On average, one woman a week in Australia is killed by a man who says he loves her. The prevalence of domestic violence is staggering. The figures are breathtaking and hard to believe. An unimaginable number of women’s lives are blighted by this scourge. In the US, Europe, and Australia, one in four women will experience physical abuse from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
For egalitarians, the book of Judges clearly demonstrates God’s approval of women leaders. Yet many who view women’s leadership as unbiblical dismiss the pattern of God-affirmed female authority in Judges.
We should acknowledge that patriarchy and the oppression of women have played large roles in both culture and the church for centuries. In fact, far from being countercultural, many complementarian claims about men and women are echoed outside the church.
Although the issue of low self-esteem in women often headlines glossy magazines, we the church are responsible for addressing it. But women’s low self-esteem is directly related to the church’s theology of gender as well as how we read Scripture.
The Western sexual revolution brought renewed emphasis on consent, body affirmation/confidence, female pleasure, and women’s equal (and enthusiastic!) sexual participation in marriage. We should celebrate those gains. But it also brought a slew of toxic, oppressive ideas about female sexuality.
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.
Egalitarians believe the Bible promotes two senses of equality: equality of nature and equality of opportunity. Neither requires or even hints that women and men are or should be identical. Egalitarians don’t deny difference, we deny that difference is destiny.
When my brother and his wife announced their unexpected pregnancy, my family was shocked. My brother and his now wife have been together for fourteen years, got engaged in January, and married in June. A whole two months later, the couple announced that they were expecting a baby. Timing is a strange thing in their world, and given that they are both almost forty years old, we were rightly shocked.
Christians who struggle to believe that God would intentionally appoint a woman to lead often argue that Deborah was chosen because no men stepped up to fill the role of judge. But the text does not support this.
Often, those outside of the social justice activist community can feel overwhelmed by the concepts and terminology of justice work. Many Christians want to understand these terms and concepts so they can do justice well in their communities and in the world.