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Respect where it's due

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Romans 16. 1-2

Anyone inclined to dismiss Paul as an incurable misogynist should take note of his frequent and appreciative references to women in his letters. Take the above extract from Paul's longest and best-known letter. Phoebe is introduced by Paul as his cherished colleague: a leader and benefactor of the church no less. Far from patronising her, he refers to her as at least his equal if not more - for he is among those who have benefitted from her largesse. Such respect would have been counter-cultural in Paul's day. In some places it would still raise an eyebrow in ours!

Under God all are equal, as were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Sexual inequality is a product of the Fall, in which all of our relationships are tainted. So, in looking forward to Jesus' return to complete his redeeming of creation, we are anticipating the restoration of the gender balance inter alia. In the meantime, our vocation as Christians is to live accordingly, holding all in mutual respect as befits siblings who share the same inheritance because we share the same Father, Saviour and Lord.



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