Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

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Common Misconceptions about Christian Egalitarianism

I shared the following thoughts on social media and they resonated with some people. So I’m sharing it here too. I wrote the following after hearing flawed assumptions countless times about what Christian egalitarians or mutualists believe.

I often hear the assertion that egalitarian women, like myself, want to be like men, or we want to do men’s jobs, or we want to be equal to men. But these ideas aren’t quite right.

I don’t want to be like a man; I love being a woman.
I don’t want to do a man’s job; I want to do my job.
I don’t even want to be equal to men, as such.

I don’t see egalitarianism so much as women being equal to men in terms of status, privileges, responsibilities, and opportunities; I see it primarily as people being equal as human beings (Genesis 1:26–28).

I don’t aspire to be like a man in any way. Moreover, at least some of the status, privileges, responsibilities, and opportunities that our culture and churches have assigned to only or mostly men, especially in the past, have been unhealthy and unChristlike.

Men as the norm or benchmark for humanity has certainly been part of our culture for centuries and it has affected our language and customs. But this patriarchal bent is not a Christian value and shouldn’t be part of our culture in our Christian communities.

In Christ, men do not set the standard. Jesus has done that, and we are all his siblings.

Sometimes, the Christian message of equality in the New Testament is missed because of male-centred language and customs that were part of the first-century patriarchal culture. But the message is there. (See here, for example.)

We need to lose the idea that men are the benchmark for humanity within and outside of the church, a benchmark being “a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared.”

There’s more I can say about this, but I’m keeping it short for now: overall, men are not the benchmark for humanity, especially for us who are in Christ.

Also, in case my words I misunderstood, I love and appreciate my brothers and the men in my life.

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Image Credit

Excerpt from  “Jesus washing Peter’s Feet” (1852–1856) by Ford Madox Brown (Wikimedia)

Podcast on Ephesians 5

I recently spoke with James Pruch about Ephesians 5 and Paul’s intention for marriage. We spoke about keywords such as “love,” “head,” and “submit” and about the chapter’s structure. Our hour-long conversation is on the Everyday Disciples podcast, here.
And I spoke with Lynn Cohick on her podcast Alabaster Jar about my experience as girl and grown woman seeking to serve God, here.

Explore more

The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell
Galatian 3:28: Our Identity in Christ and in the Church
The Means of Ministry: Grace, Gifts, Faith … Gender?
Jesus’ Teaching on Leadership and Community in Matthew’s Gospel
The Biblical Basis of Egalitarianism in 500 Words
My Perspective of Christian Egalitarianism
How Christian Egalitarians Understand “Equality”
Manhood and Masculinity in the ESV
Are men physically superior to women?


14 thoughts on “Common Misconceptions about Christian Egalitarianism

  1. Thank you for this insightful article.

  2. That’s great article Marg, so well stated

  3. Marg, how timely for me is your article here along with the associated links. I am in the midst of preparing to officiate my niece’s wedding and have been seeking and searching for the right words and message that will bless t he couple as your words have just blessed me. Thank you. I, too, could right a book here. But for now, blessings back!

  4. the nail is hit on the head. what pat believers think is that to open the door to egalitarianism is to let in feminism, leading to toxic fem and lgbqt ideologies. they think of it as a slippery slope. and they will do anything to “defend god’s word” such as call us rebellious, disobedient, etc.

  5. may i put the url to this article on some of my fb groups where this issue is often cussed and discussed? there is one group called ” recovering from pat/comp” that would appreciate this

    1. I’d love you to share the URL of this article on social media, Susan.

  6. I more than agree with you! I very well am aware that men and women have their own strengths. My husband and I each have our own contributions to our marriage. To believe that women should be subordinate to men is dangerous. We have studied, in our weekly Bible Study group (I’m honored to be able teach this class for fifteen years), the strong women of the Bible. There are so many examples!

  7. Very Good insight. Makes me think of Galatians 3:28. (There is neither male or female… all one in Christ Jesus). I see my wife and I as a team in our life/marriage ( I like what Connie Bausell said)

  8. Thanks for all your kind words, everyone. 🙂

  9. Appreciate you and this article Marg!!

  10. As mentioned above, this is a good article. At least it is good to those who are willing to listen.

    But I still get sad for those who want to hold onto their misconceptions. I get sad for those who want to put their fingers in their ears and say loudly, “La, la, la, can’t hear you! La, la, la.” For those who say, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

    There are so many people who have made male headship their hill to die on. And that hill just isn’t worth it.
    Glad you are still a voice of reason in that can be linked to by those of us who need it.

  11. Excellent article, however I believe that as Christians we should apply the Bible to the world we live in and not the other way around.
    Both men and women are equally capable of many things and history proves that. I also recognize that many men have abused their roles as husbands, parents, and leaders. My question to you is, do you think that they were being led by God?
    Also, Ephesians 5:22-24 is where Paul wrote that wives should submit to their husbands. It’s Paul writing, but who’s telling/guiding him to write it? Ephesians 5:25-33, Paul writes that husbands must love their wives like Jesus loved the church.
    I think the problem is that men aren’t following what God has called them to do for their wives. Husbands have a large responsibility for their families and they will have to answer God for their marriage and as parents. This is why in Genesis 3:9, God called Adam first and began the questions with him, not Eve. God placed Adam in charge of the garden and he failed to do that. They both failed.
    In marriage, no one is above anyone. God just says who’s responsible for what and who will be accountable for it.
    *Not trying to start any confrontation, but just mentioning what sometimes gets overlooked.

    1. Hi Jose, Do I think people who abused others were led by God? No, I don’t.

      Who is telling Paul to write “wives submit to your husbands”? Probably no one. Rather, Paul may have seen and/or heard that some Christian wives were placing less importance on marriage and their relationship with their husbands. We have evidence that quite a few Christian wives in the early church were abandoning their marriages altogether. (1 Corinthians 7 addresses this and similar issues.) So Paul urges the wives to remain, or to be, submissive (deferential, loyal, allied, cooperative) with their husbands.

      I see parts of the Genesis 2-3 story differently from you.

      God speaks to Adam before Eve in Genesis 3:8-13, but he speaks to Eve before Adam in Genesis 3:16-19. God speaks to the man and to the woman individually and holds each accountable for their own actions. And each will experience “sorrowful toil” (Hebrew: itstsabon) because of their own disobedience.

      God put the first human in Eden in charge of the garden. It was not good for this person to be alone, however, so God made a woman from a side taken out of this person. It’s reasonable to think, once the woman was made, that she worked side by side with the man and that they shared responsibility for the garden which was a sacred space. No other ongoing task is mentioned in Genesis 2.

      Sex and procreation don’t seem to have been part of the Eden experience. There are none of the usual Hebrew words that refer to sexual relationships in Genesis 2 like we have in Genesis 4:1, 17, and 25, for example. Nevertheless, the man and woman formed a close and exclusive bond. They were a couple. And this was later consummated.

  12. I love this! “Men are not the benchmark for humanity.” Thank you!

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