Female Subordination Challenge -- By: Gilbert Bilezikian

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 18:1 (Winter 2004)
Article: Female Subordination Challenge
Author: Gilbert Bilezikian

Female Subordination Challenge

Gilbert Bilezikian

Gilbert Bilezikian is professor emeritus of biblical studies at Wheaton College (IL) and cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. He is the author of many books including Beyond Sex Roles and Community 101. This article is on CBE’s Web site at www.cbeinternational.org.

Proponents of female subordination are asked to prove their case from the Bible.

Presented here is the last of ten challenges being printed in Prscilla Papers to prompt Christians to grapple with biblical facts rather than accepting without question traditional assumptions about female roles and following blindly institutionalized mis-readings of Scripture.

The Facts

The organization of the Christian community is never described as a gender-based hierarchy in the Scriptures. To the contrary, it is the doctrine of the community of oneness that sets the norm (Matt. 19:4-6; John 17:11, 20-23; Acts 4:32; Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 4:4-6; etc.).

The practical implementation of this oneness is summarized in Galatians 3:28: racial distinctions (Jew/Greek), class distinctions (slave/free), and the gender distinction (male/female) are declared irrelevant to the functioning of Christian communities. The compelling mandate for this radical restructuring of community is given as: “for you are all one in Christ.”

Proponents of female subordination often insist that this oneness, which transcends race, class and gender differences, is limited to the inclusion of new believers in the community through justification and baptism (Gal. 3:24-27, 28; 1 Cor. 12:13). However, Scripture prohibits limiting the principle of non-discrimination taught throughout the New Testament merely to entrance of converts into the community.

The New Testament emphatically declares that the same oneness, which transcends differences of race and class and gender as a condition for entering the church, is also the driving force that energizes the constituency of the local church into the performance of its ministries. This oneness pertains to the functional life of the body (Rom. 12:4-5). The same oneness sustains the corporate use of all the spiritual gifts invested in it by the Spirit for the performance of the minis...

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