Historical evaluation is needed to counteract sexist interpretations and to understand general trends surrounding the issue of hierarchical vs. egalitarian roles. Three views on the role of women in the ministry of the local church, act as general philosophical camps.
The egalitarian view points to three primary texts supporting the right for women to hold ecclesiastical office: Romans 16:1, 7 and 1 Timothy 3:11. At the same time, the egalitarians must answer the hierarchal traditional interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11,12. The question of women holding ecclesiastical offices of authority has been the primary test case for egalitarianism. Traditionally, the evangelical church has denied women the office of apostle, pastor, elder and deacon. Cultural feminism, since The Feminist Mystique, (publication of Betty Friedan's, work became the rally point of the feminist movement.) has launched a passionate crusade to place women into leadership positions within all social structures. And the evangelical church, generally the bastion of the hierarchal tradition, has felt the special onslaught of this feminist campaign.
The non-evangelical egalitarian view generally holds that the Bible is sexist and rooted in patriarchal culture. Within the non-evangelical egalitarian view, some hold to a complete rejection of the Bible in constructing a contemporary philosophy of the role of women in ministry, and see contemporary feminism as the hermeneutical grid, instead of holding the Bible as the final authority for contemporary practice. Others endorse the seeds of cultural liberty within Christianity as evolving into a progressive liberation of women from early cultural patriarchal domination. It challenges the historical hierarchical tradition of interpretation. Therefore, a concrete understanding of it becomes paradoxical in nature.
The evangelical egalitarian view, also known as the Biblical equalitarian position, holds to an authoritative Bible but challenges the historical hierarchal tradition of interpretation. This view sees the Bible as teaching complete equality between male and female, with an emphasis on mutual submission. This view basically gives strong emphasis to a cultural hermeneutic, to eliminate the hierarchal tone of the New Testament passages of role difference. Through exemplification it can be better discerned. Romans 16:1- reads, "I commend unto you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchreae." (KJV) Egalitarians generally hold that "servant" should be translated "deaconess." This could suggest an office of authority, reflecting gender equality in role responsibilities. The Greek interpret Phoebe as a leader, elder or deacon in her church. Romans 16:7 reads, "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who were in Christ before me." According to the egalitarian position, the feminine proper name Junia is designated an apostle. Hence, a woman apostle is mentioned in the New Testament, at least in the general sense. And even in the general sense, there is still an element of definite authority implicit in the title. Timothy 3:11 reads, "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all