Mutuality 2012 Posts

This series is dedicated to discussing an egalitarian view of gender—including relevant biblical texts and practical applications. The goal is to show how scripture, tradition, reason, and experience all support a posture of equality toward women, one that favors mutuality rather than hierarchy, in the home, Church, and society.

Week of Mutuality: How it will work, definition of terms

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? (Genesis 1-3)

4 Common Misconceptions About Egalitarianism

Submission in Context: Christ and the Greco-Roman Household Codes

Dan on roles, leadership, and supporting your partner (Dan Evans)

Who’s Who Among Biblical Women Leaders

For the Sake of the Gospel, Let Women Speak (1 Timothy 2:11-15) 

Ask an Egalitarian...(Mimi Haddad)  

Is patriarchy really God’s dream for the world?  

When Men and Women Ministered Together as Equals (Ed Cyzewski)

Women of Valor: It’s About Character, Not Roles (Proverbs 31, Ruth)

Mutuality 2012 Synchroblog

 List of Resources


Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

Women of Valor: It’s about character, not roles

'Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC)' photo (c) 1939, The Library of Congress - license:

Okay, so the Week of Mutuality has turned into the Week-And-A-Day of Mutuality, but bear with me! This is the twelfth post in our series dedicated to discussing an egalitarian view of gender—including relevant biblical texts and practical applications. You can read the rest of the posts here. The final post, a list of resources, will appear this afternoon. As requested, I’ll also post links to every post in the series on Tuesday. 

There is one more myth regarding “biblical womanhood” that we really need to address as part of our series—and that is the myth that a true woman of God is defined by her roles as a wife, mother, and homemaker. I spend quite a bit of time exploring this in my book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, but it’s so important to the conversation surrounding gender equality in the Church, it’s worth discussing in an abbreviated format here. 

Back to June Cleaver? 

It has been said that every movement needs an enemy, and for the complementarian movement in evangelicalism, the clear enemy is feminism. 

 One of the movement’s founding documents, The Danvers Statement, states as its chief concern “the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism” and “the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women.” According to the statement, “distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order.” 

At its heart, complementarianism is a religious reaction to second-wave feminism in America. And as a result, much of its literature is preoccupied with recapturing an idealized vision of pre-feminist, 1950s America that relegates a woman’s identity to her roles as wife, mother, and homemaker. 

The reality is, most of the complementarians I know don’t really want a full-fledged return to the patriarchal culture in which the Bible was matter what Denny Burk and Russell Moore may say. Most do not want to return to a time when fathers owned their daughters and sold them to the highest bidder (Exodus 21:7; Nehemiah 5:5; Genesis 29:1–10),  when multiple wives and concubines were a part of everyday life (even for men of God like Abraham, Jacob, and David), when women were forbidden from owning property, when foreign virgins could be captured as spoils of war (Judges 21), when a woman’s lack of virginity could get her executed (Deuteronomy 22:11, Leviticus ), when the stories of brave women like Tamar and Dinah and Esther and Vashti and Leah and Rachel emerge from contexts of oppression.  Furthermore, anyone who has studied ancient Near Eastern culture knows that the familial structure we see represented in scripture was nothing like the nuclear family epitomized by the Cleavers, but would rather have included multiple generations and relatives living together in clans, with women working long hours “outside of the home” in the fields, tending sheep, gathering food, trading goods, etc. 

But rather than admitting that they don’t actually want a return to “biblical womanhood” or “biblical patriarchy,” complementarian advocates instead bend the biblical stories to fit a June-Cleaver-shaped mold.  And so, in complementarian literature, we see an emphasis on biblical passages that celebrate marriage, motherhood, and domesticity to the neglect of passages that celebrate singleness and women whose lives looked nothing like the nuclear family of pre-feminist America. [This is why we end up with bizarre treatments of the story of Esther that try to cast the marriage between Xerxes and Esther as a model for “godly submission" in marriage. Trust me. These two are no Ward and June Cleaver, what with the harem and death threats and all.] 

In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Dorothy Patterson writes that “keeping the home is God’s assignment to the wife—even down to changing the sheets, doing the laundry, and scrubbing the floors.” She questions the godliness of any woman who would choose to work outside of the home, arguing that “we need mothers who are not only family-oriented, but also family-obsessed...Too many women rush headlong into a career outside the home, determined to waste no time or effort on housework or baby-sitting but rather seeking to achieve position and means by directing all talents and energies toward non-home professional pursuits.” Patterson  goes so far as to compare women who choose not to have children to the people who practiced child sacrifice in the Bible! (See Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, p. 364-377)

For the project, I read multiple books that repeated these mantras of marriage, motherhood, and homemakingAfter a while, I began to understand why they might be so appealing to women: In a culture that too often downplays the significance and challenge of homemaking, here was a celebration of it.  In a world where women talk about being “just a mom,” here was an affirmation of the dignity of motherhood.  This complementarian literature provided a much-needed  reminder that God’s presence can be found in the day-to-day tasks of washing dishes and changing diapers and managing a home—something I, as an egalitarian, wholeheartedly affirm. 

The mistake these complementarians make is not in saying that a woman honors God by serving in the home. The mistake they make is in saying that the only way a woman honors God is by serving in the home. In an attempt to honor the dignity of marriage, motherhood, and domesticity, they have inadvertently made these roles into idols.  They have forgotten that the “God of all pots and pans” (as Brother Lawrence would say) is also the God of all board rooms and assembly lines and classrooms and office buildings, and that a woman can bring glory to  God with her life whether is married or single, a mother or childless, a domestic champion or a woman whose talents lie elsewhere. 


Jesus did not teach his followers to be “family-obsessed.” Far from it.

Jesus identified his disciples as his brothers, sisters, and mothers (Matthew 12:48) and insisted that his followers prioritize faith over family bonds (Luke 14:25–26). When the disciples asked Jesus if it is better not to marry, Jesus conceded that some may choose to castrate themselves “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” And when the Sadducees tried to trip him up with a trick question about marriage after resurrection, Jesus responded, “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25).  Many early Christians took these teachings so seriously that they remained celibate, sometimes even castrating themselves, in anticipation of Christ’s coming kingdom. Paul himself never married, praising the celibate lifestyle as free from distraction and heartache in a world where many followers of Jesus were being persecuted by Rome (1 Corinthians 7:32).

For centuries the Church honored the contributions of single women and widows to the extent that their stories occupied the majority of Christian literature. The gory accounts of early Christian martyrdom included the celebrated heroics of unmarried women  like Agatha (scourged, burnt, torn with meat hooks for refusing to marry the pagan governor of Sicily), Agnes (beheaded for refusing suitors and consecrating herself to Christ alone), Lucy (executed for distributing her wealth among the poor rather than marrying), and  Blandina (a young slave thrown to wild beasts in the arena for professing Christianity). Some of the most outstanding women in our “great cloud of witnesses”—from Phoebe, to Marcella of Rome, to Teresa of Avila, to Lottie Moon—have been single women. 

It appears that modern-day attitudes toward singles in the church have been largely affected by the Reformation, when, as a reaction to the cloistered life in Catholicism, Luther and the Reformers elevated the virtues of homemaking and domesticity above those of rigid asceticism. “The word and works of God is quite clear,” Luther wrote, “that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” 


Luther’s legacy still affects Protestants today. As we saw in Leigh Kramer’s contribution to the synchroblog, rather than celebrating singleness, the church often treats it as a problem to be solved. And when women are told that their identity lies solely in their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers, it’s easy to see why so many young women are leaving the Church. My prayer is that someday, all women, no matter their marital status or procreative prowess, will be equally honored by the Church. 


A common refrain among Christians is that “motherhood is a woman’s highest calling.” I must have heard this 1,000 times growing up. While men can honor God in varying capacities through work, family, and ministry, a woman’s spiritual aptitude is measured primarily by her ability to procreate.

I understand that many pastors elevate motherhood in order to counter the ways contemporary culture often dismisses the value of moms. This is a noble goal indeed, and the Church should be a place where moms are affirmed, celebrated, honored, and revered. But the teaching that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling can be painful and isolating for women who remain unmarried or childless. 

Carolyn Custis James said it well in her book, Half the Church:

"To define women solely in terms of marriage and motherhood simply does not fit the reality of most of our lives. Even for those women who enthusiastically embrace marriage and motherhood . . . a substantial part of their lives is without a husband and/or children . . . Furthermore, the traditional message to women is tenuous at best—all it takes is a single tragic phone call for her to be dropped from that demographic. It happens every day. 

A message that points to the marriage altar as the starting gate of God’s calling for women leaves us with nothing to tell [unmarried women] except that God’s purpose for them is not here and now, but somewhere down the road."

A Christian woman’s highest calling is not motherhood; a Christian woman’s highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Dugger. 


As I said before, the modern-day “biblical womanhood” movement as expressed by complementarianism, has its roots, not in the ancient near Eastern culture in which the Bible was written, but in the pre-feminist American culture. 

Therefore, you find in complementarian literature a heavy emphasis on homemaking as God’s ideal occupation for women. For support, complementarians often turn to the “wife of noble character” found in Proverbs 31. (Some also appeal to Titus 2. See Emily Hunter McGowin's contribution to the synchroblog: “That the word of God may not be reviled: Titus 2:3-5 and Women's Proper Place”)

The subject of a twenty-two-line poem found in the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, the “wife of noble character”—or, more properly translated, eshet chayil -  “woman of valor”— is meant to be a tangible expression of the book’s celebrated virtue of wisdom. Packed with hyperbolic imagery, the poem is an acrostic, so the first word of each verse begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet in succession. This communicates a sense of totality as the poet praises the everyday achievements of an upper-class Jewish wife, a woman who keeps her household functioning day and night by buying, trading, investing, planting, sewing, spindling, managing servants, extending charity, providing food for the family, and preparing for each season.Like any good poem, the purpose of this one is to draw attention to the often-overlooked glory of the everyday.

The author is essentially showing us what wisdom looks like in action. (The astute reader will immediately make a connection between the Proverbs 31 Woman and Woman Wisdom, found in earlier chapters of Proverbs.) The only instructive language it contains is directed toward men, with the admonition that a thankful husband honor his wife “for all that her hands have done.” As my friend Ahava taught me, in the Jewish tradition, it is the men who memorize Proverbs 31, so they know how to honor their wives. 

And yet many Christians interpret this passage prescriptively, as a command to women rather than an ode to women, with the home-based endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman cast as the ideal lifestyle for all women of faith. An empire of books, conferences, products, and media has evolved from a subtle repositioning the poem’s intended audience from that of men to that of women. One of the more popular books is titled Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be: A 90 Day Guide to Living the Proverbs 31 LifeNo longer presented as a song through which a man offers his wife praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it. The details of the passage have taken precedent over the message of the passage, and somehow, through the centuries, we’ve managed to turn a poem into a job description. 

I’ve dedicated an entire chapter of my next book to Proverbs 31, so I won’t spend more time on it here. Instead I want to focus on a woman from Scripture who proves that it’s not the domestic accomplishments of the Proverbs 31 Woman that matter, but rather her virtues of wisdom and valor. 


The Bible doesn’t give us June Cleaver.  And it doesn’t give us carbon copies of the Proverbs 31 Woman either.

No, the Bible gives us Deborah and Ruth, Vashti and Tamar, Mary Magdalene,  Mary of Nazareth, Mary of Bethany, Junia, Priscilla, and a host of other women who can never be crammed into a single mold. 

Take, Ruth, for example. Ruth could not be more opposite, at least on the outside, than the Proverbs 31 Woman. 

Ruth was a Moabite. (This was a big no-no back then, as men were forbidden from marrying foreign wives). 

Ruth was childless.  (After eight years of marriage to her first husband, Ruth had never given birth to a child.)

Ruth was single. (And as a childless, foreign widow, Ruth would not have been considered a desirable wife by most Hebrew men.)

Ruth was dirt poor.  (Rather than exchanging fine linens with the merchants to bring home a profit to her husband and children like the Proverbs 31 Woman, Ruth spent her days gleaning leftovers from the workers in the fields so she and her mother-in-law could simply survive.)

And yet, despite looking nothing like June Cleaver, Ruth is bestowed with the highest honor. She is called a woman of valor—Eshet chayil—the exact same phrase used to describe the woman of Proverbs 31. (See Ruth 3:11) 

And get this:  

She is called a woman of valor before she marries Boaz, before she has a child with him for Naomi, before he becomes a wealthy and influential woman. 

Clearly, it’s not what you do that makes you a woman of valor; it’s how you do it!  Ruth is not identified as a woman of valor because checked off some Proverbs 31 to-do list by keeping a clean house and producing children, but because she lived her life with incredibly bravery, wisdom, and strength.  If both the wealthy, domestic superstar of Proverbs 31 and the single, childless, field-gleaner Ruth are identified as women of valor in Scripture, then Christians should be able to honor women who exhibit strong character, regardless of their various roles and stations in life. 

One of the greatest mistakes of complementarianism is its emphasis on roles, as if they alone define a person. But, as Dan mentioned last week, our roles are not static. They change depending on circumstances. They shift with passage of time. Women who ground their identity in their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers will have little solid ground on which to stand when those roles, for whatever reason, change. 

It is our character  that defines us, not our roles. If the Bible teaches us anything about women, it’s that women of valor can be found in all kinds of cultures, in all kinds of roles, and in all kinds of circumstances. 

The truth is, a woman of noble character will fulfill any role with valor.


Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

The Mutuality 2012 Synchroblog

“I'm sitting at my desk reading this response after a very busy, tiring day of work. And I have tears in my eyes. To think that I, as a woman, am equal. To think that I, as a woman, am a reflection of my Creator. To think that I, as a woman, have God-given(!) gifts to serve AND to lead. And to think that God (my Creator) and Jesus (my Savior) actually care about the all of the wounds that feel so raw, that They (and even others I've encountered here) care about justice for a woman like me. I don't know how to explain this, and please forgive me if it makes sense only to me: I feel like a woman whose dignity is being restored word by word by word in this beautiful series. And God Himself is restoring it. I feel myself literally sitting taller in my chair as I write these lines.” 

– comment from “Surviving,” in response to “Ask an Egalitarian

This has been, without a doubt, my most rewarding week of blogging.  

In response to our coordinate efforts for Mutuality 2012, I have heard from women who say they feel their dignity and worth have been restored, from multiple readers who have changed their minds about women in ministry, from couples relieved that they can finally put a name to how their relationship has functioned all along, from singles freshly inspired by the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds them, from  followers of Jesus whose passion for justice and equality has been renewed, from women ready to “get on with it” and stop asking permission to use their gifts and start unapologetically using them. 

(Programming note: I’ve got two more posts left in the series, which I’ll share tomorrow....Then I’m taking the rest of the week off!) 

Reading through your contributions to the Mutuality 2012 Synchroblog, I’ve experienced such a range of emotions: anger, conviction, inspiration, solidarity, encouragement, and –most of all—hope.  It was impossible to pick favorites, so I’ve included a list of all 188 official contributions at the end of the post. Below are just a few highlights to wet your whistle. Enjoy! 

Mutuality 2012 - Around the Web 

Scott Peterson with “Why I’m Not a Complementarian by One Guy Who Should Be” 

“When our roles are forcefully determined by systems which don’t treat us as individuals we are dehumanized, banished from our freedom in Christ, and stripped of our deepest sense of calling.  When we are pressed from actualizing our Holy Spirit-given gifts, we are left feeling not merely unfulfilled but caged.  If we dig deep enough, we may discover that this isn’t even an issue of gender; it is an issue of humanity.  It is an issue of whether we actually believe that Jesus has the power to tear down the walls that presume to prescribe our fate and separate us from one another...No, I could never be a complementarian.  It is too static, too simplistic, and too far removed from the kingdom that Jesus is building.”

Alise Wright with “You Don’t Have to Take Your Clothes Off to Be Egalitarian

“Why would God make me equal to my husband when we were getting it on, but not when we were getting a new car? Why would we submit to one another when we were making a baby, but not when we were making parenting decisions? Why would we be partners in the bedroom, but leader and submissive in the living room (well, unless the kids weren’t around and you know…)?”

KR Wordgazer with "What Galatians 3:28 Cannot Mean” and  “Are Women Seeking Ministry ‘Demanding Rights’?

“If being ‘in Christ’ when it comes to ‘there is not male and female’ has no practical bearing on what males and females can or can't do every day in their churches, then how can being  ‘in Christ’ have any practical bearing on what Christians do in any part of their lives?”
“...It's easy, really, if you're born into a position where you never have to shout to be heard, to fault those who do have to shout to be heard.”

Liz Myrick with “Screaming From the Pew

“So that afternoon, while he was reading in a chair in our living room, I curled up next to him and made my announcement.  ‘Daddy, guess what?  I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.  I want to be a preacher just like you.’  I remember how his face looked as he thought about his answer, like he was arranging the words in his mind before he let them out.  His pause was my first inclination that he wasn't as thrilled as I expected him to be at the announcement that I would be following in his footsteps.  When the words came out, though, they were worse than the silence.  ‘Well, honey,’ he said very slowly, ‘In most churches, women aren't allowed to be pastors.  You could be a children's director or something like that, but not a pastor.’”

Leigh Kramer with “Do Unto Singles: Suggestions for the Church” 

“It hurts when being a wife and mother is said or implied to be a woman's greatest calling. I want to get married but there's no guarantee that is in my future. It doesn't mean I cannot fulfill God's purpose for my life. I'm single and that's not a bad thing.” 

Dianna Anderson with “Of Gods and Godheads” 

“To say that patriarchal complementarian theology is modeled on the Godhead is to slant and twist an orthodox understanding of the Godhead itself. It is to place members of the Godhead into a hierarchy, when orthodox theological tradition dictates that this is not and cannot be the case.”

David W. Congdon with “Trinity, Gender, and Subordination

“It is truly a dire state of affairs within the church when Christians appeal to the doctrine of the trinity to support gender subordination.”

Micha Boyett with “What Makes a Pastor?

“In the upside down paradigm of God’s Kingdom, where the last are first and the first are last, I can’t help but believe that the sort of minister who will sit in the most coveted seat at the Great Banquet, must be the abused, divorced woman who loved little ones well, with little reward and a quiet exit. A woman who held up her hands while we gathered around, a woman who knew how to tell the Great Story, who offered us a true magic, the glowing light held bright above, who called us close to look at Jesus and see what it meant to be loved.”

Kelly Flanagan with “Marriage Is For Losers

“Many therapists aren’t crazy about doing marital therapy. It’s complicated and messy, and it often feels out of control. In the worst case scenario, the therapist has front row seats to a regularly-scheduled prize fight. But I love to do marital therapy. Why? Maybe I enjoy the work because I keep one simple principle in mind: if marriage is going to work, it needs to become a contest to see which spouse is going to lose the most, and it needs to be a race that goes down to the wire.”

Addie Zierman with “The Voice and the Echo

“Somewhere along the way, I forgot that I was not made to echo a man. I was made to echo the wild love of God.” 

Emily Hunter McGowin with “That the word of God may not be reviled: Titus 2:3-5 and Women's Proper Place

"For this reason, I think the use of Titus 2:3-5 as support for the universal prescription that all women (or at least all married women) are to be homemakers is actually a little absurd. Read in light of his cultural context, Paul is not teaching the universal, inalterable responsibilities for all women at all times. (Indeed, if it were so, surely they would have shown up in more places than Titus!) Instead,he is teaching the right way to submit to the expectations of the surrounding culture in order for the good news to be advanced. This is not uncommon for him, as you know (see especially, 1 Cor 9:19-23; 1 Cor 10:23-33; 1 Thess 4:11-12; 1 Tim 6:1), but was a hallmark of his mission work."

From Two to One with “Our marriage is based on love, not power

“...Marriage isn’t a hierarchy because marriage shouldn't be like the rest of the world's relationships; marriage isn’t about power dynamics.”

Ben Irwin with “A Letter to My Daughter

“...There will come a time, I’m sorry to say, when you’ll meet certain people who will try to steal your sense of boundless opportunity. They will tell you that some roles in life aren’t for you, simply because you’re a woman. That your gender means you have to take a backseat. That you are forever consigned to be in the audience and not on the stage. Always a follower and never a leader. They will tell you this is so because God — the same God we read about at bedtime — made it so. They will tell you that God made you inferior, subordinate, second-class. Not that they’ll use these words. (Well, they might use 'subordinate.') Instead, they’ll talk about 'complementarity' and 'submission.' But what they really mean is, your path to God runs through a man...They are wrong."

Gina M Bakkun  with “What I Want From My Brothers” 

“I want my brothers to enter my world for a moment, to understand what it's like to hear, ‘Women don't struggle with lust, pornography, masturbation.’ To understand what it's like to hear, ‘You should stay beautiful so your husband doesn't cheat on you.’ To understand what it's like to be told that I won't enjoy sex as much as men, but that my body is so intensely sexual that I must be overly-fastidious about how it's covered.  I want my brothers to understand what it's like to hear,’ “You'd be a great pastor if you weren't a woman.’”

DL Mayfield with “Women’s Work

“My mother, who is someone I can only describe as having an unquenchable thirst for God, raised me and my sisters on a steady diet of missionary biographies. The vast majority of them were about women: how they left all that they knew and any hope of a future to go and preach the good news. They were the original abolitionists, whistleblowers, labor representatives, feminists. They went to be Jesus, to the people that Jesus always went to: the ones that the powerful wanted nothing to do with. When I was young I read about strong women, wearing tight buns and buttoned-up clothing, raising hell in India, China, and Russia. I view it now as a rich legacy of service born out of racist and sexist theology: missions were one of the few places a woman could be in a place of leadership. And so the female preachers, teachers, and evangelists left the West, forsaking families and cultures that had no place for their gifts. And they brought liberation with them, wherever they went.”

Joshua Carney with “Why I’m Not Complementarian

“Power is quintessentially defined by Jesus hanging on a cross.  This is the way God expresses power in the world.  Jesus subverts our definition of power.  At the end of the day, power is not best expressed by Batman, Superman, Prince Charming or William Wallace.  Power, by Biblical standards, comes from below.  Power picks up a towel and serves.  Power chooses the less glamorous choice.  Power is not so insecure that it needs the final word.  Power does not need control.”

Rachel Strietzel with “Sheep, Shepherds, and Complementarians” 

“As he wrapped up his message, this pastor asked that we pray for our shepherds.  He asked the spiritual guides within the church to stand: ‘The elders, the deacons, the fathers, and the single mothers.’ He repeated this short list.  Around us those people stood while my heart fell.  Jason widened his eyes at me, grabbed my hand, and stayed seated next to me.  That's what solidarity looks like: My wonderful husband, sitting if I cannot stand by his side.”

 Kristen Rosser  with “Does Someone Have to Be in Charge of Your Marriage?

“Why must some Christians insist that marriage is ‘an organization,’ or should work like one? Marriage is an organic unit, a synthesis, a joining of two into one body. It is, or should be, the best kind of best-friend relationship you could ever have...The Bible teaches that two people who are married become ‘one flesh,’ not ‘one organization.’”

Lindsay Tweedle with “Stories

“I stood in the pulpit and gave my oft-practiced, now very memorized message. It was well-received and most of the people in my congregation were affirming and positive. What I remembered was the man at the front who, as soon as I began to speak, turned and walked out of the sanctuary.”

Sarah Moon with “Reclaiming Complementarianism” 

“This view that you’re either a man and all the roles that come with “manhood,” or you’re a woman and all the roles that come with “womanhood” is reductive and dehumanizing. It ignores God-given talents. It ignores the hard work that it takes to prepare for some roles. It ignores socialization. It ignores personality. It ignores personal happiness. It ignores the complexity of human beings. It puts all people, regardless of who they are, into one of two tiny boxes and calls that freedom.”

Richard Beck with “Is it Pragmatics or Power in Patriarchy?” 

"If there is no problem to fix, if patriarchy has no pragmatic function, if patriarchy is not useful, if patriarchy is an end in itself and not a means, then the exercise of power is exposed for what it truly is. Without anything to fix the powerplay is simply a powerplay, one person exercising power over another for no other reason than the desire to exercise power. If you don't need to wield power then why are you using it? And with that question we get to the rub of the matter, why the "somebody has to decide" argument has been so critical in the patriarchal worldview. This argument has made patriarchy seem useful. It is an argument that has been used to hide the powerplay by dressing it up in pragmatic clothing. Power isn't about power, it is argued, it's about making marriages work better.”

Pam Hogeweide with “My Failed Christian Marriage” 

“With a flare of fury in my gut, I threw the book across the bed­room. Thud! It hit the wall before hit­ting the floor. Jerry didn’t even flinch, obliv­i­ous to the inter­nal bat­tle rag­ing in bed next to him. Fling­ing that book across the room was like throw­ing off the strait jacket of patri­archy that I had attempted to stuff my mar­riage into all those years. My mar­riage would no longer be sub­jected to the demand­ing code of tra­di­tion­al­is­tic Chris­tian­ity. Nor would my identity. Jerry and I had a solid mar­riage. Why I hadn’t I seen it before? I was a faith­ful wife, he a faith­ful hus­band. We were com­mit­ted to one another and to our chil­dren. I was fin­ished try­ing to emu­late the ideal Chris­t­ian cou­ple, what­ever that meant. It might work for some, but Jerry and Pam had our own, cus­tomized ver­sion of what works in a mar­riage. God, I was begin­ning to real­ize, must not be as rigid about male/female rela­tion­ship­sthan we sup­pose him to be. A fresh wind of lib­erty blew into my home and mar­riage that night. I had crossed a thresh­old into a new era of mar­ried life. From that moment on, I began to enjoy the strength of my mar­riage to Jerry rather than fret­ting over its lack of patri­ar­chal propriety.”

Diana Trautwein with “Becoming Who We Are

“She enrolled in seminary when their youngest 'baby' was a senior in high school - and she was 44 years old and only two years away from being a grandmother. He said, ‘The time has come for my shirts to go to the laundry - no more ironing for you.’”

Paul A. with “A Radical Feminist Rabbi Named Jesus

 “How truly unfortunate that we have allowed the culturally conditioned words of Paul to specific churches dealing with specific problems to overshadow the tremendous feminism of Jesus himself. Not once did he tell a woman to be quiet. Not once did he demand anything less from his female followers than he did from the men. Not once did he allow cultural stereotypes to color the inherent worth he found in the women around him.”

Jessica Parks with “I’ve got your back, Deborah

“Deborah is often disregarded, despite her presence and position in Scripture demanding at least some consideration as to what it means for women in the church. She doesn’t fit the framework of complementarianism and so she is considered an anomaly, or a judgment sentence, or whatever, because she’s a woman. Because she’s in the Old Testament. Because 1 Timothy 2:12 trumps Judges 4 and 5. Because every piece has to fit together. Because, because, because....Read the text of Judges 4 and 5. There is nothing there to condemn her. And if the Scriptures don’t condemn her, then I certainly won’t.”

Amanda Peterson with “I Hear of Women Rising” 

“I ached for the woman around me to know the same power in themselves, and I wept whenever I saw the Church as the author of these depowering acts--shunning women who got pregnant out of wedlock, instructing women to submit to their abusive husbands, forcing women to fall inline with cultural traditions that promoted men in value and lessened women in theirs.”

Jenny Rae Armstrong with “Making Space for the Feminine Voice

“'It is not good for man to be alone,' and I believe that holds true for every aspect of human existence, not just our personal relationships.Women have an incredible wealth of wisdom, insight, and parallel perspectives to offer the world. There are treasures to be mined in Scripture that female eyes can spot much more readily than male’s, deep, untapped veins of gold still waiting to be unearthed. There are solutions apparent to third-world mothers that male heads of state would never think of. A healthy shot in the arm of female influence would inoculate our world against a whole host of devastating social diseases.”

Leslie Keeney with “Why Women Shouldn't Give Up on the ETS

“...Women are such a rarity at ETS that many people will assume that any woman they meet is the spouse of an attendee and they will ask her where her husband teaches.”

Amy Lepine Peterson with “Culture and context in Corinthians

"Paul is concerned with order in worship. The prophets are told to speak one at a time, or to be silent. The speakers in tongues are told to be silent unless there is an interpreter. And the women are told not to chat in church, but to save their questions for later.  Paul, whose friendship with and respect for women like Junia, Phoebe, and Priscilla is well-documented, is not teaching that women must always be silent in the church. Instead, women leaders are to lead appropriately, and women in the congregation are to participate appropriately, all for the building up of the Body.   Understanding the cultural context is vital. You can tell those teenagers in the balcony to put away their cellphones and stop giggling - to be silent in church! - but that woman on the mic? Let her speak."

Carlynn Jurica  with “A Letter to Christian Girls” 

“So, my darlings, never ever let any man tell you that women are not as strong, brave, or capable of handling crises as men. It’s simply not true.”

Brian LePort with “Complementarianism is Not Counter-Culture

“Egalitarianism remains counter-cultural. Patriarchy reflects the world’s ways....Most of the world and most of human history has been oppressive to women, even Christians in the name of ‘headship.’ So let’s ditch the silly argument that the complementarians are standing their ground against a corrupt culture. They look more far more like the world in this regard.”

Kristen Nielsen with “May I introduce logic to emotions?

“‘But you can’t do that.’  I turned and stared at the boy who had uttered those words. I was seventeen and working at a Christian summer camp in Southern New Jersey. That fall, I was headed to university to learn how to love students better and was telling my fellow co-workers that I wanted to preach in the all-camp final service. With sunblock dripping in my eyes and confusion clouding my soul, I replied ‘why?’ ‘Because you’re a girl. Girls teaching men is a sin. Everyone knows that.’ And with those simple words I would never forget, boundaries were placed upon my previous understanding of a boundless God.”

Tell Me Why the World is Weird with “As a woman, I will read Esther on my own terms, thank you very much

“Every Christian studies Jesus and Paul and David, but only women study Esther and Ruth.  What's with that?  If they're really such good role models, aren't they good for both men and women?...You know what I want to see?  A women's conference whose advertising flier has a picture of a dragon.  Because dude, I want to fight dragons.  If your women's bible study or Christian conference even marginally associates itself with dragons, SIGN ME UP!”

Micky De Witt with “Fathers and Daughters 

“The problem is that I am a girl. I am told that I can’t be just like my dad. Why? Because my dad is a leader. My dad is a pastor. My dad teaches men and women. And in the Bible, there is this one verse…”

Megan Clapp with “The Closest Neighbor

“I introduce myself as Pastor Megan, (everyone on staff goes by their title and first name), and yet I have been called 'little girl' and 'young lady' more times than I can count.”

Brice Ezell  with “You Can, But You Shouldn't: An Interesting Bit of Complementarian Logic” 

"While complementarians hold that it would be wrong or improper for a woman to teach in a church setting, I have heard of very few, if any, who would say women are physically incapable of doing so. That is, if a highly educated woman, say she had a PhD Biblical theology, were to prepare a highly detailed and engaging sermon that led to conclusions the congregation already agreed with, I doubt most complementarians would say that she is wrong. Rather, they would say she is usurping the natural order of hierarchy...But this is a truly befuddling situation: we don't doubt that the woman can do this as well as a man could, but we somehow think she is wrong in doing so. How can this be the case?"

Lyndsey Graves with “For You Are All Sons of God” 

“I just can’t argue anymore. What I intend to do instead is to take my theology degree, and earn more theology degrees. I will learn, read, and pray very hard about God and the church and this gorgeous broken world...And then I intend to read, think, write, and teach with such violent passion, such excellence, that the argument is moot, and I will do so as a woman who wants, even needs, her theology to be logical but also beautiful, relational, mysterious in ways that few men have ever written it to other men. We theologians have the task of re-understanding, reframing the truth again and again, and I plan to do it through my own frame, and to do it so well that the seminary presidents who refuse to hire my sisters and I will know they have made a mistake.”

Sarah Bessey with “In which you are loved and you are free

“Let me remind you: you are loved. And you are free.  I say, let them bicker. Let them make up the rules, we don’t abide by them. Let them add and add and add to the millstone around their own poor neck. You, you are called to freedom, you are called to wholeness, you are called to love and mercy and justice, you are called to the better way, and it will not be taken from you. Gently loosen that millstone from their neck, if you can, whisper the rumours of freedom to the north, but don’t get so roped up in the entanglements of limits and the weight of apologetics that you forget that you are already free.”

Mutuality 2012 - All Submissions 

Transformed Women, Christ, and Soft Patriarchy
by Erin Thomas

An Alternative Church Doctrine Statement
by Jessica Cheetham

Un-silencing Eve
by Suzannah Paul

We Are All Needed
by Kris Shiplet

Marriage Is For Losers
by Kelly Flanagan

The Dance of Mutuality in Ephesians 5
by Harriet Congdon

God, In Search of a Uterus
by Larry Shallenberger

"Of Religious Watch Dogs and Rules"
by Cheryl Lawrence

Week of Mutuality
by Brad Duncan

women in ministry - i'm over it
by Tony

What Makes a Pastor? Or Linda Horne and the Great Mystery 
by Micha Boyett

How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership
by Kelly J Youngblood

Who's The Boss: Two Views on Marriage
by Chris Lautsbaugh

"A Good Man Is Hard to Find"
by Jessica Goudeau

Fathers and Daughters
by Micky

Starting Points
by Mark Baker-Wright

Submission of the Equal
by Russell Purvis

"That the word of God may not be reviled": Titus 2:3-5 and Women's Proper Place
by Emily Hunter McGowin

On Mutuality: Day One
by Trace James

Why I Submit to My Husband
by from two to one

Our marriage is based on love, not power.
by from two to one

As a woman, I will read Esther on my own terms, thank you very much
by perfectnumber628

by Erin Thomas

A Syncroblog for RHE on Mutuality: Day One
by Trace James

by Kari Baumann

Where's the Line? A Personal Narrative toward Gender Equality
by DC Cramer

faith-filled & feminist | theology, poetry, ministry, activism
by suzannah paul

What Does a Christian Egalitarian Marriage Look Like?
by Kristen (KR Wordgazer)

What Galatians 3:28 Cannot Mean
by Kristen (KR Wordgazer)

Are Women Seeking Ministry "Demanding Rights"?
by Kristen (KR Wordgazer)

Turning the Tables
by Kristen (KR Wordgazer)

Of Course She Can! (Theoretically): Gender in the Egalitarian Church
by Sarah Starrenburg

Revolutionary Subordination
by Travis Mamone

You Don't Have to Take Your Clothes Off to be Egalitarian
by Alise D. Wright

A Wife, a Mom, and So Much More
by Kelly J Youngblood

The Echo and the Voice
by Addie Zierman

Letter to my daughter
by Ben Irwin

What I Want From My Brothers
by Gina M Bakkun

Sister, Where Art Thou?
by Greta Cornish

Women's Work
by DL Mayfield

the Eucharist, the great equalizer
by Preston Yancey

What would happen if I didn't submit to my husband?
by Amy Mitchell

Why I'm Not Complementarian
by Joshua Carney

1 Corinthians 14: Orderly participation or silenced women?
by Marshall Janzen

Submission and Respect from Husbands – 1 Peter 3:7-8
by Margaret Mowczko

The Legacy of Dr. David M. Scholer
by Mark Baker-Wright

Genesis 3:16 Analyzed by Don Johnson
by Don Johnson

Does Someone Have to Be in Charge of Your Marriage?
by Kristen Rosser

Is Patriarchy More Beautiful than Egalitarianism?
by Jonalyn Fincher

Shacking up with Mutuality
by John Stonecypher

Complementary But Equal: Women in Orthodoxy
by Andrew Tatusko

Why God is Profoundly Egalitarian and Why we Need more Female Clergy
by Anita Mathias

Wives, submit to your husbands in everything, and other embarrassing Paulisms
by Anita Mathias

An Egalitarian Re-Learns Submission 
by Rachel Strietzel

Sheep, Shepherds, and Complementarians
by Rachel Strietzel

A Synchroblog for RHE on Mutuality: Day Two
by Trace James

my journey towards mutuality
by Amy Lepine Peterson

You Can, But You Shouldn't: An Interesting Bit of Complementarian Logic
by Brice Ezell

Whispering a Bit Louder
by Micky

Church Plant Journal #2: Denomination, Peace, & Women in Ministry (#mutuality2012)
by Kurt Willems

Mutuality & Biblical Equality: A Remedial Case Study
by Mark Grace

Women's Speaking Justified
by Rosemary Zimmermann

S is for "Submission"
by David Warkentin

What Happened When He Wouldn't Rescue Me: an Idealist Looks at Mutuality
by Jenn LeBow

Christ as Feminist Leader
by Jade McDaniel

What Does It Mean to "Submit" In Marriage?
by Kevin Scott

Should Men Be Submissive to their Wives?
by Kevin Scott

by Lindsay Tweedle

For you are all sons of God
by Lyndsey Graves

Reclaiming Complementarianism
by Sarah Moon

Walk as He walked
by Heather Harris

A Marriage Manifesto - part 1 of 2
by Smoochagator

A Marriage Manifesto - part 2 of 2
by Smoochagator

Week of Mutuality: Uniquely Equal
by Leanne Penny

Is it Pragmatics or Power in Patriarchy?
by Richard Beck

How I came to preach a sermon about how I have no business preaching sermons
by Katherine Willis Pershey

When the Church Treats Women as Less than Fully Human
by Danielle LoVallo Vermeer

Do Unto Singles: Suggestions for the Church
by Leigh Kramer

A Radical Feminist Rabbi Named Jesus
by Paul A.

I am not a man, and neither is God!
by Kate Hanch

You can't have a ballroom dance in a mosh pit
by Heretic Husband

What is Courage?
by Micky

Reality: The Problem of Complementarianism
by Sonja Lund

On Being a Woman Pastor
by Joanna Harader

Reflections of a Flawed Egalitarian
by Andrew

I hate when sexism is actually practical
by perfectnumber628

All Translation is Interpretation
by Mark Baker-Wright

Why should UK Christians care about mutuality?
by Hannah Mudge

The Dichotomy That Chose Me
by Stephanie Nelson

Why I Voted To Obey
by Laura Ziesel

Power and Submission in a Cross-Shaped Marriage
by Shane Alexander

I was an Egalitarian and didn't even know it
by Rachel Spies

A letter to Christian girls
by Carlynn Jurica

Hey Boy
by Wendy Scoggins

Important Women in the Bible (and In Ministry!!!)
by Russell Purvis

What’s In A Roll (or Role)
by Russell Purvis

Scriptural Feminism
by Russell Purvis

by Russell Purvis

Bipolar Paul? (Which View is He Taking?)
by Russell Purvis

No Girls Allowed?
by Russell Purvis

The Context In Which It Doesn't Matter
by Matthew Shedd

Hitman, Roger Ebert and Myself: Case Studies in the Gender Wars
by Robert A. Bell

Women in Ministry - First Century and Today
by Howard Pepper

A Synchroblog for RHE On Mutuality 2012, Days Three-Five
by Trace James

To the Elders & Leaders of X Church, Fellow Believers in Christ
by Melody Harrison Hanson

Why Equality Matters
by Elizabeth Gregory Brown

I've Got Your Back, Deborah
by Jessica Parks

The Woman Pastor
by Jennifer Hackbarth

In which you are loved and you are free
by Sarah Bessey

by Sarah Bost-Askins

Paul's Personal Greetings to Women Ministers
by Margaret Mowczko

I Hear of Women Rising
by Amanda Peterson

Maybe women shouldn't lead churches
by Danny Webster

An E-mail Conversation with Pastor Complementarian
by Kelly J Youngblood

The Church Shopping Saga Continues: Does the Church Affirm Women in Leadership?
by Kelly J Youngblood

Making Space for the Feminine Voice
by Jenny Rae Armstrong

A Message To My Girls About Being A Woman
by Sheri Ellwood

A Letter to My Fellow Female Christ-Followers
by Allison Buzard

Mutual Obedience
by David Ozab

Why I think I have no "other half"
by Eric Snider

In Defense of Strong Women
by Caris Adel

Are Men the Only Leaders?
by Holli McCormick

Headship vs. Synergiship
by Holli McCormick

culture and context in Corinthians
by Amy Lepine Peterson

A Sisterhood of Ministers
by Sisterlisa

Gender in the Church: Solving for the Values of X and Y
by Kristin Richardson

The Importance of Sharing Stories
by Mark Baker-Wright

Hello. I'm a woman. And I'm a minister
by Christine Hand Jones

Heads or Tails?
by Rebecca Trotter

The Closest Neighbor
by Megan Clapp

Marriage Changed my View of Marriage
by Erin Adams

“Who Submits If You’re Gay?” Why Homosexuality Scares Some Religious Conservatives
by Casey Pick

More Than Equals: Women, Men, and the Bible
by RodtRDH

Forgotten Women In Church History: Marcella of Rome
by Kristen (KR Wordgazer)

What about unity?
by Lindsay Southern

What sheep thinks about Women Bishops
by Nick Morgan

Week of mutuality has roots in the 1970s evangelical left
by David Swartz

1 Timothy 2:11-12 — Plato and Paul, Teaching Against Loud Men and Women
by J. K. Gayle

Did the Early Church Agree on Women Leaders?
by Shawna R. B. Atteberry

Shackles Shook
by Kimberley Dawn

My Failed Christian Marriage
by Pam Hogeweide

I'm a minister...and a minister's wife
by Erin Collier

Fun-House Theology
by Paula Fether

Evangelical feminism, the 1970s evangelical left, and one couple’s journey toward mutuality
by David Swartz

Building Our Houses on The Sands of Inequality
by Matt Crosslin

Pondering Mutuality/Egalitarianism
by Amanda @Wandering On Purpose

Joseph, can you take a message for your wife?
by Elizabeth Knox

Women Preach, Men Do VBS
by Jennifer Luitwieler

I don't understand 'complementarianism'
by Brambonius

The Trinity and equality
by Graham Rutter

We need mutuality
by Carlynn Jurica

Top Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained
by Mark Baker-Wright

Screaming from the Pew
by Liz Myrick

Book Review: The Resignation of Eve, Part 3 - Submission
by D.L. Webster

A different conversation
by Janet Davis

Words From the Bridge
by Jenn LeBow

Becoming Who We Are
by Diana Trautwein

Maternal Mortality, Birth Control, and What God Desires
by Rachel Marie Stone

Dear Me in 20 Years...
by Erin Thomas

5 verbs each for equality 
by kathy escobar

Why Women Shouldn't Give Up on the ETS
by Leslie Keeney

The two sides of Adam
by Marshall Janzen

Complementarianism is not "counter-culture."
by Brian LePort

Of Gods and Godheads
by Dianna

may I introduce logic to emotions?
by Kristen Nielsen

Acts of Confession Part 2: Gender equality and the Minister's wife
by Hannah Starkey

The Egalitarian and Complementarian Divide
by Allison

Why I Am Egalitarian
by Jonathan Aigner

Is the feminist issue really a slippery slope? 
by Bethany Sundstrom

#1 enemy of Mutuality
by Rachael Robeson

Why I'm Not a Complementarian: By One Guy Who Should Be
by Scott Peterson

Encouraging Women to Attend This Year's ETS Part 1
by Amanda MacInnis

"Counter-cultural" isn't enough
by Jon Rogers

Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: How the Bible Supports Mutuality
by Renea McKenzie

Gender in the Church: Step Out of Line, Ladies
by Kristin Richardson

Man Vs. Wife - How we resolved our differing views on our roles in marriage
by Stephanie Pease

What IS God's dream for his world?
by Carolyn Arends

The Profound Tragety of Titanic Virtue
by James

The Community of Acts 4:32-35: An Inspiration for Equality Today
by Trevar J Simmons

Female Modesty, Sexuality and Autonomy: The Conversation Christians Need to Have
by Emily Leedham

Embracing Mutual Submission: A Study in Humility
by Rachel Leonard

"Who are you?"
by Elizabeth Korver-Glenn

When Men Rule
by Jason Dye

Egali-Comple-What?: A Post on Mutuality
by Annie W.

What I love about Egalitarians and why am not one
by Gabriel Stice

Melania the Elder
by Suzanne McCarthy

Hierarchy: what is it good for?
by Pam Elmore


Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

Guest Post: When Men and Women Ministered Together as Equals…in the Early Church

In our efforts to restore the equality of women in the Church, it’s so important to honor and thank those men who have consistently championed mutuality, using their influence and gifts to advance the partnership between men and women as we work together for the Kingdom.  In evangelical circles, I think of Scot McKnight, Ben Witherington, Frank Viola, Gordon Fee, Jon Ortberg, Roger Olson, John Stackhouse, Brian McLaren, and many more, including my friend, Ed Cyzewski. 

Ed is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and is the co-author of the forthcoming book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus (Due out in August 2012). He shares his imperfect and sometimes sarcastic perspective on following Jesus on his blog, In A Mirror Dimly In one of the coolest, most affirming series on the Web, Ed has invited women to share their experiences in ministry—the good, the bad, and the ugly—in a series of guest posts entitled Women in Ministry series. If you haven’t had the chance to read through some of those, do yourself a favor and check them out.  I’ve always believed that the purpose of building a platform is to share it. And Ed has modeled that for me, and for so many other readers, in a beautiful and life-giving way.  Today I’m returning the favor. Hope you enjoy this guest post on Priscilla and Aquilla as much as I did!



Have you ever heard of the Apostle Peter’s wife? No? 

We know he had a wife. However, we know nothing about her, save that Paul seemed a little put out that Peter could travel with his wife and enjoy financial support for the two of them while he had to sew tents all day. We have no record of Peter’s wife preaching, teaching, organizing a potluck, or running the first nursery in Jerusalem. 

While we know nothing about Peter’s wife, we know quite a bit, comparatively, about Priscilla, as in the wife of Aquila. 

Do you know how many times we hear about Aquila by himself? Zero. 

Of the seven times we read about Priscilla and her husband, her name is listed first five times. 

In a male-dominated culture where patriarchy defined the Jewish culture of guys like Paul, this is worth noting. It’s likely that Priscilla came to mind first when people thought of Priscilla and Aquila. 

However, the point of mentioning Priscilla and Aquila (let’s call them P and A) isn’t to debate whether one is superior to the other. The point is that P and A formed a ministry powerhouse that not only kept up with a stone-dodging, beast-fighting hoss like Paul. They routinely emerged as leading characters at key points in the growth of the early church, first converting Apollos and then hosting a church in the pivotal city of Ephesus. 

These are critically important accomplishments. (In fact, even if a lot of Calvinists prefer that women don’t teach in their churches, they have to admit that any woman chosen to work with Paul and to teach Apollos SHOULD be the dream woman of every male Calvinist. Come on guys, admit it!)

Getting back to the importance of P and A…

Ephesus was a major port city, religious hot house (remember “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”?), and cultural center back in their time (with a lecture hall AND a library for crying out loud.). Having a healthy church there was critical. 

In addition, Apollos not only dominated the Jewish leaders of his day, he was in much higher demand than Paul himself—a notion that may strike some evangelicals today as sinful. The way Luke describes his conversion makes it sound like schooling Apollos was a typical Saturday afternoon for team P and A.

So here’s the highlight reel for P and A:

• When God needed someone to assist his top missionary, he tapped P and A. 

• When God needed someone to straighten out his top preacher, he tapped P and A again. 

• When God needed a home for a church in a major city, he flashed the P and A light in the sky. They pulled up their tent-making business and moved in. 

P and A show us a wife and husband working together as equals, even if Priscilla sometimes came to mind first. Regardless, they shared the work of ministry. They’re always mentioned together, while just about every other male minister in the New Testament is mentioned without any reference to a wife, let alone a wife equally sharing in the ministry. 

We don’t have many details about P and A. To many of us, they’re just footnotes in the bigger stories about Paul, Peter, John, and Barnabas. However, at critical moments in the advancement of the Gospel, this woman and man suited up in their spiritual armor, jumped into ministry, and lugged the Kingdom of God forward into hostile settings. 

Women have historically had a vital role in the ministry of the church. For exhibit A, see Priscilla. Women didn’t start ministering because of the modern feminist’s movement. Priscilla risked her life for the Gospel long before women risked their lives to obtain the right to own property or to vote.

There’s no doubt that many women today are following in Priscilla’s footsteps. Some serve equally alongside their husbands, while others sense God’s calling for themselves and pursue it faithfully. These women often hear criticism and proof texts from the church. Sometimes the criticism can be hateful and mean-spirited, as if these women are stealing the Bible or surrounding churches with land mines and barbed wire. 

I don’t know what exactly is behind some of the anger and criticism Christians sometimes direct at women in ministry. I suppose some critics are trying to stop women from “sinning.” Others may fear that the Bible falls apart for them if 1 Corinthians 14 or 1 Timothy 2 are read alongside the stories of Deborah, Huldah, and Junia (I’ll just add that I’m not interested in debating this here, but encourage complementarians to read NT Wright on this topic and to lodge complaints with him). The fear and anger of some may even suggest that they worry women will “rise up” and displace men in the church. Sometimes even women attack fellow women who speak about their ministry calling.

If there’s one thing the story of P and A teaches, it’s that a wife and husband can equally share a ministry in a healthy, God-honoring way. Paul didn’t bat an eye writing about them both ministering together, even if his eyes were pretty gross. 

We don’t know the details of how P and A worked together in their ministry. Perhaps it’s better that way. Heaven knows we’d probably try to create a strict husband and wife ministry manual if Luke told us the details. 

It’s enough to know that P and A risked their lives for the Gospel together, taught people together, hosted a church in their home, and set out on missionary journeys together. Neither of them owned the ministry. Aquila wasn’t the husband of a church planter, and Priscilla wasn’t the wife of a missionary. 

They were both ministers in the early church used mightily by God regardless of gender. 

To the surprise of some and possibly the chagrin of others, it worked.


Check out Ed’s blog
Check out Ed’s awesome Women in Ministry series
Find Ed on Twitter. 


This is the tenth post in our series, One In Christ: A Week of Mutuality, dedicated to discussing an egalitarian view of gender—including relevant biblical texts and practical applications. The goal is to show how scripture, tradition, reason, and experience all support a posture of equality toward women, one that favors mutuality rather than hierarchy, in the home, Church, and society. You can read the rest of the posts here.

To participate in the Week of Mutuality synchroblog: 

1.  Write a post around the theme of mutuality in the Church, home, and world. 
2. Share your post on Twitter using #mutuality2012, and it will show up in the live scroll here on the blog.

3. To be considered for Mutuality Week’s Sunday Superlatives, submit your post here


Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.