Recently, I wrote an article and did a public teaching on women in leadership. In this article, I will list a number of objections against Egalitarianism along with my answers.
Egalitarianism is just feminism.
The form of egalitarianism that is espoused in this article recognizes two things: First, the husband is the spiritual head of the household. Second, ideally, men should be leaders. Thus, the form of egalitarianism that is espoused in this article is a far cry from feminism.
While there are extreme forms of egalitarianism that can be considered feminist, there are extreme forms of complimentarianism where husbands can beat their wives. Ideologies should not be evaluated by people’s misuse and careless extrapolation of the ideology, but rather, ideologies should be weighed by the question of whether or not the Bible teaches the ideologies in question.
Isaiah 3:12 makes it clear that women are only appointed as leaders when a country or group is under judgement, “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”
Deborah was a judge of the entire nation of Israel, and she lead in accordance to God’s commands and by her obedience lead Israel to 40 years of peace (Judges 5:31). This is a far cry from the notion that women leaders are the result of judgment, and Deborah certainly did not lead Israel into turmoil. Thus, Isaiah 3:12 should not be considered a universal statement concerning women leadership.
Junia was not a female [whom was referred to as an apostle in Romans 16:7], the proper translation is Junias, and that is a male name.
Much of the debate about whether or not Junia was a female comes from the fact that accents were not used in Greek until around the 9th century A.D (accents were gradually introduced up until this point starting around 2nd century A.D.). Thus, the oldest manuscripts we have of Romans 16:7 do not include accents.
The majority of scholars believe that Junia was a female. Up until the 13th century A.D, the universal consensus was that Junia was female. After the 13th century, some Bible translations started translating lounian as ‘Junias,’ but many revised translations later rendered lounian as ‘Junia.’ Thus, we not only have a history of Junia being a female according to scholars and translations, but even many of the translations that once translated this Greek words as ‘Junias’ have been corrected (it should be noted that most Bible translations that translated as ‘Junias’ were from the time of the Reformation–did Martin Luther’s views on women influence these translations? It is a possibility). It also should be noted that not only do Greek manuscripts support the rendering, ‘Junia,’ but the Latin Vulgate (translated in the late 4th century A.D) also uses a female rendering of lounian. Historically, the body of believers have understood Junia to be a female, and the evidence is so overwhelming that even many complementarian scholars understand Junia to be a female.
It is also worth noting that the name, ‘Junia,’ is found on first-century inscriptions located in Ephesus, Didyma, Lydia, Troas, and Bithynia, as well on tombstones located both in and around Rome. On the other hand, Junias was not a common name among males in the 1st century A.D.
Furthermore, early congregation leaders support the notion that Junia was a female:
“Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles: To be an apostle is something great! But to be outstanding among the apostles—just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.”–John Chrysostom (AD 347–407)
Origen of Alexandria (AD 185–254) acknowledged Junia as a female. Other congregation fathers and commentators unanimously understood Junia to be a female apostle, including Theodoret of Cyrrhus (ca. 393–466); Catena on the Epistle to the Romans 519.32 (fifth century); Oecumenius (sixth century); Chronicon Paschale (seventh century); John of Damascus (ca. 676–749); and Theophylact (1050–1108). A scholar, Dr. Bernadette Brooten writes, “To the best of my knowledge, no commentator on the text until Aegidus of Rome (1245–1316) took the name to be masculine. Aegidus simply referred to the two persons in Romans 16:7 as ‘those honorable men’ without any explanation.” 1
In contrast to the treasure trove of evidence we have that Junia was a female, the evidence that those who say she was a male use to support their claim are of later origin than the sources that those of us who believe Junia was a female use.
Junia was not an Apostle. She was listed as being in held high regard by the Apostles (Romans 16:7).
Almost all English Bible translations say that Junia was held in high regard among the Apostles. This means that she was an Apostle and not simply held in high regard ‘by the apostles.’ Also, Bible translations that translate Junia’s name as the male name, ‘Junias,’ all render Romans 16:7 as saying ‘among the Aposles’ rather than ‘held in high regard by the Apostles.’ Clearly, there is a complementarian conspiracy to discredit the notion that Junia was clearly a female Apostle.
In a standard New Testament Lexicon, the phrase ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις (episēmoi en tois apostolois) is only attributed one meaning, and that is, ‘among the Apostles. Some complementarian scholars and theologians have tried to argue in favor of a translation that says that Junia was held in ‘high regard by the apostles,’ and their case is always ‘Romans 16:7 isn’t clear enough,’ or ‘We can’t know for sure.’ These are nothing more than conjectures. Clearly, the writers of every standard New Testament Greek Lexicon think the Greek should be translated as, ‘among the Apostles.’ Is the Bible not sufficient for correction (2 Timothy 3:16)? It is a bit awkward for these ‘Sola Scriptura’ theologians to claim that Romans 16:7 is not clear enough while accusing egalitarians of holding to a ‘low view of scripture.’
Simple “a” apostles were those who were sent by the capital “A” Apostles. There are only 12 + Paul who are the capital “A” Apostles of the Church, who gave the sufficient and unchangeable instructions and teachings to the church.
This doesn’t really have anything to do with female leadership (even so, some still bring this up in discussions about female leadership), but is anyone going to say that John Mark, who wrote the Gospel According to Mark, and who wrote his book of the Gospel by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote a Gospel that was less authoritative than John or Matthew? The distinction in authority is nothing more than the product of tradition. While tradition is not inherently bad, in this case, it is wrong to say that any Apostle is anymore authoritative than the other because we are all ministered to by the same Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The only difference between an earlier apostle and a later apostle is the time in which the apostles were in apostolic office. The early apostles established and affirmed by inspiration of the Spirit of God sound doctrine by which all other doctrine, even those from future apostles, will be tested by.
No one says that women can’t preach the Gospel. You are misrepresenting complementarianism.
There are extreme forms of complementarianism that says women can’t teach at all. If that is not your belief, I am not talking about you when I address the notion that women are not allowed to teach or preach at all. In fact, some extreme forms of complementarianism go as far to say that only men are made in the image of God.
1 Timothy 3:2 is clear that only males can serve in leadership because only males can be the husband of one wife.
This article has already shown that 1 Timothy 3 is not a universal set of requirements for overseers. Thus, the statement concerning men being the husband of one wife is not related to the issue of women leadership.
You are ignoring the fact that Εκκλησία in Corinthians 14:34 is translated as ‘church.’ In fact, it says ALL of the churches of the saints.
This is an irrelevant objection because the issue that was being addressed was female behavior in services. If you look at the passage, the issue was that women were asking questions during service, “let women keep silent in the communities, for it is not permitted for them to speak out. Rather let them be in order, as the Torah also says. If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home—for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak out in the community (1 Cor. 14:34-35).” Regardless of whether the proper translation is ‘church’ or ‘communities,’ the meaning of the passage does not change even it it is talking about ALL of the communities of the saints. Paul’s solution was for them to ask their husbands at home instead of asking in the middle of the service. This clearly shows that women leadership was not the issue in 1 Corinthians 14.
It should also be noted that some of my fellow egalitarians claim that this issue came up due to the seating arrangement in synagogue. In the מחיצה (metkitza) seating arrangement, women typically separate from men and they sat farther back in the synagogue than men so they did not always hear and they would ask questions because of it. 2 This was actually not an issue in the 1st century. In fact, the earliest source we have of separation between men and women in synagogue was in the 4th century A.D. Some speculate this was due to Islamic influence, but whether this is true or not is unclear. 3
- The Babylonian Talmud, Sukka 51a-b