Practicing What Is Preached Abroad

by Shirley Taylor | October 09, 2013

Our government advocates human rights and female equality while Christian America often teaches female submission and carries that message across the world.Women in the United States have freedoms that are denied women in most countries, but many churches are telling women something very different! Yet, freedoms should be promoted inside the church. Many people in church do not want to make a fuss about equality. But a fuss must be made before change will come. Sadly, because we are often afraid to stand up to patriarchal systems, change will more than likely have to come from groups that are outside the church. Unfortunately, this change is coming slowly, yet the message of male headship continues to be spread not only here in the US, but also on the mission field, sadly.

Churches that promote male headship are sending missionaries abroad, teaching that women must submit to men, an injustice already well-established in many countries. But this teaching is in direct opposition to human rights for women. Women are devalued in society, church, and home. This results in marginalism that makes sex trafficking and mutilation of young girls easier. Male headship is oppressive, and it is male headship that denies women the right to education and many health benefits men enjoy. These and other basic human needs are routinely denied females globally.

Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, gives an example of the pervasiveness of male headship teaching across the world. Haddad said, “I came to understand just how essential it is to reach Christian humanitarian workers with the biblical message of shared leadership for women and men after a conversation I had this spring (2012). I had just delivered a workshop when a young couple approached me. They warned me not to oppose male headship and authority which, they explained, are clearly outlined in Scripture. I asked them, ‘What if the roles you believe that you see in Scripture further the abuse of females around the world?’ to which they responded, ‘The Bible would not teach male leadership if it was not God’s best for humanity.’” Haddad went on to say, “Both of these individuals teach male headship as a biblical principle both privately and professionally. They work for two of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world” (see Dethroning Male Headship, pp. 99–100).

The cause for biblical equality is urgent, and much change is needed. This is not merely an issue on US soil, but on the soil of countries across the world. As the gospel goes forth, we give women the message of hope through Jesus Christ. However, many will follow up the message of freedom in Christ with the yoke of submission, ignoring Paul’s words in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” As we promote equality among all believers, let us not forget that we must also be thinking of those on the mission field, and the people under their care.