Why aren’t all Christians egalitarian? After all, the teachings of the Bible have been with us for 2000 years, though they’ve been badly misinterpreted. For more than thirteen years, the CBE community has distributed scriptural materials on the equality of women and men through our book service, web site, conferences and chapter events. Still, many Christians do not accept the message of biblical equality. Why not?
Effective communication seems to require more than stating the facts, researchers tell us.1 If we’re going to reach a wide audience with CBE’s message, we must eliminate jargon, share the dreams and fears of other Christians, model the message and provide non-threatening opportunities for others to practice equality. CBE’s Marriage Conference (October 27-29) was designed with each of these principles in mind.
In the last issue of Mutuality, we noted how technical language often hinders CBE’s message, excluding many from the discussion. But as we speak of the positive changes that the belief and practice of equality has brought to our lives, we help others see the advantages of embracing the full message of Galatians 3:28.
Yet, there is another communication barrier to consider – the wrong ideas others may have of what we, the CBE community, actually believe. Many have images of angry, God-demeaning feminists, encroaching on the church and undermining all they hold dear: the well-being of children, families and marriages. Some Christians honestly think that the message of CBE will destroy their homes, churches, and society.
Research suggests that speaking to the shared values of others is a powerful way of communicating something new or something perceived as suspect. 2 One way to begin is to share our common values. For example, CBE does uphold the authority of scripture, the sacredness of marriage and the family, and the desire to please God and imitate the life of Christ. You can tell how you and your spouse share a desire and duty to nurture one another and care for the needs of your children, share how you long to honor God and the gifts God has given you, and show how you are striving to uphold Scripture and model servant leadership. By addressing common values, we strengthen the Christian community, build bridges to others and share God’s call to biblical equality.
- Everett Rogers, The Diffusion of Innovations, Fourth Edition (New York: The Free Press, 1995).
- Ibid. p. 224-244.