“Men, Women, and Biblical Equality” is published with
permission from Christians for Biblical Equality. Endorsed by dozens of
respected Evangelical scholars, it offers a concise overview of an egalitarian
approach to biblical theology.
Men, Women, and Biblical Equality
The Bible teaches the full equality of men and women in Creation and
in Redemption (Gen 1:26-28, 2:23, 5:1-2; I Cor 11:11-12; Gal 3:13, 28,
The Bible teaches that God has revealed Himself in the totality of Scripture,
the authoritative Word of God (Matt 5:18; John 10:35; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter
1:20-21). We believe that Scripture is to be interpreted holistically
and thematically. We also recognize the necessity of making a distinction
between inspiration and interpretation: inspiration relates to the divine
impulse and control whereby the whole canonical Scripture is the Word
of God; interpretation relates to the human activity whereby we seek to
apprehend revealed truth in harmony with the totality of Scripture and
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To be truly biblical, Christians
must continually examine their faith and practice under the searchlight
1. The Bible teaches that both man and woman were created in GodÕs image,
had a direct relationship with God, and shared jointly the responsibilities
of bearing and rearing children and having dominion over the created order
2. The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and equal
partnership. The word ÒhelperÓ (ezer) used to designate woman
in Genesis 2:18 refers to God in most instances of Old Testament usage
(e.g. I Sam 7:12; Ps 121:1-2). Consequently the word conveys no implication
whatsoever of female subordination or inferiority.
3. The Bible teaches that the forming of woman from man demonstrates
the fundamental unity and equality of human beings (Gen 2:21-23). In Genesis
2:18, 20 the word ÒsuitableÓ (kenegdo) denotes equality and adequacy.
4. The Bible teaches that man and woman were co-participants in the Fall:
Adam was no less culpable than Eve (Gen 3:6; Rom 5:12-21; I Cor 15:21-22).
5. The Bible teaches that the rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from
the Fall and was therefore not a part of the original created order. Genesis
3:16 is a prediction of the effects of the Fall rather than a prescription
of GodÕs ideal order.
6. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well as
men. Through faith in Christ we all become children of God, one in Christ,
and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to racial, social,
or gender distinctives (John 1:12-13; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:26-28).
7. The Bible teaches that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came on men and
women alike. Without distinction, the Holy Spirit indwells women and men,
and sovereignly distributes gifts without preference as to gender (Acts
2:1-21; 1 Cor 12:7, 11, 14:31).
8. The Bible teaches that both women and men are called to develop their
spiritual gifts and to use them as stewards of the grace of God (1 Peter
4:10-11). Both men and women are divinely gifted and empowered to minister
to the whole Body of Christ, under His authority (Acts 1:14, 18:26, 21:9;
Rom 16:1-7, 12-13, 15; Phil 4:2-3; Col 4:15; see also Mark 15:40-41, 16:1-7;
Luke 8:1-3; John 20:17-18; compare also Old Testament examples: Judges
4:4-14, 5:7; 2 Chron 34:22-28; Prov 31:30-31; Micah 6:4).
9. The Bible teaches that, in the New Testament economy, women as well
as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions (Acts 2:17-18,
21:9; 1 Cor 11:5; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Rev 1:6, 5:10). Therefore, the few isolated
texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women must
not be interpreted simplistically and in contradiction to the rest of
Scripture, but their interpretation must take into account their relation
to the broader teaching of Scripture and their total context (1 Cor 11:2-16,
14:33-36; 1 Tim 2:9-15).
10. The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of
others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matt
20:25-28, 23:8; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:13-17; Gal 5:13; 1 Peter 5:2-3).
11. The Bible teaches that husbands and wives are heirs together of the
grace of life and that they are bound together in a relationship of mutual
submission and responsibility (1 Cor 7:3-5; Eph 5:21; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Gen
21:12). The husbandÕs function as ÒheadÓ (kephale) is to be understood
as self-giving love and service within this relationship of mutual submission
(Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7).
12. The Bible teaches that both mothers and fathers are to exercise leadership
in the nurture, training, discipline and teaching of their children (Ex
20:12; Lev 19:3; Deut 6:6-9, 21:18-21, 27:16; Prov 1:8, 6:20; Eph 6:1-4;
Col 3:20; 2 Tim 1:5; see also Luke 2:51).
1. In the church, spiritual gifts of women and men are to be recognized,
developed and used in serving and teaching ministries at all levels of
involvement: as small group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators,
ushers, communion servers, and board members, and in pastoral care, teaching,
preaching, and worship In so doing, the church will honor God as the source
of spiritual gifts. The church will also fulfill God’s mandate of stewardship
without the appalling loss to God’s kingdom that results when half of
the church’s members are excluded from positions of responsibility.
2. In the church, public recognition is to be given to both women and
men who exercise ministries of service and leadership. In so doing, the
church will model the unity and harmony that should characterize the community
of believers. In a world fractured by discrimination and segregation,
the church will dissociate itself from worldly or pagan devices designed
to make women feel inferior for being female. It will help prevent their
departure from the church or their rejection of the Christian faith.
3. In the Christian home, husband and wife are to defer to each other
in seeking to fulfill each other’s preferences, desires and aspirations.
Neither spouse is to seek to dominate the other but each is to act as
servant of the other, in humility considering the other as better than
oneself. In case of decisional deadlock they should seek resolution through
biblical methods of conflict resolution rather than by one spouse imposing
a decision upon the other. In so doing, husband and wife will help the
Christian home stand against improper use of power and authority by spouses
and will protect the home from wife and child abuse that sometimes tragically
follows a hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s “headship.”
4. In the Christian home, spouses are to learn to share the responsibilities
of leadership on the basis of gifts, expertise, and availability, with
due regard for the partner most affected by the decision under consideration.
In so doing, spouses will learn to respect their competencies and their
complementarity. This will prevent one spouse from becoming the perennial
loser, often forced to practice ingratiating or deceitful manipulation
to protect self-esteem. By establishing their marriage on a partnership
basis, the couple will protect it from joining the tide of dead or broken
marriages resulting from marital inequities.
5. In the Christian home, couples who share a lifestyle characterized
by the freedom they find in Christ will do so without experiencing feelings
of guilt or resorting to hypocrisy. They are freed to emerge from an unbiblical
“traditionalism” and can rejoice in their mutual accountability
in Christ. In so doing, they will openly express their obedience to Scripture,
will model an example for other couples in quest of freedom in Christ,
and will stand against patterns of domination and inequality sometimes
imposed upon church and family.
We believe that biblical equality as reflected in this document is true
to Scripture. We stand united in our conviction that the Bible, in its
totality, is the liberating Word that provides the most effective way
for women and men to exercise the gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit
and thus to serve God.
W. Ward Gasque
Stanley N. Gundry
Gretchen Gaebelein Hull
Catherine Clark Kroeger
Jo Anne Lyon
Miriam Adeney, Astri T. Anfindsen, Timothy Paul Allen, James Alsdurf,
Phyllis Alsdurf, John E. Anderson, Patricia W. Anderson, Carl E. Armerding,
Myron S. Augsburger, Raymond Bakke, Sandra Bauer, James Beck, Virginia
L. Beck, Elizabeth Bell, Roy D. Bell, David G. Benner, Gordon C. Bennett,
Joyce R. Berggren, Char Binkley, Sandra Bostian, Mark A. Brewer, Bettie
Ann Brigham, D. Stuart Briscoe, Kathleen K. Brogan, James A. Brooks, Beth
E. Brown, H. Marie Brown, F. F. Bruce, Cheever C. Buckbee, David H. Burr,
Donald P. Buteyn, Anthony Campolo, Linda Cannell, Daniel R. Chamberlain,
Caroline L. Cherry, Jack M. Chisholm, Gerald Christmas, Rosemary Christmas,
David K. Clark, Shirley Close, Bonnidell Clouse, Robert G. Clouse, David
W. Clowney, Naomi C. Cole, Mark O. Coleman, Jim Conway, Sally Conway,
Kaye V. Cook-Kollars, C. S. Cowles, R. Byron Crozier, Peter H. Davids,
Edward R. Dayton, Paul H. De Vries, Sidney De Waal, J. Jey Deifell, Jr.,
John R. Dellenback, Mary Jane Dellenback, Gary W. Demarest, Dolores Dunnett,
Walter Dunnett, Charlotte Dyck, James F. Engel, C. Stephen Evans, Colleen
Townsend Evans, Louis Evans, Gabriel Fackre, Gordon D. Fee, John Fischer,
Patrice Fischer, David B. Fletcher, Joan D. Flikkema, David A. Fraser,
Nils C. Friberg, Donn M. Gaebelein, Kevin Giles, Alfred A. Glenn, Barbara
R. Glenn, Arthur A. Goetze, Tita V. Gordovez, Lillian V. Grissen, H. James
Groen, Vernon Grounds, Darrell L. Guder, Lee M. Haines, Robin Haines,
Richard C. Halverson, Sandra Hart, Stephen A. Hayner, Jo Ellen Heil, Betty
C. Henderson, Robert T. Henderson, John J. Herzog, Bartlett L. Hess, I.
John Hesselink, Roberta Hestenes, Janet S. Hickman, Marvin D. Hoff, Colleen
Holby, Arthur F. Holmes, Beverly Holt, Carol D. C. Howard, David Allan
Hubbard, M. Gay Hubbard, Anne Huffman, John Huffman, Philip G. Hull, Sanford
D. Hull, Richard G. Hutcheson, Jr., William J. Hybels, Vida S. Icenogle,
Dorothy Irvin, Evelyn Jensen, Alan F. Johnson, David W. Johnson, Robert
K. Johnston, Rufus Jones, Kenneth S. Kantzer, Robert D. Kettering, John
F. Kilner, Herbert V. Klem, Richard C. Kroeger, Harold E. Kurtz, Pauline
H. Kurtz, Bruce Larson, Michael R. Leming, William H. Leslie, Arthur H.
Lewis, Walter L. Liefeld, Zondra Lindblade, Helen W. Loeb, Richard N.
Longenecker, Richard F. Lovelace, Deborah Olsoe Lunde, Kenneth H. Maahs,
Faith M. Martin, James R. Mason, Alice P. Mathews, Dolores E. McCabe,
Terry McGonigal, David L. McKenna, Lois McKinney, William A. Meyer, Hazel
M. Michelson, A. Berkeley Mickelsen, Alvera Mickelsen, Eileen F. Moffett,
Samuel H. Moffett, C. Sue Moore, Edward Moore, Graham Morbey, Mary Leigh
Morbey, Elizabeth Morgan, Stephen C. Mott, Richard J. Mouw, Jeana Nieporte,
William M. Nieporte, Alvaro L. Nieves, Arnold T. Olson, Daisy M. Washburn
Osborn, LaDonna Osborn, T. L. Osborn, Grant R. Osborne, Grace Paddon,
John Paddon, Elizabeth L. Patterson, Virginia Patterson, Richard Patterson,
Jr., Philip Barton Payne, Robert W. Pazmino, Janet M. Peifer, William
J. Petersen, Richard V. Pierard, Paul E. Pierson, Carolyn Goodman Plampin,
Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Christiane Posselt, Quah Cheng Hock, Robert
V. Rakestraw, Sara Robertson, Lianne Roembke, Lydia M. Sarandan, Alvin
J. Schmidt, Richard C. Schoenert, David M. Scholer, Jeannette F. Scholer,
Robert A. Seiple, Ronald J. Sider, Lewis B. Smedes, James D. Smith III,
Paul R. Smith, P. Paul Snezek, Jr., Klyne Snodgrass, Howard A. Snyder,
Aida B. Spencer, William D. Spencer, Adele O. Sullivan, W. Nelson Thomson,
Ruth A. Tucker, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, Joseph W. Viola, Virginia G.
Viola, Emily Walther, George H. Walther, Patricia A. Ward, Timothy Weber,
Van B. Weigel, Bruce Wilson, Earle L. Wilson, H. C. Wilson, Nicholas Wolterstorff,
Linda R. Wright, Walter C. Wright, Jr., Louis H. Zbinden. (9/95)
© 1989, Christians for Biblical Equality. Permission to reproduce
the statement in its entirety can be obtained from the national office
of CBE. CHRISTIANS FOR BIBLICAL EQUALITY 122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite
218, Mpls, MN 55404-2451 Phone: (612) 872-6898 Fax: (612) 872-6891 E-mail: