Winter 2003 

Vol. 3    Num. 3 



Is equal in being, unequal in function supported from Scripture?

Kathryn Riss, ThM

Although traditionalists today want to uphold the equality of the sexes, they give authority to men while denying it to women based on gender alone. These proponents of gender hierarchy believe that Genesis 2 teaches that man has authority over woman because he was created before her.

The Bible does not disclose any authority relationship between man and woman prior to the Fall.  The inference that it does comes from two presumptions The first is that truly mutual, egalitarian relationships are impossible, even in marriage. The second is that men are superior to women, for men are viewed as the natural leaders to whom women must always defer. However, Scripture gives examples of women such as Deborah and Huldah who were national and religious leaders.  Men including King Josiah recognized and followed the godly authority of these women. Being in the right is more important than gender or social position, for God commanded Abraham to obey his wife, Sarah, by granting that her son Isaac would inherit the covenant blessings.

 It is evident that men are generally more aggressive and domineering than women and that they have competed with one another for power, but this does not qualify them for leadership according to Christian standards – quite the opposite!

 The Way of the Lord 

 Jesus taught, “Do not be called ‘rabbi,’ for One is your leader, Christ, and you all are brethren. And call no one your father on earth, for One is your Father, Who is in Heaven. Nor be called leaders, for One is your leader, Christ. But the greater among you shall be your servant. And whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-10).

 Instead of following Christ’s teaching by seeking to serve others and letting Jesus be Lord, His followers have all too often applied the ways of the world to the Church, home and society. Jesus’ 12 apostles had a very difficult time laying down their ambitions and desire to dominate others.  And for generations since, men have been unable to imagine, let alone implement, a Christian community without a hierarchy with themselves at the top.

Leadership emerges in two ways.  The way of Jesus is for those who have excellent character, wisdom, experience and anointing to be recognized by others, who choose to follow them. The way of the world is for ambitious people to jockey for position and privilege, subjugating others rather than enabling them.

 When we follow the way of Jesus, each person can contribute according to their personal ability as recognized and affirmed by others.  Paul teaches this process when he encourages Christians to seek and exercise their God-given spiritual gifts and urges all believers to submit to one another in love. In this way, the entire Body of Christ functions cooperatively according to the abilities God gives to each member. All are free, all have a role to play, and all work together cooperatively. Each benefits from the gifts of others, and each has opportunity to contribute his or her own abilities. Leadership flows according to giftedness and anointing, which are sovereignly given by God.

 The Ways of the World

However, church leaders have incorporated natural dominance factors into what should be a Spirit-led community. Rather than mentoring others, men have often required other men to pay homage to them by “paying their dues” or “coming under their covering” before allowing them to function in leadership roles. And, ignoring their gifts, they have greatly restricted or eliminated women from the whole leadership pipeline.

Wouldn’t it really be better to allow everyone to follow the Spirit’s lead and utilize the abilities God has given each for the common good? Wouldn’t God’s Spirit have more freedom and power in our midst if we took away the barriers that block some members of His body from functioning? If we get out of God’s way, Jesus can be Lord of His church. The potential is enormous!

But, opposing God’s Spirit, we have insisted that only men can teach or preach to the congregation, despite a long record of highly gifted and successful women who did both. We have imposed rigid sex roles onto people God intended to relate to Him and to each other primarily via the Holy Spirit. We have required women to be followers and men to be leaders, whether the individuals involved were gifted or suited for those roles or not. This tension produces stress and dissatisfaction, for the Holy Spirit within each person longs to be free.

Whenever we impose restrictions or limitations on people based on natural considerations, we replace functional authority according to ability with legalistic authoritarianism, which must be enforced. Under Christ’s love, men and women can and should work together cooperatively, giving mutual consideration and respect to all.

The myth that egalitarian relationships are impossible is disproved by numerous, successful business partnerships and happy marriages in which both partners share decision-making. Only domineering persons cannot conceive of or practice equality flowing from mutual love and cooperation.

Back to the Garden

Adam and Eve were both innocent and sinless, so there was no need for a human authority to bring correction or discipline. Because they were both created in God’s image, sharing God’s characteristics of intelligence, the ability to plan, and free will, both were capable of self-government. Together, they were given God’s blessing and delegated authority over the earth and its life forms.  Both had the ability and mandate to exercise dominion. They were created as adults, so neither required guidance as children do.

As male and female, Adam needed his wife’s companionship and help as well as her sexuality to reproduce. Eve needed the same things from her husband. Their individuality was intended to enrich a loving marriage.  

No inherent authority existed between Adam as male and Eve as female. Genesis 3 states that dominion between them resulted from their fallen, sinful natures. If it is nevertheless argued that God gave Adam authority over Eve before the Fall, the basis for that authority must be an assumption of the spiritual or intellectual inferiority of woman to man. This unspoken attitude underlies the contemporary evangelical advocacy of hierarchical gender relations.

The Fallacy of Gender Superiority

Those today who insist that only men should teach do so not based on superior knowledge, but entirely on male gender. Since natural characteristics, such as sex, do not equip anyone to teach, traditionalists must buttress this position with the idea that somehow men always possess more spiritual truth than women simply because they are male. This fallacy does not line up with evidence or experience.

Like men, women today receive education and so have the necessary knowledge. Many also have evident teaching gifts, some quite outstanding. Henrietta Mears mentored thousands of college-aged youth who became leaders of 20th century evangelicalism, including Dick Halverson of World Vision, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, and Jim Rayburn of Young Life. More than 400 young men became full-time ministers or missionaries as a result of her teaching and leadership. So, to maintain their position, traditionalists must ignore women’s proven abilities and promote a mythical faith in the supposed spiritual superiority of the male sex. This deception has produced a further theological error: the fantasy that maleness is a spiritual quality, rather than a reproductive one.

If the “right” of men but not women to lead and teach is not based upon actual superior knowledge or ability, it must be a custom in which men are affirmed due to their superior social status. This status is viewed as so important that it supercedes all other factors.

The questions we must answer are: Is this discrimination against women a just practice that reflects God’s heart and Word? Does it line up with the practices and values of Jesus Christ who sent women to proclaim His resurrection to the rest of the disciples? Does it serve the church by providing the best qualified teachers available? Does it demonstrate to unbelievers that Christians treat each other in ways that are just, beneficial, and intelligent? Does it allow God to be God, selecting those whom He chooses and empowers for the ministries He desires? In short, does “equal in being but unequal in function” make any sense?

If our answers to the above questions are negative, we must then ask, “If not, why would we imagine that it could be God’s will?”

We encourage you to forward the newsletter to those that you believe would be interested. 



God's View of "Late Bloomers" 

Picture revealed to
 Jo Swezey

Jo shared this at the DFW Retreat sponsored by ICWHP in November and it was too good to keep to ourselves.

Being an older woman in ministry, I occasionally found myself looking back and wishing I had stepped into ministry earlier in life...especially when I considered what might have been accomplished had I done so.  However, instead of spurring me onward with a greater intensity, those thoughts began to drag me down.  That is, until God revealed the following picture to me.

In God's eyes, the body of Christ is like a huge flower garden of various kinds and colors.  However, not all bloom at the same time.  There are those that flourish in the Spring months while others are better adapted to the Summer heat.  Then, come the abundant bloomers of Autumn when even the trees and bushes become a brilliant display of color.  Eventually though, the frigid climate of Winter arrives and all appears barren when suddenly flowers such as the winter pansy burst into bloom in great magnificence.

One thing is now clear to me: just as God determines the seasons in which flowers bloom, He also decides the "season" of our ministries. In that I find rest.   Autumn or Winter "bloomers" are not less than Spring or Summer "bloomers".  They have all been ordained by God to bloom in their appointed seasons.  My ministry wasn't late and neither is yours.  Age is insignificant to Him.   It is the spirit that matters, and the spirit is ageless! 

Rise up, O women of God!  Your appointed season is at hand.  Break forth and bloom gloriously for the Lord!


What’s Happening
 on the Web?

The Glory of the Lord is Upon You by Carole Scott  This prophetic message, "Get Up Daughters, The Glory Of The Lord Is Upon You!" was birthed in that vision and is empowered with an anointing prayer for women of all ages.

Articles We have now listed all the articles by topic to make it easier to find what you are looking for.  The articles are also listed on the Articles page in alphabetical order for those who don't want to explore by topic.  

God's Word to Women by Katherine Bushnell. All remaining lessons grouped as 10 lessons in each section.  Lessons 51-60, Lessons 61-70, Lessons 71-80, Lessons 81-90, Lessons 91-100.  In the near future we will put up the other lessons in this same format.  Thanks and God's blessings to Gerta Windmill from Australia who typed this book when it was out of print and sent us her work so that it would be available to everyone.  She saved us hours of scanning and correcting!

God's Gals by Gerald McCray - We (Barbara, Gay and Pat of God's Word to Women) are pleased to be able to put up Chapter 11 from God's Gals by Gerald McCray.  Gerald contacted us a few years ago asking permission to use our website as a resource, a real complement.  He also wanted to use some of the articles by Kathryn and Richard Riss, so we put him in contact with Kathryn who wound up editing his book.  We are delighted that he mentions our friendship on his acknowledgements page.  The book is making an impact.  God's Gals can be purchased from your local Christian bookstore or ordered from either or   

Testimony of Gretchen Offord  

 Intercessor for GWTW

In the summer of 2001 we used the newsletter to put out a call for intercessors for God’s Word to Women.  It had been a rough year and we finally realized that as individuals and a ministry we were really under attack 

More prayer support was needed than just the three of us could provide.  Gretchen is the second of our prayer warriors.  She joined us a little over a year ago.  Her deep interest in our concerns has been apparent from the first, and we are grateful to the Lord that He has put us on her heart.

Hi, my name is Gretchen and I am an intercessor for God's Word to Women and  the site owner for 

I am a 40-something woman who desires with all my heart to share God's love and plan of reconciliation with those around me, either in the real world or the virtual world. 

I found my relationship with God when I was 5 1/2 years old. My brother and I attended a "Good News Club" in our neighborhood in Los Altos, California. It lasted for five afternoons in the outside garden of the host home. The first day I knew I wanted to know God, because I was aware (even at that young age) that I had done wrong and I wanted to be right with God so I could live with Him forever in Heaven when I died. I understood that He sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for my sin and by receiving that gift, I would be right with God. I waited until the fourth afternoon to get right with Him.  Just to be sure, I prayed a prayer that lasted for over half an hour. I just didn't want to stop talking to Him. The lady who accompanied me inside to the living room continued to ask me if I was done. My response each time was "Not yet." 

There is something unique and incredible about talking with God, the Creator of the Universe. We do not have to go through any mediator but are free to talk to Him at any time and in any place. (see Matthew 6:7-15) 

For several years after that summer, my mother and I hosted 'Good News Clubs' and "Five Day Clubs" in our home. Both of my brothers got right with God because of "Good News Clubs." Besides the joy I felt with them accepting salvation, I discovered an interesting connection. It turns out that our great-grandfather started the Good News Clubs.  He was raised in and later became a preacher in a church where children were not given any allowance for Bible comprehension until their late teen years.  He realized, as God showed him, that children of even young ages are fully able to understand about God, Jesus, the Cross, sin, and being right with God. He founded a ministry around the idea and called it Child Evangelism Fellowship. Unfortunately, there were many in our extended family who were unable to, or refused to, acknowledge the powerful relationship with God that Jesus made possible. They chose simple church attendance, being good citizens, and following a basic moral code rather than receiving a deep, life-changing relationship with God.

I attended Baptist churches through high school as well as a Christian school through eighth grade. The foundation these years gave me are so precious even though I have grown up in Christ, as the Bible says, beyond what I learned there. In my college and young adult years, I searched for something deep and meaningful in a variety of churches (Church of God, Baptist, Non-denominational). It wasn't until I put God and relationship with Him before church and its related social activities that I found true peace and fulfillment. 

Through all the years of heartache and joy, of fun and struggle, of loyal friends and betrayals,  One Person has graciously stayed with me through it all -- God. He has never failed or abandoned me. Even when I strayed a bit from His path for me He was there, awaiting my return to His loving care. I am ever so grateful for His faithfulness and for never letting me get too far from Him. He rightfully belongs in the center of our lives and when I honored Him with the center place, He brought me such contentment. Nothing else in life even came close to meeting my needs in the way He did, and does. 

He gave me the idea for a website two years before I even had access to a computer and the internet. When the time came to develop this site, He reminded me of what He had told me those years before...and my joy to do His will consumed me. 

There is nothing like knowing God and Jesus for not only is it eternal life (John 17:3) but it also makes life on earth purposeful, peaceful and pleasant, even during the trials and tribulations that accompany one who knows God. 

God created us for relationship with Himself. When sin broke the fellowship of that relationship, God made the relationship possible again by giving His most precious gift - His Son Jesus - so that by receiving Jesus, we are reconciled to God. Life, with its ups and downs, joy and sorrows, can only be full within a relationship with God. Life is pointless without knowing Him. 

I hope and pray that you can get to know God or deepen your existing relationship with Him.

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