Review of “Beyond Sex Roles”

Post a Comment » Written on November 10th, 2017     
Filed under: Resources

Jeff Ondrey is the Director of Nursing Home Operations for Heritage Ministries and is a member of First Covenant Church in Jamestown NY. He recently completed his tenure of service as a lay member of the CBGE.

Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family. Baker Books, 1985.

Bilezikian’s thesis is that God created men and women as equals. Although woman came from man, man is born of woman. Any inequalities or hierarchical relationship between men and women is the result of the fall. Any biblical interpretation with contrary conclusions is also the outcome of or influence of the fallen state (which, incidentally, was not Eve’s (i.e., woman’s) fault).   Jesus came to restore all that was destroyed by the fall of the first man. In no instance did Jesus establish a dominant, hierarchical relationship between men and women. Rather, in every instance, Jesus displayed the utmost respect and compassion for women.

This majority of the book is dedicated to analyzing and clarifying these viewpoints. Throughout the book, primarily in the many footnotes, Bilezikian points out the flaws in the interpretations of James B. Hurley’s Men and Women in Biblical Perspective, which Bilezikian uses as a representative work of the alternative viewpoint that men hold a dominant or authoritarian role over women and thus women are to be submissive and subordinate to men. In views such as Hurley’s this dominance/submission relationship is prescribed particularly in the church and most particularly in the leadership or pastorate of the church. Bilezikian quite forcefully debunks each of Hurley’s assertions with consistent and thorough biblical exegesis.

Bilezikian’s introduction lays out the foundation for the book and in summary God’s revelation of himself through the continuum of human Creation-Fall- Redemption.

Chapter 1 deals with the creation story as revealed in Genesis 1 & 2. In creation God did not establish a hierarchy of God over man over woman over nature; the “hierarchy” is rather God over humanity, as man & woman, over nature: God is sovereign over humans and humans were given dominion over the earth. Bilezikian develops the scriptural basis for the equality of men and women and the oneness of the marital relationship between Adam and Eve throughout Genesis 2. God’s created ideal is that men and women enjoy a relationship of mutuality and equality.

In Chapter 2, Bilezikian attributes the fall to the cunning nature of the serpent rather than Eve’s weakness. In his view Eve lacked firsthand knowledge of God’s prohibition. Instead she learned of it through Adam and even questioned the serpent’s assertions relative to what she had learned from Adam. Adam, on the other hand, took the fruit without even a challenge; he was silent. Eve was deceived but Adam sinned in that he knew better, having heard the prohibition directly from the mouth of God. God pronounced the sentence of death on Adam. Bilezikian notes that God did not look upon Adam as the spokesperson, the head, of Eve. He questioned Eve and allowed her to speak for herself as an equal. He also notes that Eve confessed what she had done without attempting to pass blame on others. The fall results in a different order: God over nature, over man, over woman.

Chapter 3 moves us through the Old Testament covenant that God established with Abraham, initiating a program of redemption that will only be fulfilled with the coming of Jesus. The Old Testament features both the negative effects of the fall while bringing forth some positive elements that point toward redemption. On the dark side is featured polygamy, patriarchal oppression, double standard on adultery, trial by ordeal, and divorce legislation. The bright side includes the existence of some female authorities in religious life (prophets), civil life (Deborah), and in marital life (Nabal). Other briefly noted redemptive elements of the Old Testament include the Song of Solomon, and the strong wife featured in Proverbs 31.

In Chapter 4, Bilezikian cites example after example of where Jesus conquers the effects of the fall and demonstrates a restored relationship between humanity and God and between man and woman. Rather than taking on a compromising view between the creation ideal and the realities of the fall, Jesus consistently rejected the male-rulership principle and demonstrated in his actions, teachings, and example his special concern for the restoration of women to the place of human dignity that Eve held in creation, before the fall.

Chapter 5, entitled “The New Community,” is the lengthiest chapter in the book. The author goes into great exegetical detail with analysis of original languages to treat particularly challenging concepts. Two in particular include the concepts of mutual submission and headship. Ephesians 5:21 is featured as a key passage to emphasize this mutuality rather than a hierarchical submission.   Additionally, the meaning of headship as authority or rulership versus headship as source or first born or first place is extensively discussed. Bilezikian then goes on to highlight some of the problematic verses that are most often used to justify the subordination of women. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 which seems to prohibit women from teaching is analyzed. In an era where women were essentially excluded from a place in the synagogue, following Jesus time, women are now included in the common worship. This passage references a problem in a specific congregation where some women were speaking without knowledge. In Bilezikian’s conclusion the essence of this passage is competence rather than a blanket prohibition against women speaking/teaching in the church. The remainder of this chapter highlights the numerous women who appear in the New Testament as converts, apostles, prophets, teachers, helpers, and administrators. In summary he quotes Galatians 3:28, “There is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Bilezikian’s appendix is titled “A Critical Examination of Wayne Grudem’s Treatment of Kephalē in Ancient Greek Texts.” Here, he refutes each of 49 instances cited where this word is given the meaning as “having authority over.” He breaks these into three distinct categories: 19 instances in non-biblical writings, 19 Greek translations of the Old Testament, and 12 instances in the New Testament. His conclusion is that the word kephalē is never used as “authority” in the New Testament but rather as “source, origin, person or thing from which something else is derived or obtained” which should be servant, provider of.

The phrase “Where is it written?” has taken on a new meaning for me, and this book has demonstrated how critical it is for both historical context and original language interpretation to be utilized, particularly where there are difficult or controversial passages in scripture. My own understanding of many of the scripture passages dealing with women in church life or the “subordination” of women in the church or in the home has been challenged and altered to a healthier place after reading this book. Reading the scripture from my own base of knowledge or my own bias can lead to error. The importance of relying on theological “expertise” and openness to the Holy Spirit is critical to a broader understanding of the Bible. I am now challenged to explore some of the other viewpoints listed by the author. I also hope to be able to enlighten others to the information learned whenever necessary or whenever led by God to do so.



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The Mexico I Didn’t Know

1 Comment » Written on June 15th, 2016     
Filed under: Resources, Testimonies and Stories

Evelmyn Ivens works at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago and graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies. Enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She’s passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, however, this time was a different type of trip. Covenant World Relief graciously invited me to visit some of their partners in Mexico, and in 8 days we travelled to 3 different cities. One of the things I was most excited about this trip, was that I would have the opportunity to see and experience my country of origin from a different perspective, because every time I go to Mexico, it’s always to visit family, and this time I would get to see another side of mi tierra (my land).

Our group left very early on a Wednesday morning and arrived to the city of Monterrey. The last time I had been in Monterrey I was about 5 or 6 years old, and now it very much felt like a first-time visit. There we visited the Family Development Foundation click here:(FUNDEFAM), CWR works with them in peace-making and holistic community development. The first day we joined a group of women, who meet in the community Cerro de la Campana. We were told that this group began to meet in the community because for a number of these women their husbands would not allow then to go to meetings at the FUNDEFAM building, even though it’s walking distance from their neighborhood.

That afternoon it was the first time this group was having a bible study, they have cooking and jewelry classes as well. Yet, that day it was their bible study and it was on John 4, Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman. This is one of my favorite stories, and to listen to it in the context we were in, it was very powerful. As the women were discussing the story at one point the conversation turned into machismo and how to challenge it within their own families. What a moment! Because I know and understand the culture, I was very excited to hear how things are changing in the Mexican culture, and how community transformation is happening and that it usually begins with the women. To listen how they support and empower each other, and build community, was beautiful. FUNDEFAM is doing fantastic ministry, with good and healthy leadership, by breaking down some of the most rooted systems and cultural structures by helping women understand their value and their voice.

Our next stop was Mexico City where we got to meet some of the Mexican covenanters and visited a couple of Covenant churches. We also participated in an activity with MAEM (that ministers to the abused and exploited in Mexico). Before the trip I had been asked to preach in Mexico City, and because this year I’m trying different things I said yes. However, as the day was approaching and even though I had a good idea of what I would be sharing about, I was very nervous. Spanish is my first language but all of biblical and theological knowledge I’ve learned is in English and Western thought, and I was very concern of how this would turn out.  As my anxiety grew and maybe I looked stressed, Meagan Gillian came to me and told me “you are a daughter of this land and you will do great.” I got a bit emotional, because never in my life thought that I would have the privilege of preaching for the first-time ever in Mexico! Sunday came and the preaching went well, I felt overwhelmed with so many emotions because I was experiencing God in a different and profound way.

Then the last part of our trip was Oaxaca City, a place that I always wanted to visit because my mother’s family is from there, so this is kind of the motherland. What a beautiful city, so many color, so much culture, so much history. In Oaxaca we visited Fuentes Libres (micro-finance and kids-clubs). There we had the opportunity to be at a meeting in one of the community banks, and learned how they start, how they work, and how they are impacting the lives of so many women, and as a result the lives of their families and their communities. We also visited a kids club and along with the kids we learned about personal finances, income, and expenses, and budgets, and how to make it fun.

I left Mexico with my heart full, also very encouraged and inspired by all the women we met. To say the least this was a very personal trip for me, it was good for my soul to be in touch with my roots and to be with my people. I reconnected with a friend who I hadn’t seen for many years, and spent half a day with my sisters and cousins, and we laughed so much, and we had great conversations. Sometimes you just need to be with people who have known you for a long time and to remind you who you are, and I am very thankful for that.


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5 Feminist Reads for the Summer

4 comments Written on May 24th, 2016     
Filed under: Book & Commentary, Resources

Mandi Cherico recently graduated with a Master of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. Born on the East Coast and raised in the Midwest, her interests include feminism, aesthetics, and Beyonce.

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Growing up, I didn’t know what feminism was. I had always been an independent girl, but I never knew about any larger movement having to do with this tension I felt about being confined to gender roles.

In my senior year of high school, I had an English literature teacher, Mrs. Butcher. Mrs. Butcher was one of those cool, young teachers who high school students want to pattern their lives after. She was a strong and confident woman, committed to her faith and not afraid to speak the truth. She was both unflinching in her critique of the patriarchy and an avid wearer of bright lipstick. In short, she spoke my language. Mrs. Butcher introduced our class to feminist literature, and my mind was opened. These authors wrote about things I had been thinking my whole life but never been able to name. They taught me that there were words for this strength in me; this deep personal resistance I felt towards antiquated gender norms. The things I read in this class set me on a path of liberation, not only for myself but for other women, particularly in the context of the Church.

While feminism and gender equality require us to practically engage with and for both women and men, we’d be remiss to not read the writings of the women who shape and power the movement both inside and outside of the Church. Here are just a few books that I would recommend for anyone on the journey to claiming gender equality.

bad feministGay is the new darling of feminist literature, and she’s earned it. Her personal essays and cultural critique are just. so. good. This collection of essays draws on pop culture, modern relationships, body image, racism and the perils of professional life. Be warned – it is sometimes graphic in nature, but her hilarious and real accounts of what it’s like being a the kind of feminist who watches The Bachelor is winsomely relatable.

A-Year-of-Biblical-Womanhood_Held Evans has become a household name among Evangelicals and faithful skeptics in the blogosphere. This book is her first-person account of a year following Old Testament rules for women, including her time spent living in her backyard during menstruation and the joys of wearing ankle length skirts. It’s funny and personal with reflections that challenge how the Church has interacted with women and gender through the years and into today.

girls to the frontYou don’t have to be a fan of rock music to thoroughly enjoy this account of feminist punk bands of the nineties. With interviews and years of personal research, Marcus weaves together the fascinating young feminist Riot Grrrl movement which challenged the violent, boys-only world of punk culture. Bands forged in this movement have a deep impact on musicians of today as well as grassroots feminists in general. In true punk fashion, the book contains some graphic content.

Jesus-Feminist-Cover-copyThis is a great read for people who are new to the concept of biblical feminism, or perhaps have reservations about feminism in general. If you’re uncomfortable with wearing the label of “feminist,” this book will challenge your hesitation. Bessey’s writing is approachable and heartfelt. She speaks candidly to women in all walks of life but especially to those who are wives or mothers.



SisterOutsiderLorde is an amalgam of wisdom, rebellion and fierce advocacy. Black, queer and female, she is one of the best sources on what it means to be marginalized in American society. Lorde is not a follower of Christ but she writes with truth and power that every person can learn from. Read this one if you want be challenged in your understanding of sexuality and social location. One of her greatest quotes: “the Master’s tools can never dismantle the master’s house.”



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8 Ways Men Can Advocate For Women’s Equality

2 comments Written on June 30th, 2015     
Filed under: Resources

This post was originally published on May 22, 2015 by Kathy Escobar on her blog and printed in full below with her permission. Kathy is co-pastor of The Refuge, a faith community in North Denver. She describes herself as most passionate about community, the marginalized, healing, spiritual transformation, equality, justice, “church”, relationships, diversity, and learning to love and be loved. You may link to her blog here.


Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing on a panel alongside 4 other female pastors & leaders in a room filled with about 25 male pastors & leaders in Denver. Most everyone had evangelical roots, and while some pastored churches others were leading nonprofits and various ministries in town.

There was only one purpose: to listen to what it was like to be a woman in ministry.

We had told our stories several months before in a similar forum, but last time the number of women listening far outweighed the number of men. This time around, it was specifically for men and some dear friends worked extra hard to invite men to be part.

I admit, I was a little edgy on the way there. It is so vulnerable to share our real stories, not knowing what the consequences might be. Even though I’ve been an outspoken advocate for women’s equality for many years, when the conversations are in a more intimate but also professional setting, there’s more at risk.

The thing that kept me going was remembering change won’t happen unless we are willing to risk, to rock boats, to ruffle feathers, to disturb the status quo. Yeah, Well behaved women won’t change the church.

And it always seems like the way toward something new together comes from a weird combination of humility & openness & discomfort & vulnerability for everyone involved.

While the agenda wasn’t beyond listening, it was clear there was a desire for a lot of the men attending to learn how to become better advocates for women’s equality.

What does that tangibly look like? What helps heal the divide between men and women in the church? How can men better participate in healing the deep grooves of patriarchy? How can we become equals, true equals? Continue Reading »

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Finding Identity in the Mestizo Immigrant Jesus

2 comments Written on April 21st, 2015     
Filed under: Resources, Testimonies and Stories

Evelmyn photoEvelmyn Ivens was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years. Graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies and works at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago. Evelmyn has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She’s passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

We all know that Jesus was a Jew, however, he and his disciples were referred to as Galileans. By knowing that he was from Galilee, people in general, Jerusalem Jews, and especially religious leaders assumed his social context. A context where Phoenicians, Syrians, Arabs, Greeks, Orientals, and Jews were neighbors, and It was also very commerce-oriented and as a result the Jewish sector was more open to diversity and allowed for this mix. However, there were others that became more militant exclusivists. Theologian Virgilio Elizondo states that there was a continuous biological mestizaje because of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, as well as a cultural mestizaje. This mix or mestizaje of Galilee and the Galileans made them impure to the eyes of the Jerusalem Jews and it was also a reason for rejection. According to the Pharisees, the Galileans were ignorant of the law. In addition to that, the Sadducees argued that those in Galilee were careless when it came to religious matters and rules of temple worship.

Elizondo suggets that this mix gave Galileans a nuance to their Judaism, and this influence gave them a different view on life than what the Jerusalem Jews had. Galilean Jews were also mocked by educated Greeks and other Jews because of their accent, they were not able to pronounce certain sounds. According to the rabbis, this defect of pronunciation impeded them from studying the law. Also, Galileans were sometimes forbidden to pray in public in the synagogue because of this. However, their Judaism was more personal, organic, and simpler, something that the Jewish intelligentsia saw as a contamination of foreign influence. Continue Reading »

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Silent Women

14 comments Written on April 7th, 2015     
Filed under: Resources, Testimonies and Stories

Nilwona Nowlin currently serves as the Administrative Specialist for Governance for the ECC and is an active member of the Christian Community Development Association. In her “spare time,” Nilwona teaches workshops about living successfully as an introvert. She also randomly blogs about random things at thedreamerspeaksNilwona is a member of the launch team for Kingdom Covenant Church (Chicago).

Nilwona Nowlin photo2The concept of intersectionality, popularized in the 90s by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, is the theory of how different types of discrimination interact. For example, as a black woman, I’ve experienced discrimination based on my ethnicity or gender. Intersectionality addresses the discrimination I also face based on the unique combination of my ethnicity and gender. In a nutshell, it explores the variety of ways in which people/groups can be “othered.” When discussing privilege and power, we – in society and the church – often look at such categories as ethnicity, gender, class, physical abilities, religion, age, etc. These categories create an endless combination of subcategories that can be explored through the lens of intersectionality, but I want to share with you a bit of my experience with an often overlooked area.

Approximately  just over one half of the United States population is made up of introverts, those individuals who generally lean more toward: being energized through time alone, processing internally and preferring a few deep relationships to a lot of surface level relationships. Though the majority of our population consists of introverts, we function as an extraverted society – in business, education and even the church. How does this discussion fit into a forum for advocates of biblical gender equality? Intersection. Continue Reading »

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The Ongoing Struggle

4 comments Written on March 24th, 2015     
Filed under: Resources, Testimonies and Stories

Evelmyn Ivens was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years. She graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies and works at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago. Evelmyn has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She’s passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

Evelmyn photo I’m one of those people who get to read news from Facebook and/or Twitter, thankfully the people I’m friends with or who I follow in social media post and share interesting things, and actually good reads most of the time. So the other day I came across a post from and one of their most recent campaigns poverty-is-sexist. The statement reads: “Being born female in one of the world’s poorest countries means your life will be harder, simply because of your gender. Unlocking the full potential of girls and women wouldn’t just transform their own lives, or even their families’ – it could help end extreme poverty for good.” UN Women also launched a similar campaign not too long ago called heforshe, “Men raising their voice for change! The fight against gender inequality is a battle to end poverty, violence against women and promote women’s economic empowerment.” This month the White House announced the initiative, letgirlslearn  through USAID (United States Agency for International Development), a program that would provide girls with an opportunity of education around the world.

On the one hand it is encouraging to see these campaigns and programs not only from international NGOs but also from countries like the US.  We need those resources especially in countries where child marriage is still a reality. On the other hand, it fills my heart with sadness, that in this day and age, we still need those campaigns and programs to understand and appreciate females. Every year International Women’s Day is celebrated, and even though much has changed for good, and women can vote, for example, which is awesome! Our wages are still lower than our male counterparts, and for women of color, the struggle is bigger trying to break the barriers of gender and race. There is an ongoing fight for gender equality. Continue Reading »

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An Interesting Post Comparing Women In The Workplace: Then and Now

Post a Comment » Written on April 10th, 2014     
Filed under: Resources

A link to this infographic was sent to us by Louann Fadrik, who works for

We hope you find this interesting.  To link to the site, click here




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Another great post by Jenny Rae

Post a Comment » Written on March 25th, 2014     
Filed under: Resources

Click here for an interesting read on “banning bossy.”




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Links To Important Sites

Post a Comment » Written on February 20th, 2014     
Filed under: Resources

There are times when it is important to point readers to relevant blog sites or articles that are out on the internet. Here is one of those times. Click on the links below to check out some excellent posts or websites:





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