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Published Date: August 12, 2010

Published Date: August 12, 2010

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Living out the gospel of equality

When I first became a Christian, I was very zealous. Some might say over-zealous. I was one of those Christians that make you want to cover your eyes while peeking through your fingers so that you can see what damage was being done. I was so bowled over by the power of the gospel, I was sure that everyone else would thank me for telling them about Jesus. Unfortunately, to my surprise, not everyone thought it was the great news as I thought, and not everyone received it as joyfully as I did. Their response surprised me… but didn’t stop me. I often continued to pursue them with the truth, because I thought that if I could only explain it clearly enough, then they would see what I was seeing. Sadly, my well-meaning zeal only served to alienate them from me and from the gospel.

Suffice it to say, this same thing happened when my suspicions were confirmed about God’s love for equality. For many years, I had been so conflicted because of what I thought the Scriptures taught about men and women. I feared that if such a hierarchy were true, then an incongruous nature about God was being revealed, and that greatly troubled me. But it wasn’t true. It really is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1), and the freeing nature of the truth overwhelmed me so much, I wanted to tell everyone about it. What I saw and understood was such great news, I was sure everyone would thank me for it once they really understood what those passages of Scripture really mean and how Jesus really views women. If only I could explain it clearly enough so that they could understand! My persistent excitement and eagerness to bring freedom dribbled down into an excess of obnoxious argumentation. Rather than helping people understand, I found myself offending, instead. I lost a few friends in the process and was so disheartened by it that I was effectually silenced.

Something I learned after I had walked with Jesus for a few years is that if you live out the gospel, then skeptics will eventually inquire about and welcome your good news. The proof is in the pudding.

Recently, I found myself worshiping next to an old friend who grew up in a church with a strong hierarchical stance in the church and in the home. I have never had any biblical or theological debate with him about biblical equality, but I assume that he thinks that the office of the pastor is for men and not women and that the head of the household is the man. I don’t think these beliefs are based on any conscious biblical investigation but exist simply because these ideas are the bedrock of his church culture. But that day, he chose to be at our church, and, coincidentally, that day, our woman pastor was preaching. Sitting next to him, I heard him laugh at her jokes and could tell that he was listening attentively. Discussion about the sermon later confirmed that he had indeed learned from her — a woman.

This is when I realized something I should’ve known all along. I’ve been saying all these years that it didn’t make sense why revelation from God spoken out of a woman’s mouth would be nullified simply because she was a woman. If children can learn from a woman, and other women can learn from a woman, why couldn’t men? Truth is truth no matter who speaks it. But this time I didn’t have to argue it. It just happened in real time. A man learned from a woman (how revolutionary is that!). And it dawned on me that perhaps that is how this revolution will really take place — not solely and primarily through arguments and debates (although there is a time for explaining and theologizing) but — by living out the gospel of equality. If it is really true, then it will stand the test of time and prevail. It will prevail! And I’m looking forward to that day.