In her article “The Persistence of Patriarchy,” subtitled “Hard to believe, but some churches are still talking about male headship,” founding member of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus Anne Eggebroten laments the institutionalized gender inequality still present in some Christian services and lifestyles. Discussing implications of domestic violence and the widespread presence of neo-patriarchalism, Eggebroten writes:
But traditionalists claim that male rule is God’s will; such neo-patriarchalism promotes injustice in home, church, and society. It gives men too much power, exposing them to temptation, and has often contributed to domestic violence.
“I was married to a conservative Christian husband and we had five children,” writes a young mother in Austin, Texas, who suffered emotional and physical abuse before finally leaving the marriage. Now she has earned a master’s degree in social work and wants to help others: “I would like to do anything I could to educate women in these fundamentalist Christian groups (mine was [based on the teaching of] Bill Gothard) to get out with the sanity that they have left!”
Here’s the question: Is God permanently committed to the kinds of social hierarchy that existed in the first and second millennium B.C.E. and continued until recently, when education and voting were opened to women? Or does the vision of Paul in Galatians 3:28—“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”—take precedence?
Read the full text of Eggebroten’s compelling article at Soujourners Magazine.