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Published Date: July 31, 2020

Published Date: July 31, 2020

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Christian and Islamic Feminists in Dialogue

The face of abuse, hunger, disease, illiteracy, and poverty is nearly always female. Robert Seiple, former president of World Vision, wrote, “From birth to the grave, throughout much of our allegedly ‘modern’ world, violence marks the lives of those born girls.”1 According to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women,2 Arab women often encounter the steepest climb to shared leadership and authority worldwide. However, as the power differential balances between males and females, the more girls and women, boys and men flourish.3 Islamic feminists have been denied formal positions of leadership, and their strategies for overcoming male dominance thus represent opportunities for dialogue for feminists worldwide.

This article will consider strategies shared by Islamic and Christian feminists in exposing and upending biased historical and exegetical methodologies that further attitudes, laws, and social practices that marginalize and oppress women. Denied empathy, shared authority, accountability, and access to roles traditionally held by men, Islamic and Christian feminists address their efforts at the four horse riders of abusive systems identified by psychologist John Pryor:4

     Power, dominance, and authoritarianism

     Enforcing gender roles

     Lack of empathy

     Environments that foster impunity

We will consider each of these in what follows.

Power, Dominance, and Authoritarianism

Feminists, both Christian and Islamic, resist male authority and dominance through two key objectives: 1. Recovering women’s achievements and leadership throughout history and, 2. Preserving the Creator-creature divide theologically.

Recovering Women’s Contributions throughout History

George Orwell observed, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”5 First-wave Christian feminists prioritized historical research on women leaders of the faith. Julia Kavanagh (1824–1877) published Women of Christianity in 1852; A. J. Gordon (1836–1895) published The Ministry of Women in 1894, and Katharine Bushnell (1855–1946) published God’s Word to Women in 1921. Islamic feminists revived the history of women’s leadership in “pre-modern Muslim societies.”6 Women’s lost history is now part of a “wider scholarly movement.”7 Through this effort, historians demonstrate how Islamic women taught publicly, trained imams, and had many disciples and students throughout the 1400s and 1500s.8 Within Islamic communities, women’s literary works reveal the public voice women scholars had on “various religious and scholarly issues.”9 Yet, this history is not widely rehearsed. Rather, it has suffered intentional neglect, particularly as it concerned women’s religious leadership in the sacred texts.

Likewise, Christian feminists reclaim the examples of biblical women often suppressed by complementarian Christians.10 This effort includes both historical and biblical research demonstrating the significance of the two OT books honoring women’s leadership, like Esther, who publicly challenged her husband the king (Esth 5:1–2), and Ruth, who secured the support of her kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 3:3–14). Though an outsider like Ruth, the Syrophoenician woman gained the ultimate kinsman-redeemer in the person of Christ (Mark 7:24–30). Christian feminists also show the substantial way women surpassed their husbands as business leaders (like the Prov 31 woman), in military maneuverings (like Jael in Judg 4), and in political negotiations (like Abigail in 1 Sam 25). Similarly, women prophets spoke on God’s behalf to Israel, and especially to their priests and kings.11 Sarah acted on her own initiative, and her husband obeyed her (Gen 16:2, 21:12). Rebekah (Gen 27) and Rachel (Gen 30:1–16) led their husbands. The midwives—Shiphrah and Puah—disobeyed their king to save Hebrew babies (Exod 1:8–22).

Breaking ranks with social and theological patriarchy, Jesus locates women’s value not in their cultural roles but in their response to God’s revelation, which becomes the standard for every member of the New Covenant—male and female (Luke 11:27–28). Unlike the rabbis of his day, Jesus mentored women as disciples (Luke 10:38–42), equipping them as evangelists, teachers, apostles, and martyrs. Thus, Jesus first disclosed his messianic mission in the longest conversation recorded in Scripture with the Samaritan woman (John 4:4–26). Jesus enlists her as an evangelist to a despised people and her witness brings others to faith (John 4:39). Stunningly, Jesus welcomed the priestly anointing of a woman at the Last Supper. She prepared Jesus the Christ, Israel’s greatest king, for a death that constitutes the crowning achievement of all kings. It was the greatest priestly anointing in all of Israel’s history, a task initiated by a woman (Mark 14:3–9).

Christian feminists recognize women leaders at the highest levels throughout the NT.12 Luke and Paul celebrate women like Phoebe the deacon and church leader (Rom 16:1–2), Priscilla the church planter, leader (Rom 16:3–5), and teacher (Acts 18:26), Junia the apostle13 (Rom 16:7), and other women evangelists and house church leaders—Lydia (Acts 16:13–14, 40), Apphia (Phlm 1:1–2), Nympha (Col 4:15), and Chloe (1 Cor 1:11). Paul teaches mutuality between male and female (1 Cor 7:3–4, Eph 5:21), while opposing dominance (1 Tim 2:11–12). A robust knowledge of women’s biblical leadership is a strong defense against demeaning women ontologically.

Preserving the Creator-Creature Divide

Ascribing innate and superior moral qualities to men weakens the Creator-creature distinction just as it furthers men’s critique of and authority over women. As the feminist Mary Daly noted, “If God is male, then the male is God.”14 Therefore, fundamental to Islamic and Christian feminism is a concerted effort to preserve the Creator-creature divide. Omaima Abou-Bakr, a prominent Islamic feminist, vigorously asserts that humans “are not supposed to be put on an equal footing with the Creator.”15 Therefore, man should not be obeyed by woman because “Creator and creature should not achieve equal status in terms of domination and submission.”16 Further, men, as creatures, must not eclipse God as the absolute Provider. According to Abou-Bakr, “Islam does not bestow a man with authority over a woman.”17 God does grant individual men with authority provided that they possess the needed gifts and use their gifts responsibly. In this way, Abou-Bakr rejects maleness as an ontological category superior to femaleness. The privilege of authority is permitted to individuals with superior gifts that are exercised conscientiously.

To legitimize male authority, complementarian Christians also blur the Creator-creature divide by arguing that maleness is part of God’s being.18 Challenging the perception that Christianity “has a masculine feel,” Christian feminists observe that Jesus was male, but it was his humanness, not his sex, that was integral to his salvific work. The early Christians did not absolutize the maleness of Christ because they wished to see his sacrifice as universal, available for all.19 Jesus, as the Son, prayed to God as Father because it was fathers who bestowed inheritance, identity, and protection to children in Christ’s culture.20 Further, Scripture forbids the worship of idols formed as man, woman, or in any creaturely likeness (Deut 4:15b–17) because God is Spirit (John 4:24). What is more, Scripture includes feminine metaphors to describe God’s attributes.21 Though Jesus called twelve male disciples, more importantly the Twelve were Jewish, demonstrating God’s faithfulness to Israel (the twelve disciples symbolize the twelve tribes). Yet, the twelve male disciples often fail where Christ’s female disciples succeed.22 In this way, Scripture honors the moral and spiritual leadership of females.23

Enforcing Gender Roles

Fundamental to the logic of gendered roles is a gender essentialism24 that minimizes women ontologically in order to marginalize them from public spheres. Once established, gender essentialism compels gendered roles that are then assessed and controlled by men. In dethroning essentialist ideologies, Islamic feminists expose and critique scholars who presume that “men are better in ‘reason, resoluteness, determination, strength . . .’”25 to corroborate with gender essentialist scientific data in moving women to private spaces of subservience and subjugation to male discipline.26 The first to make this move was Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), insisting that wives should live under the rule or leadership of their husbands, “a condition that followed the requirements of human nature.”27 He was the first exegete to “adapt a relevant biblical reference when he stated that ‘a man is like the head, and the woman is the body’, and it is ‘no shame for a human being to have his head better than his hand.’”28 As Islamic culture became more patriarchal in reaction to western colonialism, Abou-Bakr observed that:

[T]wentieth-century exegetes continued . . . the division of male and female psychological natures, one disposed to rational and abstract thinking, the other emotional, nurturing and fixated on details. This “natural” organization of human nature led to a corresponding God-ordained division of private domesticity versus public work.29

Gender essentialist assumptions, positioning man’s nature as superior to woman’s, are a persistent theme for Christian thought leaders throughout history. Irenaeus (AD 130–202) said, “Both nature and the law place the woman in a subordinate condition to the man.”30 Chrysostom (AD 347–407) said, “The woman taught once, and ruined all. On this account . . . let her not teach . . . for the sex is weak and fickle. . . .”31 Augustine (AD 354–430) continued this tradition: “Nor can it be doubted, that it is more consonant with the order of nature that men should bear rule over women, than women over men.”32 John Calvin (1509–1564), in his commentary on 1 Timothy, wrote that women are “not to assume authority over the man . . . it is not permitted by their condition.”33 John Knox (1514–1572) said, “Nature, I say, does paint [women] forth to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish; and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel. . . . Since flesh is subordinate to spirit, a woman’s place is beneath man’s.”34 Charles Hodge (1797–1878) argued:

[T]he husband is head of the wife. . . . The ground of the obligation, therefore, as it exists in nature is the eminency of the husband. . . . He is larger, stronger, bolder; has more of those mental and moral qualities which are required in a leader. This is just as plain from history as that iron is heavier than water . . . the man was not made out of the woman, but the woman out of the man; neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. This superiority of the man, in the respects mentioned, thus taught in Scripture, founded in nature, and proved by all experience. . . .35

Even today, the prominent evangelical, Mark Driscoll (b. 1970) writes:

[W]hen it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. . . . [W]omen who fail to trust [Paul’s] instruction . . . are much like their mother Eve. . . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourage liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them . . . and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality.36

For each, the presumed inferiority of women represents a metaphysical reality with subsequent moral and teleological consequences. When male and female constitute distinct ontological categories, morality is nearly always the domain of men who rightly, then, exercise control of their inferiors—women.

Abou-Bakr also observed that if men are more godlike, they must logically evaluate and control women. Further, in the unilateral critique of women “as objects of study rather than producers and interpreters of religious meaning,”37 morality is embodied as male. Men, therefore, control the theological and moral discourse to overemphasize “the roles, rights and duties of ‘Muslim woman,’”38 which overshadows the “roles and responsibilities of men within the same Islamic value system.”39 When failures arise, women alone are blamed, not men. She writes,

This perception of the essential male character (ideal in mind and body) marks a particular self-imaging that is integrated into the interpretation of the divine/Qur’anic message and grounded in modern pseudo-scientific “biologism.” . . . This ideal state of masculinity explains the tendency in modern exegesis, in particular, to blame men less while holding women responsible for all the problems of family and society. The assumed status as the normative gender provides men with the justification for prescribing roles and conduct for the other (imperfect) gender. Headship and authority are basic male qualities, according to this “innate division” (al-taqsim al-fitri) of roles between private and public, between home and office.40

Given the determinism intrinsic to gender essentialism, how can men or women be held morally responsible if behavior is hardwired? If men are programed by their biology to be more godlike, and women by virtue of their biology are flawed and fallible, gender essentialism therefore relinquishes moral agency in both men and women alike.41 Even so, Islamic feminist discourse exposes both the privileges of manhood coupled with the abuses perpetrated by men that are frequently ignored.42 Consequently, the “character of a ‘Muslim’ man has not been rigidly defined (strait-jacketed, so to speak) in the same manner as that of the ‘Muslim’ woman.”43 Given the imbalance of power orchestrated by gender essentialists, it is a misperception to view Islamic and Christian feminism as struggles for power. Rather, Islamic feminists aim at sharing power and responsibilities between men and women.44 For Christian feminists, male rule and dominance is a consequence of sin, thus Christians, both male and female, must resist the “he shall rule over you” of Gen 3:16 (ESV). Likewise, the successful woman, according to Islamic feminist theory, “shoulders responsibilities. . . . She complies with religious principles without being abusive or abused. . . . She is not submissive to her husband because he is prone to human error.”45 Equally true, the Christian feminist accepts her moral agency, recognizing the rightful place of Christ as the sole mediator between God and humanity, resisting any notion that men may supplant Christ as priest, prophet, or king. Only Christ redeems and sanctifies. No human, male or female, can usurp God’s rightful place as Creator, redeemer, and sustainer.

Lack of Empathy

In “Turning the Tables: Perspectives on the Construction of ‘Muslim Manhood,’” Abou-Bakr points to the need for empathy in ending the dominance and control of women by men fueled by gender essentialist rhetoric and religious theory. Abou-Bakr notes that as women “take on the religious responsibility of holding men accountable to certain Islamic ideals or ethics, judging and correcting their conduct, and demanding changes in their behavior,”46 women reverse roles with men. “This shift in focus destabilizes the power relations that have characterized the production of religious meaning, as it transforms women from the object of study and discipline to initiators of discourses that make men the target of moral scrutiny and reprimand.”47 Islamic feminists balance power by evoking a shared moral standard that not only holds men accountable but also creates empathy for women when their behavior is judged, critiqued, and shaped by men.48

Because separate gendered roles and spheres guarded by men foster gender-based violence, empathy plays a significant role in bringing change. Engaging twenty youth in Arab states, the United Nations created a powerful empathy-building exercise. By inviting men and women to switch roles and respond to questions as the other gender might, “participants were asked questions that covered personal relationships, work, violence, political representation and attitudes towards equality.”49 The results revealed that nearly 67 percent of men when asked “how it felt to put themselves in women’s shoes expressed feeling oppressed, scared or grateful for being men. Meanwhile, 60 percent of the female participants said men had the right to whatever they wanted and feared nothing.”50 A twenty-six-year-old Saudi woman said she felt “exhausted by the distance between men’s perspectives and women’s perspectives in one society.”51

In my seminary course, entitled “Women in Church History and Theology,” students engage a series of empathy-building exercises. Based on the UN model cited above,52 students are asked to exchange roles. Men assume the posture of women and answer the following questions:

How would you respond if your church did not support your spiritual gifts and vocation as a pastor?

How would you respond if your husband believed he was the head and made all final decisions?

What if your husband is abusive, what would you do?

Women take on the role and posture of men and respond to the following questions:

As a pastor, how would you challenge a woman pursuing the pastorate against the teachings of Scripture?

How would you respond if your wife did not submit to your authority?

How would you respond if your church did not support your discipline of your wife?

It is not uncommon to learn that this exercise was powerful, painful, and hard to process for men and women alike. Another empathy building exercise comes from the work of Jackson Katz, co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help. Katz, in creating empathy among men, asks mixed audiences to list five to ten steps they take each week to avoid sexual harassment and assault. Women have no trouble producing ten practical steps they routinely follow to prevent harassment and abuse. For men, this is often the first time they have ever considered the question, for themselves or for women.

Recognizing the power of empathy to upend colonial laws that shield rapists when they marry the survivor, Lebanese feminists dressed in blood-stained wedding gowns and took to the streets to demand better laws. Blood-soaked wedding gowns were also strung by nooses for miles along the major sidewalk in Beirut. Their strategy garnered public outrage for honor killings and secured legislation on behalf of survivors. This spectacle made visceral the indignity, injustice, and dangers for women who marry their perpetrators, a strategy that leveraged empathy in gaining needed legislation for women in 2017.53 As these examples illustrate, empathy leverages accountability.

Environments that Foster Impunity

Communities that score low on empathy, high on male dominance, and high on enforcing gender roles are often environments without accountability where men can act with impunity without consequences. Without justice and accountability, impunity festers and so does abuse. Impunity establishes deep roots in soil that is fed by gender essentialism as a religious ideal. The challenge of dethroning impunity is not lost on humanitarians like former US President Jimmy Carter, who has argued that “dominance over women is a form of oppression that often leads to violence.”54

Carter acknowledges that communities worldwide are guided by values that presume “a commitment to justice and mercy, equality of treatment of men and women, and a duty to alleviate suffering.”55 Nonetheless, religious texts are too often read selectively and interpreted by “powerful male leaders”56 who assert the inferiority of women to justify the “gross and sustained acts of discrimination and violence against them.”57 As one humanitarian said, “When one type of human being is deemed lesser, it provides license to treat them as less. No matter how subtle, dehumanizing ideas of people leads to dehumanizing actions.”58 Overcoming impunity requires a commitment by governments to hold perpetrators accountable through legislation, locally and internationally. It also means survivors must expose their abusers.

Consider the abuses perpetrated on women and girls by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Despite repeated reports of violence and abuse perpetrated against girls and women in Syria and northern Iraq, the indifference and lack of empathy of world governments only fostered ISIL’s dominance, impunity, and violence. By 2014, ISIL had massacred 5,000 Yazidi men and forced more than 5,000 Yazidi women into sex-slavery, including Nadia Murad.59 Determined to challenge the impunity of her perpetrators, Murad escaped, and defying cultural expectations for abused females, she made their crimes public. Beside the Lebanese-born human-rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, they are endeavoring to bring ISIL to trail at The Hague International Criminal Court. Honored by a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018,60 Murad demonstrates how silence breaking is key to overturning impunity and abuse. What makes silence breakers so extraordinary, regardless of one’s culture, is the courage it takes to hold a perpetrator accountable given the shame that accompanies sexual abuse and assault.

Challenging impunity on several continents, one of the most successful silence breakers was the physician, missionary, and Bible scholar, Katharine Bushnell. Along with a sisterhood of Christian feminists and activists, she exposed the abuse of girls and women enslaved in brothels worldwide.61 Her activism was a holy disruption to the impunity of perpetrators that not only inspired new legislation but also advanced an egalitarian theology that challenged distorted readings of Scripture that demeaned women’s character to justify abuse.62 Disabling the horse riders of power and abuse, these first-wave Christian feminists refused to excuse perpetrators that exploited females to satisfy a “natural impulse.”

In exposing a lucrative sex industry, Bushnell traveled the globe for thirty years with only a few personal possessions. Facing dangerous encounters with perpetrators who consolidated power not only by colluding with elected officials, lawmakers, and police but also with distorted translations of Scripture, Bushnell exposed their indifference, impunity, and dominance. Bushnell denounced high-ranking officials like Sir John Bowring, British Consul to Hong Kong and author of the hymn, In the Cross of Christ I Glory. His legislation made it illegal for trafficked girls to flee their owners who exploited them for profit. Many of these girls and women were subsequently trafficked to the US in cities throughout the West Coast.63 Raising a public voice, Bushnell wrote,

“How can officials of high standing as Christian gentlemen be so indifferent to the wrongs of women and girls, so complacent in the dealings with the sensuality of men and so ready to condone their offences against decency?” We had met this again and again in our work. Lord Roberts himself—think of his noble record in other regards—had sent orders to under officials to secure “younger and more attractive girls” for the British soldiers. . . .64

After decades of humanitarian work, Bushnell sensed God calling her to research the biblical teachings on women. Learning the ancient languages, she discovered that male biblical scholars routinely associated women’s ontological status through Eve’s failures while few attended to the failures of Adam—a pattern she noted in working with prostituted females worldwide. Turning to the NT, Bushnell evaluated the apostle Paul as a fearless champion of women, provided they did not domineer (1 Tim 2:12) or speak in disruptive or distracting ways (1 Cor 11:5, 14:34). Challenging gender essentialism, Bushnell situates women’s character not in Eve’s sin but in new life in Christ. The Cross is good news not only for men but also for women. Christian feminists, like Bushnell, insisted that women must themselves be exegetes. For “no class nor sex should have an exclusive right to set forth the meaning of the original text.”65 Like Islamic feminists, Bushnell insisted on the same moral standard for women and men. Bushnell is part of a Christian feminist tradition that locates women’s identity and purpose in biblical history and tradition embraced without a patriarchal lens.


As this brief essay demonstrates, Christian and Islamic feminists direct their intellectual and social acumen to expose and overturn the four horse riders of patriarchy: power, dominance, and authoritarianism; enforcing gender roles; a lack of empathy; and environments that foster impunity. In doing so, feminist discourse recovers women’s achievements throughout history suppressed and diminished by intentional patriarchal forces. For Christians, this will always include accurate Bible translations that give women their rightful place within the text as fully human, created in God’s image, and as fully redeemed and remade in Christ’s image and therefore equally active members of Christ’s body. Both Islamic and Christian feminist discourse expose gender essentialism that blurs the Creator-creature divide in securing ontological superiority for males. Faithful interpreters of both traditions also recognize how power imbalances too easily co-opt scholarship, whether in science, history, or theology. Colluding with essentialist ideology, these subjects consolidate powerfully in framing females as ontologically inferior to males who in turn critique and assume authority over women. Turning the tables on patriarchy, both Christian and Islamic feminists will necessarily require ongoing dialogue and strategies to enter scholarly, legal, and social disciplines to retire patriarchy’s four horse riders of abuse.


Honored to collaborate with Islamic feminists in sharing strategies as a woman of faith, my paper inaugurated our sessions in Egypt. My observations were met with giggles by Dr. Omaima Abou-Bakr seated next to me. Raised in an honor-shame culture, I recognized her emotion as sympathy as she covered the same points in her paper moments later. It was then that I realized how unimaginative patriarchy is across time and culture. These meetings, and others like them, have been opportunities for shared learning, collaboration, and strategy in identifying and upending the banal cruelty of patriarchal dominance as it distorts the sacred texts to demean women created in God’s image. Sharing research in public symposiums and across faith traditions has proved costly for both Christian and Islamic feminists, which demonstrates viscerally the prevailing presence of unchecked power and impunity and the need for ongoing academic engagement. We are better for having learned beside each other, even as we returned to our unique faith traditions more compassionate toward the plight we each share.


1. Robert A. Seiple, “A Rent in the Human Garment,” Washington Forum (1998) 9.

2. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women assesses nine areas of concern including: Leadership and political participation, economic empowerment, ending violence against women, peace and security, humanitarian action, youth, governance and national planning, sustainable development agenda, and HIV and AIDS. In most categories, Arab women enjoy less equality and human flourishing. “What We Do,” UN Women,

3. See “What We Do,” UN Women; see also “What We Do: Gender Equality Strategy Overview,” The Gates Foundation,; “The World Bank in Gender,” The World Bank,; “Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion: Even Greater Than You Thought,” International Monetary Fund (Nov 28, 2018),

4. “Over the years, Mr. Pryor—a psychologist at Illinois State University—and others have used socially engineered situations in laboratories to study how well the test predicts people’s behavior. And over time, they’ve identified these factors as the most distinctive in harassers: a lack of empathy, a belief in traditional gender sex roles and a tendency toward dominance/authoritarianism.” William Wan, “What Makes Some Men Sexual Harassers?,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Dec 31, 2017),

5. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Secker & Warburg, 1949) 309.

6. Omaima Abou-Bakr, “Teaching the Words of the Prophet: Women Instructors of the Hadith (Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries),” HAWAA: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 1/3 (Jan 2003) 308.

7. Abou-Bakr, “Teaching the Words of the Prophet.”

8. Abou-Bakr, “Teaching the Words of the Prophet,” 318–20.

9. Abou-Bakr, “Teaching the Words of the Prophet,” 321.

10. See Joe R. Lunceford, Biblical Women—Submissive? (Wipf & Stock, 2009).

11. Prominent female prophets include Huldah (2 Kgs 22:8–20, 2 Chron 34:14–33), Miriam (Exod 15:20), Deborah (Judg 4:4–5, 5:7), Anna (Luke 2:36–38), the women at Pentecost (Acts 1:14, 2:17), and Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9). Paul suggests that prophets and apostles make known the mysteries of Christ (Eph 3:4–5).

12. See Kenneth Bailey, “Women in the New Testament: A Middle Eastern Cultural View,” Theology Matters 6/1 (Jan–Feb 2000) 2.

13. See Origen on Junia in his Commentary on Romans 10.21.1–27; 10.26.1–7; 10.39.41–47; see the English translation by Bridget Jack Jeffries, “Origen on the Apostle Junia: A New Translation,” Weighted Glory, See also Commentarius in epistolum ad Romanos, Book 10 (10.21 cf. 10:26) (PG 14.1280). See also Chrysostom on Junia, Homily 31 on Romans, See also In epistolum ad Romanos 31.2 (PG 60.699–670). See also Jerome on Junia, Liber interpretationis hebraicorum nominun 72.15 (CCLat 72.150) and Expositio ep. ad Romanos 16:7 (PL 30.744).

14. Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (Beacon, 2015) 40.

15. Omaima Abou-Bakr, as quoted by Hana’a El-Marsafy, “Islamic Feminist Discourse in the Eyes of Egyptian Women: A Fieldwork Study,” International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies 2/4 (Dec 2014) 43.

16. El-Marsafy, “Islamic Feminist Discourse.”

17. El-Marsafy, “Islamic Feminist Discourse,” 42.

18. John Piper said, “There is a masculine feel to Christianity. . . . God has revealed himself to us in the Bible pervasively as King, not Queen, and as Father, not Mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son. The Father and the Son created man and woman in his image, and gave them together the name of the man, Adam (Genesis 5:2). God appoints all the priests in Israel to be men. The Son of God comes into the world as a man, not a woman. He chooses twelve men to be his apostles. The apostles tell the churches that all the overseers—the pastor/elders who teach and have authority (1 Timothy 2:12)—should be men; and that in the home, the head who bears special responsibility to lead, protect, and provide should be the husband (Ephesians 5:22–33).” “‘The Frank and Manly Mr. Ryle’—The Value of a Masculine Ministry” (sermon, Desiring God 2012 Conference for Pastors, Jan 31, 2012), On Aug 14, 2014, Owen Strachan tweeted, “Satan hates testosterone. You can’t blame him—after all, he’s seen it used to crush his head”; see

19. Gregory Nazianzus (330–389) wrote, To gar aprosleptom atherapeuton (“what is not assumed is not redeemed”), “Epistle 101,” Hardy, Christology, 218. Migne, P.G. 37:181.

20. See Marianne Meye Thompson, The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament (Westminster John Knox, 2000). See also James Barr:

21. God as a mother bird (Ruth 2:12, Ps. 17:8); God as a she-bear and lion (Hos 13:8); God as a mother hen (Matt 23:37b); God as a midwife (Ps 22:9); God as a woman looking for her lost coin (Luke 15:9); God as a woman baking bread (Luke 13:20–21); God who gave birth (Deut 32:18b, Job 38:29); God as a nurturing mother (Isa 46:3–4, 66:13, Hos 11:3–4).

22. The faith of the Syrophoenician woman eclipses the twelve male disciples who cannot perceive how Jesus will feed the 5,000. She tells Jesus that the crumbs under the table are enough (Mark 7:24–30); the rich young ruler cannot abandon his wealth (Mark 10:17–22), but the widow gives all she has (Mark 12:41–44). The Twelve grasp for power because they want to sit at Christ’s right and left hand (Mark 10:35–45); they forbid even children to approach Jesus (Mark 10:13); they are outraged and humiliated when Christ speaks with women openly (John 4:27); and Judas betrays Christ. When Jesus is arrested and crucified, the Twelve disperse, one denies Christ openly, and the others hide behind locked doors. Not the women! They understand that Christ’s work is completed on a cross: a woman anoints Jesus as the priests anointed the kings of Israel (1 Sam 10:1, 16:12–13, Matt 26:6–13). Unlike the disciples, the women remain with Christ during his crucifixion and prepare his body for burial. Returning on Easter, Mary is the first to meet the risen Lord. Christ sends her to the disciples with the good news. She becomes the apostle to the apostles. Yet, the disciples do not believe her. Even as Jesus appears to them, Thomas asks to touch his wounds (John 20).

23. See Mimi Haddad, “Reading Scripture Through a Patriarchal Lens: How Masculine Christianity Distorts Divine and Human Ontology” (paper presented, Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, San Antonio, TX, Nov 16, 2016).

24. Gender essentialism is the notion that males and females have a different “essence” that is fixed and unchangeable; it is determined at birth biologically and shapes a distinct and different identity and purpose for males and females. See Elaine Storkey, Origins of Difference: The Gender Debate Revisited (Baker, 2001) 25ff.

25. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Mulki Al-Sharmani, and Jana Rumminger, eds., Men in Charge? Rethinking Muslim Legal Tradition (Oneworld, 2015) 49.

26. Mir-Hosseini et al., Men in Charge?, 52.

27. Mir-Hosseini et al., Men in Charge?, 54.

28. Mir-Hosseini et al., Men in Charge?

29. Mir-Hosseini et al., Men in Charge?, 55.

30. Irenaeus, fragment 32, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Philip Schaff (Eerdmans, 2001) 1:573.

31. John Chrysostom, “Homily IX,” in Homilies on 1 Timothy, NPNF 13:436.

32. Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence 1.10, trans. Robert Ernest Wallis, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, ed. Philip Schaff (Eerdmans, 1886) 5:267.

33. John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, in Calvin’s Commentaries, trans. William Pringle (Calvin Translation Society, 1856) 37.

34. John Knox, “The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women 1558,” in The Political Writings of John Knox, ed. Marvin A. Breslow (Associate University Presses, 1985) 43.

35. Charles Hodge, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Robert Carter and Bros., 1860), Eph 5:23.

36. Mark Driscoll, Church Leadership: Explaining the Roles of Jesus, Elders, Deacons, and Members at Mars Hill, Mars Hill Theology Series (Seattle, WA: Mars Hill Church, 2004), quoted by Denny Burk, “Mark Driscoll on Women in Ministry,” Denny Burk (blog), July 5, 2007, See also John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Crossway, 2006) 36–59, 316ff.

37. Omaima Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables: Perspectives on the Construction of ‘Muslim Manhood,’” HAWAA 11 (2014) 90.

38. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables.”

39. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 90.

40. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 99.

41. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 98–100.

42. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 102.

43. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 91.

44. El-Marsafy, “Islamic Feminist Discourse,” 34.

45. El-Marsafy, “Islamic Feminist Discourse.”

46. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 91.

47. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables.”

48. Abou-Bakr, “Turning the Tables,” 90.

49. “‘What If We Switched Roles?’ New Social Experiment Raises Awareness of Gender Stereotypes in the Arab Region,” UN Women (March 24, 2016),

50. “‘What If We Switched Roles?’”

51. “‘What If We Switched Roles?’”

52. “‘What If We Switched Roles?’”

53. Rothna Begum, “Middle East on a Roll to Repeal ‘Marry the Rapist’ Laws,” Human Rights Watch (Aug 24, 2017),

54. Jimmy Carter, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power (Simon & Schuster, 2014) 3.

55. Carter, Call to Action, 5.

56. Carter, Call to Action, 3.

57. Carter, Call to Action, 4.

58. The individual who made this profound observation prefers to remain anonymous.

59. Richard Spencer, “Isil carried out massacres and mass sexual enslavement of Yazidis, UN confirms,” The Telegraph (Oct 14, 2014),

60. “The Nobel Peace Prize for 2018,” The Nobel Prize (Oct 5, 2018),

61. Dr. Katharine C. Bushnell, A Brief Sketch of Her Life Work (Rose and Sons, 1932). Available at

62. Katharine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women: One Hundred Bible Studies on Woman’s Place in the Church and Home (Christians for Biblical Equality, 2003).

63. Kristin Kobes du Mez, A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism (Oxford University Press, 2015) 83.

64. Bushnell, A Brief Sketch of Her Life Work, 12.

65. Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, 273–74.