Kate Wallace: Why Talk About Faith, Gender, and Culture? [Biola University Chapel]


(upbeat music) – I was asked to come speak
to you all this morning because of the crazy journey
that God has brought me on in relation to the topics
you’ll all be discussing this morning, or this week. And that whole journey kind
of culminated two years ago in my mother and I starting in a ministry called the Junia Project. And since then, over the last two years, we’ve had these incredible opportunities to work with pastors and church leaders and denominational leaders, and students and universities, to help broaden the
conversation about women, and their role and place in the Church and Christian community. And we think this is one of
the most important topics of our day. Not only because our
culture has so much to say about what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman. Not only because our
culture oversexualizes every relationship
between a man and a woman. But also because today, in 2015, we all find ourselves in the middle of a three decade-long debate on the role and place of women in the Evangelical church. Now, this conversation is kind of split into two sides. On one side you have
complementarian theology which holds that men and
women are created equal, but intended by God to
have different roles and responsibilities. And those roles and responsibilities mean that men will always
be an authority over women in the Church and Christian community. And it means that women, it requires submission from
all wives to their husbands. It also means that women will never hold positions of leadership in the Church, unless it’s over other women or children. Complementarian theology teaches things like biblical manhood
and biblical womanhood. And on the other side of this debate, you have egalitarian theology, which also teaches that men
and women are created equal, but they believe that, egalitarians believe that men and women are called to roles in ministries without regard to gender. Men and women are equal
partners in ministry, and they practice mutual
submission in marriage. Egalitarians don’t believe that the Bible teaches
one definition of manhood or one definition of womanhood, but that it tells the stories of lots of different men and women who are gifted and called by God to do lots of different things. In this debate we see constantly in the Evangelical church, and it can be confusing to a lot of us because we know people
that fall on one side or the other. We come from families and churches that fall on one side of
the debate or the other. We have pastors and mentors and friends that fall on one side or the other. And we hear evangelical leaders saying things about the debate, and throwing out terms
like slippery slope, or low view of scripture, or feminism. My favorite one. And that can be a little bit scary, because that means that if
we’re honest with ourselves and we try to grapple with this debate, we, too, could be
labeled with those terms. But let me assure you, all of us who grew up in the church, this debate has already
had profound implications on our theology, our view of God, on how we relate to one another, and how we view ourselves. It is a very important topic to talk about because it is more than likely that this very topic will affect the career paths you choose to walk, the kids of marriages
you choose to enter into, and what you believe God will and will not call you to in your lifetime. And I know that this conversation is intimidating at times, but I have some good news for you. This is not the first
time in church history that Christians have
disagreed on this topic. So, we’re walking familiar ground. A lot of what we see today in this debate can be traced back to the
Protestant reformation in the 16th century, when all of those
different protestant groups broke off of the Catholic church. And from these various groups came things like Lutheran theology,
and reformed theology, and Wesleyan holiness theology. And all of those things have kind of grown and shifted and become
different faith traditions that we have, or denominations we have today in the evangelical church. And although all of these theologies are orthodox Christian theologies, they all hold that Jesus
Christ, Son of God, lived, died and rose again, they differ on various theological issues. You know this. Like predestination, or infant baptism, or practices of communion. And yes, on women and church leadership. So, what this conversation actually is, history teaches us, is a clashing of long-held
Christian theologies. It’s differing opinions on how God chooses to work in and through God’s people. So, rest assured that
this is not the first time that this conversation has been had in the Christian community. And I know you’ll hear things being said, like this is actually just cultural view talking to a theological view, or feminism infiltrating the church. But 250 years before the start of feminism in the Western world, Christian Quaker women were preaching and teaching and traveling as evangelists. And other Christians were
teaching that they shouldn’t. So, don’t be afraid to dive in this week. You’re not in a foreign conversation. You’re in a very thoroughly
Christian conversation. And you have this incredible opportunity here at Biola University to dive into these world class resources. That chapel on Wednesday, I really wanna come back, because that sounds awesome. Ron Pierce is one of my favorite writers, so that’s awesome. World class resources. So, dive in. Take advantage of all of these things that are going to be at your fingertips. Don’t be too afraid of it. God will meet you there,
as he has met so many Christians in the past. And I’ve waded through that stuff before. I’ve been in your shoes, where I’ve tried to
grapple with this debate. And my story’s probably
different than yours. It’s probably different
than a lot of the people you’ll hear this week. But if it’s all right, I
would love to share with you my story and the message I believe God has for you this morning. Would that be okay? Okay, thank you. I know it’s just after
midterms, is what I hear, so I was like, “Energy’s gonna be low, “and I’ll try to keep it up.” So, I had some caffeine, but I might need to hear
from you every now and then. So my own story on this topic began when I was in eighth grade. A little earlier than a lot of people come across this debate, but I’d just transferred to
a private Christian school, the one I would be at until I graduated and went on to the unnamed university. And this particular school was adamant about teaching their particular view of the proper place and
role of women in church. And so, I sat in classroom as my teachers would tell me things like, because Adam was created first, he has authority over Eve. They would teach things like, because Eve was created as a helper, all women were meant to merely assist men in their ministries. Things were taught to me like, because a woman was the first to sin, therefore all women are easily deceived and require the leadership of men. They taught me that God only calls male leaders
into ministry roles, and that the gifts of leadership, the gifts of spirit that
have to do with leadership are only given to men. I was taught that Paul didn’t want any women anywhere in any time in history to teach in church, and he says so in 1 Timothy 2:12. And 1 Timothy 3 lays out all
the qualification for elders and because they are male pronouns, only men can be elders. And they taught me that anyone who had anything to say
that was different from this was affected by culture and
had a low view of scripture. Well, I grew up in a
thoroughly Christian household with grandparents and great-grandparents on both sides that were Christian. And I was in eighth grade, and this was the first time
I’d ever heard of this stuff. So, I was kind of freaking out in school. I ran home, like any
eighth grader would do, and I was like going to my parents. I’m like, “What do I believe?” “What do we believe?” Like, “Tell me what to believe.” My parents are academics. And so, instead of telling
me what to believe, they gave me three stacks of books. So, back then, there were three main views in the church on women. Now there are really two. They gave me a stack on
patriarchal theology, on complementarian theology, and on egalitarian theology. Again, I was in eighth grade. So, from eighth grade through
the time I went to college, or even past that, I
poured over these books, and I studied scripture, and I prayed, and I asked questions, because more than anything, I wanted to honor God with my life. But as a woman, I didn’t
know how to do that until I knew what God wanted from me. So, I dived in, and I quickly learned that egalitarians believed
things that were very different than my school was teaching me. I quickly learned, also,
that this conversation wasn’t between people who had a high view of scripture and people who
had a low view of scripture. But that all the sides loved God and were trying to honor scripture. So, as I read theae
egalitarian theologians, I learned new things that they taught, like order of creation
can’t mean authority, because animals were
created before people, but they don’t have authority over people. Seemed pretty reasonable. I learned things like because our English word
to describe Eve was helper, the original word is Ezer Kenegdo. And a better translation of that would be a rescuing strength equal
and opposite to Adam. I learned that just because, or I learned that Eve’s
sin has no more to say about all womankind than Judas’s betrayal has to say about all mankind. I heard stories about women who were called into leadership by God, and they pointed out that in scripture, their gifts of the spirit
are never mentioned, due to gender. They taught things like, yes, while Paul seems to
be limiting the leadership of some women when he writes to Timothy, he evidently expects the
leadership of other women, because he thanks them
for prophesying out loud and speaking and leading, in Romans, in Galatians, in Corinthians. They pointed out that although
our English translations of 1 Timothy 3 use male pronouns, the original language doesn’t. And they talked about all of these amazing female New Testament leaders, like Phoebe the deacon,
and Junia the apostle, and Priscilla the great teacher. Women I had never heard of, and my Bible teachers at school must have just forgotten to tell me about. And for a while, I grappled between in this tension between
these two main views, and I think that was really good for me, because I had to honestly embrace both and figure out what I thought. And both sides had good scriptural support for their beliefs. But do you know what
it came down to for me? The biggest motivating factor for me deciding which side I fell on was how Jesus interacted with women in the gospels. Jesus. Jesus, who told a woman to preach the good news of his resurrection. But the church that wouldn’t let her preach it from the pulpit. Jesus, who discipled and befriended women, but people in the church who taught that was somehow dangerous
for pastors and leaders to do. Jesus, who depended on
the financial provision of women for the welfare of his ministry, yet people in the church teaching that men are to be the providers. Jesus, who used female
examples in his teaching and talked about women in his stories, but one evangelical leader was teaching that Christianity was supposed
to have a masculine feel. A woman, carrying the
body and blood of Jesus within her for nine months, but some of the churches won’t let a woman serve communion in service. Jesus, who denied that there was hierarchy in his kingdom, yet some in the church were teaching that there was a hierarchy
between men and women. Isn’t the difference striking? There were just so many things being said in the church, and I had to face them with
what the gospels taught me about Jesus, and they didn’t stand. Because God incarnate, who taught us what it
meant to live for God, seemed to live differently than that. And through my studies, I came to believe that both men and women were called to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. I came to believe that
the culture in the church that teaches male authority over women misses the point of a God who taught to be first you must be last, and to be a leader you must be a servant. I came to believe that
instead of being concerned about wielding authority over one another, we should be concerned
about loving one another. I came to believe that instead of creating a hierarchy amongst God’s people based on race, socioeconomic
class, or gender, we should be recognizing the words of Galatians 3:28, that “In Christ there is Jew
nor Greek, slave nor free, “nor is there male and female, “for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” (applause) I came to believe that the difference between what the church was teaching and Jesus’s life mattered. I came to believe that our words and our beliefs matter, because women, you and I have grown
up in a church culture where our worth and
dignity are openly debated, because they aren’t a given. But women, your worth and dignity and not determined by how well you fit it into someone else’s definition
of biblical womanhood. They’re not determined by getting married, or having babies, or being quiet, or learning to be submissive. And men, same goes for you. Your worth and dignity are not determined by how well you fit into biblical manhood. They’re not determined by the job you get, by how much money you make, and definitely not by your ability to exert authority over other people. Men and women, your worth and dignity were determined the day you were created in the image of a living God. And your place in the
Kingdom was solidified the moment your sins
were nailed to that cross and defeated by the living Christ. Your worth and dignity are
not things to be debated, because they’re not things
that can be taken away, or lost, or even owned. They simply are. And it is important that you know that. It is important that you understand that, because look at our world. Our world, where the majority
of humanitarian crises are happening to women. According to the World
Health Organization, the U.N. and U.S. government sources, 70% of those living in
poverty today are women. 100-200 million girls are
missing from today’s generation, due to preference of sons over daughters, gendercide, or gender-based violence. Rape is a primary weapon of war, especially in some African countries. 48 women are raped every hour in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A third of the world’s girls are married before the age of 18, and one in nine are married
before the age of 15. That’s child marriages to adult men. More than 125 million
girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation. Sex trafficking is thought to be the second-largest criminal
industry in the world, and over 80% of its victims are female. In the U.S., one in five women
report having been raped. Seven of 10 assaults against
women are perpetrated by an intimate partner. That’s their boyfriends,
their ex-boyfriends, their husbands, or their ex-husbands. Women are in desperate need to hear the message that they, too, are created in the image of God. That they, too, have a role
and a place in the kingdom. And that they, too, can use
their gifts and callings to serve as leaders in the church. And I know that some
of you women here today at Biola Chapel, have wondered about all of this before. I know you’ve felt some urge, or heard that still small voice and wondered, “Is God
calling me to ministry?” And I just wanna say that you’re
not alone in this journey. I actually think I might just
be here in chapel for you. And just as Jesus called Mary Magdalene to preach the good news of his gospel, he’s calling many of
you women this morning to preach that same thing. So, go, and do. Preach the gospel. Pastor God’s people. Lead with wisdom and a sound mind. Do it because God has called you do to it. Do it because He has gifted you to do it. Do it because the world
needs you to do it, and oh, how it needs you to do it. Here’s where I’m going to
get a little bold with you. If I haven’t already. Women, when you go and do, if they tell you that you need
a man’s covering to do so, you tell them that Jesus died for you as much as anybody else, and his blood is the
only covering you need. (applause) And if they tell you your husband should be leading you spiritually, and have the last say, you say that the day
you became a Christian, you gave your life over to Jesus, and let Jesus leads you spiritually, and Jesus has the last say. (applause) And if they tell you that women are weak, you tell them that you
come from a long line of godly women who led the
army of Israel to victory, who saved God’s people from genocide, and who birthed the savior of the world. And if they tell you you’re
just trying to be like a man, you say, “Yes, I am. “I’m trying to be like
that poor Jewish carpenter “turned preacher, who walked
away from the conventional “in order to preach the unconventional, “who surrounded himself
with men and women, “and rich and poor, and
educated and uneducated, “and who died for them all. “I’m trying to be like Jesus. “I’m trying to be like Jesus.” Because I remember how it felt the week after midterms, it wasn’t that long ago
that I went to school. I’m gonna end a little early for you. But I am going to end with
something that I wrote, a poem that’s written to God. We blog at the Junia Project, and I wrote this a while back. It illustrates part of my journey, and I hope it brings
encouragement to some of you. It’s called They Gave Me a Box. I grew up learning about You. I saw You in the love shared
by everyone around me. I heard about You in the sermons and sang about You in the songs. I read about You and thought about You. And so, I came to You and You met me. You loved and cared for me. You grew and taught me. You fashioned me and called me. And I took what You had given me and I went back to the place
I had first heard of You. I was filled with anticipation. What would they have me do? You had given me so many things. Perhaps I could speak about You. Perhaps I could teach
others to follow You. Perhaps I could spread
Your message to the world. Perhaps I could invite
others to Your table to take part in Your supper. For they had always prayed for You to raise up
people of my generation. They had always said how desperately the Kingdom needed more voices, more hands, more feet. And so, with anticipation,
I brought myself to them, only to be confused by their response. For when I offered them this
voice that You had given me, when I offered them these hands
that You had strengthened, and these feet that You had guided, they gave me a box. They gave me a box in
which to keep my passion. They gave me a box in
which to store my wisdom. They gave me a box in
which to put my words. They gave me box to hold
my hands and my feet. They gave me a box and they said it was Your will for me as a woman. And when I asked if they had a box that fit a little bit better, they told me to be happy
with what You had given me. When I told them You had given me things that wouldn’t fit inside the box, they said I must be mistaken. When I asked if there was
anything else they could offer, they told me the box was a perfect place to keep my questions. So, I come to You. Me and everything You’ve given me. Me and everything You’ve created me to be. Me and everything You called to me. And the box. I’m a bit bruised from
trying to fit inside of it. And now that I’m standing in front of You, I realize You don’t want me to. I see I have a choice. I can keep the box they’ve given me and throw out all the
things that don’t fit. I can ignore the time I spent with You, the gifts You have given me, the calling You gave me. I can dismember my soul in order to fit into the dimensions of the box. I can live for them and
let that box define me. Or, I can trust the way You made me. The way You prepared me, the way You called me. I can lean on you for guidance and walk in the footsteps of brave women who have gone before me. I can live fully alive in You, and trust that You are a God
who’s bigger than the box. I can set the box down and walk away. I can live for You and let You define me. They gave me a box and called it Yours. You offer me freedom and call it mine. So, I take this box,
and I put it on a shelf, and label it History. Then I take Your hand and we walk away. Because life with You is far
better than life with a box. – [Voiceover] We hope
you enjoyed this message. Biola University offers a variety of biblically-centered degree programs, ranging from business to ministry, to the arts and sciences. Learn more at Biola.edu.


9 Responses

  1. Shady Oak Ministries

    November 11, 2016 1:24 pm

    1:30 – That's the biblical view. As man is placed by God as head over woman, God is head over men.
    3:30 – That's not true. The letter Paul made to the Corinthians made this matter clear where these lines became blurred.
    3:50 – That's not true historically. This was never a major issue until the last century.
    4:40 – That depends whether the Bible is authoritative or not.
    5:15 – that's permitted in scripture. Women can be evangelists, any literally any other role but leadership.
    7:20 – You mean like literally reading the passages?
    7:35 – That's not what the bible says.
    7:52 – That's not true, women can teach. They just can't hold authority over men.
    8:35 – So instead of focusing on Jesus, you want power in the church in order to consider yourself a Christian?
    9:10 – then read His word…
    9:38 – except only one half of them were honoring it by reading it.
    10:18 – How is that even relivant? Romans 5 makes the point that Adam and Eve's actions had impact on all of our lives going forward in the same way Jesus' did. Judas has nothing to do with giving us an impression of man.
    10:34 – Actually that was the problem. Things were out of order and needed to be kept in alignment with scripture as an example to the rest of the world and to allow both men and women to serve in the highest capacity that God has called them to.
    10:50 – Actually yes it does.
    11:00 – Notice again, every role except elder. Women are called to be used by God in mighty ways and literally every possible way except the one God assigned to Adam based on creation and design.
    11:30 – Okay, so which was the determining factor? Feelings or Doctrine?
    11:40 – Eh?
    11:50 – How is that a standard for church leadership? God called individuals to follow Him as He called them. Where to we get the foundations for knowing whether we're being led by Christ or our feelings? Scripture. Were women to hold the priesthood in the Old Testament? Could they still serve in any other role in the temple like Ana was during the birth of Jesus?
    12:20 – :What the…
    12:30 – That's the problem…feels.
    12:40 – Umm, you do realize men can't get pregnant but both can hold a tray understanding what they're called to honor right?
    13:30 – That's True.
    13:35 – That's not true.
    13:30 – So why is women leadership an issue then?
    13:58 – So you take those words literally from Paul when scolding the church for missing the point of the gospel and how we relationally come before God, but when laying out in plain language in the Pastoral Epistles how the church is to be organized based on the Old and New Testament foundations and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it's obviously not to be taken seriously?
    14:20 – What else is the church supposed to teach then?
    14:32 – Who called it into question? The Bible only says you can't play one role…
    14:45 – What if that someone is your Creator?
    15:00 – I'd rather define myself by the Bible then by what I can come up with on my own. My own self worth in relation to Jesus led me to suicide.
    15::35 – Remind me again where we find the things that are t he basis of our value.
    16:00 – Do you find it ironic that the global impact of Islam is being blamed on Christianity?
    16:50 – That is a provenly false statistic.
    17:10 – So you can't have value or a personal relationship with Jesus until you have power in the church? The gospel is dependent on the fact that you have to be a Leader?
    17:35 – Again, what is ministry? Serving God as He's called you, not how your feelings guide you.
    18:00 – Preaching the gospel and pastoring God's people are two different things.
    18:08 – But God hasn't called you to do it, according to scripture. Emotional and Cultural bias are. The church isn't a secular organization, otherwise you'd have every right to hold whatever position your abilities allowed you to. The church isn't a secular organization. It's under the authority of God as head and He has laid out how it is to be organized where we'll be most effective as our Creator and Savior. The only reason you're going for those kind of positions is because of Genesis 3 and the fall of man. Look up "her desire would be for you" in the original language and tell me what it implies.
    18:45 – And who put your husband in authority over you? Jesus wasn't it?
    19:00 – Deborah were raised up as judges and Messiah figures because no men were available, and note, they didn't do the fighting.
    19:07 That's an argument against yourself. Are you saying because Mary had a womb that she was called to be used by God in a way that men weren't created to?
    19:15 – So if you're trying to be Christ-like, didn't He submit to the Father though they both were equal relationally as God? Do you think the same applies here?

  2. Shoudao Gao

    December 10, 2016 4:07 pm

    Actually, if we look at this from a eternal point of view, it is a small thing. Any earthly matter being looked at from a eternal perspective is small. We are here for only decades. Remember that anything held above Christ can potentially be an idol. And sufferings due to traditional gender roles in the church or society can shape women to be more Christ-like in his submission, humility, and tenderness. It is not an absolutely bad thing as to spiritual molding. Remember what we do on this earth matter less than who we are. May this relive some indignation of my sisters.

  3. Will

    February 3, 2017 5:27 am

    Such a heated, close to home, topic for so many.ย  I am an egalitarian who respects complementarians and am attending a complementarian church (in process of becoming a member) due to doctrinal convictions I hold to be more essential than this issue.ย  God help us with this topic please!

  4. Faith & Truth

    January 22, 2018 3:19 pm

    When Christ returns its for his bride and not his gender neutral church. We as the church are submissive to Christ as his bride, just as the church unit is to have men be the leaders over women, just as the family unit the men have leadership over women. Now women can teach other women, children, nonbelievers, and share perspectives of women. Women are not suppose to teach, or exercise authority over men. Unless you do not believe that the bible is authoritative you can not get past 1 Timothy 2:11. The context of that verse is explained that Man was created first then women, and man was not deceived but women became the transgressor. Not a bias no a current cultural only it was brought back to genesis. This would be like the church being the leader and Christ being the submissive. Christ did not sin but he was punished for the sin of his church in order to save them, just as Eve sinned but Adam was blamed for the sin. There is no female writers, no prophetess that had revelation, no female teacher over men, and no female leaders. Deborah is a good example of the curse that happens when a woman had to lead. Deborah was not in the wrong but the entire country was cursed because Barak would not lead. and Jesus did teach a hierarchy over and over and over..

  5. Tony Rowan

    March 15, 2019 2:51 am

    Hey according to the Preterist followers the Bible is nothing more than a history book! No reason not to toss it into Circular File 13!


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