Head Over Heels: A Theology of Leadership in Christian Marriage -- By: Elaine A. Heath

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 20:4 (Autumn 2006)
Article: Head Over Heels: A Theology of Leadership in Christian Marriage
Author: Elaine A. Heath


Head Over Heels:
A Theology of Leadership in Christian Marriage

Elaine A. Heath

ELAINE A. HEATH (Ph.D., Duquesne University) is the director of the Center for Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. She also serves as an elder in the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.

A personal note of thanks to CBE

I have been a member of Christians for Biblical Equality for nearly two decades, and I am honored to write this article to help celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Priscilla Papers. I am an example of a woman whose life has been profoundly shaped by the ministries of CBE, from the time I first perceived my call to ministry, up until now.

The first step that led me to CBE was reading Aída Besançon Spencer’s book, Beyond the Curse.1 It was my introduction to an egalitarian hermeneutic of Scripture, my first taste of scholarship that was liberating for women and men while upholding evangelical commitments to Scripture. At the time I read this book I knew God had called me to ordained ministry and academic ministry, but with only a high school diploma and membership in a church that forbade women from serving on the church board, the obstacles seemed insurmountable. Yet the call came to me again and again. I finally said yes to God.

Not long afterward, I wrote to Dr. Spencer to ask her about my dilemma, mailing my letter to the publisher. After several weeks, to my great joy a letter arrived, hand written and filled with loving encouragement. Among other gems of wisdom, Dr. Spencer encouraged me to join CBE, for I would find many resources there to assist in my journey into ministry. She was right.

With the books, articles, tapes, and conferences offered by CBE, I increasingly gained the understanding I needed, as well as the beginning of a supportive network, so that I could answer the call to ministry. I went on to complete three degrees, culminating in a Ph.D. in systematic theology. Today I am an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, and I am a professor at Perkins School of Theology. CBE has been an integral part of my journey every step of the way.

The following article expresses my theology of leadership in Christian marriage. I write as a Christian theologian, an ordained clergywoman, a wife, and a mother. I write from my social location as an Anglo, middle-aged, middle-class, American woman. I write as someone who has endured much in order to answer God’s call, no small amount of it coming from those who would silence and subjugate women in the name of God. (I would gladly do it again, for God’s sake.) I write with gratitude for the faith...

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