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.
Throughout history, charismatic men and women of God have risen up, almost out of nowhere, to lead spiritual movements and shape theological discourse. These leaders often build churches and large followings before the institutional church pulls them in for a chat. The air is tense, awkward. At some point in the conversation someone asks a deceptively simple question: “Who gives you the authority to do the work you are doing?”
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!
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.
Womanist interpretation seeks to use the Scriptures to explore and empower the construction of black womanhood, the experiences of black women as it relates to the world, and the black community and church.
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.
In the past few years, numerous people have asked me why I make such a big deal about gender equality. Have I experienced such extreme inequality? What traumatic experience drives my activism? Why am I so passionate and outspoken about this issue? People often assume that a tragic event in my personal life led to this behavior.
My first lesson on the dangerous pitfalls of sexual sin and subsequent public scandal came one ordinary day in 1988. I arrived home from church to my dad sitting in his comfy chair, mesmerized and leaning close to the television. Popular televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was confessing to millions of people that he had sinned against God with a prostitute. He knelt on the podium with tears streaming down his face and beseeched God to forgive him.
Throughout the ancient world, gender was identity, and gendered spheres were guarded by the long arm of patriarchy. Yet, notice how Scripture boldly defies patriarchy by celebrating women whose achievements paralleled and often eclipsed men's in business (Proverbs 31), in political strategies (Abigail: 1 Samuel 25, Esther 4:4-17), in military tactics (Jael: Judges 4:17-22, Deborah: Judges 5:7), in theocratic leadership (Deborah: Judges 5:7), in biblical exegesis (Huldah: 2 Kings 22:14ff, 2 Chron. 34:14-33, 2 Kings 22), and in righteously preserving kin (Tamar: Gen. 38:26, Ruth: Ruth 2:1-4:10).