No-one denies that blacks and whites are equal. God created both blacks and whites in his image. They are both equally capable of leading.
But not everyone can be a leader and the Bible teaches us He created black and whites for different roles, to complement each other.
White people were created to be leaders. There is something about whiteness that makes whites need to be in charge. Whites have a need to be respected by being in charge. Their authority needs to be respected or they won’t feel like real whites.
Black people, on the other hand, were created to submit to white leadership. They don’t have the same need to lead, and when they respect the order of creation by submitting, they will feel much more fulfilled.
It sounds so racist and so evil! Yet a lot of evangelical Christians believe that woman, although created equal, are not permitted leadership roles and should submit to their husbands in the home. Conservatives have some strong biblical reasons for thinking like this, stronger than any attempt to make a similar argument about race. But our reaction of horror to this type of thinking in race should sound alarm bells at the blindspots that patriarchy has created in us when we think about the sexes.
My wife and I are currently doing some reading and thinking toward a theology of male and female. I’ll just offer some preliminary responses to those who think the Bible’s teaching on male and female is absolutely clear.
1. The household codes which call on wives to submit to their husbands in the letters of Paul and Peter are revolutionary! Such was the impact of the gospel that for the first time women were viewed as moral agents with choices about how they lived. (The secular household codes which Peter and Paul have adapted do not address women but only men.) The good news had caused women to enjoy new found liberation, which some of them were using in ways which upset the spread of the gospel and scandalised conservatives. Paul and Peter are urging them in their particular situation, for the sake of the gospel, to adopt ‘revolutionary subordination’. It is not a timeless command but a response to their particular situation.
In our situation, it is scandalous to the secular world for wives to submit to their husbands. Paul and Peter may be making opposite demands on the church if they were writing to us today.
2. The trajectory of the gospel, the thrust of the Christian story is toward Galatians 3:28 where the divisions of male and female, slave and free are overcome in the body of Christ. It is this ideal toward which the church must aspire.
3. I’m well aware that this leaves some key texts which still cause problems for the egalitarian Christian. There is diversity in the Bible and it is something we may never completely resolve. But it is worthwhile wrestling with all the texts, not just the ones which support our position.