Why we have to make a better case for gender equality in the Church

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Sadly, today The Church of England general synod voted against appointing women as bishops. Granted, there are female bishops in the Episcopal Church here in the U.S., but a blow to our sisters in the UK still feels like a blow to us all. 

As I listened to the arguments online this morning, (late afternoon in the UK), I was struck by how few—on either side—appealed to Scripture to make their case. I couldn’t help but wonder what the apostle Junia would think of all of this!

I believe, with every ounce of my being, that patriarchy is a manifestation of a fallen, broken world and that a new creation in which “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for all are one in Christ Jesus” began at the resurrection, an event first announced to the world by women. I believe that while the apostle Paul instructed some women not to teach, he encouraged others to prophesy, teach, and lead, and so we have to look at the epistles in their totality and in their context rather than lifting a few verses out to restrict women from preaching the gospel. 

Today was just a reminder that there’s a lot of work to be done. I know that votes like these can make Christian women feel like less-than, but I believe, deep in my bones, that things will get better for women in the Church. And to those clergywomen who continue to serve tirelessly everyday--thank you. 

If you’re interested, here are some links to our Mutuality 2012 Series, which explores the topic--and some of its relevant biblical texts--more thoroughly: 

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

And you can always check out A Year of Biblical Womanhood for a creative examination of what the Bible  says about women.

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