Some months ago I was struck by some statistics I happened upon while checking out some information on the Internet (see p. 17). These data make the point that as women are enjoying the growing opportunities to succeed in business and the professional world, they are becoming an increasingly dominant force. While I was impressed by the large numbers and percentages of women involved in business and in decision-making on the home front, I couldn’t help wishing the same were true across the church spectrum. I wondered what the percentages would be had those who compiled the numbers done a survey of how many women were actively involved in church leadership. Surely many of these same women who represent the growing percentages of leadership in business attend churches in which they are denied the opportunity to use their gifts and their obvious abilities to lead.
The material in this issue may give you pause as well to ponder this conundrum. Joe Lunceford’s article, “Biblical Women Weren’t Always Submissive” (beginning on p. 13), will, for example, bring to your attention eight women who did not take a back seat to men in sometimes critical leadership and decision-making. Yet these women lived in patriarchal societies that are sometimes used as models for contemporary man-woman relationships. I find Lunceford’s review of these women a refreshing reminder that women can and do lead, and that we may embrace that leadership.
You will also find helpful Joan Schaupp’s article, “The Feminine Imagery of God in the Hebrew Bible.” This is a helpful perspective in that we are so accustomed to hearing God described in masculine terms, it almost comes as a surprise to find that our Creator God does indeed also encompass the feminine.
For CBE members, board member Dan Kent’s reminder that the basis for our understanding of the equality of men and women is firmly anchored in Scripture. His article, “A Whole Bible Approach to Equality,” is a solid statement of our convictions (see p. 10). Taking that conviction a step further, two college students collaborated on a short article that argues the case for the use of inclusive language in Scripture translation. “The Importance of Gender-Inclusive Language” (p. 18) argues for the use of language that can fully communicate God’s love to both men and women.
Rebecca Merrill Groothuis’s lead article, “Strange Bedfellows,” is a fascinating study of the similarity in the thought processes of those in the scientific community who vigorously defend Darwinism and those in the church who just as vigorously defend the traditional views of women as subordinate to men. You should find her careful analysis of these two groups to be helpful.
Finally, Martha Berg’s review of a book by Phoebe Palmer, a nineteenth-century advocate for women in ministry, confirms the fact that egalitarianism is not an innovation of our own times.
Happy reading! And don’t forget to send along your comments from time to time.