On Saturday, May 4, prominent Christian feminist and celebrated author Rachel Held Evans (37) died unexpectedly of complications from the flu. Rachel was a courageous voice for those of us who have felt unheard and unseen in the church.
Evangelical tradition places a high value on the biblical text, which is a good thing. But too often, we buy into a myth that our favorite translation is God’s true Word, pure and untainted by bias. Changes are seen as a threat to God’s truth, motivated by a social or political agenda.
Just this week a CBE member asked if we were aware of a ministry which encourages men to love their wives while instructing women to respect their husbands. This member pointed to the obvious. "How can you ever separate respect from love? To love someone is to respect them! If my husband fails to respect me, I don’t feel loved!"
I have always loved the above quote by G.K. Chesterton because it bears upon our work as evangelicals. Too often, as fallen human beings, we simply do not perceive truth and justice as we should. Theologians call this the "noetic effects of the fall," (or what C.S. Lewis called "wanting more than our fair share of strawberries") meaning, simply, that our perceptions and judgments are prone to serve self-interest and must continually be evaluated. And, as the abolitionists discovered, arguments used to support slavery, when analyzed carefully, were not only shallow but were also rooted in self-interest. Because slavery went unchallenged for centuries, the abolitionists had to help people see that the the moral teachings of the Bible differed from Bible culture—which included slavery.
The trip took me and a dozen others from the US to Bangalore, a city in South India for a conference called “SIDE by SIDE—Gender from a Christian Perspective: Men and Women Dependent on Each Other (I Corinthians 11:11).” I was one of two board members who, along with three staff members, represented one of the sponsoring organizations, CBE.