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- Biblical Egalitarianism

Equal and different. Not equal but different. No “buts”…

Biblical Slavery - click this link to learn how Christians explain the slavery spoken of in scripture. We need not be ashamed of God's word, instead we should study it reveal it's truth.

Original Design Vs Fallen Patriarchy

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Gen. 2:18-24 (A suitable helper does not equate to a subordinate position as God himself was a “helper” to Israel. The woman came from the side of the man. This is indicating that the woman is not under the man, but an equal at his side.)

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Gen. 3:16 (The man is prophesied to rule over the woman as part of her curse. This was a result of the fall, not the ideal for redemption. And most importantly, it reveals that if this occurred as a result of the fall, then it was not this way in God’s original creation or design.)

Redemptive Ideal

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:26-28 (The redemptive ideal is in Christ, and there is no hierarchy. This is Paul teaching universal doctrine for the church age. But we will see that Paul is not always teaching universal doctrine. At times in some of his letters he is speaking to specific situations and to a specific culture.)

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Prov. 31:10-30 (We see the value in a noble wife. We see this wife "selling" with "earnings" and "profit." She carries herself with strength and dignity. She manages the household and is not idle. However this text does not necessitate particular gender roles just because this particular noble woman is taking care of the affairs of the household.)

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (In Jewish tradition, to sit at the feet of a Rabbi to listen and learn of his teaching was to be in training to be a teacher as well. It’s not just significant that Mary was permitted to learn, but also be in training to teach.)

Does Head Mean Hierarchy?

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God. 1 Cor. 11:1-16 (“In the Lord” indicates a the ideal which is that all come from God. Paul is actual speaking against the created order theory. “Head” can be a reference to source, not necessarily authority.)

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph 4:15-16

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Col. 1:18-20

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Col. 2:18-19

Head means source, origin, or nurturer for growth not authority.
1Cor. 11:10 Paul actually uses the Greek word for authority.

1Cor. 10:23-33 gives context. It speaks of our freedom in Christ and not to cause anyone to stumble. So we know Paul isn’t going to suddenly switch gears and preach legalism. He’s speaking to behavior that will accommodate the 1st century culture and not offend others and cause them to stumble.

Submission Is NOT Subordination/Hierarchy 

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 (Interestingly, this verse and the verses that proceed it reveal that submission/subjection is not the same as subordination/hierarchy. It is about serving one another with humility. In this way, we can understand what it means for a wife to submit to her husband. But not only that, also how a husband should submit to his wife, and how elders can be submitted/subjected to children. If we make it about subordination/hierarchy, then it doesn’t at all make sense for a husband to submit to his wife, let alone elders to submit to children.)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Eph. 5:21-33 (Too much is made about the difference in wording between the command toward husbands versus the command towards wives. But vs21 say for both of them to submit to each other. Vs21 is often ignored or glossed over. Submission according to 1Peter 5:5 is servitude with humility, not subordination or hierarchy. Also the husband being the “head” of the wife does not necessitate authority...)

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1Peter 3:1-7 (Chapter 2 context is talking about slaves submitting to their masters regardless whether they are being treat good or bad. This simply means to serve with humility, not to just go along with anything and accept abuse. Then it moves from slaves, to wives submitting to their husbands in the same way. But let’s not leave out the husbands. They are too are to treat the wive “in the same way.” Should not husbands also serve their wives with humility? Also, what is meant by the “weaker partner?” This is not referring to physical weakness, but societal weakness in that patriarchy positions women below men. But Paul says they are fellow heirs.)

Can Women Lead Men In The Church Or Home?

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 1 Cor. 14:34-35 (These 2 verses are placed right in the middle of the context of orderly worship regarding tongues and spiritual gifts. The Cessationist must conclude that this command is not relevant outside the 1st century. We all must consider a context which is unknown to us. Paul could be speaking to a specific situation with women disrupting service. It’s not necessary to assume that Paul is teaching universal doctrine for the church age.)

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.1 Tim. 2:11-14 (Are women more gullible and naive than men because Eve was deceived and not Adam? Is this why they are to be quiet in church and not be in positions of authority over men? Paul even appeals to the order of creation in Adam being created first, then Eve. This is not a necessary understanding of this text. 1st women are not more gullible or naive than men. Unknown context can easily account for this passage. It’s been suggested that Paul is countering influence from a female dominated goddess cult of Diana/Artemis in Ephesus. He is putting these specific women in the church in their place. It’s not universal doctrine for the church age.)

Can Women Be Elders?

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:5-9 (1st, it can be debated whether Paul is teaching universal doctrine or giving wise advise to a local situation from which we can also draw wisdom from. There is also a patriarchal background to consider to which Paul is speaking to if he truly intended to mean that it should only be men that can be elders.)

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 3:1-13 (Noted is the male emphasis. But from an egalitarian perspective, there are a few important points. 1st is the patriarchal background of society in which Paul is speaking into. 2nd is the mention of women in the middle of this text. Is Paul speaking about church leadership in regards to men, but no longer speaking of church leadership when mentioning women, and then back to church leadership again? Or is Paul including women in this discussion? 3rd point is that deacons are also mentioned in terms of men only, but we know for a fact that there were women deaconesses.)

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Rom. 16:1-2 (Phoebe was a female deacon. And Paul supposedly only spoke in terms of males being deacons. It seems that is not actually what Paul had in mind.)

Artemis The Great Goddess of Ephesus And The World

A big part of the context of many of Paul’s letters was not just the patriarchal background of society, but also the Greco-Roman paganism in Ephesus, Corinth, and throughout the provinces of Asia and the world. During the 1st century, Ephesus housed one of the great temples of the ancient world known as the Temple of Artemis. It was so prominent that it is mentioned in the book of Acts, which highlights its significance.

About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Acts 19:23-35

So in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, imagine how this impacts the intent and context to which Paul is writing to these people about. Paul’s letters to Timothy also regarded Ephesus. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians 
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