Biblical Equality 101 | CBE International

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Biblical Equality 101

In 1995, economists discovered that 100 million females had vanished. Today, that number may be as high as 200 million according to Amartya Sen, a retired professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard. Sen received a Nobel Prize for his work, which prompted humanitarians and researchers to employ a gender-lens in their research and work. With one voice, they demonstrated how patriarchy is one of the most malicious and debilitating forces in history. Because of it, females are and have been abused and slaughtered on a mass scale. Amartya was the first to sound the alarm: females were suffering a genocide. But who was paying attention? Our privilege as Western Christians, and especially evangelicals, has distanced us from this crisis, and from the experiences of girls and women globally.... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our six honorable mentions from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! Jesus' fulfillment of the Law is the climax of Israel’s messianic Scriptures. In fulfilling that Law, he declared that his humble example of service would constitute a “new command” for the people of God (John 13:14, 34). The old Law was made obsolete (Gal. 3:24-25) and Jesus’ example of relinquishing power would be the new moral foundation, the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Jesus explicitly prohibited his disciples from imitating the world’s system of power: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you... Read more
As a child, my family celebrated the beginning of summer by watching the Wizard of Oz. Everyone had their favorite scenes, and mine was Dorothy’s final encounter with the Wizard. Victorious over a powerful foe, Dorothy enters the Wizard’s sanctum expecting him to honor their bargain—the witch’s broom for her return to Kansas. But the Wizard shouts at her through flashing light and smoke, attempting to scare her away. Despite her fear, she spies a curtain and pulls it back to find that the Wizard is only a man. Dorothy exposes the Wizard for what he is—a farce. He pretends to be powerful but in reality, he's nothing but smoke and mirrors. Male headship is portrayed as God’s ideal, a position imbued with theological strength, by complementarians like... Read more
Today marks the final installment in CBE's Women's History Wednesday series. We opened the series by exploring the ways history has tried to erase women. We followed up with three articles on history-making egalitarian women. In this final installment, we'll lay a path for courageous advocacy in the tradition of the bold leaders who walked this path before us.  I’ve been invested in equal rights for women in the church since I could talk. At eight years-old, I made a tape recording of myself preaching the gospel to imaginary people. Like a good Presbyterian, my persuasive sermon tackled original sin: “Adam and Eve became sinners, and we became sinners, too!” My little girl voice rings out on the recording with passionate fury. I was full of hellfire and... Read more
This article was first published with Missio Alliance. Do egalitarians overlook the deeper truths of Scripture to promote social-economic equality? Does our commitment to biblical gender equality render us secular wolves dressed as biblical lambs? In “The Bible Never Says All Men Are Created Equal: How the New Testament Offers A Higher Calling Than the Declaration of Independence,” Andrew Wilson wonders why Galatians 3:28 is so often cited as the biblical basis for gender equality when the Greek term for equality, equity, and fairness (isotes) is strangely missing from this passage. The question of oneness According to Wilson, Scripture does not teach that Jews are equal to Gentiles; that slaves are equal to masters; or that women are equal to men. For Wils... Read more
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. Many Christians believe that Christianity and feminism are incompatible. But this assumption is drawn from biased definitions of both feminism and Christianity. Some Christians have an extremely negative perception of feminism. Feminism conjures up images of angry, man-hating, bra-burning women fighting for unnecessary ends. After all, they argue, what more do women need when they can work outside the home and vote? They believe that women are already equal, but need to accept their different roles. With this skewed definition of f... Read more
We just saw the end of January, the month of fresh starts and new beginnings. For many Christians, it also marks the beginning of an attempt to read the Bible in its entirety, from Genesis to Revelation, in a year. In light of that, I’d like to cover a few basic egalitarian principles that can help us read and understand the Bible. In the past, reading Scripture was difficult for me because I was taught that Genesis established a God-ordained hierarchy between men and women in which men ruled. This complementarian understanding of Genesis led me to believe that the subsequent biblical accounts were evidence of God’s desire for strict gender roles and male leadership.  I couldn’t reconcile why God would create women in his image only to will that they be ruled by me... Read more
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. I am not sure what they have in mind, but I have seen: Women discouraged from and not chosen for church leadership Men and women shamed for not fitting culturally-defined gender roles Exclusion born from semantics and titles Sexual harassment such as groping, leering, and unwanted comments Women shrinking themselves to be more socially acceptable, both inside and outside the church I have witnessed all of the above examples of gender inequality... Read more
In the last few years, it has become popular for people (especially celebrities) to identify as “feminists” on the secular stage. While this may sound like a positive trend, it has effectively rendered the term “feminist” meaningless. Anyone can join the club. You can be a pornographer or hold deeply sexist attitudes toward women while simultaneously self-identifying as a “gender equality advocate” because you supposedly “love women.” But this version of equality doesn’t threaten the status quo, it reinforces it.   Defining feminism as an ambiguous ideology of “equality” may destigmatize the movement and get more people on the bandwagon, but doing so also neutralizes its power. Patriarchy, power, and privilege will c... Read more
I’d like to correct some of the most common false assumptions about egalitarian theology. I hear these a lot, but they’re simply not true. 1. Egalitarians don’t respect Scripture. It’s time to debunk the notion that egalitarians do not uphold the authority of Scripture. That we do not have a wild, reverent love for the Good Book. Egalitarianism is an interpretation of Scripture. So is complementarianism. And when we interpret Scripture, we do it with the millstone of bias around our necks, the same millstone the skewed the interpretations of Augustine, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, CS Lewis, Óscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Sojourner Truth, Aimee Semple McPherson, and every Christian who has ever lived. Even these giants of the C... Read more

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