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.
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:4 constitute Scripture’s only mention of the common Greek word for “authority” (exousia) in clear reference to husbands and wives in marriage. This radical denouncement of either spouse insisting on personal “authority” over her or his own body in marital intimacy is a stunning reversal of the cultural norm of Paul’s day—as well as throughout the majority of church history. What does his bold statement mean in its biblical context, and what does it say about Christian mutuality in both marriage and singleness today?
When Mariana arrived in Costa Rica in 1984, she was in for a shock. She saw that people with physical limitations generally were given no responsibility for, or control over, their own lives. In some homes, people with physical limitations were kept “hidden away in a back room.” She immediately set out to help persons with physical limitations run their own lives, excel and even serve others. In the process, she said, “God has opened doors.”
Confucians believe that all virtue begins with adhering to filial piety because practicing filial piety teaches a person how to relate properly to those who are different from them. The patriarchal hierarchy imbedded in Confucianism, however, breaks the original design of harmony through filial piety and results in male dominance. This oppressive tendency is in dire need of the healing power of the gospel seen in women’s role in New Testament household codes.
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.
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. It is only the liberal, secular, or religiously compromised people on the other side who think differently.
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?”
Written by Frances Willard, a leader of the temperance movement, this book is a collection of testimonies provided by men and women preachers including Dr. Van Dyke a Presbyterian and Dr. Townsend a Methodist theologian.