One of the biggest obstacles in declaring myself an “egalitarian” has not been defending the views that I hold or explaining what I believe, but knowing that this is an issue I cannot take a middle road on. As someone who strives to live out of compromise and harmony, knowing that the church often polarizes segments of its congregants because of this issue troubles me. Yet I have come to a new understanding on this concern because of my internship at CBE.
Frequently surrounded by Christian communities with varying denominational backgrounds, I am aware that sometimes these relationships rely on a careful balance of humility and honesty. While I have complementarian friends that I love and appreciate, I quickly learned I cannot hide the fact that I am egalitarian simply to maintain agreement on all issues. In the past, I was embarrassed to express what I believed in order to avoid conflict. This reminded me of Peter’s denial of Christ. Meditating on those three sad denials, I had to ask myself: at what times in my life do I deny the beliefs I resonate most with? If I do not cling to my convictions or advocate for my beliefs while keeping Christ at the center, then I am not being true to how God created me.
After arriving at the conclusion that egalitarianism is not something I can set aside when convenient, I realized a lot of the conversations in my life would begin to change. And by the blessings of God, they have! Although I know difficult conversations lie ahead, most recently God has awed me by the transforming work in the life of one of my friends.
In a conversation we had, she inquired about my internship with CBE. Her curiosity stemmed from a CBE representative who came to speak to her class. The timing was perfect. Only months before, she explained how she read through several complementarian sources, which allowed her some room for healing and growth at that point in her life. She took these sources at face-value, absorbing the teachings as truth. Until suddenly, these complementarian teachings were challenged as she felt God calling her to ministry. Internal turmoil erupted as she struggled in the battle of God’s calling against the prescriptive nature of gender in the complementarian view. What about 1 Corinthians 11? Ephesians 5? 1 Timothy 2?
My friend did not need to wait long before her questions were answered. As the representative from CBE spoke to her class about these key passages, the hesitancies began to slip away. Listening to the egalitarian perspective on these difficult verses helped to solidify my friend’s confidence in her calling. Now, she feels the freedom to exercise her personal relationship with God in tandem with the teachings of Scripture.
As we sat talking, catching up on life, my friend said to me, “I appreciate CBE’s respect of the Bible. They are so biblically-grounded.”
While I am often tempted to take the middle road on issues to avoid conflict at all costs, it was not until I opened up the space for honesty that such beautiful conversations began to bless my life. I am looking forward to the continuing dialogue with others, knowing that there will be as many frustrating conversations as healing ones. But the times I feel most discouraged, God is always there to renew if only I persevere with humility and honesty in the race I am called to run.