On Sunday, I shared a message addressing the question, “Is Christianity oppressive to women?” Take a listen by clicking “play” above or go here and download it. My conclusion is that, yes, sometimes Christianity has been oppressive to women and has marginalized their place and voice, but that’s not God’s intention for the decedents of Eve or how we should interpret the Bible.
Below are some resources to help you as you continue to study the subject, including some Youtube videos, books, articles, etc.
Gary Hoag’s “Why Women Must Learn in Quietness & Submission” — This is hands down one of the best summaries toward understanding Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2. This is based off of Gary’s doctoral dissertation, a significant contribution toward understanding this passage of Scripture. This is, hands down, one of the best treatments of 1 Timothy 2.
In this video, N. T. Wright, one of the most prolific theologians alive, makes a strong case for why women should be encouraged to lead in the church. You can also view his comments on 1 Timothy 2 here and read his chapter “The Biblical Case for Ordaining Women” in Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues.
Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry, by Tara Beth Leach. This is such an excellent book! Tara helps readers understand the challenges of leading as a woman and makes a great case for why women should be encouraged. This is far from a academic tome and extremely practical and fun to read.
Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry, by Michael Bird. This is an extremely practical read from a great Australian biblical scholar who is hilarious (he should moonlight as a stand up comedian). Absolutely excellent and highly recommended.
Relationshift: Changing the Conversation about Men and Women in the Church, by A. Sue Russell and Jackie Roese. This is fast becoming one of my favorite books on the subject. The authors introduce a significant focus on how women and men should relate in the church via the concept of the “brother and sister” relational lens. Super easy read with lots of great content.
Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy, edited by Gordon D. Fee. This was a landmark publication in that it responded to the biblical, theological, and practical arguments against equality and featured some of the most well-respected evangelical scholars alive (e.g., Gordon D. Fee, Linda Belleville, Craig S. Keener, I. Howard Marshall, Janette Hassey, Kevin Giles, etc.).
Paul, Women, and Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul, by Craig S. Keener. Craig is a leading New Testament scholar and professor at Asbury Seminary (whom also attends a Vineyard church). As the author of the best-selling IVP Bible Background to the New Testament, Craig specializes in understanding the context of the Bible and in this work provides helpful clues toward understanding why the Bible teaches equality in marriage and church leadership.
Junia is Not Alone, by Scot McKnight. The influence of patriarchy (male superiority) in the church led Bible translators for years to ignore the biblical truth that there was a woman apostle… Junia. In this short book, Scot provides the evidence for Junia’s ministry and why she has been overlooked.
Two Views on Women in Ministry, edited by James Beck. Featuring essays for scholars from the two views on women in ministry, this book is helpful in that each scholar is able to respond to the other’s essays and give you an opportunity to evaluate the various viewpoints.
Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians, by Kenneth E. Bailey. In order to understand how subversive to the cultural context Jesus and Paul were regarding women, these are two of the best resources available. Kenneth demonstrates that Jesus’ interaction with women was one that empowered and encouraged their participation in leadership and his work on Paul shows on the context needs to inform our application of Scripture.
The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church, by Don Williams. Don is one of the Vineyard’s preeminent theologians and has contributed numerous bible commentaries and theological works on behalf of the movement. Long before the Vineyard became convinced toward women empowerment and equality, he wrote this short book. It’s application is still profoundly helpful toward understanding the context of the Bible and the thrust of Scripture.
The Rise and Fall of Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity, by Kevin Giles. A number of years ago several scholars suggested that hierarchy and subordination could be found in the Trinity and that this should inform how we understand the relationship between men and women. In this book, Giles shares how this view is not an orthodox view and details how scholars like Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware actually admitted this and changed their view, no longer advocating such a view. This is a bit more of a popular read that Gile’s previous The Trinity and Subordinationism. For short articles on the topic, see this article and this article.
The Blue Parakeet, by Scot McKnight. A good introduction to how to interpret the Bible and how to approach the topic of women in the church. Also see Slaves, Women, & Homosexuals, by William Webb. This is a super technical book on hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) and not for the faint of heart. The author makes a strong case for why we need to take seriously the trajectory (movement) within Scripture. Definitely will cause some further dialogue!
Articles and Websites.
“Women in Leadership: How to Decide What the Bible Teaches?” by Rich Nathan. Rich is the Senior Pastor of the Vineyard Columbus and author of several best-selling books. This essay explains how he came to the conclusion that women should be encouraged to pursue leadership roles within the local church and raises many of the biblical-theological reasons to support this view (also see his shorter article on why their church supports women’s leadership).
“Happy Women’s Day: Giving Women the Same Interpretive “Freedom” as Slaves,” by Luke Geraty (yeah, that’s me). In this article I demonstrate why we need to be consistent in how we interpret the Bible. If we believe the Bible teaches that slavery is wrong, we need to come up with a really good reason why we don’t believe women can serve in church leadership as pastors. Also see my article on how I changed my mind concerning women in ministry, in the event that you are curious. I think my arguments would be a bit more refined now, but the thrust remains the same.
The Junia Project. This is one of my favorite websites. Soooooo many great articles and helpful topics can be found here that you should add them to your feed reader and spend some time reading through their work. They also have a great list of resources that you can check out in addition to this one.
Vineyard Women. This is a great resource from Vineyard women leaders and thinkers and mentors! If you want to stay up on what is happening in the realm of women in the Vineyard, this is your one-stop-shop! Plus, The absolutely fantastic Rose Swetman, Regional Leader for the Vineyard Northwest, is on the team!
Christians for Biblical Equality. This website has lots of really great articles and also an academic journal. CBE has done some excellent work to encourage women and men to work together as equal partners in the kingdom of God.
The Jesus Creed. Scot McKnight’s blog that has featured a lot of important articles concerning the role of women and how those who oppose empowering women in the church have a lot of problematic correlating issues
Resources from opposing perspectives.
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper. This is considered the major contribution defending the patriarchal position (Complementarianism). It includes essays from a large number of excellent biblical scholars and theologians and takes the opposing view represented here (i.e., women should not serve as pastors, church planters, etc.).
Men and Women: Equal Yet Different, by Alexander Strauch. This is a small book that covers the basics on why some people believe the Bible teaches that men are designed to lead and women to serve in a subordinate role.
God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, by Andreas J. Kostenberger. The author engages the topic of gender roles within the church and family. Considered another “classic” by many Complementarians, Andreas is a great NT scholar and definitely worth engaging (though I disagree with his conclusions). Also see the author’s contribution with Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 for an opposing (and unconvincing!) perspective on that passage of Scripture.
Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice, by Owen Strachan. While I have found this book to be so problematic and full of absolutely ridiculous arguments, several of my friends who hold to Complementarian views tell me it represents their perspective well.
There are other books that defend a Complementarian perspective out there, but these four will be suffice to get a feel for how that perspective (1) interprets the Bible, (2) does theology, and (3) engages in the pastoral challenges.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.