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This article originated as a paper that I presented at the Pacific Coast Region/Society of Biblical Literature meeting, New Testament Epistles and Apocalypse Section, at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California, in March 2002. I wish to focus here on the distinctive theology of Hebrews and how it relates to gender equality. 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
World religions have been charged with not only permitting, but also with perpetuating ingrained patterns of sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny. These religions, it seems, must either change or be left behind by all who believe that women and men are equal in their rights, abilities, and potential. Some charge that Christianity demeans and marginalizes women, that it is a male religion in which men are given the preponderance of power, prestige, and influence. But what did the founder of Christianity teach about women? 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
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

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