A study of curricula across 15 evangelical seminaries and of material from the Evangelical Theological Society reveals an almost total absence of women's history, meaning male leaders can rise to high levels while never being exposed to the countless ways women have impacted history and theology.
Impairment is any loss or abnormality of structure or function, be it psychological, physiological, or anatomical. A disability is any restriction or inability to perform an activity in the manner or range considered normal for a human being. The restriction or inability results from impairment. A handicap is a disadvantage for a given individual that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal. As traditionally used, impairment refers to a problem with a structure or organ of the body; disability is a functional limitation with regard to a particular activity; and handicap refers to a disadvantage in filling a role in life relative to a peer group.
Evangelical women face a myriad of messages related to pastoral and teaching roles in the church and academy. Some evangelical churches open their doors to women leaders while others reject the ordination of women and endorse explicitly hierarchical models of gender relations, both in marriage relationships and also in church and church-focused institutional hierarchies. Others even extend male authority to secular arenas, excluding women from exercising leadership or authority over men that is direct and/or personal.
Someone once said, “Life is what happens after someone makes plans for their life.” Proverbs says it more succinctly, “In their hearts, human beings plan their course, but the Lord determines their steps.” (Prov. 16:9, TNIV) Interestingly, what individual Christians plan and how the Lord directs them are not necessarily the same.
What an understanding of culture’s influence should do is put gross generalizations about the nature of men and women out of reach. Moreover, it challenges us to think about how and why we value particular attributes connected to these gender stereotypes. So often we believe that we are reacting to Scripture or that the powerful feelings we have about particular gender activities are our created nature. Rather, we need to realize that we are exhibiting the cultural context in which we live.
The church of the first five centuries helped define women’s sense of self, integrating their understanding of sexuality and marriage with the redemptive work of Christ, thus encouraging them to contribute to the work of the church.
Two competing visions—egalitarianism and complementarianism—are embedded within Christian pre-marriage counselling. This article examines how differing interpretations of Scripture shape marriage advice.