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.
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.
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.
1 Peter 3 is a tricky passage. It’s often been twisted to pressure abused women to stay with their husbands as a sign of submission. But this passage is not meant to subject women to fear or violence; it is supposed to encourage primary loyalty to Christ, not to husbands.
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.
For egalitarians, the book of Judges clearly demonstrates God’s approval of women leaders. Yet many who view women’s leadership as unbiblical dismiss the pattern of God-affirmed female authority in Judges.
Some people believe that 1 Corinthians 7 means that husbands are entitled to sex and wives have an obligation to supply it. But the text, properly interpreted, doesn't support that argument. In fact, it opposes it.