The CBE Scroll presents “Learning to Thrive”, a five-part series that will feature stories from members of CBE’s “Thrive” Chapter at Biola University in Southern California. We hope this will serve as an encouragement to all of you and deepen your understanding of the true meaning of the Gospel! Today we will hear from Andy Motz, a member of the chapter who also wrote the award-winning Mutuality article “Have They Disappeared?“
My passion for gender equality stems from the fact that I had never heard the male-leadership perspective on marriage and ministry until I came to Biola. My father was a pastor who taught a vision of the Kingdom of God where there is neither “slave nor free, Jew nor gentile, male and female” and presented a Christ who valued women just as much as men amidst a society that thought of women as property to be sold. I was drawn to the stories of Jesus healing the bleeding woman, saving the life of an adulterer, disregarding religious law as he taught the knowledge hungry Mary, and deciding to give a woman the task of being the first to declare his resurrection.
In marriage my parents always worked together. Striving to love and submit to one another while keeping Christ in the center. I thought this living out of mutual respect was one aspect of how Christians could differ from the patterns of this world.
Needless to say, I was shocked when I came to Biola and was taught a Christianity where men were free, women were restricted, and God preferred hierarchy to mutuality. I saw how this mindset, most of the time unintentionally, caused a lot of people to treat women as second-class citizens and not value their opinions as much as their male counterparts.
Yet not all was black and white for it was while I was at Biola that I discovered some very uncomfortable passages within our very own sacred text. My jaw dropped when I first read the seemingly sexist verses in 1 Timothy and my stomach grew sick when I read the verse in Deuteronomy where Israelite law commands a woman to marry her rapist. I found a once liberating text transforming into an oppressive one.
Thankfully, despite my questions, I didn’t give up on the Bible or Christianity. I discovered that unnerving texts must not be ignored, but wrestled with in order to fully understand their context. I came to this conclusion partly through re-reading the Gospels where I found time and time again a God who valued both men and women equally. Another aspect was understanding Paul’s subversive ministry that included both men and women apostles. It became so clear that texts such as Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2 are not commands for hierarchical marriages or exclusively male church leadership, but instead, subversive texts that flip the sexist cultural norms of Paul’s day on their head.
Throughout the history of the world women have constantly been abjected, oppressed and abused. The beauty of Christianity is that it sets us free of such horrors and leads us into the true freedom found in Christ. A freedom where we are allowed to embrace our God-given gifts to further Christ’s kingdom of love, peace, and justice.