The CBE Scroll presents “Learning to Thrive”, a five-part series that will feature stories from members of CBE’s “Thrive” Chapter at Biola University in Southern California. We hope this will serve as an encouragement to all of you and deepen your understanding of the true meaning of the Gospel! Today we will hear from Allison Quient, a member of the chapter and a former CBE intern.
Upon entering Biola as a freshman Bible major I was clueless about the gender issue. At home I had never been informed my interests were considered masculine or that I was “functionally” limited by gender. At church, the possibility of a woman being a pastor was not argued for, but scripturally assumed. When I had theological questions my dad would encourage me to look into the Bible and sort through the passages with him. Even though he gave me his position, he taught me how to read the Bible carefully and to arrive at my own conclusions while drawing from other people’s strengths. My dad and I are alike in many ways so it was no surprise to my church or family that I decided to pursue Biblical Studies as an undergrad and then continue on to seminary.
At Biola I experienced both a confirmation that theological study was where God wanted me, and confusion over who I was. It started when I noticed I was one of a handful of women in the Bible department. I did not think much of it at the time, even when I experienced strange “isolated” experiences such as certain classmates not acknowledging my voice on a group project, even though the three of us were working side by side, or being told by a friend that I was only pretending to be feminine to cover up my masculine tendencies (love of debating and theology). In addition, a male friend, who always felt the need to simplify everything for me, also continually was condescending to me. It was not until a friend of mine suggested that this person might feel threatened by my gender that I began to consider that all of my experiences were not isolated, but part of a larger systemic problem—one I would later attribute to a world-view that teaches that God ordains roles according to gender and that for women these “roles” were one-way subordination to an ideally benevolent leader, who might take my advice into consideration.
In my Bible classes I gained much valuable insight and Biblical knowledge and loved all of my teachers. However, when theology of gender was presented to me the complementarian position (that gender dictates function within the body) appeared the most clear and obvious reading of Scripture and all of the egalitarian arguments I was given by my complementarian professors were incredibly weak. Without any solid egalitarian arguments, I became a firm and convicted complementarian. It was not until I debated my dad years later (and lost) concerning women in the church and 1 Timothy 2 that I gave some ground to women being associate pastors. Later, when I took Dr. Pierce’s class I realized I could not hold to a complementarian position in any form for the church or home. What surprised me was the weight that was lifted once I changed my mind, a weight I didn’t realize I carried. In hindsight, it is no surprise there was a weight to be lifted because deep inside I had a sense that the complementarian view railed against the spirit of the Gospel (broader teaching of the Bible and Biblical principles) and what God’s Spirit had written on my heart—that I was His child, His heir according to the Promise, and that my gifting and character dictated my function.
I had initially identified with the complementarian position because I thought certain passages were clearly against female leadership. I could not square it with what I knew of God or the clear mutuality principles in Scripture, but trusted that God in His wisdom had a reason. It was only by continuing to be open to what Scripture had to say and considering what other godly men and women had to contribute that I became a solid egalitarian and for years have been blessed and convicted by Scripture’s message not of female domination, but of mutual submission.