Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Towards Equality – My Story

For the first 15 or so years of my life, like many people in Australia with a Dutch background, I belonged to a church that was part of the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia. All of my relatives attended this church and, until year 4, I even went to a school started by the Dutch Reformed community. Male primacy was continually modelled in church life and family life. We were  taught that authority and leadership was for men only, and I largely believed it. [1]

Early Ministry

When I was about 10 years old, I made the decision to become a Christian. From that moment I knew that I wanted to devote my life to serving God. Nothing else seemed nearly as important or worthwhile. Even though the desire to serve God was (and is) strong and persistent, I never once thought about attending a Bible college or seminary to become a minister. The thought never entered my head—not even for a second. I was a girl, and in the 70s and early 80s I had never seen or heard of a female minister. The only examples I had seen of women in ministry were missionaries in third world countries, and ministers’ wives. Neither of these options seemed appealing or appropriate to me. I often talked to God about how I, as a female, could minister and serve him.

With a compelling and unrelenting desire to serve God, but with no personal ambition for “formal” ministry, I involved myself in whatever ministries were available to me. From my mid-teens I volunteered at camps, taught Sunday School, and played music in church services and small groups. I was also fairly outspoken about my faith at school and work, even though in all other regards I was extremely shy.

Early Married Life

I started attending an Assemblies of God church when I was 21 years old. I met my husband Pete there, and we were married when I was 22. Even in this church we were taught that the husband was “the head of the house” and “the priest of the family”: two phrases that simply do not exist in Scripture.[2] I was perfectly content with these ideas, however, because I believed them to be biblical. And so I entered marriage with the full intention of being a good, submissive wife. I was quite willing forfeit all leadership and decision-making to my future husband.[3]

Ironically, my desire to be a completely submissive wife was tested within hours of making our wedding vows. Our master-of-ceremonies at the wedding reception had brought an axe wrapped in toilet paper. He thought it would be a good joke if Pete and I cut the wedding cake with this axe. Pete also thought it would be a good joke. (We were all very young at the time.)

Our wedding cake had been a gift to us. A lady in our church had made it herself as a loving gesture. The work, the expense, and most importantly her love, hacked into by an axe? I simply couldn’t agree to this. I was so disappointed that as a brand new bride I was already insisting that my husband not go ahead with something he wanted to do. It wasn’t difficult to dissuade him, but I was very disappointed that my plan to submit to my husband “in everything” (Eph. 5:24) had already been tested and I had failed.[4] (I actually find this story quite amusing in retrospect.)

I read lots of books during the first couple of years of marriage about how to be a good, submissive Christian wife, but my husband was not keen on my earnest efforts to be the perfect wife. He just wanted me to be myself. He also wanted to just be himself.

My husband felt the pressure to be the “priest” of the home, and I contributed to this pressure. It was not a role he was comfortable with. On the other hand, I found it easy to pray and read the Bible with our young sons every night, and bring God into our family life. At times I actually felt guilty about doing this because I thought that I might have been usurping my husband’s role. I now realise how ridiculous my guilty feelings were. Everyone in the family benefits when the father and mother share and allocate the responsibilities and chores of family life according to talents, temperaments, and abilities, and not according to rigidly prescribed gender roles.

More Ministry

The Assemblies of God church that we belonged to was very supportive of my ministry as a singer–songwriter. I also began leading a women’s Bible study group there, and I started teaching Religious Education in schools. When my boys were still very young we moved to the Central Coast of New South Wales to help a new congregation that our church had started.

For the next two decades Pete and I ministered at a more leadership level at different churches. Pete was primarily sought out to be an elder or head deacon, and I would usually end up being the music director. I would frequently, as a soloist, sing songs that had messages in them, but I still didn’t think that, being a woman, I should speak or preach messages, or teach or lead men. I turned down invitations to lead Communion because of my gender. It was only later that I realised that my thinking was illogical.

My thinking allowed me to sing and lead worship without any qualms, but it did not allow me to speak in a public setting. Is there a difference between singing a message or speaking a message? I really don’t think so. This confused rationalisation reminds me of people who have allowed women to minister and speak on foreign mission fields but not in their own home church setting.

Reading the New Testament in Greek

When I was in my mid-40s, I began to feel that God was leading me towards a more influential, leadership role in church. My understanding was that this role was not open to women. As I began reading the New Testament in Greek, I started observing that passages which spoke about ministry were gender inclusive, yet these same passages, in English, seemed to exclude women.

Reading Romans 12:6-8 in English, and then in Greek, was a real turning point for me. I had read this passage in the NIV (1984 edition) which begins with, “If a man . . .”  It then lists some ministries (including leading and teaching) interspersed with eight masculine pronouns. I looked at this passage in the English and thought, “No. Leadership is for men only, not for women, not for me.” I then looked at the same passage in the Greek and saw that there was no “man” mentioned at all, no masculine pronouns, and that there was no gender preference being asserted here. I was truly shocked and saddened by the gender bias in the NIV (1984 edition) which made this passage seem to exclude women. Romans 12:6-8 is in fact just as gender inclusive as numerous passages which speak about salvation, just as gender inclusive as John 3:16.[5] The NIV 2011 edition translates Romans 12:6-8 more faithfully.

Being able to read the New Testament in Greek was a real eye-opener for me in regards to how I viewed the topic of Women in Ministry.[6] I saw that scripture passages that spoke about spiritual gifts and ministry gifts were gender inclusive in the Greek: that these passages neither preferred men nor disqualified women in regards to leading or teaching, etc.[7]  I saw that the Apostle Paul actually loved and valued women ministers, and that he was not at all the chauvinist that some claimed him to be.[8] I also saw that several women ministers and women house church leaders were even mentioned by name in the New Testament, names that I had previously overlooked, names that are rarely mentioned in most churches.[9] Sadly, I also saw that most English translations of the New Testament are unfairly biased against the concept of women in ministry, and so this gender inclusivity, that is clearer in the Greek, is obscured in many English translations, especially older translations.

Ministry and Marriage Now

The desire to serve God wholeheartedly has never left me, and, with my new understanding of equality in ministry, I decided to study for a degree in theology a few years ago. [Update: I’ve since completed a BTh and an MA in early Christian and Jewish studies.] I hope this will lead to more opportunities to minister.  This may be as a teacher or leader in a congregational setting, or it may not. I am not sure where the next phase of my life’s story will take me. In the meantime I continue to be involved in various ministries. I feel a tremendous amount of freedom and joy as I continue to serve God without the constraints and complications of traditional gender roles.

Our marriage was not especially easy in the first few years, but, over the past decade in particular, our marriage has been very strong and very happy! Both my husband and I believe in complete equality in marriage and we live in mutual submission to each other. Our love, care, and respect is reciprocal. There is a lot of comfort, freedom, and joy in our relationship. I have been very blessed in my husband!

I truly believe that the church[10], and even the world, would be in much better shape if godly Christian men and women could minister together as equals and be treated as equals. If the western, Evangelical Church could embrace the counter–cultural values that Jesus taught, and lead the way in gender equality within the family, church and society, I believe that there will be some overflowing effect that will benefit women of other cultures where the subjugation of women is particularly oppressive and even brutal. I am personally very saddened that the Christian church is not leading the way in demonstrating and promoting the equality of women and men.

Towards Equality - My Story


The following are some of my personal views on topics related to Christian Egalitarianism or “Casteless Christianity”. My views are given as basic snapshots here. Please see my articles for a more indepth look at what I believe on these topics:

Women in Ministry

At this present point in time, as I continue to study the New Testament in Greek, (and after having read numerous books and articles on both sides of the Women in Ministry debate), I can see no scriptural reason for excluding a suitably gifted and called woman from any sort of leadership role, function or office. [My article on 1 Timothy 2:12 in Context here; my article on Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 here.]

Christian Feminism

I avoid the word “feminism” and its unfavourable militant connotations. My greatest desire as a young woman was to be married and have a family, and I am very grateful that I was able to realise this desire at a relatively young age. I am also very grateful that I could be a stay-at-home mum.

Even though my sons are now grown, my family remains the focus of my life, my prayers and my ministry. I have never had strong ambitions career-wise, not that having a career is necessarily a negative or unbiblical desire.

I am a feminist, however, in that I believe that God’s ideal is for complete equality, affinity, and unity between men and women, especially between husband and wife.  I much prefer to be labelled as a “Christian Egalitarian” or a “Casteless Christian”.

Submission in Marriage

I believe that God’s ideal in marriage is mutual submission, where both the husband and wife treat each other with mutual love, care, consideration, and respect.  [My article on Submission here.  My article entitled Submission and Respect in 1 Peter 3:1-6 here.]

God’s Gender

I have a problem with some Christian Feminists and Biblical Egalitarians who overemphasise the feminine qualities of God.[11]  The God of the Bible is a genderless spirit; he is neither male nor female. Yet it is important to note that both male and female human are made in his image (Genesis 1:27, 5:1-2). (One of my friends describes God as being “gender-full”.  Perhaps he is correct.)

I am very happy to stick with the biblical metaphors that describe God, both the masculine and feminine ones, and I have no desire to call God “mother”, although I don’t think that this is necessarily wrong. Also, I think it is helpful for English speakers to use feminine pronouns for any of the three persons of the Trinity.  [My article Is God male or masculine? here.]

Equality and Androgyny

One fear that the opponents of Biblical equality have is that if we allow the complete equality between men and women this will lead to gender differences becoming confused or indistinguishable. I personally find this argument ridiculous. I love being a woman. I love being a mother. I love being feminine. And as a woman I see no reason why I can’t be an effective leader and teacher in my family with my husband, or an effective leader and teacher in the church, if that is what God has called me to.

Homosexuality and the Church

The connection of the issue of homosexuals in the church with the issue of women in ministry is something that annoys me no end! There is very little relation between the two issues, except that they seem to have appeared at roughly the same time.[12] The opponents of Biblical equality—hierarchical Complementarians—often bring up the issue of homosexuals in the church and associate it with the issue of women in ministry. This clouds both issues and brings confusion.

Defining Masculinity and Femininity

John Piper, perhaps one of the best known Complementarians, has criticised Christian Egalitarians for not defining masculinity and femininity. However his definition is extremely narrow, inadequate, and, I believe, inaccurate. Piper has defined masculinity and femininity purely in terms of male leadership and authority, and female responsiveness and submission to male authority.[13] In reality, leadership is not an ability or  quality that is solely tied to the masculine gender. Not all men have leadership ability, whereas some women have obvious leadership ability. Moreover, women can be very effective leaders and still be feminine. [My article on Paul’s Masculine and Feminine Leadership here.]

There is no doubt that, generally speaking, there are some significant differences between the genders. Defining these differences, however, is quite tricky. I like this observation by one of my friends: “Men are more action and role oriented, while women tend to be more intuitive and flexible”. While there are, no doubt, numerous exceptions to this statement,  I think this is just about the best general description of masculinity and femininity that I have come across.

Men and women are different in some ways. That is why it is desirable and beneficial to have both as leaders in the home and in the church. It is important to note, however, that men and women also share many similarities and it is divisive to separate the genders into two distinct categories.  In Christ we are one (Gal 3:28).


Endnotes

[1] I do remember one Sunday morning when the minister was speaking quite adamantly that women should be submissive. I think I was about 9 or 10 years old at the time. I remember looking around at the women in the congregation as the minister spoke. The women were all sitting still, in their “Sunday best”, and looking very well behaved. As the minister kept emphasising submission, I was wondering: What do the men want from these women? How much more submissive can a person be? Of course I had no way of knowing what was going on the privacy of people’s homes, and just how submissive these women really were in daily life, but I was already picking up on the injustice of being coerced into unilateral submission.

[2] Nowhere in Scripture does it say that the husband is to be the head or leader or authority of the house or household. It does, however, say that the husband is the head of the wife. In Hellenistic Greek (of which New Testament Greek is a subset), “head”  rarely has the metaphorical meaning of “leader” or “authority”. There are several Greek words for “leader” or “authority” in the New Testament, yet  these words are never used for husbands. [My article Kephalē and “Male Headship” in Paul’s Letters here.]

[3] I’ve heard some say that Christian wives with overly romantic views of complete, unilateral subordination and service to their husbands are engaging in a form of idolatry. I think they may have a point.

[4] Of course I did the right thing by not going ahead with the ridiculous idea of carving the wedding cake with an axe. I even have to smile that God was showing me a better way right from the very start of our marriage: mutual submission.

[5] In Romans 12:7-8 there is a construction using the masculine article and masculine participle which occurs five times. The masculine article and participle are used numerous times in a generic way throughout the New Testament. John 3:16 contains the same construction: a masculine article and participle (“believing”), plus a masculine adjective (“all”). No one suggests that John 3:16 applies only to men. That is because people who understand Greek know that grammatical gender does not necessarily correspond with actual gender.
This construction of the masculine article and participle can be translated as “he who” but, unless it is used in the context of a specific man (male person) or group of men, it is to be understood in a generic way. This construction can be translated in a variety of ways, such as, “the one who . . .” (e.g. “the one who shows mercy with cheerfulness”).
If Paul has wanted Romans 12:6-8 to be clearly understood as applying to men only he would have had to include the word anēr (“man”). Even though the masculine gender is the default gender for speaking about a generic person, Paul has not used masculine gendered words excessively, unlike the NIV 1984 with its plethora of masculine pronouns and it’s use of the word “man”. The Greek of Romans 12:6-8 is written in a way that shows it applies equally to Christian men and women.

[6] I have had a long-held ambition to read the New Testament in Koine Greek. About 10 years ago I started teaching myself Koine slowly—very slowly. When free courses came on the internet, I did them. In the past three years I have studied Koine and Classical Greek through tertiary institutions. Plus I annually attend a summer school on advanced Biblical and Patristic Greek run by the Macquarie Ancient Languages School, held at Macquarie University.

[7] Verses which mention Spiritual giftings: Acts 2:17-18; Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:7-11&27-28; 1 Cor 14:26-33; Eph 4:11-12; Heb 2:4; and 1 Pet 4:9-11. These verses do not exclude women. Even 1 Tim 3:1ff is remarkably gender neutral, especially when compared to many English translations. This passage begins with: “If anyone . . . ”  [My article on Paul’s Qualifications for Church Leaders here.]

[8] Paul mentions many women in his letters, often with fondness: Apphia (Phm. 1:2), Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11), Claudia (2 Tim. 4:21),  Euodia (Phil. 4:2-3), Julia (Rom. 16:15), Junia (Rom. 16:7 NIV), Lois and Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5), Mary (Rom. 16:6), Nereus’ sister (Rom. 16:15), Nympha (Col. 4:15), Persis (Rom. 16:12), Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2 NIV), Priscilla (Rom. 16:3-5;1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 4:19 cf Acts 18:1-3, 18-19, 26), Rufus’ mother (Rom. 16:13), Syntyche (Phil. 4:2-3), Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom. 16:12). These women were actively involved in significant ministry, some as leaders. [My article on Paul’s Personal Greetings to Women Ministers here.]

[9] The following women are all church leaders mentioned in the New Testament: Philip’s four daughters (Ac 21:9), Priscilla (Ac 18:26; Ro 16:3-5, etc), Phoebe (Ro 16:1-2), Junia (Ro 16:7), possibly Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Nympha (Col 4:15), Apphia (Phlm 2), “the chosen lady” (2 Jn 1), “the chosen sister” (2 John 13), Euodia and Syntyche (Php 4:2-3), and possibly Lydia (Acts 16:13-15, 40), etc.  Just as there have been good and bad male leaders, there were good and bad female leaders. Sadly, the church in Thyatira was being corrupted by the teachings and false prophecies of a wicked and immoral female leader (Rev 2:20-24 KJV), as was, it seems, the church in Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3-4 cf. 2:12)

[10] I believe that the issue of equality has tremendous importance for the church and for individuals. By greatly restricting ministry opportunities for women, the church has effectively halved the available personnel for its mission in the local community and in the world. And by hindering (instead of encouraging) the efforts of women who have been called and equipped by God to minister as leaders, all women have felt constrained to remain in a limited, subjugated position within most churches. Very few Christian women see beyond the boundaries prescribed for them by church leaders and denominations who have viewed New Testament teaching on women and ministry with a restrictive bias based on culture and tradition.

[11] In the Bible, the triune God is sometimes described with qualities that we associate more with masculinity (warrior, father, king) and at other times he is described with qualities that we associate more with femininity (midwife, a mother hen, the woman looking for her lost coin). However God is neither male nor female, he is simply described in Scripture in ways that we can relate to, for our benefit.

[12] Throughout church history, whenever there has been a new move of God, women have been prominent in ministry along with men. It is only when each new movement has become settled, institutionalised and conservative that women are deterred or removed from leadership roles.  Women in ministry is not a new phenomenon.

[13] John Piper and Wayne Grudem (editors), Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Westchester, Il: Crossway Books, 2006)

© 18th of June, 2010; Margaret Mowczko


Related Articles

Brief overviews of Christian Egalitarianism:

My Perspective of Christian Egalitarianism
How Christian Egalitarians understand “Equality”

Equality in Marriage:

Leading Together in the Home
Submission
A Suitable Helper
Power Struggles in Christian Marriage?

Equality in Ministry:

The Means of Ministry: Gifts, Grace, Faith . . .  Gender?
New Testament Women Church Leaders

1 Timothy 2:12 in Context
Questions about how to implement 1 Timothy 2:12
Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
Paul’s Qualifications for Church Leaders

Posted August 16th, 2011 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, Equality in Marriage, Equality in Ministry, Women in Ministry, , , , , , , , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

65 comments on “Towards Equality – My Story

  1. Trevor says:

    Wonderful to read the story of your journey. Especially from someone in Australia as we have felt so alone in our own discovery and exploration of Biblical Equality. We were made aware of your website through your article in the latest CBE Arise and Liz and I really rejoice at the way the Lord has led you to this gender inclusive understanding of His desire for us to share ministry in both the home and the church. We are so taken with and impressed with all that you have put together on this fabulous website.

  2. Marg says:

    Thanks Trevor! 🙂

    Liz contacted me too and we have already exchanged emails. Hopefully we can all stay in contact.

  3. Don J says:

    Hi Marg,
    Thanks for sharing, it is inspiring.

    Are you aware that in Hebrew the Holy Spirit has feminine grammatical gender and so is referred to as “she” when a pronoun is used? And in Greek the HS has neuter grammatical gender and so is referred to as “it” when a pronoun is used?

    Of course, each language has its own rules for how to use pronouns and these can change in a living language like English.

  4. Marg says:

    Hi Don,

    I am aware that the Hebrew word for Spirit Ruach is grammatically feminine, and that the Greek word Pneuma is grammatically neuter.

    I was asking Eric about Ruach the other day. My knowledge of Hebrew grammar is non-existent, and I was wondering whether the Holy Spirit was referred to with feminine pronouns in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    I believe that a few early churches referred to the Holy Spirit with feminine pronouns. The Syriac Orthodox Church referred to the Holy Spirit with feminine pronouns until the 400s. (The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary, 2002:357)

    However, I’m not keen on Bible translations saying “she” for the Holy Spirit as I think this will produce an unhelpful backlash against the egal cause.

    Slightly off the subject, I would like the term “Son of Man” to be translated (accurately) as “Son of Humanity”. But this is probably a big ask too.

    For most Christians, the mindset needed to accept these proposals is simply too much of a stretch at this point in time – IMO.

    🙂

  5. Annelise says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Marg! Like Trevor, there have been times (living in Sydney) where I’ve felt like I’m the only one questioning my church’s teaching on gender roles. It’s such an encouragement to find others on the same journey in the same country! Praise God for the internet. 😮

  6. Kermit says:

    This presentation has been done in a very descriptive and well developed manner… It takes a different tack at displaying some of the truth in the Christian Scriptures!

    Much of the religious teaching in many of the Christian Churches today, does not always follow the original scriptures intent! This story brings out another truth that is seldom discussed in the Christian Church today!

    God has given each of us a free agency or power of personal choice; which was never based upon gender! This story displayed in a detailed positive manner, the New Testament treatment and teaching on gender!

  7. Marg says:

    Annelise, Your definitely not alone in your thinking about gender roles! I’m a big fan of the internet also.

    Kermit, Thanks for leaving your comment; I appreciate your thoughts.

  8. Elaine says:

    Another good article! I’m thankful for your voice on the internet and in Australia – a place dear to my heart.

  9. Marg says:

    Thanks Elaine! <3

  10. Peg says:

    What sweet irony is this, that both of us became convinced about gender equality by reading the supposedly woman-hating Paul in the original Greek?! The last chapter of Romans was the final piece for me: when I realized that many English translations of the Bible from the 1800s onward actually altered the word of God, changing a woman’s name to a (supposed) man’s (Junia –> Junias) to avoid the possibility that Paul described the woman Junia as an apostle.

    It’s wonderful to “meet” you on CBE/Facebook! I look forward to reading more of your writings.

    Peg

  11. Megan says:

    I so fully enjoyed reading your writings! It’s wonderful to connect with believers around the world who share the same understanding. I’m here in a small suburb of Nashville, TN, USA, and am surrounded by those who believe in male ‘headship’ of the home and church. Thankfully, my husband does not. I am quite alone, even in my female relationships, in such beliefs and long to be a part of the movement of God which is unleashing the tongues and hands of women. Thank God for YOUR leadership in this area.

  12. Marg says:

    Hi Megan, Thanks for leaving a comment. I love to hear from people who have visited my site. Especially when they leave such complimentary comments. 😉

  13. […] I found a new kindred spirit! Marg writes from Australia on the topic of Biblical Equality. I enjoyed reading Toward Biblical Equality – My Story. She has many great articles on her site such as Junia and the ESV. […]

  14. Pastor Bob and Sandy Turton says:

    Thank you for what you share on this site – so biblical and obviously agreeable. My wife and I have always been advocates of women in ministry and other leadership roles. We worship and serve the Lord here in central New Jersey USA. Blessings on you and yours.

  15. Marg says:

    Thanks Pastor Bob. I like your adjective of “agreeable”. Equality and mutuality in marriage and ministry is much more agreeable than hierachical structures that subordinate women.

  16. Julie says:

    This website is so insightful and well-written. The explanations are compelling. I have always been very confused about the teachings on “headship” and “submission”. Reading these lovely words has been a breath of fresh air!

  17. Marg says:

    Hi Julie. Thanks for your lovely words! 🙂

  18. It was a gift to read your story this morning, and to learn what a loving marriage you have. We were both blessed to marry men who believe in equality, a gift not many women yet have. I appreciated your intensive study of Scripture, and hope to pass on the fruits of your labor.

    I would like to suggest that stressing the feminine qualities of the Holy Spirit can be incredibly healing, however, for the woman who was molested by her father or brother. As I work with incest survivors, most have a very distorted image of God, and when I present to them the image of a feminine nurturer in the HS, most often than not healing begins for them. “This” part of God they can trust and accept. Eventually the goal is to work to them seeing the whole of the Trinity as one & the same, but this is a very helpful way to begin the process.

    Blessings to you!

  19. Marg says:

    Morven, I am truly blessed with my husband. And I know it! 🙂

    I’m a little reluctant to emphasise the feminine qualities of the Holy Spirit because some Complementarians do this and at the same time have the skewed view that the Holy Spirit is at the bottom rung of the Trinity. Do you know what I mean?

    I have even heard speakers say that the Hebrew and Greek word “helper” in Genesis 2:18 is a word associated with the Holy Spirit; this is simply incorrect. Also, the Triune God is described with maternal metaphors in Scripture to highlight his tender, nurturing side.

    But I understand what you’re saying, and with your work I can see that the Holy Spirit, who is not identified with masculinity, can be an excellent starting point for healing. I will keep this in mind. Thanks.

  20. Kathryn Elliott Stegall says:

    Thanks for sharing your testimony, Margaret. It is very encouraging to hear how others have shared in a similar journey and come to the same conclusion as I have about biblical equality.

    Love this blog!

  21. John Joshua says:

    Hello ma’am

    GLORY to GOD for your posts. I want you to read my post and tell me whether I am right or wrong. I am aware that you are a expert in this. The link to my post is

    http://johnjoshr.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/does-the-holy-bible-abase-womankindin-pursuit-of-answers-by-a-sceptic-layman/

    Thanks in advance

    – John Joshua

  22. Marg says:

    Hi Josh, I read your post. You’ve certainly put a lot of work into it. However, there are some points in your post which seem to be assumptions rather than what the Bible actually says. I’ll address some of these assumptions, and other issues, in order as they appear in your post. But first let me say that I know many men and women scholars who don’t describe the Bible as “unfair” towards women.

    You mention a few times that the first woman was created to be a helper to the first man. I agree entirely with this. How would you describe this help? And, don’t you think a husband should also help his wife? [I have written about this here.]

    I notice you have a diagram with “Lord” at the top and “Children” at the bottom. Children are never mention in the two verses about the husband/man being the head of the wife/woman. The person who has drawn this diagram has a faulty understanding of what Paul meant when he used the word “head” for the husband/man. [More on this here.]

    I also notice that you have Eve in a list of women who were sexual seducers. There is nothing in the Scriptures to suggest that Eve was a seducer. Eve was deceived by the serpent and she simply offered the fruit to Adam who was there with her. We know Eve’s excuse for eating; we don’t know Adam’s excuse. Adam and Eve were equally guilty of disobeying God by eating of the forbidden fruit. It is important to note that Eve did not stay deceived; and the Bible nowhere says that women are more easily deceived than men. [More on this here.]

    You ask your readers for their response to 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Here are some of my responses: http://newlife.id.au/tag/1-timothy-212/ And this one: http://newlife.id.au/christian-living/pauls-instructions-for-modest-dress/

    Next you mention women who think the Bible is demeaning towards them. Actually I think the Bible is one of the few books written by ancient writers that is not demeaning to women. This shows to me the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. [More on this here.] (I do think too many people interpret the Bible in a way that is demeaning, even crushing, to women, however.)

    It is not just women who believe that mutual submission is the ideal in Christian marriage. Many Christian men believe and practice mutual submission in marriage too.

    I agree that men and women are not the same; yet men and women share many things in common. [More here.]

    I do not believe that the Trinity is a model for marriage. The Bible never states or implies that it is a model for marriage. [More on this here.]

    You have a good list of women who were ministers for the Kingdom. Even more New Testament women can be added to this list. [More here.]

    There is no evidence for male leadership (and not female leadership) before the Fall. Genesis 1:27-28 is about men and women governing God’s created world together.

    In your conclusion you write that man is for protection and woman is their helper. Have you got a Bible verse where it says that man is for protection women? I think we all should be protecting and helping one another according to our capabilities, whether we are male or female. [More on this here.]

    Let me know if you have any questions about this.

  23. John Joshua says:

    Dear Marg ma’am

    Thanks for your patience in reading my post and spotting out the misconceptions that you viewed. Now, I also would like to answer in order.
    First, according to my knowledge some egalitarian (even though Dr. N. T. Wright is such a scholar, he is clear with his views) scholars consider that THE HOLY BIBLE is unfair towards women.
    Second, Yes ma’am I am aware that a husband should also help his wife(1 Corinthians – 7:3 to 5 & 1 Corinthians – 11:11).
    Thirdly, ma’am I took the diagram from Google images. Yes, you are right in mentioning that children are not mentioned there. I am aware that the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 is misunderstood by most people. I know that it explain about the MUTUAL submission of both men and women and the reverence we need to have while worshipping CHRIST.
    Fourthly, ma’am mentioned the mother of all living (Eve) in the ‘Appalling women’ category with respect to the great fall and not with respect to the sexual seducer. Ma’am, this is what I think about the scene in Eden. Please, mention if I am wrong.

    “God created Eve not to leave man alone. But, Eve left Adam and spoke with the serpent. Do you think that the serpent would have deceived in a single day? No (this is just my imagination with respect to the context). What work Eve has to speak with the serpent? She was deceived and she told Adam about this. He also didn’t think second time (he made the women to have authority over him [intuitively we can understand this], thus started the fall of mankind. So, in my view Eve forgot her role and did an unnecessary work. Man is also to be blamed”

    I read your responses for the dress. But, most men as well as women don’t understand this and dress to show their beauty instead of submitting to GOD with meekness and humility.
    Yes, I am hundred percent clear that THE HOLY BIBLE in not unfair towards women. Because, the resurrection of JESUS is first noticed by women (because women were considered as a second class in Jewish culture during those times).
    Then, everywhere when speaking about men and women, it is parallelly notified to GOD. For example 1 Corinthians – 11:3. So, to explain the different role played by them and their oneness I mentioned about Trinity just to understand. There is certainly a hierarchy. I think there is a difference between obeying (wives to obey their husbands) and loving (husbands should love their wives).I hope I am clear with this. If I am wrong, please notify ma’am. Thanks in advance.
    Ma’am , I am sorry for mentioning only a few women who were ministers in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Ma’am Genesis – 2:18 mentions about women being a helper and complementing men. It means the compassionate leadership (like GOD THE FATHER and GOD THE SON) and Genesis 1:27 and 28 speaks about child bearing. I reversed the location of the verses. Sorry ma’am.
    You can take the example of spiritual fathers (like Abraham), they were kind to their wives and they protected them. In turn they also submitted. Even queen Esther also submitted to the king. We also know about Jezebel who rebelled in this matter. The Bible is clear in this. I need your responses for this ma’am
    Ma’am I am not against women in any way. I respect womenkind and I am aware that they can do marvellous things for the KINGDOM of GOD.
    Ma’am I know that you are a great scholar. But, I am not. I am just a boy of 19. I am just a learner. Thanks for your frank responses. I will pray for your work ma’am. Lets GOD’s name alone be glorified through us.
    Regards
    John Joshua

  24. Marg says:

    Hi John Joshua, I can see that you’re not against women, and your’s was a good list of women ministers.

    If we think that the Patriarchy in the Bible is God’s intention for men and women, then the Bible does seem unfair; but if we realize that the patriarchy in the Bible is just a reflection of the (Jewish) culture of that time, then the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is not unfair in its message to both men and women.

    I believe that “head” is part of a metaphor about unity in Ephesians 5:23, and that it means “origin” or “source” on 1 Corinthians 11:3. I have never found an instance where the Greek word for “head” means leader or authority in original, untranslated Ancient Greek. [More on this here and here.]

    Only part of Genesis 1:27-28 refers to childbearing. The other part refers to male and female human beings governing “the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    There’s no reason to suppose that Eve left Adam, or that Adam left Eve. Genesis 3:6 NIV says that Eve gave some fruit to her husband “who was with her”.

    I’m sure that Esther submitted to her husband, but her husband was also a powerful king. She was probably even taken into the king’s harem against her will (Esther 2:8). Esther she did not always submit to him, however . She disobeyed the king’s rule by coming into his presence uninvited (Esther 4:16b). On the other hand, Mordecai submitted to Esther’s requests in Esther 4:17. (The relationship between Esther and Mordecai is an example of mutual submission.)

    Apart from Sarah, I cannot find a clear example of a Bible woman who submitted to her husband. [More on this here.] And Sarah did not always submit either. Also, Abraham did not always protect his women. He allowed Sarah to be taken into the harem of a foreign king twice! (See Genesis 12:10-20 and 20:1-18, esp. Gen 20:13b.) And he drove Hagar out of his home (Genesis 21:14). Not much of a protector!

    In the original languages of the Bible – Hebrew and Greek – wives are never told that they must obey their husbands. The King James translation of Titus 2:5 which uses the word “obedient” is not entirely accurate the Greek word in this verse really means “be submissive”.

    I do not believe that a gender hierarchy, where all men are in a higher, ruling class, separate to all women, is God’s intention or ideal in New Covenant relationships. I believe that when Paul told husbands to give themselves up for their wives he was asking them to be submissive to their wives (Eph 5:25). He just used different words so that he would not offend the men who were not used to being told to be humble and submissive.

    Warm regards
    Marg

    P.S. I don’t call myself a scholar.

  25. John Joshua says:

    Dear Marg ma’am

    I will do a indepth study (John 5:39) on this and respond within two days as I have my final exams. May GOD open my eyes that I may wondrous things out of his word (Psalm – 119:18). Eventhough you don’t call yourself a scholar, you are ma’am. Glory to GOD.

    Regards
    John Joshua R

  26. Marg says:

    What subjects are your exams on? Where are you studying?

    I pray you do well.

    God Bless You
    Marg

  27. John Joshua says:

    Dear Marg ma’am

    Thanks for your precious prayers ma’am.

    I am doing my Bachelors specialized in Information Technology at Anna University,India. Right now I am in my 6th semester. Still I have a year to finish my bachelors. I have exams on Web Technology, Network Programming, Cryptography and Data Mininig. Glory to GOD ma’am.

    Thanks a lot ma’am

    Regards
    John Joshua

  28. […] In May 2013, we begin a new series for Mondays,   about equality between men and women from the Biblical perspective. This series has been written by Margaret Mowczko who comes from Central Coast of New South Wales, 100kms north of Sydney, Australia. Read  more about Marg’s fascinating  story of how she  became convinced of biblical equality http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/towards-biblical-equality-my-story/. […]

  29. d says:

    Love your work. I do hope you will expand on the culture and history of the early church. I have been studying that era for sometime. Many of the postions and opinions you express are similiar to mine.
    d

  30. Marg says:

    Hi d.

    Thanks for leaving a comment. I am currently half way through a Masters specialising in Early Christian and Jewish Studies. I am especially interested in Paul and the Post-Apostolic period. My studies inform some of what I write about.

  31. bridget says:

    Marg,
    Thank you! I’ve just stumbled across your website / writings and am avidly rushing through them, devouring them with joy.
    I’ve just finished 2 years at theological college, training for ordained Anglican ministry (which is on hold for a year now as I undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer). I loved my time at college, and like you was so excited to be able to start reading the Bible in Greek. But, I was shocked and appalled by the prevalence and depth of what is most gently termed ‘complementarianism’ amongst many of my peers at college. So, having previously not examined the Biblical record around the issue of women in leadership/marriage roles,thinking the issue essentially to be obvious to any thinking 21st century person (i.e. that clearly God calls men and women to be leaders, and equips men and women with leadership gifts, and expects men and women to submit to one another in love), I realised I’d better get my head round the whys and wherefores, as there will be people asking me about it,and I need clarity of thought and understanding to answer their questions.
    You write so clearly and eloquently, and prolifically, it’s so helpful and encouraging – and exciting! You are a gift to the Church, keep at it!
    Btw, I did my undergrad’ dissertation on the encounters between Jesus and women in John’s gospel, and was struck over and over how deliberately(counter-culturally) inclusive Jesus was of women – and then how inclusive the author of the Gospel was to choose to include those episodes at such length and detail. I’m looking forward to reading your study notes on John.
    God bless you,
    Bridget

  32. Marg says:

    Hi Bridget, So sorry to hear of your health concerns. I hope you’ll be well and be able to get back to your studies soon.

    I think it’s clear that God calls, equips and uses men and women too . . . very clear. I really scratch my head at times, wondering why many Christians still think women can’t do this or that, and why Women in Ministry it such a big issue.

    Your dissertation sounds really interesting. Not sure how interesting my notes on John are. (They were the very first things I started writing, but my writing couldn’t keep up with the weekly Bible studies that I gave in real life, so the notes are very patchy, and I gave up in the end.)

    God bless you too
    Marg

  33. Karla Holton says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It is so beneficial to hear another’s story and realize I am not alone. Sometimes this place in my head and heart seems very lonely with my views. 🙂 Thank goodness for my husband who has come along and studied too. I too have had a long journey from being raised with the very “male led” leadership and submission to an acceptance and better understanding of God’s desire for women and men. I now say my head(understanding and knowledge) now aligns with where my heart always was. I was a child in the 60’s and a wife in the 70’s and in a very “Biblically” male leadership dominated church. It just never felt right…but of course we were taught it’s not about our feelings it about what the Bible says! After years of study, the wonderful help, many conversations and study with my (Bible degree) minister son, the great source of the internet and women and men(blogs) who helped me, I am in alignment with my feelings, thoughts and now understanding. It still seems a lonely place though as it is such a slow process for churches to catch up or even want to see it a different way. We left the very patriarchal led church of my childhood/adulthood 6 years ago at the age of 52. Found a place that is at least working towards gender inclusion…but I still feel lonely in my “radical” egalitarian views. Thank goodness for the internet and wonderful blogs and sites like yours to keep me going. I’m just tired of waiting. Blessings and thanks to you for your thoughts and encouragement through your articles! I feel less alone when I read them.

  34. Marg says:

    Karla, I remember the loneliness of trying to figure out whether I was a heretic or if the Spirit of God was showing me a valid interpretation of the Bible. I now have many internet friends and “real-life” friends, men and women, who I can speak to openly about my beliefs, and I am no longer feel alone on the issue of equality. I am very grateful for this.

    And, yes,I’m amazed at how slow the process is for churches to “catch up”. It can take a long time for people to change their mind about something that is so deeply entrenched in their thinking and culture.

    God bless you!

  35. Bev Murrill says:

    Marg, what a clear and succinct testimony of what God has done in your life. Although my life took a different turning, and I did end up in ministry early on, yet your description of your marriage is very like mine.

    We became so much happier when we realised that we were equal in status in our ministry and our marriage.

    Truly Marg, your capacity as a Greek scholar is wonderful. Thanks so much for the fantastic insight you give to us in your blog. It’s really appreciated.

  36. Marg says:

    Thanks Bev.

    I was speaking to someone else today (via facebook) who said that her marriage was so much better and happier when she and her husband could use their strengths and not be restricted by a gender hierarchy. I’m glad this young Christian couple discovered this early in their marriage.

    I’m so blessed that my husband loves shopping and cooking for our family! I hate shopping and cooking.

  37. […] Toward Equality – My Story […]

  38. […] I’ve appreciated Marg’s thoughtful work for the last couple of years, and I recommend her as an able theologian and thinker on gender equality issues. In addition, I’m compelled by Marg’s personal story “Towards Equality,” which you can find here. […]

  39. Matt says:

    I don’t know why you regard Classical Greek more important than NT Greek in your understanding of the word for “head.” You go against most scholarly dictionaries of the NT. The Exegetical Dictionary of the NT defines head as “ruler.” The CWS “the head, top, that which is in uppermost relation to something.” The Theological Dictionary of the NT defines head as “A further sense then develops, what is ‘prominent’ or ‘outstanding.” Mounce’s Expository Dictionary defines it as “met. the head, superior, chief, principal, one to whom others are subordinate.” It seems clear that you simply want to change the meaning of Scripture to fit your agenda. What is disheartening is that others are affected by your false statements.

    Christ is the ‘origin’ or ‘source’ of Christ? I mean, I do not completely understand why the Father is the ‘authority’ of Christ. But it is certainly more reasonable and biblical than thinking that the Father is the ‘source’ or ‘origin’ of Christ. Christ existed in the beginning with the Father and had no source (John 1:1). Christ submitted to the will of the Father. In that sense, the Father is in “authority” over Christ. Obviously, Christ is equal with the Father. But they have different roles. Man and woman are equal, but have different roles. As much as women might not like that, it is simply what the Scripture teaches. The only way to avoid it’s teaching is to twist it. Which is precisely what egalitarianism does. It misunderstands and twists Scripture.

  40. Matt says:

    I don’t understand why you reject these dictionaries which were published before the 1950s. It doesn’t take much to, in humility, read the above definitions and see their implications. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, which was published after 2000s, more directly defines “head” as “leader (pg 673, volume 2).” Furthermore it is faulty biblical exegesis to import a meaning outside the biblical corpus into the biblical corpus. The biblical authors can redefine normal words if they wish, which they do to agape, for example. I hope that those who read this are willing to do more research, than to accept a incorrect agenda.

    God is very much not the source of Christ. The incarnation does not justify an idea of ‘origin’ or ‘source’ of the Messiah. It is nonsense, and is contrary to biblical scholarship. “Head” implies “leader.”

    Women are equal in rank, and not in role. A failure to maintain this balance, destroys other biblical ideas. The pastor is not more important than the congregation (1 Corinthians 12), but his role is indeed different than the congregations’ (James 3:1, Hebrews 13:17?). Jesus is equal to God, but is called the Son and submits to the Father, not just in the incarnation (incarnational sonship), but in eternal relationship (eternal sonship). They are equal in rank, not in roles. Just as parents and children today. There is a glorious balance to this, that is surely biblical. Women have different functions, but are very much equal in value, essence, and “rank.”

    I know that it is hard to relinquish all of our ideas which we dearly want to maintain. Egalitarianism is quite defenseless when the reality that “head” means “leader/ authority” is realized. Some can run out the clock, as it were, while trying to talk about Priscilla explaining to Apollos and rage that 1 Timothy 2:12 is cultural not binding. But all of those gimmicks are exposed when one realizes that the notion that “head” means “source” is nonsense. It took me 2 or more years (maybe still even now) to relinquish my firm grip on Arminianism. Its what I grew up with, and my moral and ethical convictions as a Christian try to convince me that God cannot be sovereign without being unloving. However, it is clear biblical teaching that almost of the well known preachers and evangelists since the reformation and Augustine and Paul have embraced as biblical. I hope that you will not continue to hold on to the unbiblical notions of women headship and “equality” in the ministry (implying leadership roles). And I hope that not to many more will be affected by its error.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Matt,

      I have explained why I doubt the meaning of “authority” or “leader” in those dictionaries: because this meaning is virtually absent in the literature of the day. (I have found one arguable instance where kephalē may refer to a head of the house.) Moreover, leadership doesn’t fit well with the contexts where the word kephalē is used in the New Testament.

      Origin is one of the overall contexts of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; and love, sacrificial service, and unity are the contexts of Ephesians 5:21-33. Jesus’ lordship is not mentioned in Ephesians 5:21-33, only his love, sacrifice, and bond with the church. This passage is about his “headship” (in the sense of unity), it is not about his “Lordship”.

      Also, a pastor has been authorised to fulfill a certain ministry, but he or she has a different authority, or perhaps little authority, in other contexts and situations of life. Leadership and authority, in real life, changes according to the tasks and situations that vary day to day, and even hour to hour. But according to patriarchalists and hierarchical complementarians, a woman’s rank is fixed throughout her life. This sounds more like the caste systems in India than the New Creation community of Jesus (Gal. 3:28; 2 Cor. 5:16-17; etc). Even children, when they are grown and mature, have an equal authority or rank to their parents in most Christian families.

      Also, I think you mistake my motives. This has nothing to do with relinquishing or holding to ideas I wish to maintain, or raging against certain verses. It has everything to do with examining what the scriptures say and finding out what Jesus wants for his body – a new community of New Creation, spirit-filled people.

      What are the different roles of men and women? Permanent authority and permanent subordination are not roles, they are ranks, castes even. Being a teacher, or a gardener, or an athlete, or an artist, or a father or an aunt, etc, are roles. How can women be equal in rank to men if they are always to be submissive to the authority of men? This simply makes no sense.

      Can you explain what is glorious about the “balance” of male authority and female subordination? I think the men and women in Pakistan would especially like to hear that explained. I have many Pakistani Christian readers.

      I understand that you disagree with. Thankfully, in western countries we have the freedom to disagree on doctrines without being killed or cursed by other Christians or people of different faiths (a relatively new social convention). It would help if you could discuss differences with grace and without judgement and finger-pointing.

  41. Matt says:

    The meaning may have been absent in the secular literature, but the LXX has examples of it, as Fee notes below:

    “The only clear instances of rō’š =κεφαλή =leader/chief are Judg. 11:11; 2 Sam. 22:44; Ps. 18:43; Isa. 7:8, 9; Lam. 1:5.” Fee, NICNT, 1 Corinthians 11:3

    Judges 11:11 even uses “κεφαλὴν καὶ εἰς ἀρχηγόν” together- rulers and leaders. How does this not count as the literature of the time? Colossians 2:10 and Ephesians 1:23 are clearly a reference to the authority of Christ.

    To be honest, I do not particularly prefer to discuss the dynamics of the practical implications of a complementarian view in life circumstances, as that would be a much different discussion. My point of concern was your abuse of the word ‘κεφαλὴ’ to support a egalitarian theology. I do not wish to point fingers. As I stated earlier, it disturbs me when people are willing to twist Scripture, and build a theology and worldview off of a view that has little-no Scriptural support, while purporting to be biblical when it is not. We are all capable of it. My Lord knows that I sure am. And I am grateful that He forgives me. You have stated that a pursuit of yours is “equality.” That is the title of this article and constitutes much of your writings. However, the premises used to support your theology, are lacking. And our theology affects more people than we sometimes realize. So I do not wish to continue to sound judgmental, and I am grateful that we do know the same Lord and Savior. I hope that we will be more willing to support our views with Scripture rightly interpreted, rather than forcing a view that the text does not allow. I encourage you to challenge your understanding of the word ‘κεφαλὴ’ and its use in the LXX and the NT. I think that you will find the word to be conveying an idea other than ‘source’ and origin.’

    • Matt says:

      What do you mean “I have yet to see kephalē mean “chief” or “leader” in original, untranslated Greek?”

      • Matt says:

        Or it could be (and seems more likely to be) that kephalē was beginning to take the idea of ‘leader’ and implied authority, as Judg. 11:11; 2 Sam. 22:44; Ps. 18:43; Isa. 7:8, 9; Lam. 1:5 in the LXX suggest. The LXX and the NT should be our first sources since they are closest to the NT usage. The classical use of the word cannot overule the Septuagint’s use of the word, for the Seguagint was closer to Koine Greek….from what I understand.

        • Marg says:

          The Septuagint is not closer to Koine Greek, it is written in Koine, or Hellenistic, Greek. But the Septuagint is a translation, and not always a good translation. I’m sorry that you don’t understand why this is significant.

          Matt, your “facts” are hazy, and you are unwilling to answer my questions or support your statements when asked. You seem to be doing all the talking, but little listening. Furthermore, your comments are not logically expressed or easy to understand.

          Please read my comments more carefully if you decide to respond again. It seems that you have not bothered to read my comments carefully enough.

          For instance, why do you bring up Classical Greek? I thought we were done with that thought. I rarely read Classical Greek. On the other hand, I read Koine Greek every day, and have yet to find a clear case in original Greek literature or papyri of kephalē meaning leader.

          There are dozens of Koine Greek words that mean “leader”. Some of these words occur in the New Testament, but never in the context of husbands leading wives. In Christian and secular Koine literature, outside of the New Testament, there are plenty of examples where husbands are told to lead or govern their wives, but not in the New Testament, which we both regard as the inspired and authoritative word of God. In the non-biblical texts that speak about husbands being the leaders and rulers of their wives the word “head” is entirely absent . . . because head does not normally mean “leader”.

        • Marg says:

          Matt, I’ll have one more go at explaining why the half dozen examples given by Fee do not show that kephalē commonly meant “leader” in Koine Greek.

          ~ The Hebrew word for “head”, rosh, is used about a hundred times to mean captain, chief, leader, etc, in the Hebrew Old Testament. (It could be even more than one hundred times, but I had difficulty finding a good source that I could count from.)
          ~ Where rosh means “leader”, etc, the Septuagint translators usually translated rosh into a Greek word that actually means “ruler”.
          ~ On a handful of occasions they translated rosh as kephalē. I think at least some of these occurrences were do to poor translating work, as both rosh and kephalē mean “head” but, typically, they don’t both mean “leader”, etc.

  42. Matt says:

    I think what it comes down to is, we see a few texts differently. I see Colossians 1:16-18 (among other passages such as John 1:1, Ephesians 1:23, Colossians 2:10) as an emphasis on the deity of Jesus, and His worthiness to be worshiped as Lord of Lords because He is the authority over mankind and His creation. It seems (I may be wrong) that you see Colossians 1:16-18 (and the other passages) to be emphasizing that because Jesus is Creator God, that He is the source of all things. While it is clear that Jesus is the source of all things, I think that these passages are clearly taking about more than that. Colossians 1:16-18 speaks of (ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι – rulers and powers), obviously people of authority. It says that He is “before all things-πρὸ πάντων,” and that he is the “firstborn/ preeminent one/ one of higher status- πρωτότοκος,” so that He will be “preeminent/ supreme- πρωτεύων.” The language of Colossians 1:16-18 is emphasizing the authority Christ has over creation, not the fact that he is simply the source of it all. In verse 18, He is the “head of the body.” It seems difficult to make the word ‘κεφαλὴ’ in that verse refer to ‘source,’ when the surrounding language is about authority. Jesus is the authority over the church, the body, His people. He is the leader. He is God.

    ‘κεφαλὴ’ is used in Colossians 2:10 and O’Brien comments on the authoritative overtones of that verse saying:

    ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας. The readers need not pay their respects to the principalities and powers. For the one in whom they are complete is Lord and Master of such beings. While in apocalyptic thought the final overthrow of evil forces was not expected until the end of the present age (cf. Rev 19:11- 16) here the present rule of Christ is emphasized. These words hark back to the language of the hymn where Christ is said to be creator of all powers and authorities (1:16) as well as their sustainer (1:17). He is “head” over the principalities and powers for God has divested them of all authority in him (2:15). WBC, O’Brien Colossians 2:10

    • Marg says:

      Matt, we have not discussed other texts, so why do you presume we see these texts differently? Your assumptions are unhelpful.

      I quite firmly believe that kephalē means source/origin in 1 Corinthians 11:3, but I never said that “head” means source/origin in all other New Testament verses where the word appears.

      Kephalē has many metaphorical meanings. It certainly doesn’t mean source/origin in Ephesians 1:22-23 or Ephesians 5:23 where it is used in a head-body metaphor, and illustrates a close union. Ephesians 1:22-23 also compares the lower and higher positions of “feet” and “head”. There is no doubt that kephalē can have a meaning of being prominent or being in the top position as far as location goes.

      Colossians 1:18 seems to combine the meanings of source and unity. Colossians 1:16-18 emphasizes Jesus’ authority over creation, while at the same time, in verse 18, emphasizing the intimate bond between Jesus and the church. Amazing stuff!

      Even though kephale usually means something other than “leader”, this does not undermine verses that highlight Jesus’ divinity or his “worthiness to be worshipped as Lord of Lords”. Jesus is Lord, there is no disputing that. Jesus is many things: Saviour, Redeemer, Messiah, Mediator, High Priest, Good Shepherd, etc. He is also the Head of the church, which is his body: this expresses unity.

      It is possible that kephalē may be used with a meaning of authority in Colossians 2:10 as the context is all about authority. Conversely, there is no hint of authority in Ephesians 5:21-33. And the only time authority is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is where is says that a woman has authority/freedom (exousia)of her own head (1 Cor. 11:10ff NIV). However, it is also possible that kephalē is used with a proto-gnostic sense in Colossians 2:10, which still implies an authority. More on this here.

      Context is key to understanding the meaning of any word(s) whether in Greek or English.

      You might like the conclusions in this paper: A Meta-Study of the Debate over the Meaning of “Head” (Kephalē) in Paul’s Writings, by Alan F. Johnson here.

  43. Matt says:

    After a month, I revisited this post to see if there were any new comments. As I refreshed my memory by reading the comments, I was reminded of my overarching disagreement. I could not articulate it then, but I will try at it again now. I will not be looking to debate again, since we aroused more questions than space and time allowed us, and we were not able to get anywhere. My main discrepancy was with the claim you made, saying, “I have yet to see kephalē mean “chief” or “leader” in original, untranslated Greek.”

    Although you admit that kephale could be used with a meaning of authority, you make a statement like that. As I was thinking about it, I was wondering why you would say that. I think I might have figured out why, but I guess you will have to tell me if I’m correct. But before I give my opinion as to why you stated that, I wanted to briefly bring up the idea that 1 Corinthians 11:3 is saying that God is the origin or source of the Messiah.

    First off, not only is it a mistake to think that God is the source of the Messiah, but it is also a mistake to take the word ‘Χριστὸς’ as a reference to the Messiah in the first place. Paul uses the word Χριστὸς quite often as a proper noun. But not just as a noun for Messiah, but as a synonym for the person Jesus of Nazareth. Paul always introduces the Messiah in the beginning of his epistles, as either the ‘Lord Jesus Christ, or simply ‘Jesus Christ.’ He always makes sure to express that this Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, He is Lord God. The Lord Jesus Christ, is a title given to the God-man Jesus of Nazareth who rose from the dead and is God Himself. But Paul goes out of his way to let the reader know that he is speaking of a particular person who actually lived. He wants them to know that this God-man Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth. Then after he establishes that point, he uses the word Χριστὸς as a proper noun. The proper noun is a reference to the person of Jesus, not the position of Jesus. In other words, Χριστὸς is simply another way of saying ‘Jesus.’ (See Romans 5:6, 6:4, 14:9; 1 Corinthians 3:23, 5:7, 11:3; Galatians 2:17, 2:20, 3:13; Ephesians 4:15, 5:23; Colossians 1:27, 3:11)

    1 Corinthians 3:23 says “You are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Gordon Fee comments on this verse and says, “The point of the whole argument has been “possession.” Paul’s Jewish heritage had taught him well:God is one (Deut. 6:4). God is therefore the ultimate reality, the one who possesses all things and outside of whose ultimate control lies nothing. Everything Paul understands about the work of Christ is predicated on that singular reality. This is therefore a soteriological statement, not a christological one (in terms of his being). In keeping with the rest of the NT, most such soteriological statements, when they include words about the Father and Son, express subordination (cf. 8:6; 15:27–28). But it is functional subordination, not ontological, that is, just as in 15:23–28 it has to do with his function as savior, not with his being as God.”

    Fee rightly understands that this verse is clearly talking about functional subordination. No ontological subordination exists within the Trinity, but functional subordination surely does. This is expressed in the doctrine of eternal sonship. Many theologians realize that eternal sonship is biblical and that eternal generation is not. Within the Trinity are three members: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. It would be quite ridiculous to think that the Father would submit to the Son and come to earth, and submit to the will of the Son. No, the Son submits to the Father in a functional subordination. And this functional subordination is precisely what 1 Corinthians 11:3 is talking about, whether people like it or not.

    Paul has just said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 that the Corinthians ought to imitate Paul, as he imitates Χριστὸς. Then in 1 Corinthians 12:27 he says that Christians are the body of Χριστὸς. Obviously he is not saying that the Corinthians should imitate him as he imitates the Messiah, in the sense of God’s anointed one chosen to rule in the Kingdom as the chosen one of God. Nor is he saying that Christians are the body of the Messiah in 1 Corinthians 12:27. It is quite clear that the word Χριστὸς is being used as a proper noun to refer to the person of Jesus.

    It follows then, that the word Χριστὸς in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is being used as a proper noun as well. Χριστὸς cannot then be referring to the position or status of Messiah in this verse, for it would not make any sense. The idea that God is the source of the Messiah is not biblically consistent. God is not the origin or source of the Messiah (Jesus) because Jesus has always existed. But as somebody you quoted from in your article said, “God is the source of Jesus, that He came from God.” But whether or not this person is saying that God sent the Messiah on His mission, or that God is the source of Jesus, he is wrong. For the Bible never says who “begot” the Son. The Bible just says that Jesus is the only begotten Son, but it does not declare the agent doing the “begetting” or if there is an agent at all. Furthermore, God cannot be the source of Jesus the Man, for the Bible says that Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “source” of the Man Jesus Christ; not the Father. Therefore, the word Χριστὸς cannot be referring to Messiahship in 1 Corinthians 11:3, because however we slice the cake, the verse would contradicts biblical theology.

    Kistemaker, who contemplates the idea that kephale means ‘source,’ realizes this contradiction. He writes, “The conclusion is drawn that Paul teaches not a doctrine of subordination but of “the unique relationships that are predicated on one’s being the source of the other’s existence.” Further, the creation account teaches that God made Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs (Gen. 2:21–23), so that Adam is the source of Eve. But if we view verse 3 in terms of strict parallelism, difficulties arise. We certainly reject the thought that God created Christ, for Christ is eternal and uncreated.”

    He correctly realizes that Χριστὸς is referring to Jesus as God, not Jesus as Messiah. Instead, just as in 1 Corinthians 11:1 and in 1 Corinthians 12:27, the word Χριστὸς is simply a synonym for the person ‘Jesus.’ Paul has already declared that this Jesus is Lord (God) in 1 Corinthians 1:8. Therefore, the word Χριστὸς, as a synonym for the person Jesus, is referring to Jesus as God in 1 Corinthians 11:3. The Jesus of 1 Corinthians 11:3 is, “Jesus the Son of God.” In other words, the word Χριστὸς in 1 Corinthians 11:3 means “Jesus- Son of God,” not “Messiah.

    If we take kephale as ‘source,’ the passage would not make any sense. For Paul explains the reality that although woman came from man, now man comes through women (11:12). Paul would be talking in circles if he were trying to emphasize the fact that the source of woman is man, while at the same time emphasizing the fact that man comes from woman. Furthermore, 11:3 would makes absolutely no sense in the passage concerning head coverings. In what possible way could Paul be relating the source of women to head coverings? Indeed, seeing ‘kephale’ as ‘source’ makes no sense of the passage.

    Kistemaker rightly notes that the meaning is authority. He writes saying, “When we understand the expression head to mean “authority,” however, the parallels hold true. Christ has authority over man, man over woman, and God over Christ. Yet this authority does not necessarily imply the superiority of one party and the inferiority of the other. Even though God has authority over Christ (see 15:24–28), Christ is not inferior to God the Father. In a similar manner, “the authority of man over woman does not imply the inferiority of woman or the superiority of men.” On the contrary. Just as Christ in his essence is equal to God the Father, so woman in her being and worth is equal to woman.”

    Now that I have addressed the error of understanding Χριστὸς as a reference to the Messiah in 1 Corinthians 11:3, I come back to first objection. I was wondering why the statement, “I have yet to see kephalē mean “chief” or “leader” in original, untranslated Greek” didn’t make any sense whatsoever. I think it is because you seem to hold the LSJ in higher esteem that the LXX and Paul himself. In other words, you would rather agree with a lexicon written some 2,000 years after Koine Greek than with the fluent Greek speakers of 1BC-1-AD. You make a claim that some LXX translators were not as able as others. That statement is extremely weak. For if you want to contend that they were not apt to translate correctly, I could argue the same way, but for my side. What if these “unable” translators mistranslated ‘rosh’ many times by translating it into ‘arche’ instead of ‘kephale?’ What is there should be more uses of ‘kephale’ instead of ‘archon?’ The argument that the fluent greek speakers of the 1st century BC-AD were less capable that the LSJ of the 20th century, is not scholarship, but is biased foolishness. The Greek speakers of the time were much more apt to translate than the LSJ. The LSJ does not govern the LXX or Paul, Paul and the LXX govern the LSJ. The fact that the LSJ does not incorporate the idea of ‘authority’ in the word ‘kephale,’ but Paul and the LXX does, shows that the LSJ is in fact wrong, and not correct. Furthermore, if my memory serves me correctly, Wayne Grudem wrote to LSJ publishers and editors, and received a handwritten letter that the entry under ‘kephale’ in the LSJ should include the idea of ‘authority,’ but they have not had time or funds to revise it yet.

    You admitted that kephale could imply authority in Colossians 2:10, and you are right. It does imply that. So does its use in the LXX in those few occurrences, as well as in 1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:23, and Colossians 1:18.

    Wayne Grudem, in his article on kephale, noted that the mistreatment of this word among egalitarians has been rotted in poor and dishonest scholarship. The idea that kephale always means ‘source’ in Paul, stems from the desire of egalitarians to promote their cause. It does not come from honest scholarship, nor from good scholarship. My hope is that you will stop promoting it as biblically founded. It you want to advance your cause, you will do it. But do not twist Scripture. You will be held accountable for your handling of it someday. So please stop misleading culpable Christians by your misuse of the Scriptures.

    • Marg says:

      Matt, If you don’t want a debate then simply stop posting comments on my website. But since you have posted a comment, I have a right of reply.

      Wayne Grudem vs Honest Scholarship

      I am glad that you read the work of Gordon D. Fee. I hope you will continue to read his books and articles. Fee is an excellent, egalitarian scholar, and not at all dishonest. Did you know that he rejects Grudem’s understanding of kephalē? Leon Morris, another prominent and honest scholar quotes Fee and writes, “Grudem’s article is quite misleading both in its presentation and conclusion.” Morris and Fee are referring to Grudem’s article in Appendix 1 of George W. Knight III, The Role Relationship of Men and Women: New Testament Teaching (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985). I’ve taken Morris’ quote from The Bible and Women’s Ministry: An Australian Dialogue (Acorn Press: 1990) 26.

      Grudem’s opinion of egalitarian scholars is just that, opinion, and many Christians disagree with him. Some egalitarians are excellent and honest scholars, and some complementarians are poor and dishonest scholars. To suggest otherwise is misguided and just plain wrong. My views are based on scripture, aided by an understanding of the first century church which comes from church history and early Christian documents. I am an honest egalitarian; I do not twist scriptures. [I have noted a few errors, or dishonest statements, in Grudem’s article The Myth of Mutual Submission here.]

      Here are quotes from honest scholars, such as F.F. Bruce and Gordon D. Fee, on women in ministry: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/prominent-biblical-scholars-on-women-in-ministry/

      Christos and Kephalē

      Christos = Messiah. The Bible clearly states who begat Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 1:35 cf. Matt. 1:18). God is the source, or point of origin, of the Messiah Jesus of Nazareth.

      Just to clarify, it is the context of the entire verse Colossians 2:10 which gives the sense of authority, not the word kephalē in isolation. More on the use of kephalē in Colossians here. As O’Brien says in his commentary, “These words [“who is the ‘head’ of all rulers/principalities and authorities/powers] hark back to the language of the hymn where Christ is said to be creator of all powers and authorities (1:16) as well as their sustainer (1:17). (Italics added.) Kephalē, with sense of “source” does have the meanings of “creator” and “sustainer”.

      Have you seriously considered that Gordon D. Fee, rather than Wayne Grudem, may have the correct understanding of kephalē?

      Indeed the metaphorical meaning of kephalē (“head”) to mean “chief” or “person of the highest rank” is rare in Greek literature – so much so that even though the Hebrew word rosh often carried this sense, the Greek translators of the LXX, who ordinarily use kephalē to translated rosh, almost never did so when ”ruler” was intended . . . . Paul’s understanding of the metaphor, therefore, and almost certainly the one the Corinthians would have grasped, is “head” as “source,” especially “source of life.
      Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Eerdmans, 1987) 502-503.

      • Matt says:

        *Rooted in dishonest scholarship. Typo. I did not say any scholars themselves are rotted either. I said that it is rooted in dishonest scholarship.

        Furthermore it is rooted in poor hermeneuitics. Χριστὸς does not= Messiah in 1 Corinthians 11:1, 11:3, or 12:27.It is a proper noun referring to a person, not a position. Do a quick word study of Χριστὸς with a definite article or the noun Ἰησοῦς, and you find that that Χριστὸς is a shorthand way of saying Ἰησοῦς It can mean Jesus. We have to determine through context, what Paul is getting at. Jesus the Son of Man? Jesus the only begotten? Jesus the Lord? Jesus the Messiah? Or Jesus the Son of God?

        Taking Jesus as Messiah in 1 Corinthians 11:3 makes no sense in the passage. You quoted a few verses speaking of the begetting of Jesus. Those verses say that the Holy Spirit “begat” Jesus, not the Father. God the Father is without question, the “head” of Christ in 1 Corinthians 11:3. But like you said, the Holy Spirit “begat” Jesus the man. This is a contradiction. God the Father is not the source or point of origin for the Messiah; the Holy Spirit is.

        Furthermore, the begetting of Jesus is an eternal one. I said that the Holy Spirit “begat” Jesus to make a point that God the Father was not the agent is Jesus’ conception. However, the Holy Spirit did not beget Jesus, He caused Mary to become conceived. You probably do not understand the eternal sonship of Christ.

        The Bible doe NOT say who begot Jesus. The Bible simply says that He was begotten. Indeed, no member of the Trinity begot Jesus in an ontological sense. He is eternally begotten. Examine the doctrines of incarnational sonship vs eternal sonship. Most theologians realize that eternal sonship is the only logical and biblical conclusion on the issue.

        Concerning poor hermeneutics. How Fee can affirm the subordination of Christ (as a proper name- Jesus) to the Father in 1 Corinthians 3:23, yet disregard the authoritative overtones that 1 Corinthians 11:3 demand, I believe, is rooted in dishonest scholarship. That he would gladly affirm the subordination of Jesus to the Father, but vigorously defend mutual submission between husband and wife, is dishonest hermeneutics. If there is submission within the Trinity, than there is submission is humanity, as most godly men and women of church history have confessed.

        It is a nice idea to think that ‘kephale’ means ‘source’ in 1 Corinthians 11:3, but it poor exegesis. If Paul were attempting to frame an argument, while opening his discourse by introducing the reality that man is the source of woman in 11:3, and then state that man comes from woman in 11:2, he would be making a useless argument. Taking kephale as ‘source’ makes absolutely no sense of 1 Corinthians 11:3 or of the context it is set in.

        It is this rejection of plain context that makes this discussion profitless and is why there is no real reason to continue. I just wanted to express the ridiculousness of the claim that “kephale does not ‘chief’ or ‘leader’ in untranslated Greek” in the hopes that anyone who comes across this page might see the comment and not be deceived into thinking that that claim is accurate. It is not. Indeed, Paul uses the word to imply ‘leadership/ authority,’ as well as the LXX. If anyone rejects these uses, it is not scholarship that leads them to do so, but rebellion against revealed truth.

        • Marg says:

          Typo duly noted.

          ~ One of the main contexts of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is origin or source: “For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:12 cf. 11:8).

          ~ To suggest that Christos doesn’t mean Messiah in a few verses of 1 Corinthians is ludicrous. Christos = Messiah in the New Testament. Every single respectable English translation of 1 Corinthians 11:3 has the word “Christ” or “Messiah”, they do not have “Son of God”. See here.

          ~ If you don’t like the verses which speak about Jesus the Messiah’s divine and origin, how about Romans 9:5 which is about his human origin?: “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” (1 Corinthians 11:3 only refers to the Messiah’s divine origin.) The New Testament provides information who “begat” Jesus the Messiah; nevertheless there are aspects about the Trinity and Jesus’ incarnation that remain a mystery.

          ~ Matt, we’ve had this conversation about the LSJ and the LXX several times now. It is clear that you don’t understand what I have been saying about this lexicon and this Greek translation. That’s a shame. I’ll repeat my views yet again: The LSJ is not at all my primary source for understanding kephale! The LXX is a translation, thus my statement about original, untranslated Greek remains. Matt, in all honesty, I don’t care what you believe – you come across as intractable, if not sincere – but do not misrepresent what I believe.
          A previous comment to you about “head” in the LXX is here: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/towards-biblical-equality-my-story/#comment-117192

          • Matt says:

            Obviously Christos means Messiah, but if you would just read those verses you would see that Paul is talking about a particular Messiah. Its not just any Messiah. Its the Messiah Jesus.

            Romans 9:5 “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

            Who is the Messiah? Which Messiah. Jesus said that their will be many false Messiahs (Matthew 24:24). How do we know who this Messiah is? For Paul, this Messiah is Jesus. In other words, for Paul Jesus=Messiah, and Messiah=Jesus.

            If you would realize this, then your perspective on 1 Corinthians 11:3 would be affected.

            Romans 9:5 “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah (which Messiah?- Jesus), who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

            This is how we can read this verse, “Romans 9:5 “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of JESUS, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

            In the same way this is how 1 Corinthians 11:1, 3, and 12:27 should be read-

            1 Corinthians 11:1- Imitate me, as I also imitate JESUS.” Obviously Paul cannot be exclusively be referring to the office of Messiah, because Paul cannot imitate the office of Messiah (redeemer of God’s people, anointed one). Paul cannot imitate the Messiah by being the anointed one and the redeemer of God’s people. Paul can, however, imitate the qualities and characteristics of the Messiah Jesus. In other words, Paul cannot imitate the position or office of Messiah, but He can imitate his characteristics. Thus we should understand ‘christos’ as a reference to the person of Jesus, not to the office of Messiah.

            1 Corinthians 11:3-“But I want you to know that the head of every man is JESUS (who is God), and the head of woman is man, and the head of JESUS (who is Son of God) is God (the Father).” If a person wants to takes ‘kephale’ as ‘source’ in this passage, they cannot possibly make any sense of this verse, especially if you want to maintain that ‘christos’ is referring to the office of Messiah. For in what possible way is the human Messiah the source of man? Additionally, in what possible way is God (the Father) the source of the human Messiah? If a person wants to maintain that ‘kephale’ means source’ and that ‘christos’ means Messiah, this verse makes no sense whatsoever and to think it does is absurd hermeneutics.

            1 Corinthians 12:27-“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” If ‘christos’ were referring to the office of the Messiah, this verse would make no sense either. The church is the body of the office of the Messiah??? No. The church is the body of JESUS the person, the Messiah.

            ‘Christos’ obviously is referring to the Messiah, but it is referring more to just the office of the Messiah, it is a shorthand designation for the person of the Messiah. It is this person who is being spoken of in 1 Corinthians 11:3. That passage is saying absolutely nothing about the source of the Messiah, but is speaking of the “functional subordination” that Fee admits to earlier in1 Corinthians 3:23.

            Lastly, you say that its a shame that I don’t realize the significance that the LXX is a translation, but you aren’t attempting to help my “ignorance” and how that affects the meaning of ‘kephale.’ I admit that I am skeptical in advance that understanding this “significance” will overrule the findings of Wayne Grudem and the uses of it in Paul and in the LXX. However, I am willing to hear you out. Perhaps you would be willing to write an article on its significance? I would be willing to read it.

          • Marg says:

            I’m not sure why you are making a distinction between the office and person of the Messiah. I am not making such a distinction. Jesus is the Messiah. We are in agreement here. Furthermore, God is the point of origin of the Messiah. Or, as Gordon D. Fee and others might say, God is “the source of life” of the Messiah.
            Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Eerdmans, 1987) 502-503.

            I’m not sure why you keep pushing your point. Do you think you can persuade me more than Gordon D. Fee? I don’t even know you, except for the fact that you post long rambling comments that don’t make a lot of sense to me.

  44. Hi Marg
    I recognise I”m very late at finding this article of yours. Please forgive me. The work I do at A Cry For Justice has been so time consuming I haven’t looked at your blog till today. I know you from FB and twitter, but I didn’t realise you had such an extensive and in-depth blog.

    I shall be reading the links you gave in this post, to other articles by you. (as time permits!!! — sigh, can you please clone me into five of me who all share the same brain? )

    I prefer your way of thinking and writing about Christian Egalitarianism much more than how CBE write about it. I think I may be pretty close to being on your page. 🙂

    And I LOVE ‘casteless Christian’ ! I’ll be re-using that term and will credit you as the originator of it. 🙂

    • Marg says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I’m glad you found me. I’m intrigued by what you see as a difference in what I write compared to CBE. CBE cover a broader range of topics than I do.

      I love “casteless” Christian” too. Why has it taken so long for followers of Jesus to see that he was all about equality?

      • Firstly, I have to say that I have not had time to read a lot of what CBE have said in the last four years, being too busy with my own writing and blogging.

        But when I read CBE’s stuff a while ago, I was quite often put off by:

        1. their proclamation that they are concerned about victims of domestic abuse but it seemed to me that they were MUCH more focused on pushing female leadership in church rather than male abuse of women in the home.

        I don’t yet know to what extent you, Marg, address domestic abuse in a Christian context, but I don’t get the feeling that you are as ambitious to have female leadership in the church as CBE seems (IMO) to be.

        2. I thought that CBE (this is a generalization) overemphased the female-like attributes and names for God.

        3. But bottom line, I have the impression that quite a few (not all) of the key people in CBE are more liberal in their theology than I am comfortable with. I see this liberalism not in their take on gender roles, but in other doctrines they seem to believe.

        This, of course, is a generalisation: I do not think that all members or key people in CBE have liberal theology, but it seems to me an undercurrent of that is present, and that makes me uncomfortable, particularly because it is not called out. I also feel that some CBE people may not actually born again (regenerate); I don’t feel that about you Marg. 🙂

        Having said that about CBE and liberalism, I have to also say that I am VERY far from comfortable with the complentarian camp! CBMW and most people who call themselves complementarian usually seem to me to be pretty blind to the dangers of gender inequality and male privilege that exist in our society — and that are often exacerbated in the complementarian church.

        Complementarianism, despite its rhetoric, more often than not becomes toxic to women. It all too easily exacerbates the attitude of male entitlement which is the soil which produces domestic abuse. And the complementarian leaders have done a woeful job of teaching their ideas in a way that suffieiently guards against abusive men utilising it to abuse their wives and children.

        A lot of our writing at A Cry For Justice involves exposing and denouncing Patriarchy in the church. We hear countless stories from women who have been abused by their husband and then sought help from their church and been abused all over again by the church.

        The complementarian churches seem to the worst at dealing with domestic abuse, but egalitarian churches can also get it wrong.

        Sorry for a bit of rambling. You can see I am on a mission!

        • Marg says:

          I rarely write about domestic abuse, as I feel completely unqualified to do so. I’m happy that other people, like yourself, are doing this.

          My observation is that the key people in CBE are conservative Evangelical Christians. This is definitely true for CBE-Sydney, and mostly true for CBE-International.

          I am 100% with you in denouncing patriarchy in the church, which includes denouncing male privilege and all forms of domestic abuse in marriage and family life.

  45. Also Marg, I have been ticking the box ‘notify me of follow-up comments by email’ but have not been sent any email notifications. Can you trouble shoot? Thanks. It’s okay to email me directly.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Barbara, I have almost no idea how all that works. Did you get an email where you had to confirm that you wanted to receive comments? Perhaps just tick the box again when you make another comment. (If you want to post a “test” comment with the ticked box, I’m happy to delete it.)

  46. I really like this. I grew up believing the things that you were also taught. One Sunday morning in church someone began speaking in tongues and required interpretation. I had the interpretation but I did not speak because I believed women were not supposed to speak in church. After the service a man came up to me and said “You had the interpretation but you did not speak it. I don’t know why you didn’t but I know there is a reason why.” I did not have the guts to tell him it was because I thought as a woman that I shouldn’t speak out loud. This was a turning point in my life for me. I began to realize that God doesn’t have a problem with women operating in the gifts He has given them. Last year the Lord told me to become certified as a minister so I am in the process of doing that. If that situation had not happened that Sunday morning I would not have listened to the Lord and would have dismissed His command to me. Thanks so much for sharing! You present your ideas with respect and without any malice. Some who support equality do so but in the wrong spirit.

    • Marg says:

      Yes, God gives his gifts to be used. 🙂

      Thanks for the compliment. It concerns me that some Christians push equality in harmful ways, and are disrespectful to Christians who hold to patriarchal views .

      I remember when I firmly believed that the Bible taught that only men could be leaders, and I know that a rude or pushy person could not have persuaded me otherwise. People need time to change their minds on important issues, sometimes a long time. We must leave room for the Spirit to do his work. I truly believe that equality is a fruit of the Spirit.

  47. Domnic says:

    Thank you so much Margaret! What a surprise of good news! I’ve read the story of your journey toward equality and I’m greatly inspired and blessed. May Christ’s love keep you and your family for his glory.

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