“Pray about it, listen to the Holy Spirit, and respect that the Bible is the word of God.”
This is the advice that the premarital counselors gave to my then-fiancé and me when we got to the chapter in our (complementarian) workbook on the different “gender roles” God had supposedly created for husbands and wives.
Roles. That’s a word we try to avoid here at CBE and in Mutuality. It subtly enforces the idea that God prescribes certain duties and functions and gifts to women, and others to men, and these do not overlap. Within that belief, women perform all household tasks. Meanwhile, men act almost as angel investors (think Shark Tank) in their own homes—offering financial support, the tie-breaking vote in disagreements, and mic-drop wisdom and guidance.
But at CBE we believe God has a different vision for how wives and husbands can best glorify God. Instead of struggling to fit into predefined boxes, we believe God has a tailored call for each person, based not on whether they are female or male but on the unique gifts God has instilled in each of them.
This issue marks the beginning of the thirtieth year of the publication of Mutuality magazine. To celebrate, the first three issues of 2023 will center around CBE’s mission statement:
CBE exists to promote the biblical message that God calls women and men of all cultures, races, and classes to share authority equally in service and leadership in the home, church, and world. CBE’s mission is to eliminate the power imbalance between men and women resulting from theological patriarchy. [emphasis added]
Throughout this year, we’ll be reflecting on the progress made toward the equality of women and men in the home, church, and world.
We start at home.
The authors in this issue help us answer the question, What does it look like for women and men “to share authority equally in service and leadership in the home”? For the woman in a hierarchical, patriarchal setting, the journey toward biblical women’s equality often begins at home, in her marriage. Her husband may be the first man to respect, validate, and empower her. Her husband may be the one person she can safely go to with her questions about complementarian theology, even if her husband is complementarian himself. Or her husband may be the one who makes her realize that theological patriarchy subtly makes room for abuse, and that’s not okay.
For women and men taught a restrictive understanding of the vision God has for husbands and wives, marriage can be a sort of testing ground for egalitarian theology. The articles in this issue feature snapshots of egalitarian theology in action. If you’re not quite sure about this whole equality/mutuality thing, I hope this issue helps you find some practical answers to your questions. The authors in this issue help us understand that embodying restrictive, prescriptive roles based solely on each spouse’s gender is not the best way to glorify God at home and beyond.
At the same time, these authors show us that living as equals at home does not look the same for every couple. Embracing an ethic of women’s biblical equality is less about who does the laundry or who earns more money and more about each spouse empowering the other to glorify God by creating opportunities for each other to learn, grow, and thrive.
We begin with Ilana Reimer, who reminds us that equality and sameness are two different things. Next, Kara Angus invites us to ponder the question that is so easy to get stuck on: Who makes the final decision in a marriage of equality? In a reprinted article from the Spring 2017 issue of Mutuality, Touger Thao gives us a peek into the difficult choice between ministry and family—and how family can become your ministry. For those wanting a deeper dive into the Bible passages that often get bashed over women, Scott Goode invites us to consider the cultural context of the first-century Greco-Roman world in which Paul wrote, particularly as it pertains to the theology of headship, if such a thing even exists. Kailey Bradley paints for us a picture of marriage where human bodies are allowed to slow down, ache, bend, and break. Then, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, in a reprinted article from the Summer 2015 issue of Mutuality, gives us a hopeful glimpse into the lasting impact that a marriage of equals can have on their children and community. Finally, Mimi Haddad walks us through a brief but thorough history of egalitarian marriages in the Christian church.
Thank you for joining us as we embark on the thirtieth year of Mutuality. May we take everything we’ve learned over the last thirty years with us as we push toward another thirty years of helping women and men see that God’s good, beautiful, true design is equality, and God’s love and gifts are not dependent on whether we’re women or men.