienation — two themes central to CBE’s concerns.

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