Egalitarian Report Card

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Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), the nation’s leading evangelical feminist advocacy group, is appalled by the Roman Catholic Church. Well, so was Martin Luther. But the evangelical feminists are upset for reasons that never bothered Dr. Luther: the Roman Catholic Church won’t ordain women to the priesthood.

The latest post on CBE’s blog, “The CBE Scroll” argues that evangelicals have a great deal to learn from the bad report card the Catholic Church received from a group called the Women’s Justice Coalition which charges that women are relegated to the margins in Roman Catholic life. The CBE blogger roots this in the theology of male headship that exists in the Roman church, a situation that corresponds, the post argues, with certain sectors of evangelical Protestantism.

Of course, as with all report cards, it matters who is doing the grading.

Who is the Women’s Justice Coalition? Well, it turns out, according to the group’s website, they are a coalition made up of groups such as New Ways Ministry, a group that is, according to the WJC website, “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities”; Dignity USA, which “works for respect and justice for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the Catholic Church and the world,” and Catholics for a Free Choice, which advocates abortion rights.

What does it mean to be “marginalized” in the definitions of such groups?

CBE insists that egalitarianism is a separate question from other issues of Christian orthodoxy. One can hold to a lack of differentiation in the teaching office of the church or in the headship of the home while still maintaining a commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy. One wonders whether CBE questions why groups committed to sexual liberation and hostile to children would be so in favor of a flattening of the unique callings of men and women in the church and home?

CBE is right. There may be much we can learn from this report card, though perhaps not the lessons ready for the promotional flyers of Christians for Biblical Equality.

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).