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John Stuart Mill was a Victorian political and social philosopher. He received a unique and rigorous education starting at the age of three when he learned Greek and went on to be lauded as the first great interdisciplinary mind of the modern world. His most famous works are his Autobiography, Utilitarianism, and On Liberty. Utilitarianism is Mill’s statement of Utilitarian ethics, the principle of which is that the right action is that action which will tend to increase happiness and decrease un-happiness. By happiness Mill means pleasure, both physical and mental, and by unhappiness, pain. Mill’s goal was a collectivist one, the improvement of society. 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
The most compelling proof for the existence of God should be the fact that the Christian faith has been able to survive twenty centuries of abuse inflicted upon it by the church. On all counts, the church should have shriveled and died several times during its tortuous history. Despite clear directives for beliefs and practices, assigned to it by its divine founder despite easy access to God’s inscripturated revelation, despite the ever-available guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church seems to be hell-bent on losing its way and becoming sidetracked down paths of self-destruction. Read more
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
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
The Christian egalitarian woman is in a difficult position. If she truly believes God calls women to engage in the same types of ministries and offices of the church in which men engage, and if she is also committed to living a life that reflects God’s character, she is faced with a quandary. Read more
Once again we shake our heads, laugh, and roll our eyes at the Southern Baptist Convention. The boys who run that outfit never seem to tire of doing silly things. This time, when a few thousand of them [met] in Orlando in June [2000], they [made] all 15.9 million Southern Baptists reject female preachers. Read more
In 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention made headlines around the nation with the addition of the words “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband” to the Baptist Faith and Message (B F&M). It seemed that everyone, from talk-show hosts to the person on the street, had some commentary to offer on the statement. Many were tempted to dismiss it as an archaic example of a denomination safe and secure in the eighteenth century. Others affirmed the words as a return to “family values.” All were, at the very least, curious as to why such a statement came from such a body of believers at such a time as this. Read more
I have a confession to make. I used to hate being a woman. And I hated God for making me one. But it wasn’t always that way. My parents brought up my siblings (a brother and two sisters) and me equitably, with absolutely no sense of privilege based on gender. “Aim for the stars, and you’re sure to hit one,” was Dad’s constantly quoted axiom. So throughout my school years I competed favorably with my peers, male and female, and felt inferior to no one. My girlhood fantasies alternated wildly between becoming President of Nigeria and performing adorably before millions of fans—movie star, sports champion, politician, whatever—I just knew that I could and would be great. Nothing was beyond my reach. Read more

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