A short-haired woman leaving the Equip 2017 conference in Sydney on Saturday was overheard to remark: “I wonder if I should grow my hair. But it doesn’t suit me and never has!”
She had just heard teaching from the evangelical women’s conference that confused and offended many of the 3000 women in the audience.
In her talk on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, on male headship, Carmelina Read said women should examine their reasons for cutting their hair short.
She showed a picture of actress Kristen Stewart with a “fierce” new buzz cut which had been hailed by media pundits as a sign of female liberation.
She believed it might be more in line with God’s good design to have long hair because it was a visible sign of the difference between men and women in which God delighted.
The advice was presented in the context of a difficult passage of Scripture that teaches that the head of woman is man, just as the head of man is Christ.
Many were upset by the comments on hair – and several young women left before the end of Read’s talk. One conference delegate commented while she was uncomfortable with the “complementarian” theology being taught, what really riled her was extending the female role as “helper” to the workplace.
“Complementarian” theology holds that men should hold leadership roles in marriage and church life with women as “helpers”, while in “egalitarian” theology men and women are considered equal to the task of leading the church and equal in marriage before God. However, the speakers offered a radical version of complementarianism extending it to the workplace, which surprised many in the audience. This is sometimes called patriarchy.
One speaker even said that if a woman became a CEO she should perform her role in a way that was helpful to men. In a video shown during the conference, a female minister says what makes her happy is when she is able to make her male colleagues “shine,” a point that was taken up at the end by Equip chair Isobel Lin.
“When Isobel mentioned that it made my blood boil,” the anonymous delegate said.
“If my son were a girl, or if I have a daughter, I’m not sure that I can be teaching her that thinking.”
This delegate said she felt more kinship with the feminist Read said she used to be.
Read, who is Dean of Women at Christ College in Sydney, said she had come a long way from her university days, when she believed Scriptural teaching on headship was “cultural” rather than a “timeless reality.”
“God calls Christian men and women to realise the reality of headship and honour headship in prayer (talking to God) and prophecy (talking about God),” she said.
“It involves visually acknowledging your gender. And for the Corinthians that meant men should uncover their heads when praying or prophesying, and women should cover their heads when praying or prophesying. This is demonstrated in God’s purpose in creation order, in nature, and in universal Christian practice,” she said.
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SOURCE: Eternity News, Anne Lim