Gender Equality and Mutual Submission – Part 1

I strongly believe that gender equality is a biblical principle, deeply embedded in the Gospel and in grace. Jesus came and died for sinners, for men and women, all people from all places and all times. He has created a priesthood of all believers, who are justified based on faith in Christ’s work. Not based on merits. Not based on nature. Not based on anything in us or of us, but based only on Jesus. God’s salvation does not look different for different people – this idea is not found in Scripture or based on any biblical principles.

I am not saying that without offering gender equality, the Gospel would fall flat for women or not have anything to offer to women – rather I am saying that the gospel is so good and God’s grace is so all encompassing that it makes no sense for the gospel to not offer this too. Why would Jesus come to bring grace, freedom, mercy and forgiveness of sin to all parts of our lives, every part of our hearts touched by sin, every desire to work for our own worth and salvation, and leave women behind? Why would he ask women to hold back when so many need to hear this good news?

This belief, that Jesus’ death and resurrection brings freedom from sin and a new life of grace that stretches even into how women are treated and valued, is not a new one. Women have been advocating for this theological viewpoint since before the reformation. It did not rise out of the 1960’s women’s movement – and though the events of secular feminism have stimulated discussion around women’s issues in churches, there is one key difference between what is called biblical equality, or as I call it, inspired by Sarah Bessey, Jesus feminism, and secular feminism. The difference is the biblical ethic of mutual submission.

Loving service and submission is a key theme in the bible. It is a theme often misinterpreted by those inside and outside the church. For now I will say this: loving submission is demonstrated throughout the bible as something those in positions of power do. The key example being Jesus, the ultimate authority, laying down his pride and power at the cross in loving service to us and loving submission to God.

I believe God calls us, all of us, to submit to him in a loving response to his grace. The idea of submission is one I have struggled with and I know many secular feminists will reject outright. But I strongly believe it is necessary and clear in the bible. However. In relationships between Christians now, the key must be mutual submission. This is a submission where all acknowledge that our worth comes from God, and we are all equal before him. No one can now have inherently more worth or suitability for certain roles, positions or jobs. What mutual submission looks like in practice and in life is something I am still working out. As I continue my evangelical investigation of this biblical ethic of mutual submission, I hope you will join me.

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