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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
The introduction of the word “submission” into a Christian conversation about adult human relations immediately strikes different responses. For some Christians, submission is a happy word describing the proper biblical relation of a wife to her husband or of a woman, whether married or single, to the males in the church congregation. Read more
I believe in male headship unabashedly and unreservedly. I cannot evade the issue or rationalize my way around it. The headship of husbands is clearly and unassailably taught in the New Testament. Moreover, the Bible clearly declares that the response of wives to their husbands’ headship is submission in everything. Indeed, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. As the church is subject to Christ, so wives must be subject in everything to their husbands (Eph. 5:23-24). This precept is not given in Scripture as a recommendation, a suggestion, or a piece of advice that may be optionally followed. It is an absolute mandate that requires the same level of adherence as any of its commandments. Read more
Following is the response of Japanese Baptist women to recent actions of the Southern Baptist Convention concerning the role of women in that denomination. It was made available to Priscilla Papers by Joe E. Trull, who, as a former trustee of the sbc mission board, understands their dilemma well. He says he has seen evidences of the problem first-hand in a visit to the Baptist seminary in Buenos Aires. Read more

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