One response from Christian leader Rachel Held Evans calls on Christian men to weigh in the on the issue. Good idea. So, here are my two quick thoughts:
First, to modify the phrase above, “God has given Christianity a cultural feel.” Quite simply, history’s cultural values will invariably influence how Christianity is practiced and communicated. On the issue of roles for women and men I definitely think this is the case. Does the Bible use a lot of patriarchal language? Yes it does. But it was written a long time ago in a very different culture. To believe the historically particular text of the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice is to wade through 2000-years of cultural shifts, realizing in the process that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) in every time and culture. Jesus doesn't change, but the times sure do. So should we.
Which brings me to my second, quite unoriginal thought: Jesus is our example. Some may view my first point as simply letting culture determine our Christian faith and practice. Well, no. I’m just saying we need to start with Jesus’ example of engaging culture. For instance, biblical leadership is often a big part of the masculine Christianity discussion. Classic texts are heralded as clarifying male headship in church and family (e.g. 1 Tim. 2, Eph. 5:22-33). But rarely do we hear people quote what Jesus had to say to his band of soon-to-be leaders: “Blessed are the poor in spirit...those who mourn...the meek...those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...the merciful...the pure in heart...the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness” (Mt. 5:3-10). Profound teaching on leadership and life.
But what about male and female roles? Isn't that teaching for all followers of Jesus? Yes, Jesus’ teaching is for all followers. The way of Jesus - man, woman, leader or otherwise - is for all.
Let’s stop separating following Jesus from leading for Jesus; or from being a man for Jesus; or from being a woman for Jesus. There is only one Jesus we follow - the Jesus that is for all.
“for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)