Christians for Biblical Equality

The Biblical ideal is the spiritual and social equality of the sexes.


Scripture has at various times and places been read as promoting the spiritual and social equality of the sexes.  ‘Evangelical’ women of the 1800s found in scripture a foundation for their call for the suffrage of woman and greater security for women in terms of property and child custody rights.  The rise of scholarly feminist exegesis since the 1980s, however, has begun seriously to question whether the Bible has anything positive to contribute on the matter of equality of the sexes.  Instead of ‘allies’, Biblical writers like Luke and Paul have been seen as complicit in the subjugation of women.

Principles of narrative criticism may offer a canonically respectful way to revisit the idea that the Bible encourages spiritual and social equality of the sexes. As illustration of how such re-examination might proceed, this paper describes and applies some of these general principles to Luke-Acts and provides a detailed exegetical example from Acts 21:1-14, a passage which includes the ‘silence’ of Philip’s four prophetic daughters.


The recent Pulitzer Prize winning book, Half the Sky, suggests that ideas have profound consequences. The idea that females are less valuable than males has not only led to an indifference to their abuse and suffering worldwide, but gender prejudice has itself fueled the global abuse of girls and women. Yet there is a redemptive, irrepressible truth this book points to. It’s called the “Girl Effect.” What does this mean?

The “Girl Effect” is a phenomenon noted by relief organizations that when you educate a female, or invest in her business, she in turns shares the benefits with her family and wider community. Some organizations are now suggesting that the most powerful means of growing a community’s welfare is by investing in the lives of its females. Scripture tells us that woman was created to be a strong helper, or in Hebrew, ezer (Genesis 2:18). The “Girl Effect” noted at the creation of woman is a truth often overlooked.

Mimi Haddad

President CBE International

For several decades evangelicals have wrestled with the issue of gender roles, including marital submission. Thus, the
question arises: Do we really need another article on marital submission? An evaluation of the current evangelical literature
in fact reveals that very much and very little has been written.
In terms of sheer volume, hundreds of books and numerous ministries address the subject of marital submission; in that
way much has been written.2 But a closer inspection of the literature and a careful assessment of contemporary culture
reveal that very little has been written which addresses the parameters of marital submission in terms of the specific issues
that are increasingly confronting Christian women.

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JETS 50/3 (September 2007) 573–94


Steven R. Tracy*
A 'complementarian' looks at the connection between wife abuse and
teaching on the subordination of women.

i. Introduction: The Significance of the Issue
In spite of significant attention given to the topic of domestic violence in
the United States in recent years, evidenced particularly by the Violence
Against Women’s Act enacted in 1994,1 domestic violence continues to be a
massive problem with enormous individual and societal consequences. The
scope and consequences of domestic violence are often misunderstood and
rarely addressed in the evangelical church, resulting in abuse victims and perpetrators
not receiving essential ministry. For instance, in Maricopa County
where I live, our community leaders conducted a survey of six hundred
women to improve services to battered women. Roughly 85% of the women
surveyed indicated that they were Christians; 57% attend church; 35% indicated
they had experienced physical abuse in a past relationship; and yet
only 7% felt they could confide in a church leader if they felt unsafe due to
their partner’s abuse.2 In another study of 1,000 battered women, 67% indicated
they attend church, one-third sought help from clergy, but of those
who sought help, two-thirds said their church leaders were not helpful.3 Thus
the evangelical church must begin to address this pressing problem.

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The passing of Mary Daly last week brought back memories of my graduate class in Feminism and Christianity. In 1984, I was in a class of about 20 women, all of whom were post-Christian (as they defined themselves). They were convinced that Christianity, and even Christ, had nothing good to say to them as women. I hoped at that time I might have the opportunity to present the early church and the New Testament with historical sensitivity. That goal takes shape as my new book, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians.

Daly's famous work, Beyond God the Father (1973), questioned basic Christian credal convictions. Over the next several decades, her work launched discussions in support of and against her conclusions. The arguments generated about the role of women in the ancient world and in the modern church have become perhaps even more heated. I find at least two basic sorts of works on women in the New Testament. One type of work is highly critical of the historical claims of the New Testament, and may dispute the very existence of a biblical figure such as Lydia. Other works swing to the opposite extreme by reading the biblical text and other contemporary texts through a naïve historical lens. This group does not wrestle with the challenges that the ancient sources present; they fail to interpret carefully the texts' rhetoric and to distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive statements.