Women And Other Creatures -- By: Joe E. Trull
PP 13:2 (Spring 1999) p. 3
Women And Other Creatures
The Gender Debate 1
Joe E. Trull has served as a Baptist Pastor for nearly twenty years and is Professor of Ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently on sabbatical.
In the early 1800s, Texas was frontier territory. As one historian noted, settlers believed “Indians were to be killed, African Americans were to be enslaved, and Hispanics were to be avoided.” In the 1830s these “Texicans” built a Baptist church at Independence that had two doors: one for white males and the other for “women and other creatures.”2
The status of “women and other creatures” has been a topic of constant debate ever since the woman ate the forbidden fruit and the man blamed her and God for the consequences (Gen 3:9-12).
The devaluation of females has been a recurring episode in every generation. In the nineteenth century, however, a reversal of the trend began. The American feminist movement, closely related to the abolitionist movement, was directed almost exclusively by women who were basically Christian in their religious outlook. The main opposition to the feminist movement also came from religious groups, primarily male clergy who used the Bible to support their disagreement.
In the twentieth century, equality for women has moved toward becoming a reality. The current debate among evangelical Christians concerning gender issues focuses on three major areas: the history of female roles, the interpretation of biblical passages, and the appropriate ministry for women in the church. Two distinct camps have emerged within the church—Christian feminism (“biblical egalitarians”) and traditionalism (“complementarians”).
The Debate About History
The approach of the church toward women’s roles has too often been to adopt the views of society as the “biblical” stance. One cultural viewpoint toward gender roles has been constant: the subordination of women to male authority.3
The debate about history has focused on the record of gender roles in the past. Traditionalists insist that from the beginning, God ordained separate functions for male and female. According to this paradigm, the husband works outside the home to provide financial support, while the wife attends to the household and the children. In the “traditional” family, the wife is dependent on her husband not only financially, but also for identity and social status. A career outside the home for a fema...
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