So … the Nashville Statement.
A lot has already been said about the latest official document from the Committee on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), and I won’t really add to it. I will note that it made a massive impression on not just Christians, but on non-Christians as well – so much so that for a time on the day of its release, it was the number one trending Twitter topic in the Los Angeles area, where I live.
That’s right, in L.A.!
It’s too bad that the conversation within evangelicalism on gender equality, at least in the United States, is often dominated by our complementarian brothers and sisters. (At least it feels like they get a lot more attention than we do, probably in part because their stands are more controversial vis-à-vis the culture.) And of course, we egalitarians don’t wish at all to make a statement that would cause thousands of non-Christians to feel revulsion at our expression of faith, as the CBMW’s statement clearly has, based on reactions from social media and news commentators.
It would just be nice if the world could see how many of us Jesus-followers believe that women and men are indeed equal before God, and that the Bible tells us so.
I have to think that many folks who’ve been turned off to Christianity because of its traditional patriarchal interpretation would then see our religion in a different light.
But our brothers and sisters with CBMW and Together for the Gospel – well, mostly brothers – still appear to represent the views of American evangelicalism in the eyes of non-Christians…This despite all our efforts to proclaim that the Bible, properly understood, teaches something quite different.
I don’t know about you, but I find this a bit discouraging.
How are we going to show people in our culture that the message of Jesus is different than the one they’re used to seeing?
If we can’t even get heard over the voices of our complementarian brothers and sisters, how will non-Christians who rightly reject patriarchal expressions of faith ever hear that the good news of Jesus means equality?
I’m reminded – perhaps by God’s Spirit – of Psalm 20:7 (NIV):
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
This reminds me that God is the one, the only one, able to overcome patriarchy within the Body of Christ. He is also the one most responsible for the reputation of His own name in the world.
We must continue to proclaim the truth of Scripture about gender equality. Yet we need not trust in our “chariots” and “horses” of clever argument and creative strategy. Those are useful, but those alone can’t do the supernatural work of transforming the way the Church treats women, much less change the way our larger society perceives our backwardness.
And so we’ll continue to work, but we’ll also be wise to recommit ourselves to the work of prayer.
Only the Holy Spirit can truly “smash the patriarchy” in both the Church and the world. Let us trust in His name once again.
Abba, please make it so! Amen.
A married father of two daughters, Eugene Hung is a Southern California-based advocate for social justice, especially as it relates to the rights of women and girls. He is one of the founding leaders of CBE-Voices of Color Chapter and blogs at Huffington Post and FeministAsianDad.com