The Biblical Case of Egalitarianism | Magazine Features

At the heart of Christian egalitarianism is the belief that our personal qualities and talents largely determine our activities at home and in the Church. Egalitarians do not impose restrictions or privileges on the basis of sex alone.

Before the Fall, men and women shared authority, responsibility and purpose (Genesis 1:26-28). There is sex differentiation (male and female) in Genesis 1-2, but no role differentiation. The main message of Genesis 2:18-25 is that the woman was vital and similar to Adam, who was alone and needed help.

Male dominance is given as a consequence of sin (Genesis 3:16). But after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and after Pentecost, there is again the potential for the true unity and mutuality between the sexes that we find at the beginning of creation.

In the Greek New Testament, all the verses that refer to the gifts of ministry, including the gifts of teaching and leadership, give no indication that certain ministries are reserved for men (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12 :7-11, 27-28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Peter 4:10-12; Romans 15:14; 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Colossians 3:16).

The few New Testament verses that limit women were given for specific reasons, to specific women, or to specific churches that were having trouble. In 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, Paul silenced three groups of speakers in Corinth, not just women, who had questions that could wait until they got home. He ends this passage by encouraging an orderly and uplifting ministry without mentioning gender.

In 1 Timothy 2:8-15 he spoke of the bad behavior of some men and women in Ephesus. These two passages are not the apostle’s general teaching on ministry and should not be taken as such.

Paul valued women and used the same terms—co-worker, diakonos (minister), apostle, and worker—for his male and female associates in ministry. Nowhere in the New Testament are husbands told to unilaterally rule or give authority over their wives. I believe that families, congregations and societies work best when men and women are partners who share responsibilities together.

Amanda P. Whitten