When the church argues for complementarianism (men and women have specific roles that “complement” each other), this empowers men to believe they have a distorted right to treat women in a lesser role.
Could it be that the complementarian notion of “biblical womanhood” (especially the claim that women’s distinct personhood makes no room for women as teachers and leaders of men) is a recent, Western perspective?
Cicero said: “Who knows only their own generation remains always a child.”  We gain extraordinary vitality from the stories of Christian women and men who came before us. In fact, our advocacy for women in ministry leans heavily on their stories. Few are better suited to bring this history to life than Dr. Paul Chilcote, author of more than twenty books and publications on the subject. For thirty-five years, he has amplified the history of women’s leadership in the church with his work.
Throughout history, movements have arisen to challenge the status quo of society and the institutional church. In the history of the United States and into the present, many have spoken out against the way women are perceived and treated. These voices have fought to open to women spaces and leadership positions in the church and society that have traditionally been exclusively for men. These movements, known collectively as feminism, have requested—sometimes demanded—a transformation in the ways evangelicals conceive of women’s roles.
For evangelicals, the Bible is the ultimate, infallible and inerrant authority, which serves as the arbiter of acceptable views, and theological liberalism exists as a looming menace to biblical authority. Unfortunately, evangelicals are often confused over who is challenging their biblical and cultural perceptions. They generally do not understand the critiques of liberal feminists or of their own evangelical sisters and brothers, nor do they recognize that they are dealing with separate movements in important and foundational ways. For many, feminism is a recent phenomenon, a threatening force, liberal in origin, which in the end rejects the authority of Scripture in order to conform to modern culture. Evangelicals commonly known as biblical egalitarians are quickly tied to liberal forms of feminism because it is commonly supposed that “liberalism and the approval of women’s ordination go hand in hand,” and inevitably lead the church down the slippery slope into the abandonment of scriptural authority.2
This paper seeks to begin to correct the equation of biblical egalitarianism with liberal feminism by considering them on a foundational level—looking at where each locates its authority and how each understands the Bible’s authority.
When a girl is sixteen years old, it seems like life is full—innocent and wonderful—opening up like a book waiting to be storied on fine, white linen pages. The confines of childhood are being left behind while the concerns of adulthood are yet far enough in the future so that the moments of teenage hood burst with joy and possibility. Yet at any time, we are vulnerable to forces both within and outside of ourselves that can both gradually and quite quickly shift the course of our lives in ways that will affect us as long as we live. I say these things as one speaking from my own experience of feeling the wonders of being sixteen, later complicated by life and marriage to an abuser.
An 18-year old, 5'8" famous Brazilian runway model died recently of systemic infection due to her anorexic state. She weighed only 88 pounds. Her problem? She sought to be the epitome of beauty—according to the tastes prevalent in fashion circles.
The recent news has been permeated with two contradictory “epidemics” characterizing Americans: anorexia and obesity. However, maybe the larger paradox is the way in which the Church has embraced the same standards of beauty that the larger culture has. In many cases, the Church has adopted cultural standards of beauty and views physical bodies as representations of spirituality. This appears to be a modern version of the “health and wealth” gospel in that “Christ is reflected in one’s physical appearance.”
The hundred people in attendance at the church auditorium on that Saturday was all part of the congregation’s leadership team: choir members, deacons, educators, senior and associate pastors. The focus of this particular day-long conference was on the unique challenges churches face when situations of domestic violence occur amongst couples worshipping within the congregation.