When the curtain on male headship is pulled back, it shrinks from the light of logic and truth. Consider the most recent defense of male headship by John Piper. He offers three reasons why he believes it will endure, but in pulling the curtain back, we find each deeply flawed.
In her book, Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else, Melanie Springer Mock critiques the Christian culture which labels people and puts them into boxes. She then affirms God’s heart for every individual by emphasizing how much he loves them, regardless of what the world might think. She shares many experiences from her own life, both painful and positive, that helped challenge her thinking.
It matters that Mary and Jesus are often inaccurately imaged with light skin in the West. It matters that pastors preach on Jacob, David, and Peter but not Rahab, Tamar, and Priscilla. And it matters that, Sunday after Sunday, women don’t see preachers who look like us in the pulpit.
One of the key issues faced by women in the church is the lack of provision for ongoing leadership development. Even in churches that espouse gender equality, women woefully lack leadership opportunities, especially on the platform.
Nancy Lammers Gross effectively uses the story of Miriam to establish a Biblical point of reference to encourage women preachers to use their full body instrument to its greatest capacity for the proclamation of the gospel. Additionally, to help readers more fully understand the complexities many women face in connecting to their own voice, Gross chronicles the stories of women with whom she worked. She then utilizes the final chapters of the book to walk the reader through exercises to use the full body instrument that God has given each one.
This is the story of the Samaritan woman's conversion. It is also the story of her empowerment. She is transformed from a woman who sees merely a thirsty man before her to one who knows that man as Messiah of the world. It is the testimony of a Samaritan woman, a spectator on the outside looking in, that bears witness to an entire village.
The integral inclusion of women in the life of the church continued after the death of the apostles. Preferring rejection, torture, and even death to renouncing their faith, women served Christ as missionaries, scholars, and pilgrims. Women were also noted among the martyrs of the early church, and their astounding courage and faith changed the world.
We can follow these examples of radical acts of loving by making small choices each day: recognizing someone else’s pain before yelling at them for being too needy; giving someone the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions; forgiving someone who has disappointed us.