Tag: Egalitarianism

Who is Carrying the Burden?

Who is Carrying the Burden?

This reflection is based on the Men Engage article (13 April 2020): “Let us not be blind to the gendered impact of COVID-19, written by Mpiwa Mangwiro.

Maria Holtsberg, humanitarian and disaster risk advisor at UN Women Asia and Pacific has been quoted as saying: “Crisis always exacerbates gender inequality. ” During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are observing this very thing. As more countries go into lockdown women take on more of the responsibility to care in a disproportionate way. Physical distancing with its #stayhome includes the banning of social gatherings in order to reduce infections and flatten the curve.

As such, schools, colleges and universities are closed. Who cares for these children? More often than not, the burden falls on women to attend to their personal hygiene, homework, cleaning, meals, washing and ironing as well as ensuring that precautionary measures are adhered to in order to reduce the spread of the virus. In poor communities where there is no running water, it is often the women who fetch and carry water. Added to this is the responsibility of caring for someone in the family that may fall sick which more often than not becomes the sole duty of women. During this period of lockdown think about and discuss gender equality within your own families, work and communities. Below are some questions to consider:

  • Are expected gender roles still workable and applicable today?
  • Compare your grandparents’ society with society today. What has changed?
  • What could be the consequences of spreading the burden of care at home?
  • Is there a disconnect between what we say we believe in and what how we actually live our lives?
  • How could women’s perspective bring positive change in the workplace? What can we learn from the Scriptures?

Read, pray, meditate and discuss. Then go do. Philippians 2:4 Everyone should look out not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of others. Galatians 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.

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Five Myths of Male Headship

Five Myths of Male Headship

The Evangelical myths of “male headship” teach that men have some sort of authority over women in the Church, community, and home, but the Bible itself does not give men an over arching authority over women.
Written by: Kate Wallace

I sat down across the table from her. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was excited to catch up. She was a youth pastor, one of those with an obvious call on her life for ministry.But as I looked into her eyes, I could see she was worn out. She explained to me that she had been having some problems with her boss. She told me that every time she had a disagreement with him, he would tell her that she had a problem with “male headship in the Church”.I sat there, shocked that a pastor would know so little about headship in the Church, that he would use it to get his way with his employees. I think I blurted out my response before she had finished her sentence:“Yes! You should have a problem with male headship in the Church!” We took the rest of our lunch to talk through the theological error this man had fallen into.I have to admit, since that conversation I have been on high alert for every mention of “male headship” in Evangelical churches. I have heard it in many different contexts, and every single time it was used to elevate men over women – in the family, in marriage, in the Church.It occurred to me that although Evangelicals are known for diving into scripture and analyzing it word for word, we have failed to do this with “headship” in scripture. Someone tells us it is synonymous with “authority” and we leave it at that – no word study, no look at context, no observing original language.This has led to 5 myths about “male headship” that have weeded their way into our theology. Although I am far from being the first to write about this, my hope is that this post will help bring false thinking to light and challenge us to dig a little deeper.

Myth #1 – Male Headship in the Church

The Bible never teaches that there is “male headship” in the Church. Yup, you heard me right. Now, the Bible does talk about headship in the Church. But do you know who takes that position? That’s right – Christ.According to the Bible, Christ and Christ alone is the head of the Church. Men are never given that spot. In fact, to insist on male headship in the Church would be to place men in the spot of Christ, and that verges on heresy.Sometimes people use the language of “headship” when they are actually talking about leadership in the Church. This usually stems from a specific interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, a verse that never mentions headship. This is actually a different theological topic all together. The confusion of the two topics can lead to significant false teaching.

Myth #2 – Man as the Head of the Household

Did you know that the Bible never says that the man is the head of the household? That phrase is so common in our culture, and even though some of us assume it is taken out of scripture, it’s just not in there. So what does the Bible say?There are two places in scripture that refer to a husband’s headship: Ephesians 5.23 & 1 Corinthians 11.3. When you read them, you see that these verses are specifically speaking to the marriage relationship between a husband and a wife. They do not say that all men are the heads of all women. They also do not say that men are the heads of Christian communities.You will also notice that neither one says that the husband is the “head of the house”. In fact, the only thing the husband is called the “head of” is the wife.So what does it mean for a husband to be the head of the wife? Some believe it has to do with leadership, but…

Myth #3 Headship as Leadership

Did you know that the Bible never says that the husband is to “lead” the wife? People who teach this are actually giving their own interpretation of scriptures that talk about the “headship” of the husband. They are assuming that the Greek word for “head” means “leader”. This is a common assumption because in the English language, “head” can be synonymous with “leader”. But not all languages equate “head” with “leadership”.French, for example, is one language in which their word for “head” has no connotation whatsoever with “leadership”. Interestingly, Greek is another language that does not commonly equate leadership with headship. In Greek, headship can mean “source”, as in the “headwaters of a river” (1 Corinthians 11.3 seems to be an example of this, considering verses 11 & 12 of that chapter). The meaning of “head” in Greek is usually a metaphorical one, which can be understood through context of the specific passage.If we read these passages without bringing our Western, English understanding of the word “head” into them, they look pretty different. But then how can we figure out what “husband headship” means in scripture? The second part of that verse holds a huge clue.“The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church…”If we want to understand “husband headship,” then we must understand Christ’s headship of the Church. So, how is Christ the head of the Church?Christ’s “headship” in relation to the Church is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament:

  1. Colossians 1:18 – Christ is metaphorical head of the Church, source of life after death
  2. Colossians 2. 18-19 – Christ as metaphorical head of the Church, to help her flourish
  3. Ephesians 5.23 & 25 – Christ as metaphorical head of the Church, saving her, loving her, giving himself up for her
  4. Ephesians 1:20-23 – Church is metaphorical body of Christ, Christ provides for Church’s growth
  5. Ephesians 4:15-16 – Church is metaphorical body of Christ, Christ equips the Church for growth through love

How is Christ’s headship of the Church described?

  • Giving abundant life
  • Helping her flourish
  • Saving her
  • Loving her
  • Giving himself for her/dying for her

What don’t we see in these passages?

  • authority over
  • leadership
  • decision making
  • rulership

Many other times when Christ is called the “head” of something, Scripture adds language to explain that he is also in authority over that thing. This “authority over” language is missing in every single instance of Christ being the head of the Church. Christ’s headship of the Church has nothing to do with leadership or authority, but with love, sacrifice, death, and giving of life. Likewise, a husband’s “headship” of his wife would refer only to giving himself up for her, sacrificing for her, to give her a flourishing life.For clarity’s sake… Was Christ a leader? – Yes. Is Christ the ruling Son of God seated on the throne? – Yes. Are those the traits of Christ that husbands are called to mimic as “heads” of their wives? – No.This is a servant role, not a leadership one.

Myth #4 Headship as Decision Making

Fun fact: scripture does not give husbands any sort of decision-making authority over their wives. In fact, the only scripture that addresses decision making in the husband-wife relationship instructs them to make that decision together equally (1 Corinthians 7.1-6).Let me say this one more time, because I think it’s important – The only spot in scripture that explicitly addresses decision making in a marriage calls the husband and wife to make that decision together equally.Scripture doesn’t give the husband a “trump card” in decision making. He doesn’t get the final say, according to the Bible. If we follow the example scripture sets, husbands and wives would make decisions together, through prayer.

Myth #5 Headship as Being in the Driver’s Seat

Too many times have I heard people equate a husband’s “headship” to authority because “someone has to drive the car”. Guess what? Marriage is not a car. Marriage is a covenant relationship. Plus, you can always pull over and switch drivers.While there were no cars at the time the Bible was written, interestingly there is a vehicular example in the Bible of what two people coming together in this covenant relationship should look like – two oxen, equally yoked, pulling a cart or a plow. They must be equal, or the cart will be pulled off course.In the scriptural example, we are not the drivers of the marriage at all. We are the oxen. The oxen do not decide where the cart goes – the farmer does. We put in the effort to make it work, and God decides where He will take it, and what He will use it for.Men don’t belong in the drivers seat. Neither do women. God does. Remember, we are called to live differently.


The Evangelical myths of “male headship” teach that men have some sort of authority over women in the Church, community, and home. I believe the prominence of these myths stems from a failure to study the topic thoroughly. The Bible itself does not give men an over arching authority over women. In fact, it tells us that a husband is to show his wife the life-giving sacrifice Christ showed to the Church.The world favors men. The Bible tells Christ followers to favor others – husbands to their wives, wives to their husbands, believers to one another. In this way, everyone is sacrificially loving and being loved. Egalitarians speak to this in their theology of mutual submission.My youth pastor friend made a great observation during our lunch together. “If Christ followers are generally called to self-sacrifice, servanthood, and humility, this grasping for male authority doesn’t seem to fit.”As Christians, we are not called to exert authority over people. We are instructed to love, serve, and lay down our authority as Christ did.In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Phil.2:5-8

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I Didn’t Choose to Become an Egalitarian

I Didn’t Choose to Become an Egalitarian

What makes you an egalitarian, and when do you become one?

Written by: Carrie Fernandez

I’m a southern girl, the middle child, one of three daughters in my family of five.

My daddy gloried in raising up three, strong-willed women. He taught us early on to assert ourselves, with frequent reminders to never let anyone walk all over us, to stand up for ourselves because we mattered. He believed we could do anything we set our minds to, challenging us and giving his all as he raced us around the go-cart track, pushing us to play our best during family basketball games, never taking it easy because we were girls. I admired my dad and longed for his approval, and there was never a moment from my childhood, adolescence, or adulthood when I didn’t receive it. When meeting others, he introduced my sisters and me with the pride of an Olympian, placing his arm around our shoulders and smiling down on us, his three gold medals.

Was it then I became an Egalitarian?

Did my dad’s ability to see beyond my gender to my soul shape my views on my place in the world? Did I subconsciously apply the complete, direct access I enjoyed to my dad’s love as his daughter to my Father God’s love, as well? (Ephesians 2:18)

Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, I was surrounded daily by the beauty of God’s creation. Long hikes up steep trails to the top of Grandfather Mountain left me panting and sweating, breathless from the exertion of the climb. Standing triumphant at the peak, I tried to catch my breath again as the bigness of God’s creation left me in state of speechless awe.

Was it then I became an Egalitarian?

Did observing the beauty of God’s creation remind me of my own beauty? Did standing among the peaks of towering mountains help me realize my prominence in the eyes of God? (Matthew 10:31)

As a literature major in college, I read about strong, heroic, female protagonists. Through Jane Eyre’s self-assertion and independence during the Victorian era in Jane Eyre and Scout Finch’s rebellion against gender stereotypes of the 1930’s in To Kill a Mockingbird, I found myself relating on a deep level to each character’s trials and frustrations. I identified with their desires to simply be who they were born to be during time periods when societal expectations limited women and stifled their natural desires to participate fully in a patriarchal world.

Was it then I became an Egalitarian?

Did the ever-present struggle for equality which permeates many classical and modern works of literature help me better understand my own internal desire to assert myself in every arena of my life? Did the tenacious spirits of Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Jo March in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women remind me so much of myself that I began to feel less alone and marginalized in my desires for liberty?

After a failed marriage, I recommitted my life to a man who loves and accepts me for me. Standing together on a scorching day in July, I vowed to love him, to cherish him, and to remain faithful and true forever; I did not, however, vow to obey him. He didn’t want me to make a promise of obedience any more than I did. From the beginning of our relationship, we have assumed equal roles as partners, never bartering out expectations on things like submission or assigning man-made roles and titles like spiritual leader and headship. My husband doesn’t expect me to shrink smaller, quiet my voice, or climb down a few notches on a patriarchal spiritual ladder to prove to others we are engaging in a Biblical marriage. We have naturally partnered in every facet of our parenting and marriage, each of us submitting to Christ’s will, losing ourselves, not for each other, but for Christ only and always. Our marriage reflects the true beauty of partnership in that we recognize the value of sometimes allowing the other person to lead. It’s an ebb and flow; it’s fluid, organic, and free. When I’m down, I relinquish the reigns for a while, trusting in where my husband will lead. I fall back for a bit and take refuge in his shadow; when I’m well and my strength has returned, I step out of his shelter and back into the void by his side. When life becomes too much and he needs a respite from the demands of his life roles, he knows he can do the same. After those breaks, those rests, we resume our walk together, side-by-side, hand-in-hand, partners until the end.

Was it then I became an Egalitarian?

Did falling in love with someone who values and respects the very character traits which fuel others’ perceptions of me as a failed example of Biblical womanhood reaffirm my equal value as a daughter of God? Did marrying a man who fosters my freedom within our marriage further verify my complete freedom in Christ? (2 Corinthians 3:17)

In April of 2007, I had my son. I never knew love like the love I felt when I held his squirming, slippery body against my own, his tiny wails piercing my heart, causing an ache so deep I thought it might explode. During the three years when my son was the only child, I learned a lot about love, particularly the love of a parent. Parental love is fierce, incessant, and all-consuming. Having my daughter taught me it’s also without bias and without hierarchy. When I stared through my tears at my daughter’s blurry, beautiful face in March of 2010, the love I experienced was equal to that of her brother. An identical space opened in my heart where my love for her grows with the same fervour as my love for my son; it’s just as fierce, just as incessant, just as consuming. I have a son and a daughter, but like my dad, I see past their genders to their souls. I see each as a part of my husband and me, a creation purposed from the same union of love. Each is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Each is gifted with talents capable of changing the world (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6). Each is a child of God, created in the same image and with the same love (Genesis 5: 1-2).

Is this how I became an Egalitarian?

Does my inability to imagine and expect less of my daughter further my understanding of a fair and just God? Does observing the equality of my own love for my son and daughter affirm the equitable love of our Creator for all of His children? Galatians 3:28

I’m an egalitarian.

Looking back, I can’t pinpoint the specific moment in time when I assumed the title. Perhaps that moment doesn’t even exist. I think for me, the evolution of my spiritual journey has resulted in a faith which denotes all aspects of egalitarianism. For as long as I can remember, that still small voice has spoken softly affirmations of my worth. Through the unconditional, unbiased love of my dad, the Holy Spirit whispered, “You are loved” (John 3:16). Standing breathless at the top of Grandfather Mountain, the Holy Spirit murmured, “I have purposed you in my heart” (Isaiah 64:8). Partnering with my husband as a spiritual leader in our home, God assures, “Bring me my son and my daughter. The fruit of your labour is good” (Isaiah 43:6). Seeing each of my children as God’s image-bearers, equally powerful and important and free, I hear the sigh of the Holy Spirit, “Yes, yes, this is right. This is truth. Carry on, child of mine, carry on” (Matthew 28: 18-20).

So I do. So I will.
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