Very controversial topic!
So let me begin by affirming that I believe with all my heart that men and women are completely equal in value, dignity, being both made in the image of God. Both are equally sinful and equally in need of a Savior. Women are absolutely in no way inferior to men in any way.
Here we go.
Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is the main para-church organization dedicated to putting forth an egalitarian position that sex has no bearing in determining positions of leadership, authority, and teaching in the church and family. CBE’s mission statement is the following:
CBE equips believers by affirming the biblical truth about equality and justice. Thus all believers, without regard to gender, ethnicity, and class are free and encouraged to use their God-given gifts in families, ministries, and communities.
Now the question I do not think people are wrestling with to the degree that they need to regarding this issue is: what does “equality” actually mean?
Alan Padgett writes in the article WHAT IS BIBLICAL EQUALITY? in Priscilla Papers a CBE publication regarding Biblical equality:
It is the belief that people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.
Nevertheless, the way that Dr. Padgett, and most people in CBE, is using “equality” is still never explicitly stated. Essentially, equality refers to treating people exactly the same, in an identical manner. Equality is the equal treatment of all people.
Now most people at this point would have no objections to Biblical Equality. But the exact same treatment of people is only just when people are exactly the same. It is unjust to treat a 1 year old exactly the same as 30 year old. And basically CBE, and all egalitarians, presuppose that the differences between the sexes (not gender because gender does not exist) are negligible to nonexistent.
Just take CBE’s Statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality. The only mentioned difference is biologically, as just the terms men and women are held in distinction. But moreover the egalitarian flagship verse of Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”) has consistently been used to teach that there is there no role distinctions because there are no male or female in Christ. Essentially, equality between man and female is to be had because there are basically no differences between the sexes.
But are men and women’s differences that negligible to the point of mandating full fledge equal treatment of the sexes (i.e. complete equality)?
I think not. Rather the sexes are different in many ways and therefore must be treated accordingly. Modern psychology, educational theory, sociology and biology concur. Just take a sampling of some recent books:
- Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences by Leonard Sax
- Taking Sex Differences Seriously by Steven E. Rhoads
- Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs by Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers
As Betty Friedan, fame feminist, stated “The time has come to acknowledge that women are different from men. There has to be a concept of equality that takes into account that women are the ones who have the babies.” See Time Magazine 1986 article: Are Women “Male Clones”? .
I propose that the “concept of equality that takes into account that women are the ones who have the babies” must be in terms of equity. Equity which refers to the treatment of different people treated differently in the way that they need, want, and/or deserve. Since the sexes are different they must be treated differently. Women are not men, and must never blindly be treated as such—and vice versa.
Ironically, I first learned the difference between “equality” and “equity” from a homosexual Methodist professor teaching a class on marriage (no lie!). Then, this concept was hammered by liberal professors—many of who were homosexual—after another in grad school.
The concept of equity is thoroughly Biblical. Take the parable of the talents for example (Matt. 25:14-30) or the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44; the widow was not expected to give the same amount as the rich people and was commended for giving a little of her poverty; she was treated differently because her situation was different in comparison to the rich people. The whole reality of judgment is based on differences. For example, teachers will be judged more harshly (James 3:1-2). Finally, as Jesus says in Luke 12:48:
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more
Now someone might say and ask “Now obviously the Bible teaches equity as opposed to blanket equality of people. But still, doesn’t Galatians 3:28 contradict that there are significant differences between the sexes?”
No. The context of the verse deals with unity among diverse members of the body of Christ. And clearly there are still differences in Christ because Paul in other places gives different imperatives to different groups of people (slaves versus master: Eph. 6:5-6, Titus 2:9, Col 3:22; male and females Titus 2:3-7; and so on).
The different commands in Titus presuppose male and female differences. Such distinctions are reinforced by the reality of different roles in marriage (Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-7). Moreover, distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14). Then, Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall and not the result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9). And so forth.
So CBE, Christians for Biblical Equality, is by its title a contradiction in terms. The Bible never teaches that the sexes are the same and therefore should be treated the same.
While one might say that CBE is trying to just proclaim that males and females are equal before God, they are claiming much more. Men and women are completely equal before God in value, dignity, worth, etc., because they are both made in the image of God, as they are both equally deserving of hell and in need of a Savior. I do not deny such at all. It is just that CBE and company take this reality of equality before God, state that the sexes are basically the same—except in minor difference in physiology and biology, and wrongly deduce that they must be treated exactly the same with the same roles.
The Bible is emphatic that the sexes are different not just physiologically and biologically, but in many other ways and therefore they must be treated differently. As a result, the sexes in turn have different roles based on God’s purposeful and wonderfully ordained differences. Men and women have the same value and worth before God, but with different functions and roles. And that’s like… the Trinity. Who would have thought?
So out with Biblical equality and in with Biblical equity. Jesus is for it and so am I.