Tag Archives: egalitarian

The Unsubmissive Wife the Bible Praises: Abigail

20 Dec

The Story of Abigail can be found in 1 Samuel 25.  The following is a summation of her story.  Abigail was married to Nabal.  Nabal was a fool, but Abigail waImages beautiful and intelligent.  At this time, Saul had just died, and David had essentially been living in hiding (Saul wanted to kill him).  After a while of living in the vicinity of Nabal, David sent word to the wealthy man, asking him to share some food with David and his men.  David reasoned that it was only fair because David and his men had not stolen or acted wrongly towards Nabal’s.  They’d even protected them in some ways.  But Nabal is as greedy as he is foolish and refuses to share anything with David.  Keep in mind that hospitality was HUGE in ancient Israel.  Not sharing food would have been highly offensive to David. Thus, when David receives Nabal’s reply, he gets very angry, and tells his men to armor up and prepare for battle.

Meanwhile, one of the servants goes to Abigail.  The servant tells her about Nabal’s lack of hospitality toward David and how good David and his men has been to the people.  Sensing the danger, Abigail secretly loads some donkeys down with food and sets out to meet David and his men before they attack her household.  She is doing this in direct disobedience to her husband’s command.  When Abigail meets David and his men, she offers the food and pleads for him to forgive her husband’s insolence.  David is won over by her and does as she asks.  Thus, a crisis is averted, and Abigail is praised for her wisdom.

Abigail is not what we would call a leader, but she is hailed precisely because she took the lead in a crisis situation.  Had Abigail followed the rules of wifely submission, she would have honored her husband’s commands, and then everyone in her household would have died.  I recently watched a video clip where John Piper (a Reformed pastor and Complimentarian) urged women to submit to their husbands unless/until the husbands wanted their wives to sin- even in situations of abuse!  But here, Abigail is praised for doing the exact opposite.   Her story proves that even in the intensely patriarchal culture of ancient Israel, there is a limit to wifely submission.

Another thing I find interesting is the way Abigail speaks about her husband to David.  She says, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him,” (1 Sam. 25: 25).  I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t think it’s good for marriages when one spouse puts another down- especially in public.  I think the goal of every husband and wife team should be to out-do one another in love.  However, the fact that Abigail spoke out against her husband- even calling him a fool- reinforces the idea that women are not helplessly bound to their husbands’ stupidity.  They can, and should, stand up for what is right and for themselves.

At the conclusion of this story, Nabal died.  He went into a sort of coma when Abigail told him what she’d done.  He lingered for ten days before dying.  When David learned of the fool’s demise, he sent his men and asked Abigail to be his wife.  She accepted, and lived out her life as one of King David’s queens.  The moral of this story (just in case you haven’t picked up on it yet), is that there are limits for wifely submission, even in the Old Testament.  Abigail lived in a patriarchal culture, where women were expected to strictly obey their husbands and never bring them disrespect.  Abigail both dishonors and disobeys, and yet, the Bible teaches that her actions were right.  This is food for thought for everyone who is wrestling with to understand the extent to which wives should submit to their husbands.

Two Women Leaders You’ve Probably Never Thought About: Miriam & Huldah

19 Dec

ImageMiriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron.  In addition to being a prophet (Exodus 15:20; see the blog on Deborah for clarification on the role of prophets in the Old Testament), Miriam led the Israelites into the worship of YHWH.  In fact, part of a song she composed is recorded in Scripture (see the song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15).  I have seen Miriam compared to a modern day worship leader.  I think that’s good comparision, but I do not think this particular text lends much support to women in leadership over men.  You see, in verse 15:20 is says that the women followed her lead.  While that is certainly commendable, it is not earth-shattering.  What is surprising, however, is the way Miriam uses her voice to call out the men in leadership.

In Numbers 12, we’re told that Aaron and Miriam began speaking against Moses because they didn’t like his new wife.  Imagine the situation:  a woman calling out a man!  And this wasn’t just any man- it was Moses!  That takes guts.  After all, Miriam’s baby brother was the spiritual an temporal leader of the people of Israel.  We have to presume that Miriam felt she had the position- even the right- to speak out against something she disagreed with.  That’s significant right there.

As it turns out, YHWH was not pleased with Miriam and Aaron’s response to Moses’ marriage.  God calls BOTH Aaron and Miriam to the tent of meeting and reprimands them.  In punishment, Miriam is given leprosy.  Interestingly, the one thing God does not bring up, is the fact that Miriam is a woman.  If she had failed to stay “in her place,” so to speak, wouldn’t YHWH have mentioned it?  He doesn’t say a word about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of women calling out men; rather, he reprimands both Miriam and Aaron for speaking out against a prophet whom YHWH favors.

Moses pleads for his sister to be healed.  God responds, but Miriam still has to spend seven days outside the camp (she was ritually “unclean”).  The text then tells us that the people did not leave their place until she came back into the camp.  Apparently, regardless of her insubordination, Miriam was important enough for the whole camp to wait for her return. Hmmm….

ImageThe next woman I’m going to discuss is virtually unheard of in most Christian circles.  Her name is Huldah and her story can be found in 2 Kings 22.  When Josiah was king, the Book of Law was rediscovered in the Temple.  Upon reading it, Josiah tore his clothes because he knew Israel was not living according to God’s divine decree.  He wanted to understand the Law better, so Josiah charged the priest with the task of finding a prophet who could render the book’s meaning.  The high priest goes to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum.  She apparently lived in the new quarter of Jerusalem.  These men, priests no less, go to Huldah(a woman) to interpret the Law and deliver a message from YHWH.  This is enormously significant.  What’s more, Huldah was married.  The priests did not confer with her husband (as her spiritual head).  Nope.  They did not ask for his opinion after Huldah delivered her message from God.  They simply acknowledged that this woman was anointed by the Holy Spirit as a prophet who spoke on behalf of God.  Then they took her message seriously.  What does this say about women who are anointed by the Holy Spirit as teachers today?

Deborah: Prophet, Warrior, and Judge of Israel

6 Dec

ImageThe account of Deborah can be found in the book of Judges, chapters 4 & 5.  Let’s start by pointing out some of the basics.

  1. Deborah was a woman.
  2. Deborah was a prophet.
  3. Deborah was married.
  4. Deborah was leading Israel.
  5. Deborah held court under the “Palm of Deborah.”
  6. Deborah led Israel into battle.

I will address these basics in reverse order.

Deborah led Israel into Battle

If you are familiar with the Biblical account, you will see that Deborah led the people of Israel into battle. In fact, the general, Barak, refused to go without her!  It’s also recorded in Deborah’s song that the army waited on her, and called out for her before they marched.  This is significant for a number of reasons.  It validates her position as the temporal and spiritual leader of Israel.  It reveals the true extent of her influence, and it portrays her in a position women did not typically occupy.  Israelite women did not fight in battles.  Now, let’s be clear.  There is no evidence that Deborah personally wielded a weapon or fought in battle.  It’s not outside the realm of possibilities, but let’s not confuse her with Xena or anything.  She wasn’t a warrior princess.  However, it is clear that her presence was considered essential to the success of the battle (it wasn’t- only YHWH’s presence was required, but the people felt they needed her).  It also shows that Deborah was versatile and exhibited leadership in many ways.

Deborah held court under the “Palm of Deborah”

This reveals a couple cool things.  First, we should note that Judges was written centuries after Deborah’s life and reign, yet the place where she administered justice was still referred to as the “Palm of Deborah.”  It obviously carried historical/cultural significance.  Also, the fact that she administered justice from one location, and that people traveled to her, gives us an idea of how respected she was in Israel.  Would you walk a hundred miles to present your case before someone you’ve a) never heard of or b) don’t respect?  I sure wouldn’t.

Deborah was leading Israel

Deborah’s lived during the period of the judges.  She probably reigned around 1150 BCE (note the approximation there).  At this time, Israel had no king.  The Tribes were mostly self-sufficient.  However, when Israel was threatened by another nation/people the tribes would have to be unified and God would raise and empower a person to defend the Promised Land and lead the people.  They were referred to as judges.  This is where Deborah’s account gets even more interesting.  She was leading before the enemy advanced.  She is the only judge to have been administering justice (or exercising any kind of temporal authority) before the crisis arrived.  We’re also told that she continued to judge after the enemy was subdued.  Hmmm.  The plot thickens.

Deborah was married.

Okay, this little tidbit probably doesn’t strike anyone as significant, but it was.  You see, ancient Israelites took the whole, “be fruitful and multiply” thing very seriously.  They thought it applied to every physically capable person, thus celibacy was not an option.  It goes without saying that her culture was patriarchal.  Married women were under the authority of their husbands.  Granted, the Laws of ancient Israel gave women more protection and status than most other cultures of the ancient near east, but let’s not forget she did not live in a culture comparable to our own.  So the fact that she was married- likely even had children- and was the leader of Israel is HUGE!  We cannot know for sure if she was a mother, but considering how shameful barrenness was for women, it seems unlikely that it would have gone unmentioned in the text.  Yet, it was not her husband who was called to lead Israel, it was Deborah.

Deborah was a prophet

Let’s begin with a brief description of the role of prophets in the Old Covenant.  YHWH was the ultimate king of Israel.  However, he divided his administrators on earth into three categories:  prophet, priest and king (once the office of king was established).  The King administered justice, was in charge of judicial matters, etc.  The priest represented the people to God and offered sacrifices on their behalf.  The prophet, on the other hand, represented YHWH to the people.  The prophet was, literally, the mouthpiece or spokesperson for God.  The word of the prophet was the word of the LORD.  Prophets were powerful.  The prophet could even call out kings!  Think Nathan.  The prophet is not born, nor is the office inherited.   He/she is called, and anointed by the Holy Spirit.  The prophet is caught up in the divine council (Isaiah is a good example), and given a message, which the prophet takes to the people.  If the prophet changes the message, then there would be significant consequences.  Dt. 18 declares that the prophet is the one who takes God’s message to the people.  The prophet has more power than anyone else in God’s administration.  And this is the position that YHWH has called and anointed Deborah for.  And remember, ONLY God can call and empower someone to be God’s prophet!

Finally, Deborah was a woman.

I recognize that Deborah’s gender is obvious (although some Bible translators do try to turn a woman’s name into a man’s in Romans 16!), but too many people fail to recognize how truly significant Deborah’s life and leadership were when it comes to understanding biblical womanhood.  In my last blog, I addressed the “curse passage” in which God told Eve that her husband would rule over her.  The story of Deborah makes it abundantly clear that it was only “descriptive” and not “prescriptive.”  By that I mean that it was not (and is not) God’s will for men to rule over women.  It’s also a beautiful testimony to the willingness of God to call and equip women and men, for all rules in the church, the home, and society.

The Other Side of the Argument

The Complementarian argument against Deborah as a model for female leadership is probably the weakest in their arsenal (they aren’t all weak.  I’ll give credit where credit is due).  I was originally taught, and have since read, that Deborah was chosen as a way to shame Barak; or that there were no righteous men so God had to call Deborah to get the job done. I’ve even been told that she was actually a model for submissiveness because she rebuked Barak in private.  First of all, Deborah was called before Barak, and remained in leadership afterwards.  He was “shamed” because he did not trust God to deliver the Israelites from such a huge army.  The same things would probably have happened if he’d been instructed by a male prophet.  Secondly, I have a hard time believing that Deborah was the only righteous person left in Israel.  Heck, a lot of the other judges weren’t even that righteous and God still found a way to use them.  Besides, if having a female judge was meant to be a point of shame on Israel’s unrighteous past, wouldn’t the author have judges have mentioned it, or at the very least mentioned that no men were available for the position?  This argument is a stretch from what the text offers us.  Finally, there’s nothing to suggest that Deborah rebuked Barak in private.  In fact, she summoned him to her place of administration!  That alone suggest she was in a position of authority over him.

In conclusion

I think Deborah is a great example of God calling, anointing, and empowering women for his service.  She was certainly the exception, rather than the rule, but what a magnificent and significant exception she was.  If nothing else, it shows us that God includes women and men in his story and invites both to partner with him in ministry and leadership.

Genesis and Womanhood

30 Nov

As Julie Andrews once sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning; it’s a very good place to start.”  Thus, our first delve into the world of Biblical Womanhood will deal with the book of Genesis, specifically Chapters 1, 2 & 3.  A great many doctrines find their basis in these three chapters. Though most discourse on this section of the Bible deals with the Evolution issue, I will be focusing only on the aspects which pertain to gender.   Let’s begin.  By the way, this exercise will be significantly more fruitful if you follow along in your Bible as well.  If you do not have a Bible, Biblegateway.com is a great resource.  Go there, and simply find Genesis 1.  I am referencing three versions:  The Revised Standard Version because it is still the accepted version for the academic world and it is preferred among Wesleyans, the New American Standard Version because it makes Reformed folks happy and the New International Version, because it is what most normal people have.

 Genesis 1

The author of Genesis has offered us a beautiful introduction to the Book of Genesis, and perhaps even the Bible itself.  God creates, and humankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation!  Notice the build-up to verse (v) 26.  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”(27) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.(28 )God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground,”

This is our first Biblical look at humanity and a few things stand out.  First of all, in this narrative, we are not given a detailed account of the man or woman.  However, we are given one HUGE theological truth.  Both the male and the female were created in the image/likeness of God.  The word used to denote the imago dei is the same word used for an idol.  That’s a big deal.  God’s good creation (and we know it was good because verse 31 tells us it was good) included male and female humans who bear the likeness of God.

The second observation I’d like to make is that both the man and the woman are charged with the same tasks.  Both were given the responsibility and authority to rule over the rest of creation and both were commanded to be fruitful.  In the first creation story, God makes no distinction whatsoever between the roles of the man or the woman.

But we can’t stop there.  Let’s go on to Genesis 2.

 Genesis 2

This account has God forming the man first (v 7).  In v 18, the writer says that God notices it was not good for the man to be alone.  None of the other animals were suitable companions for the man, so God chose to make a helper fit for him.  The story unfolds as God removes the man’s rib to create a new creature.  The man announces in v23 that she is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh and that she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.  The chapter then concludes by saying a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh.  Then v25, the man and his wife were naked and were not ashamed.

Complementarians will use this chapter and argue that God’s original intent for humanity (because Eden represents God’s original intent) was for there to be what I will call a “harmonic hierarchy.”  By this I mean humanity was created with a hierarchy between men and women, but in Eden, where sin was absent, this was a natural and harmonic aspect of creation.  Here is their evidence:

-the Man was created first, which suggest priority

-the woman was created as a helper or helpmeet, which suggest a subordinate role

-the man named her “woman” which suggests authority

-the two were functioning as one flesh, which suggests emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental unity

-the man and the woman were naked and unashamed, which suggests a complete vulnerability and openness between the man and the woman.

There are aspects of the Complementarian view here that I agree with completely.  For instance, I believe the text makes it clear that in Eden (or God’s original intent) men and women live in complete harmony.  The two function as one flesh, living in total unity, and they are completely vulnerable in the other’s presence.  Quite frankly, it represents the perfect marriage.  There were certainly no power struggles between the man and the woman.  A Complementarian would argue this was because sin had not crept in and the wife was perfectly submissive (and happy to be so) and the husband functioned as a perfect, loving leader.  While this view is idyllic, even appealing, I do not believe the text supports this conclusion.  Let’s look at the specifics.

 The Creation Order Man was made first.  I will grant, birth order in the ancient world (and in the modern) was significant in terms of inheritance and status. However,  in and of itself, creation order is not enough to suggest any such authority.  Animals were created before the man in this narrative, yet it is not the animals to whom God grants dominion.  Besides this, there are plenty of Biblical examples of God working outside the norms of culture with respect for birth order.  For example, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, and Ephraim are five examples from the Book of Genesis (and likely the same author), in which birth order is disregarded.  Thus,the fact that Adam was created first is not a strong argument for either side.

 Woman as Helper.The Hebrew word we translate as “helper” or “helpmate” is עֵ֖זֶר.  We would pronounce is as ‘ezer. It literally means “one who helps.”  In an English translation, our first inclination may be to consider the role of helper as somehow subservient or “beneath.”  In Hebrew, however, the word ‘ezer contains no such meaning. The word is found in the Old Testament 21 times.  It is used twice in Genesis to refer to a woman (2:18,20).  It is used in a neutral context, where “help” is the noun, in six instances (Ps. 20:2, 121:1, 124:8, 146:5, Ez 12:14 & Dan 11:34).  ‘Ezer  is used in Isaiah 30:5 to refer to a group of people without gender distinction.  Interestingly, this word is used most often in reference to God.  On nine occasions, God is referred to as עֵ֖זֶר or helper to Israel.  Obviously God is not subservient to Israel (who receives his help)!  Additionally, there is no female or feminine element in this world.  It’s actually a masculine noun.  In my estimation, the fact that the woman is referred to as a helper cannot suggest a subordinate role because the word עֵ֖זֶר isn’t used in that fashion anywhere else in the Bible!

 Adam names the Woman. I would suggest that announcing the female as woman, or Ish-sha is not a “naming.”  Naming in ancient Israel carried great meaning.  Names always had reflected the character of the individual, his/her calling, or the circumstances of the child’s birth.  This woman does indeed receive a name, which denotes her as the mother of humankind.  However, she does not receive her ‘name’ until chapter three, after the Fall.  When the man declared that she was woman, he was singling her out as part of his kind, his species.  She was not like the animals, whom he gave names to.  He was recognizing her as his counterpart.  His title, ish, simply means man.  It is not a name, rather a designation of species and gender.  And he uses his own designation with the woman.

In conclusion, when I read Genesis 2, I see a beautiful picture of God’s original intent.  There, man and woman lived together in perfect unity, harmony, vulnerability, and equality.

Genesis 3

Genesis three is a classic tale of temptation and sin.  Eve was challenged with a crafty, deceptive message.  The serpent appealed to a human tendency to doubt the goodness of what we have (however good that may be), as well as the desire to grasp honors and power that belongs only in the hands of God (the ability to discern good from evil).  And Yes, she was clearly deceived.  But she was not alone.  Her husband, who was standing right there, sinned right along with her (and with less coaxing I might add).

I have heard a few Complementarian arguments about this section.

The one that I hear most often is that the woman sinned, but her sin was the result of a negligent husband (who was clearly present when she sinned).  The man, failed to lead his wife away from temptation and ultimately sin.  I have even heard it phrased that the Man abdicated his role as leader to his wife, who seems to have taken the lead in the exchange with the serpent.  Thus there was sin.  The fault in this situation ultimately falls to the man, who failed to properly instruct and lead his wife.  I have also heard that the woman sinned first because she was more susceptible than the man.

I take issues with both of these views (I know you’re shocked).  Let’s address the first.

This position has a counterpart in history- femme covert.  It speaks to the idea that a woman is “covered” by her husband (or father if she is unmarried).  Her male authority was responsible for her in every way.  He would care for and protect her, but he would also take responsibility for her.  In an age when women had no education or respectable means of providing financially, this system made sense.  However, it effectively strips women of all financial, legal, or social freedom.  In America, this lasted until the end of the 1800s! Now, this notion can be found in Scripture.  The concept of femme covert goes hand in hand with any patriarchal culture.  However, it is not supported in Genesis 3.  Here’s why:  God never said so.  I’ll elaborate.  God never told the man he was responsible for the woman.  In Genesis 1, God gave the BOTH dominion over creation.  In Genesis 2, God made zero mention of the man being responsible for the free decisions of the woman.  The one aspect in which the man may have culpability, deals with the one prohibition.  According to Gen. 2, the man was given the prohibition prior to the woman’s creation.  It could be fair to say that the man should have communicated the prohibition as he understood it.  Given the woman’s actions- and the fact that she misquotes the law given to the man- it is possible he failed on this score.  However, when God addresses the man and woman’s sin, the man is punished for his own sin- not his wife’s.  And Eve receives her consequences as if she was completely responsible for her own choices.  If the man truly “covered” her the way many claim, God would have rebuked him for allowing his wife to stray.  God does nothing of the sort, rather the man experiences the consequences of sin for listening to the woman when he knew better.  Remember, he knew better because God had given him the prohibition first hand.

The second assertion, that the woman was deceived because women are naturally weaker or less spiritual, also doesn’t hold up under scrutiny or reason.  The woman was deceived by the Serpent who was crafty, manipulative, tempting, and so forth.  She followed the direction of the deceiver- who we can assume was good at his job.  The man follows the direction of another human being- who at that point was not full of sin and therefore would not have been manipulative or crafty.  Should we really make comparisons about the intellectual capacity or spiritual discernment of these two?  If we did, I’m not sure Adam would come out on top, but I do not believe we have enough textual evidence to argue either way with integrity.

** I will address Paul’s comments on this part of Scripture when I reach those texts.**

And now we come to the “Curse section.”  “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” Genesis 3:16

I would like to begin by saying that everyone is in agreement that God’s statements to the man and woman are not “curses.”  Only the serpent and the ground are curses.  There is consensus that God was simply stating the realities they will face in a fallen world.  Women will now experience pain in childbearing.  I do not pretend to understand how the a child would have been conceived, carried and delivered without any pain in Eden, but since that’s not the focus I’ll move on.  The second clause states that the woman’s desire would be for her husband but he will rule over her.  Some people argue that this clause means that women will have in innate desire to usurp of dominate their husbands.  This idea comes from the way the word “desire” (תְּשׁוּקָה) is used in Genesis 4:7.  There God tells Cain that sin’s desire is for him but he must master it.  The word is also used in Song of Solomon,but there it is used in the context of sexual desire.  I am inclined to believe “desire” in the context of Genesis 3 refers to a  continuous emotional and sexual desire on the part of a woman towards her husband, regardless of the resultant pain (from childbearing) or the fact that a husband will now rule over her.

As for the “rule over her,” it is very telling that this is mentioned only after the fall and as an obvious consequence to sin.  Men ruling over women is the result of sin and is a symptom of a broken world, in need of redemption.  It is not a biblical mandate.  It is the symptom of  a disease.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, Genesis 1,2,& 3 has a lot to say about the relationships between men and women. Though Genesis 2 is frequently cited for a Complementarian foundation in Genesis, the text simply cannot support such conclusions.  This, combined with Genesis 1- which presents an equality between the man and woman- leads me to believe that God’s original intent for human relationships was one of harmony based on equality between the sexes.

The inequality experienced between Adam and Eve (which culminates when Adam exhibits his “rule” over her by giving her the name of Eve), was the direct result of sin.  It is not God’s intention for relationships.  Thus, we should not seek to propagate inequality or domination between the sexes.  For those who think Genesis 3:16 represents a command for all people and all times, I would ask whether or not they use fertilizer, farming equipment, medication during childbirth, medication or surgery for illnesses or anything else that seeks to lessen the consequences of sin upon the earth or the human life.  If they do, they should reexamine the consistency of their doctrine.

As a redeemed community, we are called out of our life of sin.  In a sense, we are called and empowered to live into Eden (God’s original intent), which means we should pursue harmony and equality between men and women.

Biblical Womanhood: A Series on the Roles of Women in Church, Home & Society

29 Nov

I am beginning a series on the issue of Biblical womanhood.  This is one of my greatest passions and I look forward to the exercise of studying the role of women in the Scripture, Church history, and the Kingdom today.  I will be looking at this argument from every imaginable aspect, thus is will take some time.  I would like to say that my intent is not to widen the gap between theological traditions.  Nor am I interested in arguing with anyone.  While disagreements and questions are certainly permitted, I will not approve comments of an unkind nature.  Similarly, I will make every attempt to be fair and gracious in my assessments.  .  My goal for this series of blog entries is to provide knowledge for my sisters and my brothers in ministry, as well as those who may be dealing with some confusion on this issue.  My voice is just one in the midst of a vibrant conversation.  In the near future, I will offer up a list of suggested books (from both perspectives), so that you may study further, if that is your desire.

I will begin by saying I have held BOTH an Egalitarian and Complementarian view in my life.  If you are unfamiliar with these terms, I will offer a basic definition (within the context of Biblical womanhood).

Egalitarian:  men and women were created equally in the image of God, are equal inheritors of salvation, and are equally equipped for service in the Kingdom.  This view supports full inclusion of women in every office of the church, including elder/minister/preacher, etc.  This view can also be applied to marriage, where roles are delineated based on giftedness and passion, rather than traditional general lines.

Complementarian:  men are women are equally created in the image of God and are equal inheritors of salvation.  Men and women are both gifted for services, but not in the same roles.  Men serve as the spiritual “head” and are the only appropriate candidates for church leadership, specifically as preachers/teachers/elders.  This view has broad application.  Some church traditions feel only the role of senior pastor is closed to women, while others apply the male leadership model to all teachers (except of children and women’s groups), committee chairs, worship leaders/speakers, etc.  This view, when applied to marriage, calls for wifely submission and the leadership of the husband.

I would like to add that proponents of both the Complementarian and Egalitarian views are orthodox, Scripture reading/believing people.  It is my personal belief that the role of women, while extremely important, is not an eternal matter.  As brothers and sisters in Christ of every theological tradition, we must be willing to extend grace to one another, even when we disagree on non-eternal issues.

Thank you for your interest and participation as we seek God’s wisdom in matters of faith and practice.

Blessings, Kate