Biblical Equality 101 | CBE International

You are here

Biblical Equality 101

Have you ever read a book, heard a sermon, attended a conference, or listened to a Christian radio show that suggested that men need respect, whereas women need love? Just this week a CBE member asked if we were aware of a ministry which encourages men to love their wives while instructing women to respect their husbands. This member pointed to the obvious. "How can you ever separate respect from love? To love someone is to respect them! If my husband fails to respect me, I don’t feel loved!" Here is another example of a familiar problem—that of coloring our spiritual and moral lives in pinks or blues. Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen gave her freshman class a list of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfuln... Read more
This post originally appeared on on November 25th, 2013, as a part of Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist synchroblog. I am a Jesus feminist because of the resurrection. Two summers ago, I attended a traditional church service where the pastor was teaching out of Mark 16, which describes the story of Jesus’ resurrection and subsequent appearance to Mary Magdalene. He spoke with passion and grace about how all that we hope for as believers hangs on Christ’s defeat of death and physical resurrection. Being someone who is passionate about issues pertaining to gender inequity, especially in Christian contexts, I leaned over to my friends at the beginning of the message and whispered, “Do you know how crazy it is that Jesus first reveals hims... Read more
In considering the early chapters of Genesis last week, we observed how human identity is inseparable from being created in God’s image as male and female. What is more, our identity—as created in God’s image—shapes our purpose. For this reason, both Adam and Eve share authority in caring for the world and each otherbecause both are created in God’s image. Yet Eve is not only created in God’s image, God also made her an ezer, or “strong help.” Adam’s aloneness—the only "not good" in Eden—is overcome only with the creation of Eve, which emphasizes her essential contribution in sharing authority and working beside Adam. Despite sin and patriarchy—consequences of the fall—women continue to l... Read more
If you want to understand gender and identity from a biblical perspective, the early chapters of Genesis are an excellent place to begin. Here, we observe that a perfect world must include male and female; both are needed to serve and lead as God’s representatives. That is why Adam’s aloneness is the only “not good” in a perfect world. It is God who views Adam without Eve as the first and only deficiency of Eden—a world without sin. Addressing this problem, God creates a partner for Adam, a woman whom God introduces as a “strong helper,” or ezer (in Hebrew), a term that means, “to rescue” and “to be strong.” Used 21 times in the Old Testament, ezer is most often used for “God's rescue... Read more
Last week I considered the flawed logic coupled with the lack of biblical support of those who advance male authority as a biblical ideal. This week I will offer a brief response to the more detrimental aspects of these errors. For each assertion ascribing “masculine” qualities to leadership, we’ll consider the biblical evidence. 1. Jesus was Male  To begin with, we must remember that Christ represents your flesh and mine. It is not Christ’s gender that is essential, but his humanity. According to the ancient church, Christ was born as a male to represent males, and also born of a woman to represent females (Gregory of Nazianzus, “Epistle 101,” Hardy, Christology, p. 218. Migne, P.G. 37:181). Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a woman, C... Read more
Why is patriarchy so entrenched not only within the major faith traditions, but particularly among Christians? One obvious answer is that the “he will rule over you” of Genesis 3:18 was one of the first consequences of sin in the garden. But unlike the other effects of sin—death, toil and work, or even pain in childbirth—male rule has been elevated and advanced as a biblical ideal by religious leaders from the early centuries to the present day. What would happen if Christians also enshrined the other effects of sin, like death for example, as we have male rule? On the contrary, Christians consistently resist death; we oppose the thorns and thistles of labor through technology and agriculture, just as we work to improve the experiences of childbearing. Yet, male... Read more
There are still church pastors and church leaders worldwide who believe women have no authority to pastor and should remain silent in the church. It is further exacerbated by the misinterpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Saint Paul wrote these scriptures to guide a troubled, first century church, not to create a discriminatory church policy against women in the 21st century. Yet, the reality is women are being discriminated against. It is a silent and stifling church policy that must come to an end! Sacred scriptures are misused to silence women and some stop them from pastoring because there is no biblical model. The truth is some men use sacred scriptures to limit competition for pastoral jobs, church management, and remain in power. There are some churches founded by women, bu... Read more
I must admit that if someone told me about Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) when I first came to know Christ, I would not have understood the need for such an organization. Being raised in the military, my world was already racially and ethnically integrated and diverse. The church where I came to know Christ as a teenager consisted mostly of military families and was gender-inclusive. Over the next two decades, I assumed if someone had a problem with me it was because of my personality, rather than my gender. In my second year of graduate school, I completed a practicum at a Christian college counseling center. One of my young female clients made this statement: "Patty, if I could see God as less male, I could believe he cares about me." She had been raised to believe t... Read more
The following column is posted with permission from his blog. I have defended the ministry of women in the church in public for a while now, including on my blog. I don’t think I can do it any longer. Not because of any lack of calling or gifting in their ministry, but because of a lack in mine. Take Phoebe Palmer. She began to be involved in leading a Bible study in New York around 1830. She soon received invitations to preach across the USA and in the UK. Something like 25,000 people were converted by her ministry. 25,000 people. Converted. Does that need defense? Really? She visited prisons regularly, ran a society helping poor people in need of medical attention, and was involved in an ambitious project to challenge the new problem of urban poverty through the provision... Read more
In a final attempt to rescue gender essentialism, some scholars claim that if a certain gender difference holds up cross-culturally—that is, across many different learning environments—we can more safely conclude that it is “natural” and “fixed.” But this conclusion is also too simple. For example, in chapter 27 (p. 469) of Discovering Biblical Equality (DBE) Cynthia Neal Kimball cites (and seems to accept as accurate) cross-cultural studies showing that men “are more oriented toward promiscuity and finding a younger and attractive female partner” while women are “more concerned with finding older men who have attained financial resources and social status.” Although she does not reference any of the relevant research, t... Read more