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Is there a way forward beyond the dominant complementarian discourse at this nexus where a predominantly white North American evangelical Christianity has met racial and ethnic others, especially East Asians in the contemporary milieu?

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Tragically, Bible-readers throughout most of church history haven't seen Jesus' call to give up power as essential to or even included in Christian faith. Nowhere has that omission been more costly than in the treatment of gender.

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Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here.

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Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai—international women's education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner—was invited by TED to share his experience as a mentor and father to his influential daughter. His words were wise, simple, and elegant. What had he done to make Malala "so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised?" "Don't ask me what I did," he instructed, "ask me what I did not do." Ziauddin concluded his TED Talk with the now famous phase, "I did not clip her wings, and that's all."

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Karen and Mark are both pastors with vibrant ministries, but their marriage is at a crossroads. Karen has been offered a large church in a growing area that sounds like a perfect fit. Mark has no desire to leave his flourishing ministry. They love the Lord and each other, but they can‘t agree. How can they decide?

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Life would have been easier, at least outwardly, if we had followed complementarian theology. We might have stayed at our church.

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Embracing a fully egalitarian perspective was a long twelve-year process. When all was said and done, there was one final hurdle to overcome. By the time I began pastoring in 2008, I already understood that God gifted both women and men with “speech” gifts such as prophecy. I also believed women were allowed to teach and preach, even with men present.

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Colossians 3:7-17 is often misinterpreted and weaponized to keep women in submission and bolster sexist teachings in the modern church. Rather than viewing this text as a reframing of unjust social structures like patriarchy and slavery—as Paul intended—many interpret it as endorsing those oppressive systems. 

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Some say gender hierarchy is God’s perfect design—a pristine plan for women and men’s good and flourishing. They point to Genesis, arguing that God clearly intended patriarchy from the start. But the text tells a different story.

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Sigh. Some of us have heard this overly simplistic and frankly convenient interpretation of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18-32. But is there more to this passage than meets the eye?

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