Evangelicals have gotten into the women’s liberation battle with a vengeance. Last Thanksgiving the Evangelical Women’s Caucus met in Washington, emphasizing the fact that women, evangelical or not, have legitimate grievances. These are the focus of the Equal Rights Amendment, which now has passed the Congress and awaits possible ratification by the states.

By now people inside and outside the churches generally agree that women should have the same rights as men: equal pay for the same jobs; equal opportunity for positions generally limited to men; the right and freedom to pursue any career, to own and control property, to obtain credit cards, and the like. But there is one question raised in this connection that has produced some unfortunate consequences: I refer to marriage as it relates to the subject of hierarchy, or of subordination versus egalitarianism. Here evangelicals, including some quite active in the Evangelical Women’s Caucus, are caught between a rock and a hard place.

The issue does not involve women who remain single and decide to carve out careers. For them the question of obeying husbands does not enter the picture. But it does become important to Christian women who do marry. Here it is that the eruption occurs. Central to the discussion is what the Bible has to say on the issue. Elisabeth Elliot of Auca Indian renown stands on the side of hierarchy: wives should obey their husbands. She says: “For the tremendous hierarchical vision of blessedness … the feminist substitues a vision of blessedness which holds all human beings on a level plain—a faceless, colorless, sexless wasteland It is a world which cannot hold the mystery of the Trinity, for there three beings, co-equal and co-eternal, exist in a hierarchical ...

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