In a USA Today article entitled “Year In, Year Out, Women Have Game” (5.24.05, 9C, col. 2-5), journalist Douglas Robson noted that Andre Agassi’s achievement of becoming the man who has played in the most major tennis events, at 58 in number, still has not overtaken Martina Navratilova’s record of 67 or Amy Francis at 65 or Conchita Martinez at 61.
Whatever the Apostle Peter means when he warns men to take into consideration that women are the asthenesteros (“more delicate or weaker”) skeuos (“vessel or container”) in 1 Peter 3:7 (which does appear to me to be a physical reference, perhaps to ponderously heavy physical lifting = a woman is not an ox and should not be loaded like one…), he obviously does not have perseverance or endurance in mind. In fact, it is common knowledge that most of us men on both sides of the egalitarian ministry discussion seem unanimous in agreeing that, having seen childbirth, we wonder if we could endure it with the fortitude women do. I sometimes ask my brothers, skeptical if women could do the taxing tasks of ministry, if they imagine birthing or discipling a church in church planting is any easier or less arduous than birthing or nurturing a child.
What unites and distinguishes women and men as human beings, the differences and similarities between us and how we complement one another are the topics of much speculation and together form the theme of this issue. Our hope, of course, is ours will be a positive contribution toward eliminating the gender wars that we know extend back to the curse in Genesis 3, and which we see imaged in pagan Amazonomachia as early as ca. 520-500 B.C.E. on the stamnos (or short-necked jar) reproduced on our cover, which depicts Amazons battling Heracles and Telamon in the black-figure technique (used by permission of Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek Munchen).
Professor MaryKate Morse opens with a fascinating and controversial dialogue between the Bible and biology. Philosopher Adam Omelianchuk follows with an insightful analysis of language “tricks” he perceives in discussions of gender. Next, lawyer Scarlet Hai Yin Tsao gives us a thoroughly researched survey of how we can each use the law in our ministries to help girls and boys who have been sexually abused. Then, a very poignant survival poem by a woman who God has helped conquer cancer is followed by Professor Elaine Heath’s exhortation to women to be prophetic, freed from oppression and abuse, and to exercise leadership. Finally, social worker Sandra Dufield’s delightful thoughts about advocacy as the enlightened egalitarian heir of chivalry and a sensitive book review of ethicist Steve Tracy’s book on ministering to those who have been abused complete the issue.
I came away from editing these fine contributions with a new set of insights into the puzzling but exhilarating mystery of what makes us different but so helpful to each other. I hope you will find some thought-provoking information here too.
P.S. Join me in congratulating our President, Mimi Haddad, for completing her Ph.D. in Historical Theology at the University of Durham, England, in November of 2005. Mimi’s research focused on the theological contributions of Jessie Penn-Lewis, a Welsh revivalist and contemporary of Katharine Bushnell.