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The recurrent dream takes me back to my grandmother’s house in one of the central islands in the Philippines. There is feasting and much laughter. I am surrounded by my extended family—cousins and aunts and uncles. In the midst of this gathering, I suddenly realize that I have to leave for America. Then I am at the airport, anxious about having to say goodbye. Next to me are unsorted pieces of luggage and packages, scattered at my feet. I am perturbed by the absence of order and by the cacophony of my surroundings. Then my mother, gently touching my shoulder and pointing to the pile of mismatched luggage, says: “Priscilla, these are gifts for you.” Read more
Some years ago my lovely niece Shoshanna had her Bat Mitzvah along with a dozen or so of her friends. These bright-eyed, beautiful and intelligent twelve-year-olds with their lives in front of them each spoke about their favorite heroine, the woman they most wanted to emulate. Some picked the big women in the Bible—Sarah, who leaves security and home behind to found a nation, Deborah, who leads a nation, Esther, who saves a nation, Ruth, who introduces the Gentile nation into King David’s family tree. Others preferred the little heroines with the cameo parts—the clever women who save the day: the woman of Thebez in the Book of Judges who drops a millstone on Abimelech and saves her city, Jael, who kills General Sisera with a tentpeg, Abigail, who outwits her twit of a husband and takes food to David and saves her household. Ah, such women! Intelligent enough to understand that, in extremis, brain is better than brawn every time. A few of the girls chose contemporary women, holocaust survivors, dissidents and wives of dissidents, leaders and martyrs. Read more
I have agreed to tell my story for two fundamental reasons. 1) I want to give tribute to the person who opened my eyes to a new paradigm through which to view Scripture and who did not allow me to be satisfied with the easy answers. These were answers that had been drilled into my head as a youth and were assumed throughout my college and seminary training. 2) Arguments alone often do not convince. This is especially so with theological and exegetical arguments on this subject that for many has so much emotional baggage associated with it. So, when people come to me asking questions and searching for answers on the “women’s issue,” I often just tell them my story—where I have come from, where I have landed, and how and why I got there. Read more
When Constantine became Emperor at the start of the fourth century, the entire course of Christian history changed. Under the leadership of prior Emperors Decius and Diocletian in the third century, Christians endured great persecution and thousands were martyred for their faith. However, following Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in ad 312, the Church and State became completely enmeshed. Because persecution ended, the ardent faith manifested by the martyrs waned, and, accordingly, the number of nominal Christians drastically increased. One ramification was that, in the fourth century, monasticism and its associated asceticism flourished, as Christian believers attempted to distinguish themselves in devoted service to Christ. Read more
In the fifth chapter of John’s gospel, the Jewish leaders accuse Jesus of “making himself equal to God.” Today, a woman who assumes a position of ordained leadership in the Church may be accused of “making herself equal to men.” Although most Christians agree that men and women are spiritually equal before God, some nevertheless insist that women are subordinate to men in function in the home and in the Church. In order to codify the functional subordination of women biblically, some scholars who support hierarchy in male/female relationships use what they claim to be the subordination of the Son to the Father in the Trinity as a divinely inspired model of male-female relationships. Read more
There is a serious problem with the institution of marriage in the United States. Statistically, about half of all those who currently marry can be predicted to divorce within seven years. Many marriages, and particularly Christian marriages, do not seem to last. They fall short of God’s ideal that marriage should be permanent as long as the two partners live. A 2001 national study conducted by Barna Research Group highlights this reality. The enclosed chart summarizes divorce rates among various Christian church denominations. Read more
The complementarian conviction, that women are under male authority and therefore must be excluded from (some) positions of leadership, rests in no small measure on their interpretation of God’s eternal, created order as established in Genesis 1-2. However, when the complementarian exegesis of creation is given close scrutiny, substantial—indeed fatal—problems are revealed at the very foundation of their framework. Read more
As Katharine Bushnell pointed out nearly a century ago, there are some hundred passages in the Bible that bespeak God’s direction, affirmation, and blessing upon the ministry and leadership of women. There is also profound sympathy for those conditions that leave women most vulnerable: widowhood, childlessness, pregnancy, famine, and atrocities in times of war. It is the very breadth of these supportive passages that started many of us on the journey to understand the limited number of scriptural selections that appear restrictive of women and their ministry. Read more
October 14, 2003, marked the 30th anniversary of my ordination as a minister or teaching elder in the Presbyterian church. Before I was ordained, I researched 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and eventually had my revised research published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (Fall, 1974) and as a chapter in Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (1985). Since that time, scholarly research has progressed to the point that today complementarians agree that to learn in silence is a positive virtue for all Christians (1 Tim. 2:11), women as well as men can pray and prophesy publicly, men and women are made equally in God’s image, women are not submissive to all men, in Ephesus women were in some way promulgating the heresy, Adam was with Eve during the temptation, and Paul used an analogy between Eve and the women at Ephesus. Read more
God has given me a vision for the kind of things he wants to do in the lives of his people, specifically in the lives of women—powerful and priceless things that people have not yet understood fully. I share not just out of gratitude but also out of weakness. I share not as somebody who has all the answers. Read more

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