I’ve gotten many emails about my call for schism over the role of women in the church, in addition to all of the public posts and tweets that you can see yourselves. Among the emails is this one, posted with permission, from Shirley Taylor. Shirley is the head of Baptist Women for Equality and the author of Dethroning Male Headship. She partners with the Center for Biblical Equality and blogs about these issues at bWe. Because there isn’t a Baptist church anywhere near her in Texas that allows women to lead, she and her husband attend their local Methodist church, where she reports that they have been “welcomed with love and acceptance.”
Here’s what she wrote to me:
Equality will not happen by osmosis.
The only way equality for Christian women can happen is through a deliberate, concentrated, dedicated plan. A plan devised by women and men who have a fire in their belly for equality.
1. Bookstores. Contact bookstores such as Faith Village and Cokesbury (also others) and request that they have a classification for Gender Equality (or egalitarian) listed in their line-up of books. Currently these bookstores do not have a special listing for books relating to Gender Equality, making it hard to find books on biblical female equality in the church.
Ask these bookstores to be proactive in gender equality by carrying books, old and new, that are eqalitarian in nature. This includes Egalitarian Leadership and Egalitarian Marriage (known as collaborative marriage by marriage counselors).
2. Egalitarian Marriage Seminars. Male Headship teaching seminars are held frequently, but rarely do we find a marriage seminar that is for egalitarian leadership. This is a vacuum that needs to be filled. There are actually few materials available for such a seminar, and this, too, needs to be addressed.
3. Targeting Women’s Ministry Groups. Enlist and train women of all ages to present seminars, Bible studies, special events in churches and/or at a neutral location. This could be done with a specific program, or with each woman or man using their own materials that teach biblical female equality.
4. Ask for help from seminaries that are egalitarian. A husband-wife team who were in the first graduating class at Truett Seminary in Waco, Texas, brought this to my attention. They said that pastors who are trained at Truett, when they secure their pastorates, these pastors forget about female equality. Their churches do not have women deacons, and they themselves do not make an effort to promote their female classmates who are looking for an opportunity to serve their calling.
Contact these pastors and ask them to have at least one sermon a year on biblical equality. Ask the male students before they graduate to commit to encouraging female equality in their church when they begin their pastorate.
Encourage these male students to bring in speakers (such as in #3) to teach their congregations about female equality. In my experience, the church pastor is not necessarily the best person to hold these classes.
5. Sunday School Lessons. Enlist those who write Sunday School lessons to have lessons for one quarter each year that highlight the women of the Bible. Having taught Adult Women’s Sunday school classes for years, and attending Sundayschool classes all my life, I had never heard of Hulda, and I am sure most women can tell you the same thing.
Make sure our children see those female heroes. That means that Children’s literature should be scrutinized to present female Bible characters. (Samson was a brute).
6. Youth Programs. Provide and actively encourage churches to teach from literature that promotes female equality. Provide such information to each Youth Pastor, at least in those churches that have a egalitarian teaching graduate as pastor.
This is just a start. I am sure that there are more avenues that can be explored. The point is that we must do something. If we don’t do something, there is a real danger that before too many years, female equality conversations will stop altogether, as we have not won. Those who have won are in danger of losing their equality because they are swimming against the tide, and they have not taught their people the biblical basis for female equality.