There has been much written regarding how some people seem more adversely affected by headship teaching than others. It can appear as though a person’s early experiences of life is crucial to how they see themselves in relation to authority figures, especially in the church. Both girls and boys observe how the adults around them behave and form their life experiences long before they have any actual instruction about roles and biblical interpretations which promote patriarchy.
Changing a person’s perception of themselves and others, can be an involved process but an excellent way to strengthen oneself against cultural views is to know what the Bible says about personhood.
Some people have been blessed to have good role models and unbiased instruction as to why we were created and this has stood them in good stead throughout their lives. If we have this foundation, it is the base upon which we can build all of life’s experiences and be strong against opposition from other family connections, schools, workplaces and churches.
If one is not fortunate enough to have had this upbringing, it is never too late to learn how valuable each person is to God and what he can do in and through a person who has the Holy Spirit living within. There are countless Bible verses explaining God’s character and delight in his creation and his desire for our lives as we live on this earth. None of these passages are gender specific and can be applied equally to people of either gender and in a multitude of situations.
For people to know God, know that he loves them unconditionally and that there are works prepared for them since before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) puts all of life into perspective and gives purpose for living. If only we could teach people these truths without the added church teachings about gender expectations for their lives, so many more Christians would be free to explore what God has designed them to be/do and the resulting liberty would speak volumes to a watching world and provide more opportunities for Christians to serve in all aspect of church and community life.
Even when Christians are confronted with extra-biblical teaching about roles and gender expectations, they can resist these influences if they are well-grounded in the truths of scripture and sure of their relationship with God. So, those of us who are privileged to teach groups like children and new Christians have an excellent opportunity to encourage them to learn and believe what God has said about them and to build their lives on those principles.
With Christ’s resurrection being brought to our attention again, we can rejoice that our redemption through the cross means we are ‘bought back’ into the kind of relationship with God which was at creation when humans were created and God declared that everything and everyone was good! What great news we have to share as we think about the promise of full forgiveness and the possibility of newness of life as we live daily in fellowship with God and each other.
As we focus on redemption we can be reminded that all God’s promises are eternal and without favouritism in respect to gender, race, status or age. Let this be the foundation for all our discussions regarding true biblical equality.