My Perspective of Christian Egalitarianism

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18 NRSV) 

I hold to an ideology called Christian Egalitarianism.  Some people know it as “Biblical Equality” or “Mutuality”. I’ve come across comments from a few people which indicate that some have a mistaken view of the egalitarian ideology. So I’ve written this post to briefly explain my perspective of what Christian Egalitarians believe.*

Egalitarians believe that all Christians, both men and women, are (or should be) completely equal in status in the home, in the church, and in society. The basis of this equality is that we are all made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28), and, as his redeemed people, we have all been adopted as sons of God with all the rights, freedoms, and privileges that come with being a son of God.

Furthermore:

~We believe that Jesus is just as much the Saviour and role model for women as for men, and that becoming conformed to his image is the ultimate goal for all Christians regardless of gender (Rom. 8:29). 

~ We understand that all Christians are part of the New Creation and we should be embodying New Creation values (2 Cor. 5:16-17).

~ We believe each follower of Jesus has been gifted by the Holy Spirit, who gives his ministry gifts and abilities without apparent regard for gender (Acts 2:17-18; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 27-28; Eph. 4:11-12; Heb. 2:4; 1 Pet. 4:9-11).

~ We believe that Jesus’ teaching on relationships need to be taken more seriously than seems to be the case at present in the church, and we take Paul’s words in Galatians 3:26-28 as both a theological and sociological statement.

~ We do not believe that some Christians have a higher status, or have greater rights, freedoms, or privileges than others because of their sex (or race, for that matter), but that is not to say that egalitarians think that men and women are the same. We don’t.

~ Christian Egalitarians believe it is who we are, including our personal qualities and abilities (our natural talents, spiritual gifts, and other aptitudes) that largely determine our different roles and ministries in the home, church, and society, rather than just our sex.

~ As well as recognising that men and women are different, Egalitarians also recognise that not all men are leaders (which is what some Christians believe and teach.) Moreover we acknowledge that the New Testament does not teach that men are the priests, or the spiritual authorities, or the leaders, while women are none of these things.

~ Christian Egalitarians believe that men and women complement each other, and we do this without a gender hierarchy. We are non-hierarchical complementarians. We do not place restrictions or disqualifications on women based on gender alone, and we do not grant licence and privileges to men based on gender alone.

~ Men and women are not the same, but neither are men all the same as each other, or women all the same as each other. We are all different, and we are all equal in the body of Christ. Equality in the body means that there is no place for elitism, or ranks, or patriarchy, or any kind of hierarchy. Rather we all are to love one another, mutually submit to one another, and serve one another. These relationship dynamics are the New Creation ideals of our new life in Christ. These dynamics tie in with Jesus’ warning against notions of power, prestige, and primacy among his own followers, and with his teachings that in his kingdom the humble are exalted, the lowly are the greatest, and the last are first.

~ We see in the Scriptures that, while the qualifications for the Old Testament, Levitical priesthood were all physical, the qualifications for New Covenant ministry in the church are moral and spiritual, and so we do not bar godly, gifted women from any ministry role, including leadership roles.

~ Christian Egalitarians have a high view of Scripture. We treasure the Bible and value its unique inspiration and authority.

~ We believe that numerous Bible verses, especially New Testament verses, when they are faithfully interpreted, show that equality between men and women is God’s ideal for his people. For example: Gen. 1:26-28, 2:20-23, 5:1-2, 21:12; Matt. 20:25-28, 23:8-9, 28:10; Mark 10:42-45; several passages in Luke including the use of “gender pairs“; John 1:12-13, 13:13-17; Acts 1:14, 2:17-18, 18:26; 21:9; Rom. 8:14-17, 16:1-7, 12-13, 15; Phil. 4:2-3; Col. 4:15; 1 Cor. 7:3-5, 11:11-12; 12:4ff; 2 Cor. 3:18, 5:16-17; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 5:21ff; 1 Pet. 2:9-10, 4:10-11; 2 John 1:1ff; Rev. 1:6, 5:9-10; etc.

~ We believe that the few New Testament verses which appear to limit the roles of women were given for specific reasons (e.g. so that the word of God would not be maligned among pagans), to specific women (e.g. young idle widows), and to specific churches which were experiencing specific problems (heresy in Ephesus and rowdy church services in Corinth).

~ We do not regard a wife’s submission to her own husband as a “role”, let alone her primary role. Rather, being submissive, just like being kind, is a way of relating, with mutual submission being the ideal (Eph. 5:21).

 ~ Finally, we believe that, generally speaking, families function better when they are led by both parents, and that church communities function better, and are more effective in gospel ministry, when they are led by both women and men who are free to function according to their strengths and abilities.

This is a brief overview of my beliefs and my observations of the beliefs of fellow Christians Egalitarians. There are many articles on this website where I go into more depth and detail about what the Bible teaches concerning the equality of men and women in Christian marriage and ministry. See links below for a small sample of these articles, or click on a relevant category on the side bar.

For more information, the statement of faith of Christians for Biblical Equality* is here. Their statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality, which is available in many languages, is here.

*Disclaimer: While I have done my best to present what I think is a consensus of the views held by Christian Egalitarians, I do not speak for everyone who calls themselves a Christian Egalitarian, or for any organisation, in this post.


Related Articles

Jesus’ Teaching on Leadership and Community in Matthew’s Gospel
Beauty, Marriage, Motherhood, and Ministry
Equality and Unity in Ministry – 1 Corinthians 12
Leading Together in the Home
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
Many women leaders in the Bible had one this one thing in common
Gender Division Divides the Church
The Holy Spirit and Equality in Acts
“Equality” in Paul’s Letters

Image Credit: Transformed © Marian Trinidad (creationswap)