The commitment to equality to be found in Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) as an organization will hinge on our individual approaches to equality.
One approach is to view CBE as a feminist organization. But in the popular sense of the word, is CBE "feminist"? If it is, this column can serve as my official notification of resignation from CBE. I am not a feminist. But before you use this paper to cover your bird cage bottom or line the garbage can, listen to my reasoning.
"Feminist" and "feminism" are words that have become polluted by their use and abuse in the secular world. The words feminist and feminism have come to mean more than their original definition. If someone were to call me a feminist in the true definition of the word, I would proudly accept the title. I believe in the social, political, and – more importantly – the Biblically-based equality of all in Christ. But I can not accept the title of feminist because of what it seems to have become in the minds of the secular world and, unfortunately, in the minds of many Christians.
"Feminist" and "feminism" have become words used simply to define a new oppression, not a new equality. The feminists of the world do not seem to want equality, but unshared power. Strident feminists seem to advocate a change simply based on redefining the elitist power structure. And, like Russia throwing out the elitist Tsarist system for the equally elitist Communist system, the new oppression can only become worse. Unbridled power corrupts.
Would being a "feminist" organization help CBE? Does a "feminist" slant or view help CBE? I would say emphatically not.
Remember: We are CHRISTIANS FOR BIBLICAL EQUALITY, not Christians for Biblical Equality Focussing on Women's Issues. And with our particular focus on equality, we need to direct our views to the biblical equality of all. This means that we seek Bible-based equality for women – along with men, Blacks, Hispanics, Orientals, poor and any other group.
If we are concentrating only on women's rights and women's needs, then we will miss the needs and rights of the men in our group and in Christ's Body. By focussing on one group we denigrate the other groups.
Some of the women CBE members will have to face up to the fact that although in Christ, we are equal (Galations 3:28) through our faith, there are men, different races, different economic classes, and different denominations in CBE.
There are many reasons for this. First, the concept of mutual equality in Christ is biblical.
Second, men or representatives of other groups have been just as hurt by the various accepted psuedo-biblical heirarchial teachings as women. The men (and women) want to hear more about mutual equality so they can implement more of that biblical equality and freedom and power in their lives, churches and relationships.
Unfortunately, there have been too many time during the CBE meetings when it seems as though women are shown as the only ones who hurt and that men are the only ones doing the hurting. It often seems as if the people at the meetings will talk about how "MEN" have taught, "MEN" have done, "MEN" have said harmful or hurting things leaving irreparable scars or unhealed hurt. Or, sometimes to keep things in "balance", we have heard that MEN have NOT taught, MEN have NOT done, MEN have NOT said the freeing or healing thing. Frankly, I see men being labelled, as a general group, as oppressive tyrants.
But I am not a group. Why am I being denied my individuality in Christ? Why are my hurts and emotional needs being unaddressed by fellow Christians? Why am I being attacked in this general mudslinging? Simply because I had the unfortunate experience of being born male?
I do not want to surprise anyone reading this, but there are men inside and outside of CBE who do not intentionally hurt others and who do not believe in psuedo-biblical hierarchial teaching. And there are men inside and outside of CBE who have been horribly oppressed by other groups – including women. But instead of addressing these matters, I often hear generalized comments about the male population.
I have heard women say, or had it reported to me, that it is all right for general comments and observations and subtle put-downs about men to be made because women have had to listen to them for years and "it's about time they knew what it was like." What an unkind and unloving comment for a Christian, particularily one who supposedly believes in biblical equality, to make!
I understand, and certainly do not deny, that certain men have hurt certain women in particular situations. I do not make light of these actions or excuse them, but men have hurt men, women have hurt women, and women have hurt men. Many of us are, with our Lord's help and grace, working on these hurts. But let not become bitter about what has happened and project our hurts onto entire groups (ALL men, ALL Blacks, and so on).
Let us use what has happened and what we have learned to help Christ's Army be all that it can be. It is time that we look at how many groups have been hurt by the teaching that they have received from the secular world and Christians. Take time to discover the hurt and cure it Do not waste time assigning blame. Listen with the empathy that your own pain has given you.
Others have been hurt by the roles they were told to play in ways that we, with our own egocentrism or group-centeredness, don't always take the time to discover. When we listen to another's pain with quiet, respectful empathy, then we will be heard with respect. And, as we take the time to discover and explore how others have been victimized by various psuedo-biblical teaching, then we will have a complete picture of how God's plan of equality is truly the best method of relating for everyone.
So, is there equality in Christians For Biblical Equality? As long as fallible human beings (even Chrisitans!) are involved, there can be no real equality, only movement towards the goal. But in Christ Jesus and through His all-encompassing Grace, we can begin to accept our differences along with our mutual equality in Him.
Let us continue to strive for a true equality based on the infallible Word. God bless both our organization and its members as we seek together to honor Him.