My daughter grows within my wife’s womb while I dream of the day when she will enter her soon-to-be world. What kind of world and church will she enter?
The church and world habitually silences women. Although the West is becoming (slowly) more egalitarian, the reality is that men dominate in many ways. Several studies, for instance, demonstrate that there are less women in high level jobs and that they often get paid less money than their male counterparts. In the church, most denominations fail to recognize that the Scriptures point toward mutuality in leadership (both in the home and church), not a sort of archaic practical patriarchy.
When it comes to this issue for Christians, we don’t appeal to mere “progress” as though we need to “get with the times” (as N.T. Wright has been quick to point out), but rather, search the Scriptures in their historical, redemptive, and theological context to come to this conclusion. Women and men, although created uniquely, have no distinction when it comes to leadership in the Body of Christ. There is neither male nor female for all are one in Christ (Gal. 3.27-28).
The result of a planet dominated by Men is a world characterized by coercion. Men use their strength coupled with their fallenness to conquer and destroy. Be it evidenced by – the rise and fall of ancient empires, the institution of slavery, the subjugation of women, the genocide of the Native Americans, the various wars of the USA, the continual horror of rape, the social Darwinism of unregulated markets, or the glorification of the warrior – a world dominated by Men leads to various forms of evil. This isn’t to say that we should think of gender as closed categories stereotyped traits, after all these were in some ways created by a male dominated system. But, we ought to recognize the evidence: a world where Men rule is violent.
Unfortunately, various branches of the Church have been complicit in many of the violent acts listed above. The evangelical Right often venerates free markets and militancy and the church prior to the Reformation acted horrifically at times. Our barbaric hands are dirty.
Things are getting better in some situations. Denominations and institutions are moving toward mutuality. Even in the Roman Catholic tradition, we see a group of holy dissenters pushing toward the ordination of women! Slowly and I hope surely, women are being liberated to live into their full potential for the Kingdom of God.
I’m a first time “soon-to-be dad.” My first child is a daughter who we are expecting near the end of April. My dream for her is that she would be liberated as she discovers her life empowered by the Spirit of Christ and would thereby be unleashed upon the world for greatness. So much of the world has yet to be touched by vibrant Christian women who take their innate gifts and develop them without hindrance. By no means do I want to unintentionally set the bar high for her and unconsciously impose my male will on her (when it comes to big picture goals), but rather I desire to be the sort of dad who creates the spaces necessary for her to develop her imagination, to see the world as a place loaded with possibilities!
God is on a mission and my daughter will be invited into divine partnership for the sake of her soon-to-be world. The world needs more liberated daughters who are told from the earliest age that they can literally become whoever they sense God leading them to be. When we fail to cultivate such a consciousness within our daughters (and those within the scope of influence as Christian leaders/pastors) the world suffers for it. So many young girls have been silenced by traditions that constantly tell them “no,” when in fact, in Christ they only should be hearing a resounding “YES!” I pray for the grace to help guide my daughter toward her full liberation in Christ for the sake of God’s mission to the world to bring restoration and healing to all things.
- Check out: Liberating Women for Ministry? (A Series on Women and Leadership in the Scriptures)
 I’m not intending to speak to the issue of discipline in this article. Certainly all children need to hear “no” when they are doing things that harm themselves or others, etc.