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.
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.
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.
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.
Within evangelical circles, we are seeing increasing discussions about the need to address racism. Meanwhile, organizations such as Christians for Biblical Equality stress the importance of addressing sexism. What tends to be missing is analysis of how racism and sexism intersect with each other, which contributes to the marginalization of women of color. The experience of Native American women illustrates this intersection and provides a powerful vision of justice for all people.
For me, one of the most compelling arguments for egalitarianism is in the creation and fall passages of Genesis 1 and 3. God’s command that they, male and female alike, are to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. . . rule over. . . every living creature” (Gen 1:28) provides a charge for men and women alike to contribute to the continuation of family and to exert authority over God’s creation