Biblical Equality 101 | CBE International

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Biblical Equality 101

"Ideas have consequences and bad ideas can have lethal consequences." —George Weigel, American Catholic theologian “The most prominent indicator of whether a female will be sold to a brothel, killed as a fetus, abused in her marriage or family, or denied a place of decision making in her community or marriage, is determined not by her gender, but by the value we place on females as a whole.” —Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality Like all efforts to promote justice, gender justice begins with an idea—that God declares that men and women are created in God’s image and given equal dominion and that males and females therefore have equal value and equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Likewise... Read more
How strange it is that Christmas carols can make me want to buy an iPhone 5 and a MacBook Air, and in the same moment want to save the world! How does one reconcile the reality that while my kids wish for an endless stream of expensive gadgets, toys and designer clothes, elsewhere over a billion humans on this planet spend most of their waking hours simply wishing for a few drops of clean water?  And that everywhere on our planet, whether in Cambodia or India or right here on our own doorsteps, 12-27 million people are caught in a web of slavery today and, according to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, three out of every four are female and over half are children? (http://www.freedomcenter.org/slavery-today/) Top-of-mind for many this holiday season is the shocki... Read more
Pictures of a battered and bruised Taylor Armstrong (star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) are circulating in the media, once again demonstrating that wealth, beauty, and celebrity are no match for male domination. What do Armstrong and women around the world have in common? They have all suffered the negative impact of patriarchy in some way or another. The outcome has been objectification, marginalization, marriage and family struggles, serious economic problems because of divorce or abandonment by one's spouse, the silencing by faith communities, inequity in the workplace, physical abuse, and sexual assault. "Patriarchy literally means 'rule of fathers.' Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is centra... Read more
Scholars have been producing excellent books about gender equality for years. But J. Lee Grady, an award-winning journalist, minister, and CBE advisory board member, says we won't change the culture until we climb down from the ivory tower to reach the "common man." That's exactly what he aims to do with his new book 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House, $14.99). We talked to Grady about the new book and his passion to confront gender prejudice on the front lines. Arise: What prompted you to write a book aimed at men? Grady: My book, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, published in 2000, offered healing to women who have been marginalized or abused. I've dedicated my life to confronting this problem. But I realized immediately that I couldn... Read more
CONSIDER - Christ, the crucified God, "loved us and gave himself up for us" (Eph. 5:2). Consider then what it means for a Christian marriage to be "in the Lord." THINK FURTHER - Though this is often lost in our translations, "submit to one another" (21), along with singing, making melody, and thanksgiving, is in the original Greek an expression of being filled with the Spirit (18). Just as the Spirit-anointed Christ did not seek his own advantage, so we should imitate him by submitting to one another. Paul explains what this means for the most important relationships in the first-century home: marriage, children and fathers, slaves and masters. To put these in context, let us begin with the last. For many Christians slavery has little relevance, and it w... Read more
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:13-15, TNIV). Have you ever noticed how problems become worse the longer we ignore them? Perhaps this is one reason why a gifted attorney, now a judge in Chicago, frequently reminds her family and friends of the importance of being proactive. As it relates to biblical equality, this is never more the case. Here are a few examples of how valuable it is to have an answer for those who ask for the r... Read more
"Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation" (Gal. 6:15, TNIV). Do you find it curious that some Christians seem entirely focused on gender differences? Have you also noticed that this is rarely the posture of Scripture? The Bible emphasizes our similarities as God’s covenant people, despite gender, class, or ethnicity. What we share in Christ far overshadows differences of skin color, class, or gender. What are the things we share as believers? According to Scripture men and women are equally created in God’s image and given equal dominion in Eden. Men and women are equally responsible for and distorted by sin. Thankfully, men and women are also equally redeemed in Christ, gifted by the Hol... Read more
A prominent sociologist on evangelicals, Sally Gallagher, published a fascinating study on evangelicals, “The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism,” in which she considers the reason why evangelicals as a whole continue to deny mutual submission and shared authority between men and women. In her research, Gallagher suggests that well-known evangelical leaders have effectively linked evangelical feminism with androgyny, or the idea that sexual distinctions between men and women are ambiguous. Many of us have noted how often those who believe in gender hierarchy make statements such as, “evangelical feminists are working to blur the genders that God made so beautifully distinct.” They claim that androgyny is the result when we embrace gift-based leadership. Beca... Read more
If someone asked you to highlight the most obvious biblical fact supporting your position as an egalitarian, what might you say? If you were pressed to give ONE reason for believing that Scripture advances gift-based, rather than gender-based ministry, what would that be? Perhaps CBE should hold a contest and give awards for those who offer the most concise and comprehensive fact supporting an egalitarian interpretation of Scripture. If I were asked this question, I might be tempted to suggest that because Scripture celebrates the leadership of numerous women throughout the Old and New Testament, even though there are a few places where women are silenced from teaching and excluded from holding authority, it is clear that God does not universally oppose the authority or public ministry... Read more
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23, TNIV). Very often the questions asked by those struggling with the gender issue are quite profound. For example, after leading a workshop at the last Urbana Missions Conference, a graduate student from Harvard told me, "If the Bible really teaches that all women must be submissive to males, and men will be the final arbiters of women, then God is basically saying women are inferior to men. And I cannot be party to such an system that places women under the permanent jurisdiction of a male, not because of a man’s character, or intellect, or walk with God, but simply because he is male. Th... Read more

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