Post-1970s Evangelical Responses to the Emancipation of Women -- By: Kevin Giles
PP 20:4 (Autumn 2006) p. 46
Post-1970s Evangelical Responses to the
Emancipation of Women
KEVIN GILES (Th.D., Australian College of Theology) is vicar of St. Michael’s Church (Anglican) in North Carlton, Australia. He has also served as a minister and consulting theologian for World Vision Australia. He is the author of many books and articles, including The Trinity and Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2002) and Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity (Zondervan, 2006).
I was very pleasantly surprised and honored when Mimi Haddad asked me to serve as guest co-editor of the twentieth anniversary edition of Priscilla Papers. Though I have been writing on the emancipation of women in the life of the church and the home for thirty years.1 My unchanging goal has been to contribute to the development of a coherent, holistically biblical theology of the sexes that grants to men and women the same dignity and the same freedom to use God-given gifts of leadership. This biblical theology conceives of marriage as a partnership in self-giving agape love, yet never forgets that God has made us men and women to complement and enrich each other’s lives.
In what follows I outline the alternative theologies that have emerged among evangelicals since the 1970s when women’s emancipation changed the world forever. In the late 1960s in the Western world, one of the most momentous social and intellectual revolutions in human history erupted: women’s liberation. It has transformed nearly every aspect of modern life. This revolution had its roots in the nineteenth century,2 although it was only in the second half of the twentieth century that all the ingredients for this revolution emerged.
Four things came together to throw open the door for change. First of all came the education of women. Educational opportunities for women had been increasing from the 1850s, but it was only in the 1960s that women started completing high school and entering universities in large numbers. Their academic achievements demonstrated that they did not lack intelligence as men had claimed for long ages. Second came the “Pill.” For the first time in human history, women were able to determine if and when they would have children. Educated and freed from the uncertainty of pregnancy, women entered the workforce in growing numbers. Their employment was the third ingredient that made women’s emancipation possible. From this followed the fourth ingredient. Women could now financially support themselves. With the distinctive contribution they made as women in the workplace a...
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