by Rachel Elizabeth Asproth, “Biblical Equality 101,” 8/31/16.
I’d like to correct some of the most common false assumptions about egalitarian theology. I hear these a lot, but they’re simply not true.
1. Egalitarians don’t respect Scripture.
It’s time to debunk the notion that egalitarians do not uphold the authority of Scripture. That we do not have a wild, reverent love for the Good Book.
Egalitarianism is an interpretation of Scripture. So is complementarianism. And when we interpret Scripture, we do it with the millstone of bias around our necks, the same millstone the skewed the interpretations of Augustine, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, CS Lewis, Óscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Sojourner Truth, Aimee Semple McPherson, and every Christian who has ever lived. Even these giants of the Christian faith could not escape the challenge of reading their experiences, preferences, and fears back into the Bible.
It’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re uniquely objective, able to separate our worldview from the way we read the Bible. That we alone see the bigger picture. That Scripture is clear. But we’ve been wading into the Word for centuries and we’re still in over our heads.
That’s okay. God is a lot bigger than our bias. And he sent the Holy Spirit to help us tread water.
But here’s what’s not fair. It’s not fair to assume that egalitarians do not love and respect Scripture. That we don’t live and breathe the gospel. That we’re playing fast and loose with God’s Word.
Because we’re not. Egalitarians believe in the authority of Scripture. We think the Good Book is, well, good. But we also know that the Bible was written by imperfect people, in an imperfect time, in an imperfect culture. Our hermeneutic acknowledges that reality.
2. Egalitarians are wishful thinkers when it comes to the Bible.
Egalitarians are often accused of capitulating to culture. We want the Bible to agree with our so-called “social justice agenda,” so we force it. We ignore the “clear Scripture” (that has been debated, interpreted, and reinterpreted for thousands of years), and go with what feels right.
This is just not true. The Bible is the tale of a liberator God. It’s the story of a God who chooses women, reconciles races, and denounces prejudice, injustice, and inequality. The leather bindings of our Bibles can’t begin to contain a God who is making all things radically new. A God who leaps off the pages to reconcile all things to himself, including the collective sin of patriarchy.
The Bible is the story of a God who died on a tree so that the invisible could be visible. Jesus demonstrated a radical preoccupation with the least of these, which culminated at the cross. He built his life around relationships with those society deemed unworthy, ill-equipped, and “other.” And that’s what egalitarians see in the text.
We don’t have to wish for a God who will liberate the oppressed, eat with the “least of these,” and raise up the rejected and marginalized. Our God is that God already. The church is just scrambling to catch up.