I have debated for a long time (read: years) writing a post about why I am an egalitarian (i.e., I believe women and men are equal and should be able to have the same roles in the church and the home) as opposed to a complementarian (i.e., those who believe men and women have separate roles and that women should submit to men's leadership in the church and the home). I have hesitated for many reasons: (1) I am afraid of offending people; (2) I can't adequately put into words all that I think and feel about this topic; and (3) I'm ashamed that this is even still an issue in the church.
But, I can no longer resist writing about this topic. This week, Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorite bloggers, is doing a series called "One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality," which aims to make a case for egalitarianism based on Scripture, reason, and tradition. It has been incredible. I highly recommend the whole series, but particularly these posts:
4 Common Misconceptions about Egalitarianism
Dan [Rachel's husband] on Roles, Leadership, and Supporting Your Partner
Who's Who among Biblical Women Leaders
For the Sake of the Gospel, Let Women Speak
I realize that I am biased, as I already believed in Rachel's position before reading her posts, but I truly believe she makes a logical, Scripture-based argument for the equality of women and men in the home and church (and other areas of society, although this does not seem to be contested by most evangelicals). I don't think I can add much to the series, as she's said everything I would say (and more), but with much more eloquence. I will make one point, though:
I have often heard the following sentiment expressed by church-goers: We know women should be allowed to have the same roles as men, but we can't change our practices because we don't want to offend our members who believe differently. I believe there is a huge flaw in this line of reasoning. It assumes that there are two options: (1) continue on the current path and some people might be inconvenienced but not hurt or (2) change paths and hurt a lot of people. There is no recognition of the fact that the church's current practices are hurting women now. To let a practice we know is harmful continue just to avoid offending someone is wrong. I have been convicted by this series that I need to renew my efforts to encourage positive change in the church tradition I'm part of. And, I've been reminded that there are many other like-minded Christians out there, which is incredibly encouraging.