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Christians for Biblical Equality

You can appeal to the Bible and be dead wrong; you can even justify what is evil and sinful.
(This paper was a talk given orally at a CBE meeting in Melbourne, the slavery part based on what I say in my book, The Trinity and Subordinationism (on the subordination of the Son, women and slaves). The ‘reflections’ section at the end was added in the light of the discussion that followed. It is not a polished work ready for publication.)
Kevin Giles

Our “complementarian” opponents are absolutely convinced that what they teach on the man-woman relationship is what the Bible teaches. To reject their teaching, they tell us confidently, is to reject the Bible, and because the Bible is literally God’s words, this means it is to disobey God himself. One Sydney theologian told me publicly, after I had given a lecture outlining the CBE position, “You reject what Scripture plainly teaches. Those who disobey God, go to hell”.

We Australian evangelical Anglicans face some weighty opponents: the archbishop of Sydney and his predecessors, the current principal of Moore Theological College and his predecessors, most of the staff of Moore College, and in the United States, Don Carson, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware and almost every lecturer in the five large Southern Baptist seminaries.

When faced with such weighty opposition, it is very helpful to note that we find exactly the same dogmatic, vehement opinion voiced by the best of Reformed theologians in regard to slavery in the 19th century and Apartheid in the 20th century. They too appealed to the Bible with huge confidence, claiming that it unambiguously supported slavery and Apartheid. However today virtually all evangelicals say they were mistaken in their understanding of the Bible, that the Bible condemns slavery and Apartheid, and that these things are not pleasing to God!

Let me now tell this story in a bit more detail.

Responding to violence against women as a health issue -

Fiona Burgemeister is a health professional with more than 20 years’ experience as a senior public health administrator in Australia and the United Kingdom. She has had responsibility for the development and implementation of policies, guidelines and programs at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria for preventing and responding to violence against women. Fiona and her family attend St Hilary’s Anglican Church in Kew.

Violence against women is often seen as a criminal justice or social issue.  It is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in women aged 15 to 44 years old, and thus is also a major health issue requiring appropriate health sector responses.

This workshop will provide an overview of gender inequity in health and demonstrate the role of women’s health services in addressing these inequities, using specific examples from the Royal Women’s  Hospital.  The workshop will also seek to demonstrate how the health sector’s experiences can inform the development of effective measures by church organisations to respond appropriately to violence against women. 

Here is the PPT from this workshop

The most important text on the relationship of the sexes in the whole Bible, Genesis 1-3.

In discussing what the Bible teaches on men and women no text in the whole Bible is more important than Genesis chapters 1–3. Here God creates man and woman as the apex of his creative work and sets them in an idyllic world where everything is good. Tragically, however, the Devil enters and both the man and the woman fall into sin and as a consequence are banished from the Garden. All Christian theologians see this story as foundational to the whole Bible. It tells us that God made the world ‘good’, but the sin of man and woman destroyed their good relationship with God, each other and with the creation itself. It thus explains why a saviour and a ‘new creation’ are needed. The story is given in two forms. In Genesis chapter one in grand poetic language God creates everything in six days with the apex of his creative work coming in the creation of man and woman who are said to be ‘made in God’s image and likeness’. Chapters 2-3 give a different account of the beginning, this time in picturesque narrative form with a number of scenes. In the so called ‘second creation story’, after the earth is created Adam appears first and then God provides for him water, vegetation, animals and a partner in woman.

Here is an article recently published in Christianity Today

Popular Christian psychologist Larry Crabb has a new book out, Fully Alive, with the subtitle "A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes." Though I haven't read the book, I did read his recent Christianity Today interview about it, and I can tell that this new book (his 41st) contains more of what has earned Crabb the respect and popularity of a large audience.

The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and the argument that the eternal subordination in authority of the Son is the ground for the permanent subordination of women in authority. Giles
See Kevin Giles, The Trinity and Subordinationism: the Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate, InterVarsity, 2002; Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Trinity, Zondervan, 2006.
The debate
I am sure that most of you are aware that today one of the most commonly heard arguments in evangelical and charismatic circles for the permanent subordination of women is the Trinity argument. It goes like this: In the Trinity the Father has authority over the Son and this is a model for the man-woman relationship. Divine life in heaven prescribes how men and women should be ordered on earth. It is often put this way: in heaven the Father is head over the Son and on earth men are head over women, at least in the home and the church.

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