Is the Proverbs 31 woman a preacher? (Proverbs 31:26)

It’s Mother’s Day here in the Dominican Republic. One of the scripture readings for church tonight was Proverbs 31, which many evangelicals view as the prescriptive model for Biblical womanhood. I had never noticed verse 26 before: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the Torah of mercy.” If the Proverbs 31 woman speaks Torah and wisdom, why in the world would anyone want her to be silent in church? Continue reading

Submission As Leadership, Marriage As Mutual Servanthood

Few verses in the Bible have been more damaging historically to women in Western civilization than Ephesians 5:22 — “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” This has been a go-to verse in the argument against giving the women the right to vote or letting them have careers outside the home; more drastically it has been used to counsel women in abusive relationships not to leave their husbands since they should submit to them even if they’re violent. It was because of this history that my wife Cheryl and I decided to tackle this verse in the first sermon that we preached together seven years ago at our wedding, also because the passage from which it’s taken — Ephesians 5:21-33 — has beautiful wisdom to share about marriage when the social and Biblical context for the passage is properly understood. This past weekend at Burke United Methodist Church, we preached together on this passage again, washing each others’ feet while the other one spoke in order to model our understanding that submission is the form that Christian leadership takes. Continue reading