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As the Word of God in human words, the Scriptures can and do speak with a fresh voice today. It is sometimes hard, however, to read a familiar passage in a new way. The purpose of this essay is a simple one. I hope you will come away with a new understanding of one paragraph in Paul’s letters that deals with women and men in the church. The paragraph in question is 1 Cor. 11:2-16, a passage I have been studying and writing about for over twenty years. Read more
Some Scriptures seem to be known by everyone, and 1 Cor. 14:34 is certainly among them. In fact, if you bring up the topic of women preachers, many Christians can quote Paul’s words: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” Read more
Linda L. Belleville
The battle over women leaders and the church continues to rage unabated in evangelical circles. At the center of the tempest sits 1 Tim. 2:11-15. Despite a broad spectrum of biblical and extra-biblical texts that highlight female leaders, 1 Tim. 2:11-15 continues to be perceived and treated as the great divide in the debate. Indeed for some, how one interprets this passage has become a litmus test for the label “evangelical” and even for salvation. Read more
Was the Junia mentioned in Romans 16:7 a man or a woman? The Greek word Iounian has been translated either as “Junias” (male) or as “Junia” (female). And what is the meaning of “outstanding among the apostles”? These questions influence how the church should carry on her mission. The answers may indicate that both women and men in the early church participated in all areas-- as ministers, deacons, leaders, and even apostles. Read more
A historical case can be made that Christianity has, all things considered, been good for women. It has not been the mighty agent of gender oppression that it is sometimes made out to be. Still, contemporary Christians can hardly feel smug about the track record of our religious tradition. We live with the uncomfortable awareness that our faith has not been as affirming as it should have been, or as empowering for women as it certainly needs to be from now on. Read more
The father of our faith had just extricated his nephew from an aweful scrape. Flushed with victory, Abram was journeying homeward from a rescue operation. With his clever military strategy, he had rid his new homeland of fourteen years of domination by Chedorlaomer, the Edomite king. A failed rebellion led by the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah had brought swift retaliation from Chedorlaomer and a coalition of his allies. When the retaliatory strike included the capture of Lot, his uncle set out in hot pursuit. Read more
Both sides in the current debate over the role of women in the church appeal to the Bible to support their positions. Those who feel that there should be no restrictions on women’s ministries appeal to examples found throughout the Scriptures of women serving faithfully and effectively as prophets, judges, apostles, teachers, and in countless other roles of leadership and service. Those who believe that some roles must be reserved for men typically appeal, on the other hand, to three passages found in Paul’s writings: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Even if one agrees with a restrictive reading of these passages, one must, however, also acknowledge that each presents numerous textual, translational, and interpretive problems. All who turn to the Bible for ethical guidance should therefore be concerned with the solution of these problems so that the Bible’s teaching might be more clearly understood and the entire church benefit. Read more
This article originated as a paper that I presented at the Pacific Coast Region/Society of Biblical Literature meeting, New Testament Epistles and Apocalypse Section, at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California, in March 2002. I wish to focus here on the distinctive theology of Hebrews and how it relates to gender equality. Read more
Dear Pastor Smith: The debate within the body of Christ on the topic of women’s identity and role has often been cast as a battle between traditionalists ardently defending biblical truth and their critics who would, either by design or by ignorance, loosen the church from its biblical moorings in order to promote a foreign agenda. In truth, for many of us, our unease with the traditional position has nothing to do with being swayed by modern liberation movements; rather, our unease is a response to the weaknesses within the traditional position itself. Read more
What is biblical equality? It is the belief that all people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race. We believe this because the Bible and Jesus Christ teach it to us. That is biblical equality. Read more

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