By the early nineties advancement of the feminist theory had proposed a complete rejection of Judeo-Christian male-female roles, relationships, social structures, and concepts of God. The shifting and redefinition of responsibilities of once defined roles contributed to skewed and distorted ideas of biblical male-female roles. Consequently, in some fashion, all men and women today are by-products of the feminist movement. These influences unwittingly helped define and mold our church, work, and home culture, often times taking precedence over predestined biblical roles. According to Mary A Kassian in her book, The Feminist Mistake, feminism proposed that women find happiness and meaning through the pursuit of personal authority, autonomy, and freedom. Occurring roughly during a 30-year period from 1960 to 1990, a philosophical redistribution of roles in society, home, and church had taken place in regards to the role of the woman. 1 Seemingly harmless, these subtle, but radical role shifts were negatively affecting not only the purpose and structure of the family unit and gender relationship roles, but they were infiltrating and shifting the philosophical deity of the Judeo-Christian Religion. In the late 1960’s, the word patriarchy was coined by Kate Millett to define the male’s responsibility for the oppressions and discontent of women. Patriarchy is the power of the fathers: a familial-social, ideological, political system in which men – by force, direct pressure, or through ritual, tradition, law, and language, customs, etiquette, education, and the division of labor – determine what part women shall or shall not play, and in which the female is every where subsumed under the male.2 _______________
1 Mary A. Kassian,The Feminist Mistake (Wheaton: Good News Publisher, 2005), 7-9.
2 Ibid., 27.
Principles of Interpretation
During this time of redefinition, Katherine Bliss undertook a survey for the World Council of Churches. This survey called for a re-evaluation of male/female roles in the church. Based on the findings that women were not participating in leadership roles the redistribution of leadership roles became the battle cry. In an article entitled, “Women in the Church: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Dilemmas,” Dr. William Douglas elaborated on this idea by stating that women were assigned lesser roles therefore quenching their giftedness and potential.3 Christian feminists diligently sought the inclusion of women in church leadership roles without considering the biblical hierarchies of structure and function. During the fight for equality in the churches women claimed they were kept out of authoritative positions because the church fathers viewed women as inferior in nature and also viewed them as intellectually inferior. They used the Genesis account and Galatians 3:28 to support their equality in God’s eye and defend their right to authoritative positions within the church.4 In 1964, Mary Daly, a professor at a Jesuit-run Boston college charged the church with four major themes. Daly echoed Douglas and Bliss and maintained that the church was guilty of conveying the message that women by nature were inferior to men. Her premise stated that even though all of God’s representatives on earth were made equally the church conditioned
3 Ibid., 27-30.
4 Ibid., 32-35.
women’s inferiority and condoned man’s exalted image. This action contributed to the legal oppression and deception of women. They contended that not only were these moral teachings harmful to women, they also excluded women from church leadership roles.5 Thus began the advancement of the general feminist argument that women should interpret Scripture differently than men. Daly proposed that specified doctrines that were abrasive to the feminist mind-set and threatened the...