This March, Christians for Biblical Equality will be celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing the histories of women who have had a tremendous impact on the church through their leadership. Far from being mere assistants to men, women from many different cultures, eras, and circumstances have been used mightily by God as leaders, teachers, preachers, and martyrs at key moments in history. It is crucial that we tell and hear their stories.
History helps to put our world into perspective. It forms our collective memory, which educates and inspires us over the centuries, long after we have forgotten the particulars of a sermon or speech. We recall the life stories of key individuals who we embrace as models of courage and initiative, and these individuals shape how we view the world. Who or what we decide to include or exclude in our telling of history both reflects and shapes how we view our world. In the retelling of Christian history, we have often left out or downplayed the contributions of our sisters, daughters, and mothers. The legacy of female believers is underemphasized or unmentioned. Pivotal events and crucial figures of history become insignificant anomalies that need not challenge the presumed “role” of women.
Christians for Biblical Equality seeks to share the rest of the story, to challenge the pervading patriarchal culture in the world and the church. Starting Monday, March 4, read the untold histories of a handful of these exceptional women. A few examples are Junia, whom the apostle Paul calls “outstanding among the apostles” and a leader over many, or Pastor Duk Ji Choi, who preached against idolatry during the Japanese occupation in Korea and resisted torture with prayer. Each Arise column in March will feature a biblical woman whose story is too often relegated to the sidelines of Christian history.
Near the end of Women’s History Month, on March 28, we will be hosting a worldwide prayer walk. The date was selected with Galatians 3:28 in mind: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This passage comes after the apostle Paul tells us he would not submit to what was “hypocritical” to the Gospel (Gal. 2:1-14). The apostle Peter had affirmed the truth of the Gospel in regards to the Gentiles with his words, but his actions compromised it. We observe a similar occurrence in principle with Christians concerning slavery in the history of the United States. Christians affirmed the “spiritual” equality of slaves, but this was not reflected in their actions. Today many churches want to affirm the “spiritual” equality of women while denying them key places of leadership within the church and continually downplaying their contributions. Due to cultural assumptions and sometimes the misreading of Scripture, women around the world are often abused, denied access to education or nutrition, and sold as sex slaves.
On March 28, we invite you to pray with us. Pray about all of the injustices, pray for the perpetrators who intentionally or unintentionally hurt women and damage the cause of Christ. Pray for the many women today, such as Lillan Kimani from Kenya, who encourage women to pursue leadership. Pray for women who have struggled with hurt and disappointment from how they have been treated in their churches. If you would like to host your own prayer walk with your church, friends, family or coworkers, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This March, let’s celebrate and pray for women who make history!