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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.

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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.

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When culture values women and men equally, these very attitudes stem the abuse of women. What is more, when dollars are invested in women’s health, education, and businesses, we not only raise women’s standard of living, but that of their families and communities.

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(Adapted from a paper given at the 2007 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society)

My interest in women and missions of the 1800s is reinvigorated, of late, by a number of experiences I’ve had lecturing at Christian colleges and seminaries around the county. When invited to speak for chapel services, I make an effort to learn something about the school, particularly the achievements of the founders and their graduates. In doing so, I have discovered the vast number of women alumni, who were also leaders on the mission field in the United States and abroad. And, they had the full support of the school’s founders. As I include these findings when I lecture, I am often surprised at the responses I receive… some of these Christian colleges appear almost embarrassed to learn of the number of women who held positions of significant leadership and who were trained in this capacity by their institution.

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At its yearly convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America passed a statement opposing abortion, pornography, homosexuality — and female pastors. For Southern Baptist leaders, these issues hang together. They assume that on their side of the culture war, Christians must oppose these practices as a piece. 

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The widespread misunderstandings and mistranslations resulting in gender hierarchy are damaging to people, marriages and the body of Christ. I am going to start by diving into the most famous (or infamous) passage on marriage in Ephesians Chapter 5. It’s amazing to discover what this passage really says!

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That woman was taken out of man is a recognition that she stands on equal footing with him. This was a beautiful, creative act of God that communicated that man’s suitable helper, the one actually fit for him, would come from him.

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Woman is opposite to man, but not in an antagonistic, or inferior, way. Rather, she comes as the suitable one for man. Or as other translations have it, she was “fit for” man. Remember, none of the animals measured up to the ‘ezer role God had imagined for man’s great helper. It was woman and woman alone who met the role.

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Check out these recently published books that extend the biblical vision of equality throughout the church. From reflections on Exodus to American Christianity, there’s something for everyone!

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What is modeled for us can affect what we believe is possible. It is important for churches to model women’s equality to create a more equal future for the next generation.

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