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Mother’s Day is a special day, one of the most important days of the year. It is the day we celebrate all the women of the church: the literal mothers who have actual children; and then all the women (daughters, sisters, mothers) from our newest arrivals, to those distinguished senior mothers. So important are women in the Bible that Proverbs, the Book of God’s wisdom, ends with a celebration of what a faithful reverent woman should look like: Proverbs 31:1-31. Read more
Ever since I set forth a more-or-less representative egalitarian interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Good News for Women, I have felt somewhat dissatisfied with this approach. Although I found it considerably less problematic than the traditionalist interpretation, still it left me with some nagging questions. For instance, if women at Ephesus were not to teach or to have authority in the church because they were deceived or unschooled, why were they specifically prohibited only from teaching or having authority over men? And if Paul were addressing women and men in general, why did he speak in terms of “a woman” and “a man”? Read more
I begin this discourse with a disclaimer, since the title suggests far more than one can deliver in a limited amount of space. It suggests far more knowledge about this topic than I actually have—indeed, it is safe to say that there is much more that we don’t know about these things than we actually do. What I hope to do is to offer a few probings into the cultural background of this passage—which has become such a crux for people on both sides of the issue of whether there is a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home, based on gender alone. Read more
There are six evident restrictions on authority that Christ the Head authorized and that apostolic missionaries set in motion in the New Testament house churches. These biblical boundaries of authority (exousia) unveil the extent to which complementarians practice masculine domination among God’s people. Read more
I believe in the full equality of men and women in both marriage and ministry. The widespread misunderstandings and mistranslations resulting in gender hierarchy are damaging to people, marriages and the body of Christ. I am going to start by diving into the most famous (or infamous) passage on marriage in Ephesians Chapter 5. It’s amazing to discover what this passage really says! Read more
A number of years ago a Baptist men’s group in the panhandle of far West Texas wanted to have a ladies night. They invited their wives and girl friends, and they invited me to be their speaker. They assigned me the following rather traditional topic: “The Woman Behind the Man.” They thought that was an appropriate theme for Ladies’ Night with the Baptist Men. Read more
We who seek to be Jesus’ faithful disciples must be very careful not to put words in Jesus’ mouth that he did not speak. We cannot promote what we wish Jesus might have said, but, to the best of our ability, we must accurately reflect what he did say. Nowhere is this caveat so needed as in the area of “family values”—an area fast becoming the hottest battlefront in the American culture wars. Read more
In chapter 16 of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul offers greetings to friends and ministry associates. Several women are mentioned among Paul’s coworkers: Phoebe (v. 1), Prisca (v. 3), Mary (v. 6), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (v. 12), the mother of Rufus (v. 13), Julia (v. 15), and the sister of Nereus (v. 15). An interesting textual variation occurs in verse 7 that has bearing on the range of offices held by Paul’s female coworkers. The NRSV translates verse 7, “Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” The name Junia here denotes a woman. But a superscript letter in the NRSV refers the reader to a note that says, “Or Junias; other ancient authorities read Julia.” The NIV, in contrast, translates, “Greet Andronicus and Junias.” This translation construes both names as those of men, and no explanatory note is appended. What is the cause of the discrepancy here? How can the original Greek be so ambiguous that translators are unsure of what the name is and whether it denotes a man or a woman? Read more
Traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations of the early chapters of Genesis have led to the heaviest blame often falling on Eve for the entrance of sin and death into the world. I have encountered in most surprising places the almost word-for-word affirmation of apocryphal Sirach 25:24 (c. 250 B.C.): “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die.” Faulty interpretations of many Bible texts concerning women foster the low status, oppression, and abuse of women the world around, which is one of the greatest social evils. Read more
The Bible teaches equality. It reports inequality, and sometimes it permits inequality; but the Bible teaches equality. The name of our organization is Christians for Biblical Equality. As best we understand them, we are following and teaching the principles taught in the Bible. Because that is true, we cannot place too much emphasis on studying the Bible, understanding the Bible, and properly interpreting the Bible. I want to consider some basic points of Bible interpretation that we affirm and how they relate to equality. Read more

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