The animus between the traditional (complementarian) and the egalitarian views of women's roles shows little signs of abating. The polarized positions on issues such as whether a woman should submit to her husband, whether she is allowed to preach, or indeed, whether she is permitted to do anything without male permission, is a polemic that has its vociferous spokespersons on both sides.
With an evangelical zeal, I hold to the equality of men and women in every sphere of life. Over the years, I have despaired of change, disparaged the other point of view, and denigrated the holders of such an untenable position. None of these postures has done anything to disabuse my opponents of their sincerely held convictions. However, such a stance has alienated me from other members of God's family, and from who I am created to be - a breathing, walking, working embodiment of Jesus in the flesh. A human being who loves above all else.
When I met another writer who held the very views I so despised, an era of love dawned. Divine destiny dictated that we write - not only about our opposing opinions on the hot-button women's issues - but also on how to respect, honor, and love one another despite our differences. We cannot convince and change the heart and mind of another human being. That inside job is the exclusive domain of our God. The only way any one of us can reconcile our irreconcilable differences is to love, regardless. This is the high road, and the hard road. But this is why the love is there; what Christ's life in us is designed is for, if we surrender to it.
In the Christian community, it is way past time to consider a cessation of hostilities that have held us hostage from each other. It is time to model the kind of gentleness that makes us great, that respects another's point of view no matter how disparate from our own. It is time to resist knee-jerk responses when our pet theories are challenged, to refrain from blanket derision of adherents in opposing camps, liberal or conservative, pro-life or pro-choice, and time to embrace those whom we even - or especially - disapprove.
We are honored and humbled to be part of the vanguard that is willing to submit to love. Our positions on women's roles have not changed, but we have. Beyond the rhetoric, let love rule - let love take us Home!
Alice Scott-Ferguson is co-author with Nancy Parker Brummett of Reconcilable Differences: Two Friends Debate God's Roles for Women (Life Journey, Cook Communications Ministries, September 2006).