Beth Barr has an important essay this week:


For more than five decades, evangelical theology has been teaching an increasingly restrictive gender hierarchy, arguing that God ordained male headship and female submission. This theology, repackaged as complementarianism in the late 1980s, even became the primary understanding of biblical teachings about women and men for denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention (which currently claims to represent almost fifteen million people) as well as conservative evangelical churches more broadly. …


I remember a provocative question once asked of me in a conversation I had with theologian Lucy Peppiatt, the Principal of Westminster Theological Center in Gloucestershire, England, and the author of Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts. “You have to consider,” she said, “where does your theology lead?” 


As I was reading the news stories about Denton Bible Church, I thought about her question to me. Where does evangelical theology lead?  Does it lead to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, as St. Paul explains in Galatians 5:22 are the fruits of a transformed life? Or does it lead to anger, fear, hate, and violence? 


I fear the evidence from too many evangelicals—who neglect to see Hagar and Sarai as victims of sexual violence and who even resist readings of Bathsheba as raped by David—suggests the latter destination rather than the former. After all, if people believe that God ordained women as less than men, it shouldn’t surprise us to see them treating women as less than men. 

It shouldn’t surprise us. But it should still horrify us. 

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Additional Commentary. . .Resources. . . Replies

  • It seems compelling that a reading of Genesis in which Adam is created first, and engaged by God first, doesn’t necessarily reflect the patriarchal order that complementarians infer. We are so accustomed to associating priority and prominence to what is first, but we must be careful not to make this hermeneutical error in Genesis – which privileges what comes last – or our exegesis may veer off course. 

    Tallety Cross in Rethinking Order in Genesis


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