Over the past several decades, women have made strides toward equality in the secular world as well as the church. While some claim these changes have happened too quickly and mourn what they see as the loss of tradition, others believe they have been too long in coming and lament that we still have so far to go. While studying certain aspects of the debate, we—this article’s authors—began to craft a research project: Cameron posed a question while a student in Susan’s Gender Studies course, a question which has focused our attention on a related but unexplored aspect of the gender equality struggle. Here is what happened.
Human beings begin to develop gender identities very early in life as they pick up on cues and clues given off from the sociocultural contexts in which they find themselves. As people and institutions demonstrate socially appropriate ways of being male or female, children become apprentices and learn what it means to be a boy or girl in their culture.
My friend’s father is a godly man. She credits him, along with her mother, with the development of her Christian faith. Yet, this amazing example of faith is often not validated or welcomed by the body of Christ. Even worse, he cannot be “at home” with himself and his gifts in the church. Here’s why:
As a psychologist, I have to be perceptive. Having worked with abused women for five years, I look for the unspoken words and hidden gestures that speak to the truth behind their narratives. Recently, I’ve found myself doing the same thing with movie characters. While characters in movies are supposed to be fictional, they often point us toward real human experiences. These characters can teach us, inspire us, infuriate us, and they can also mirror us, and the lessons God is trying to solidify in our hearts.
Not long after I began studying egalitarian theology in a serious way, I was confronted by one of the more perplexing questions associated with it: what are the true "differences" between men and women?