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The woman taught once, and ruined all. – John Chrysostom1 First Timothy 2:9–15 is a difficult passage to interpret, and there are many opinions about appropriate meanings and applications. In the middle of the passage, however, is one verse that has been referenced throughout the history of the church as a clear mandate to restrict women from teaching, leading, or even speaking during worship gatherings: Read more
A basic tenet in the hermeneutics of theology is to build a doctrine upon the clearer, or less disputed, passages and then interpret the more difficult passages in light of the clearer passages.1 However, in gender studies, the ground is often first broken in the rough terrain of 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, or with the household codes of Ephesians 5–6, Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 2–3. This study will examine three passages involving women in Mark’s gospel—in Mark 3, 5, and 14—all of which are undisputed in terms of significant lexicography, grammar, or relevant gender theology. As clearer passages, they form part of a greater foundation to the theology of gender studies. Read more
A popular question has been posed for a while now in contemporary American society: “What would Jesus do?” The theology behind the question suggests that, perhaps, in the absence of explicit teaching, or as further explanation thereof, if one were to discern how Jesus reacts or handles a situation, because of the utter consistency of Jesus’s character and mission, one might find instruction for how to do likewise in one’s own life. It is based on the simple call and invitation that Jesus gives to his disciples: “Follow me” (e.g., Matt 4:19; Mark 2:14; Luke 9:59; John 1:43). Jesus proclaims good news: the kingdom of God is at hand. And, with that, a new world order is established. Those who follow him are called to demonstrate and embody the values, tenets, and principles of the kingdom. His followers often represent those who, transformed by the healing and restorative ministry of Jesus, then choose to commit their own lives to faithful service of Jesus Christ. These followers are also known as disciples. They not only learn the teachings of Jesus, but also fully embrace his teachings by applying them in their daily walk. Read more
The unilateral authority of males is evident in shaping nearly every culture throughout history. Further, when patriarchy is framed as a biblical ideal, it is not only at odds with the teachings of Scripture and the purposes of God’s covenant people, it also becomes a deadly spiritual disease that chokes life all around it. As Jesus said, if the fruit is bad, the tree also is bad (Matt 7:17–20). This is not to say that gifted men should not exercise authority, but, at the same time, they should affirm the gifts and authority that God grants women as well, working mutually to lead and serve the church and the world. As a balance, it was thrilling to see three women receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their courageous activism in advancing democracy and justice for women. Three days later, a blog appeared by CBE member Jenny Rae Armstrong, who wrote: I haven’t stopped grinning since I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. You see, it was in Liberia that I first witnessed the true ugliness of gender injustice, first understood that a tiny seed of pride and superiority dropped into the heart of a man would blossom not into a sheltering tree but into an ugly, invasive weed that choked...life...around it. Read more
Quick Bible quiz: Name one African person in the Bible. Did you mention Hagar, Simon of Cyrene or Apollos of Alexandria? What about the Ethiopian eunuch, or Queen Candace? If none of these characters came to mind, perhaps it’s due to a lack of understanding of the cultural and ethnic forces at work in the Bible. Understanding these forces can bring new light to familiar passages. For example, even though the word “Africa” is not mentioned in the Bible, the word “Cush” is, which scholars think refers to Ethiopia or to Africa as a whole. Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya are also mentioned. While they might not correspond exactly to the countries on a 21st century map, they do refer to places in Africa. Read more
I heard a preacher recently declare, “Don’t let the facts blind you to the truth.” Can facts overshadow truth? Consider the Cross. Imagine how the disciples must have felt as they watched Jesus die on that hill. Though the Romans nailed Jesus to the tree, though his corpse was bound and sealed in a cave, within a few days these facts were swallowed by the truth — that Jesus, the Lord of the universe was alive, as he had promised. Read more
Classes include housekeeping, budgeting, being your husband’s best friend, keeping an organized house, and sewing. There are “leadership” classes, but the brochure and class descriptions make it clear that this is leadership intended to be used exclusively in women’s and children’s ministry. The counseling classes make it clear that women are to counsel only other women — according to the Titus 2 model. My favorite class module was this one: Read more
“To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city is repugnant to nature, contumely to God, and the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice.” So wrote the Scottish theologian John Knox in the year 1558 in his book titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Although he made his points more strongly than many others, Knox was only repeating the widely held notions of his day. He quoted Aristotle and Aquinas, as well as a host of secular authorities, to demonstrate female inadequacies: “Nature, I say, doth paint them forth to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish.” He quoted Saint Paul, along with the ancient Fathers of the Church, to demonstrate the “proper” place of women, and was in full agreement with his contemporary Martin Luther that Kinder, Kirche und Kuche—Children, church and the kitchen, are where women rightly belong, according to the divine plan. Read more
Like many women, I was surprised when I first heard Junia’s story. I was speaking to a book club about women in the Bible when an audience member raised her hand and suggested that “Junia” was a little-known apostle who ought to be included. Junia? I had never heard of her before. But the woman in the audience insisted that Paul praised Junia in the book of Romans and that years later translators changed it to a man’s name because they didn’t believe a woman could be an apostle. I was stunned. I had spent a lifetime of Sundays in church, paying attention most of the time, yet I had never heard a word about someone named Junia Read more
Could Mary have refused, when it was offered her, left her fingers open around the gift, releasing the weight of it from the palm of her hand? Read more

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