Actually, there's a lot of waffling in that position anyway. They can't agree on just what verses define the "men's roles" and "women's roles" that they insist the Bible prescribes, though they're fairly unanimous in these roles being mutually exclusive. They all pretty much draw the line on "no women preachers or pastors," though they disagree sharply on just what constitutes preaching, pastoring, and even the group setting that constitutes the church in which such things must be limited to men. They disagree on what ventures are permissible for women to undertake (what is work, how far afield is "outside the home," if women can work outside the home before and/or after children are in the home), what submission to one's husband entails for the wife, how far a husband can go in loving his wife as Christ loves the church before it becomes submission--a unanimous "no-no" for husbands, and so forth and so on.
There's also a huge amount of hyperbole going on about what Christian egalitarians believe. (Here in Texas, "hyperbole" is one of those "four-bit words," and many would prefer "lie" because it's plainer what I mean. But since some of these folk actually believe the hyperbole, I think I'll go with that. If they're a-lyin', at best they don't think they're a-lyin', and at worst I have no proof they're a-lyin'.) I've read all the following falsehoods, and I'm not a-lyin':
- Egalitarians are really communists
- Egalitarians think men and women are identical
- Egalitarians think abortion is OK
- Egalitarians think divorce is a good thing
- Egalitarians don't believe the Bible is inspired by God
- Egalitarians don't respect the Bible
- Egalitarians are out to feminize the church
- Egalitarians are out to feminize God
- Egalitarians are anti-marriage
- Egalitarians are the cause of homosexuality
- Egalitarians hate women
- Egalitarians hate men
- Egalitarians hate God
- Egalitarians are conforming to the world's culture
First of all, until very, very recently (and only in the affluent West), the world has always been overwhelmingly patriarchal and hierarchical in its various cultures. Christian patriarchalists see a number of descriptions of this worldly patriarchy described in the Bible, and mistake these descriptions for commands from God. Yet the Bible, counter to the world's rule-by-might sinful pattern, calls for each to consider the other better than oneself, sacrifice oneself for the sake of the other, love as Christ has loved, and submit ourselves to one another out of our reverence for Christ. That's as counter-cultural as it gets. No one gets to ursurp Christ's authority over us and invent hierarchies. We're called in various ways by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve one another. Where there is authority, its source is always God and is given to us as a tool so that we might serve more effectively.
In Christian marriage, the husband is described in high metaphor as the head of his wife. Christian patriarchalists lift this metaphor out of its context in order to invent an authority and hierarchy in marriage that is expressly proscribed by Jesus. "One flesh" is not to be divided into a leader and a follower in this way. They seem to miss, or ignore, the fact that in this metaphor the wife is referred to as her husband's body. This is unambiguously a metaphor for unity, not for authority. Christ is Lord (authority) of both husband and wife, and of the one flesh that is their marriage and of their family, if any. Patriarchalists insist on making the husband the authority in the marriage, investing in him a variety of responsibilities and privileges that the Bible never gives him (just exactly what privileges and responsibilities depends on which patriarchalist "expert" one reads). "Final say," his wife's spiritual well-being, head of the household, priest of the home...these are just a few examples of things the Bible never places on a husband.
And in the church. You'll never find such a convoluted, conflicting set of teachings as from patriarchalists on the "role of women in the church." They must be totally silent. They don't have to be totally silent, but may only sing, not speak. They may not lead congregational singing. They may speak and sing, but may not pray aloud. They may pray aloud, but may not address the assembly. They may address the assembly, but may not do so in a way that resembles teaching or preaching. They may teach, but must not preach from a pulpit. They may teach or preach, even from a pulpit, so long as they do so under a man's "covering." They may do whatever they like so long as there are no men in the room. They may do whatever they like, so long as there are no men or boys older than twelve in the room. They may do whatever they like, but only with pre-school children. They may not lead meetings, except for women's groups. They may write Bible studies, but may not teach them. They may not write Bible studies. They may not study theology or biblical languages. They may study biblical languages, but not in a seminary. They may study in a seminary, but must take only "women's" classes. They may study at seminaries but are not permitted in Master of Divinity programs. They may study anything they like in seminaries, but may not be ordained. They may be ordained, but only as women's pastors or children's pastors.
Anybody else going "huh"? Isn't it so much simpler, and more godly as well, to listen carefully for God's guidance, participate in a discerning community of faith that will help us discern God's callings, and then OBEY GOD?
For ever prohibition, we have at least one biblical "exception" to that dizzying list of rules, or else no biblical examples of either men or women doing such things. Try as we might, we cannot find "yes or no" answers in Scripture for every possible human endeavor. We can find principles if we're willing to examine the whole of Scripture. When we're willing to do that, many of our cherished preferences will end up nailed to the cross. Submitting ourselves to God and to one another is a big leap of faith, for we no longer get to say, "But God, that's not what I was taught." Patriarchalism is one of those things that simply cannot stand up under contextual biblcal scrutiny. We can't afford to read the Bible through the lens of patriarchy or any other human construct. However, we can always, reliably, read it through the lens of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in Whom the Apostle Paul writes in the Spirit, we Christians are all one, "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. "