The equality and value of women continues to surge as a topic in headlines and hashtags. Merriam-Webster dubbed "feminism" its word of the year in 2017, and in December 2017, CNN published a commentary forecasting 2018 as "the year of women." The article, written by the founder of feminist.com, Marianne Schnall, cites several factors among those pushing the "women's movement" forward, including the explosion of sexual harassment reports and efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Consequently, Christian women find themselves stuck in the proverbial middle, condemning the predatory actions of sexual abusers like recently convicted USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, but fighting vehemently the public funding and legality of abortion on demand.
It can be difficult, then as a Christian woman, to know when the voices demanding something in the name of justice and equality for women are friend or foe. When do we join the chorus of voices and when do we discern that the movement for which they seek advocates is born of counter-Christian thought?
Some of the voices are the same voices who have lent their lungs to abortion rights and homosexual marriage legislation. Whatever they may say about church, theology and God should be taken with a canister of salt. If we don't agree with the precepts that allow them to arrive at pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage conclusions, we must know that those same precepts have likely influenced their thoughts in other areas.
Other voices may be less subversive. Perhaps they have simply joined a bandwagon of what sounds good and even ethically expedient. Pro-woman, pro-justice, pro-equality — all of these are for something. Yet, it's what lies below PR-friendly nomenclature that matters. If pro-woman means pro-her-right-to-choose-to-abort-her-baby, then I'd decline to be a part of that group. After all, pro-woman is not really for women when it promotes the extermination of female babies.
What we believe about women must be based upon one thing — what God through Scripture, says about women. We cannot trust the top tweet of the day, the most popular blogger or even a Bible study teacher if what they say is not rooted in and consistent with Scripture. Scripture is our true north — our gold standard (2 Timothy 3:16).
We can know these things to be true about women, based on what we read in God's inspired, infallible, inerrant Word:
1. God loves and values women. Genesis tells us God created two genders -- male and female. John tells us Christ died for the sins of the whole world. Whole is all. All includes females.
2. God employs women in His work. The Bible is full of examples of women being used of God to accomplish His purposes. God speaks specifically to women throughout the Bible to give them guidance in how to follow and serve Him well.
3. God defines women's roles in regard to the home and church. In His infinite wisdom, which the Bible tells us is far higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8,9), God has set a structure for men and women. As creator it is God's prerogative to assign roles to His creation, and for that reason alone, the assignments are good. It is not our job to consider whether we agree with the roles, think they are practical or support them as the best way to accomplish the spread of the Gospel or the care of souls. We are simply to follow His instructions and apply His set principles as purely as we can.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I am enrolled in the master of theological studies degree, holds these beliefs and bears them out in the classroom and community. No evangelical seminary has a program with more women faculty devoted specifically to the training of women than Southwestern, where six female Ph.D.-holding professors invest their time solely equipping women. Clearly, women are valued at Southwestern, just as they are in Scripture.*
Some in the broader evangelical community contend that women should be permitted to serve as pastors and to teach men instead of being relegated to teach "lesser" groups of women and children. What a sad remark. The very people who work so hard supposedly to promote the value of women, in one comment, strip from them that value by saying it is a less important task to teach a woman or child than a man.
I am honored to learn from professors — both male and female — who not only value all persons in regard to who is worthy of time and instruction, but who also value the veracity of Scripture. God's Word is not a suggestion. It is authoritative. It is not oppressive. It is inspiring.
God cares more for women than any pro-woman advocate possibly could, and He demonstrated that love by sending His Son to die on the cross for every single one of them (Romans 5:8). And spreading the word of that kind of sacrificial love — that's a movement I can get behind.
*This article first appeared in Baptist Press, Feb. 5, 2018. At the time of publication, Southwestern Seminary had six women faculty members devoted solely to teaching women. According to the seminary's website, women's programs now includes three faculty members.