How do we forward the cause of biblical equality? The same way wise people forward any other cause:
- Understand to whom you are speaking and/or writing. What are their interests? What do they feel strongly about? What do they understand about their own position or yours?
- Do not push your beliefs on this or any other subject. After other people find you to be a thoughtful, gracious person, they are more likely to listen to your views when the subject arises naturally in conversation.
- Very few people are won to any cause by direct confrontation. Most people are not won to Christ by being told what dreadful sinners they are. They are won when they see the loving message of Christ lived out in us. When you have the opportunity, you can express how the belief in biblical equality has helped your marriage, home, work or the way you see yourself, etc. You are not telling them what they ought to do or think, only sharing your personal experience.
- Commend a person, a group or your church when you see any evidence of equality in action. Express your appreciation when a woman is invited to participate in some way — to lead in prayer, read the Scripture or head a committee. And don’t say, “It’s about time we had a woman doing…” Instead say something like, “I was especially blessed when Jane Jones read the Scripture this morning. I felt as though I were a real part of the service.” You have not found fault with anyone — you have just commended someone for ministering to you.
- In everyday contacts with people, look for ways to recognize and commend every small step toward equality. When you see a husband do a thoughtful, equality act toward his wife, you can say, “That was a very thoughtful act on your part.” Commend your children’s teachers when they help children to step out of “gender roles.”
- Use humor when you can. Recently I heard someone say, “It isn’t a question of whether women can preach and teach. They have been doing that through the centuries. The question is — ‘Who can listen?’” Depending on the circumstances, you might add, “I wonder why men have put up with those restrictions on them for so long?”
The issue of egalitarianism is far more emotional than theological. The theological questions are relatively easy to deal with. The prejudices and emotional threats are far more difficult. And they must be dealt with on emotional levels, demonstrating the gentleness and strength of Jesus, our Lord.