Daughters and Sons

Written by Kimberly Roth : June 16, 2008

damenThen that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.
~ Sojourner Truth

I am a daughter of Eve.

I am a daughter of the woman who plucked fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because it seemed good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom (and was also kind enough to share with her husband).

I am a daughter of the curse.

I am a son of God.

Through faith, I have been clothed with Christ Jesus and am neither male nor female but Christ, Abraham’s seed, living in me through the Spirit.

I am a son of the promise.

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my spirit in those days.
~ Joel 2:28-29

Paul may not permit me to teach, he may request that I remain silent, but the LORD has promised that I will prophesy… that through the inspiration of his Spirit, I will declare and teach and mediate and communicate about what is to come… about his kingdom. Where I can do this may still be a controversy amongst the Church, but even those opposed to a woman in the pulpit have conceded to her right to wield a pen.

In the information age, a woman’s computer is her pen, and her blog is her voice.

During Shavuot, the Jewish people celebrate the revelation they received from God through the Torah. During Pentecost, Christians celebrate the revelation they receive through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God continues to reveal himself to us through the revelation of truth.

I am thankful to my sisters who allow the Spirit to inspire them, and who use their voices to share their revelations with all of us. For several years, Julie Clawson has been providing me with a comfortable space (and somewhat incessant nudge) to explore the questions already stirring in my soul regarding woman’s role in the story of the Church… though she would not know it unless she can see through her blog. More recently, Jenell Paris stirred up enough thoughts to make my head spin… in a good way.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
~ Galatians 3:26-29

Why is it that women in vocational ministry seems to be Christianity’s final frontier?

Ok, God, we can accept those Gentile believers, and we can even give up our slaves… but you can not be serious about that female thing?! Surely you’re not going to let Eve off the hook that easily. Did Jesus put you up to this? Do you have any idea how long it took us to live down that whole Deborah thing (and don’t even get me started on her friend Jael…)?

There seems to be a lot of fear surrounding what would happen if women were released to run amok in ministry, at least down here in the Bible belt. Children would be abandoned, meals would go unprepared, men would be disrespected in their own homes and left to pick up their own dirty underwear. Chaos would ensue. Theology would be twisted beyond recognition. Salvation as we know it would cease. Sunday school is one thing, but the entire Body of Christ… that’s just too much to consider.

I appreciated what Brandon O’Brien had to say in Christianity Today, pointing out that:

If Adam and Eve illustrate the essential differences between men and women, Christ highlights their essential unity. All believers are called to imitate Christ by exhibiting the same qualities; Paul makes no distinction between masculine and feminine fruits of the Spirit.

We are all called to abide in Christ, and to bear the same fruit of love and patience and kindness and self-control among each other and among a watching world, just as Christ did when he lived among us. It doesn’t much matter if women prefer to be loved and men prefer to be respected, because we’re all called to do both for one another, and encouraging women to share and lead as the Spirit directs is not going to change that.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now I ain’t got nothing more to say.

Kimberly Roth is a co-editor for the Jesus Manifesto. She over-thinks and cares way too much, so she rambles on at

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Viewing 12 Comments

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    "There seems to be a lot of fear surrounding what would happen if women were released to run amok in ministry..."

    Let them run amok, I say. Let us all run amok. We probably need a lot more amok around here anyway.

    Thanks, Kimberly.
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    Not to toot our own horn (because we have tons of examples where we have done just the opposite), but I'm proud of my denomination for being so "pro woman." The Wesleyan Church was one of the first to ordain women for vocational ministry and just this past week, we elected our first ever female General Superintendent (long overdue).

    I guess I write this in order for my sisters to take heart...we don't all think you belong in the kitchen.
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    The kitchen is a more powerful place than you might imagine. It's next to foot washing. It's nice to see more men entering into domestic ministries.
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    agreed... I'm a big fan of the kitchen. after all, that is where the communion feast is prepared!
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    So we men aren't manly enough to deal with our own dirty underwear? Sexism is a shame for the church, and for humankind in general.
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    Odd that only men have commented...

    Honestly, this is an issue I have a bit of a struggle with. I think there is an inherent tension between different parts of the Bible on the issue of women in authority, though it seems to be a difference between what was written and what was actually done. There are historical and biblical examples of women in leadership, and yet the descriptors of church leaders refer explicitly to men and Paul offers up the command of silence (though this could be a later interpolation). Perhaps some of the resistance to women in authority is based on fear, but perhaps some of it is based on theology. Maybe that theology is wrong, but then that should be demonstrated and debated.
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    Certainly there are theological issues at play here. And those have been debated A LOT. I used to be a "complementarian" because I felt constrained to be so by Scripture. In fact, I would argue that a traditional evangelical approach to Scripture always, if we're honest, leads towards complementarianism. It wasn't until I shifted in my assumption about the nature of Scripture that I was able to embrace a more egalitarian stance.
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    I'd be interested in hearing more about that shift and what specifically precipitated it.
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    nicely said. thanks.
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    It's true that there are a number of complementarian prooftexts, and these have been dealt with by many people in many ways, some more convincing than others. I don't think it's difficult to see egalitarianism as the logical outworking of the social implications of the Gospel, even if Paul did not fully develop this or even fully understand it himself. If in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female (and if this too-neatly lines up with the cultural studies trifecta of race, class, and gender, take it up with Paul), Paul seems to have spent the most of his time dealing with the first of those pairings, perhaps leaving for the church the theological (and obviously social) task of working the rest of it out. Moreover, Paul was probably no more interested in a slave revolt or women's rebellion in the wider Roman culture than he was keen on armed insurrection against the state. This does not mean we are free to recapitulate the sword, slavery, patriarchy, or any other form of coercive control in the church.

    I think there is a similarity of language by which our place as the bride of Christ (or the household of God) is a threat to the Roman paterfamilias and our place as slaves to Christ is a threat to the authority of slaveholders just as much as "Jesus is Lord" is a threat to Caesar. Some of the arguments used to defend complementarianism are eerily similar to those used to justify slavery in the antebellum South, and while of course it would be uncharitable (and inaccurate) to paint complementarians as raging patriarchalists with Confederate flags in the back windows of their pickup trucks, I think it is tenable to see in complementarianism a vestigial or residual capitulation to patriarchy, and being able to couch oppression in terms palatable enough to be able to sleep at night is a poor substitute for justice.
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    I agree that egalitarianism is the logical social implication of the Gospel, but that is not unequivocally stated in the Bible. Paul says "no Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female" but then goes on to describe the explicit requirements for leaders in 1 Timothy and Titus references only men. So this apparent implication wasn't necessarily that evident to Paul or had some degree of restriction and it kind of makes your suggestion that Paul left it up to the church to "work out the rest of it." We can't really ignore those verse just because they sound patriarchal.
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    Which is fine, really, but my point is this: neither is an anti-slavery stance unequivocally stated -- in fact, slaves are rather explicitly called to obey their masters. And yet, none of us would defend slavery on these grounds. This, to me, is a glaring inconsistency.

    I'm not suggest we ignore particular verses because they sound patriarchal; I'm suggesting that we refuse to read them as a justification for patriarchalism -- at least not any more than we read the slavery passages as a justification for slavery. If someone wants to construct a complementarian view that is not haunted by the ghosts of patriarchy, they are welcome to the task. I don't want to work that hard.

    I recently left a ministry in which I ran afoul of the church's restrictive view of women. We "agreed to disgree"; we also agreed that I should leave. I could have stayed, had I not taken a stand (the practice in question was allowing a woman to lead worship), but it occurred to me: if this were about race, I wouldn't hesitate. So I didn't.

    My tradition is very conservative, and I regularly work alongside and eat with people who do not share my proclivities or my passions on these issues. They are decent, earnest people who love God and revere the scriptures and whom I love and respect. I think they are wrong on issues of biblical justice; they think I'm weird.

    I have no desire to anathematize those who think differently. And of course I'm present my opinions -- but they are opinions about things I think are important enough to use strong rhetoric.


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