Discovering Biblical Equality presents a Scripturally-founded case for the complementarity of the sexes outside hierarchal gender roles. These 29 essays represent both a positive explanation and thoughtful defense of Biblical gender equality, fostering dialogue within the greater evangelical movement on a topic that touches the lives of all believers.
Discussions surrounding the roles of men and women – whether in the church, the home or society at large – never seem to end, often generating more heat than light. Such debate is still important, though, because this issue directly affects every member of Christ's body. What we believe the Bible teaches on these matters shapes nearly all we do in the church. In addition, these questions deserve further thought and reflection because neither side has won the day.
In an effort to further discussion, Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis (general editors), with the aid of Gordon D. Fee (contributing editor), have assembled a distinguished array of twenty-six evangelical scholars firmly committed to the authority of Scripture to explore the whole range of issues – historical, biblical, theological, hermeneutical and practical. While dispelling many of the myths surrounding biblical equality, they offer a sound, reasoned case that affirms the complementarity of the sexes without requiring a hierarchy of roles.
Here is a fresh, positive defense of biblical equality that is at once scholarly and practical, irenic and yet spirited, up-to-date and cognizant of opposing positions.
“There is nothing in this first chapter to suggest anything other than an equality of male and female created together in the image of God.” (Page 82)
“Is the equality, or oneness, of the three pairs—Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female—to be limited to the justifying work of Christ alone, or does it include other aspects of life in the believing community as well?” (Page 172)
“Rather, it is to observe that marriage achieves a reunion of what God had divided in the creation of the woman. That is, by using the flesh of the man to create the woman, God created a division that is restored when the two become one flesh again. Thus the woman was taken from the man’s body when God created her and the man reunites the two when he joins with her in marriage.” (Page 88)
“Why were the Ephesian women doing this? One explanation is that they were influenced by the cult of Artemis, in which the female was exalted and considered superior to the male.” (Page 219)
“While there is a spectrum of views on this topic, the most fundamental divide is over one basic question: Are there any aspects of leadership denied to women and reserved for men strictly on the basis of what one cannot change, one’s gender? Many of those who answer yes prefer to be called ‘complementarians’ because they believe that the differences between men and women—differences which, in their view, empower men and restrict women in certain ways—are complementary. Yet this term must be challenged because egalitarians also believe in gender complementarity—but complementarity without hierarchy. How, then, should we speak of the differing views?” (Page 15)
While [Discovering Biblical Equality’s] essays seek to promote the egalitarian point of view and to critique the hierarchical point of view, they do so with charity and respect, and work to promote dialogue, all the while encouraging all to celebrate God-given gender complementarity.
—Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
Ronald W. Pierce (Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of biblical studies and theology in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (La Mirada, California), and author of Old Testament Interactive, a computer learning program for Old Testament survey classes.
Rebecca Merrill Groothuis is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Women Caught in the Conflict: The Culture War Between Traditionalism and Feminism and Good News for Women: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality.
Gordon D. Fee (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is professor emeritus of New Testament studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has written several books and commentaries, including Listening to the Spirit in the Text, God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors and commentaries on 1 Corinthians and Philippians (NICNT) and the Pastoral Epistles (NIBC).