January 11 , 2022 at 8pm ET
Dr. Beth Allison Barr states that the reason we think women cannot be in authority is simply because we've taken five or six verses from the New Testament and we have used those verses and read the entire Bible through them, through that lens. And these are mostly the Pauline verses: women be silent, women submit to your husbands, etc. If we step away from those verses and actually put them in the context of what Paul was doing — and then put that in the context of the entire Bible — what we see is that while patriarchy exists in the Bible, that God is actually always fighting against patriarchy, that he's always raising women out of it. He's always giving women authority in surprising ways, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. And that if we look at the historical context of what Paul is actually doing in the New Testament, there are serious problems with reading Paul as telling women that they have to be silent and under the authority of men for all times.
In her new book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, historian Beth Allison Barr traces cultural sources of patriarchy that have all but erased women's historical importance as leaders of the faith.
Barr is a Southern Baptist and a pastor's wife. In an interview with NPR, she described the day she realized that "what we found in the Bible about what women were supposed to do did not match with what my church was saying women were supposed to do." Eventually, she and her husband left that congregation — no longer able to tolerate the contradictions, she said.