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.
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.
"Partners," as the term is used in this statement, means more than aides or helpers who give assistance from the sidelines. The emphasis is communion, a unity of purpose that links hands and hearts as full members of the team. It stresses full participation, sharing in both the risks and the benefits of the enterprise: "giving and receiving" (Philippians 4:15). It portrays an enduring alliance as long-term colleagues rather than a casual short walk together.
As I reflect on Genesis 3:16, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe,” I realize that barrenness, miscarriage, and stillbirths are part of that curse; the ability to be “fruitful and multiply” would be hindered for both genders and on many levels.
Those of us who defend women in ministry are used to making careful biblical and theological cases, wrestling with the difficult texts as well as the occasional difficult person. We are used to listening earnestly to people who argue against women in ministry with furrowed brows and trembling chins. We aspire to be thoughtful, reasoned, and respectful because, Lord knows, we don’t want to make things any harder for women in ministry.
Gretchen G. Hull was instrumental in the founding of CBE. One of CBE’s founders, as well as a board member and early pioneering editor of Priscilla Papers, Gretchen was brilliant, gutsy, and never afraid to speak out.
Why would a woman espouse an ideology that consigns her to a less-than status? Howell and Duncan surveyed 72 women to explore the rationale behind women’s beliefs in the subordination of women to the authority of men.