Christ and Gender Roles

Traditionally Christianity has called for gender-distinctions in religious service. This is based on a couple of explicit passages together with inferences from other contexts. In this series of classes we argue that the traditional understanding is flawed.

There is a natural stopping point after Class 3 – the main case will have been made by then. The remaining classes address additional relevant topics for anyone who wants to dig deeper.

1. A case to be addressed

This talk establishes the bona fides of addressing this topic as Christadelphians. We are used to wrestling with the complexity of scripture, rather than simply taking the superficial meaning of complex verses. We bring that same perspective to show that the passages usually used for teaching gender-distinctions in religious service deserve another (and closer) look.

2. Women Speaking for God

This talk establishes the positive case, before addressing objections. There are many scriptural accounts of women speaking on behalf of God, spread across many hundreds of years. There is a power to reviewing their calling and message. And it provides a clear demonstration that God himself has called women to positions of spiritual teaching and leadership.

3. Key Passages

There are just three New Testament passages that contain explicit directives often used to establish gender-distinction teachings. In this talk we examine them with a view to resolving the apparent contradiction between these verses and God’s actions, especially his inspiration of women prophets. This class completes the initial sequence of three classes that address the major points about gender-role distinctions – we close with a summary of the case and consider implications for today.

4. Head and Body

The metaphor of head and body shows up in many discussions about gender-based roles. We trace the metaphor as used by Paul, noting it is primarily used to describe the union of Christ and the church, and secondarily regarding marriage. We follow these themes in detail, tracing the links back to Adam and Eve and explore their role as a type of Christ. Returning to the New Testament, we show how the so-called fourfold hierarchy is incompatible with Paul’s use of the head-body metaphor, and close by exploring Paul’s intent in applying the metaphor to marriage.

5. Male and Female

Maleness is prevalent in the Bible. Why is this, and what implications should we draw from it? We examine four inferences that are commonly drawn, from what it means to be in the image of God, through to Jesus’ choice of apostles. Along the way we discuss appropriate use of statistical inferences, and follow covenantal themes of Genesis as they relate to male and female in Christ.


Please feel free to email me with your thoughts or reactions, especially if you think there are places I have made a mistake in handling Scripture. To confuse spam bots I’ll describe my email address as, but let the reader understand… Some comments that seem particularly helpful I may post here, but I will ask for your permission first.

I wanted to thank you hugely for the first of your series on the role of women in the church. You approach the subject with grace and humility and manage to be commendably even-handed. It’s just perfectly pitched. Your logic too is inescapable and compelling.
This is the first of countless attempts to broach this subject that I felt happy to recommend to someone dear to me who’s of a more traditional persuasion. That means a lot.
So much looking forward to the rest of the series. Thank you for having the courage to tackle this topic, and then for taking such care in the execution.

H.M. United Kingdom

My husband and I watched both videos tonight. We kept pausing and discussing points excitedly. Bro John makes such a great case for how God viewed and utilised women. Especially the women at the tomb being commanded to go and tell the apostles.
Bro John used the words ‘diminished’ and ‘feels diminished’. That resonated so much with me. That’s how I feel. Less than, unwanted, not good enough because I had the misfortune to be born female. I feel so sad thinking that way.
But John has shown me that I am beloved by God, wanted, worthy, equal to… a joy and (for me struggling in my faith walk) a challenge to live up to.
I am very eager to see the next talk when it is online.
And I would love for the opportunity to work in my ecclesia using my gifts properly.

L.A. New Zealand