Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Owen Strachan Debates Rachel Held Evans

Owen Strachan recently sat down for a debate with Rachel Held Evans on Justin Brierly’s UK radio program. Adrian Warnock joined in the discussion as well. The conversation recaps the recent dust-up involving Rachel Held Evans’ public rebuke of Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson. It also addresses the gender debate in general. I think that Owen has the better part of this argument. No surprise there! You can download the audio here or listen to it below.



  • Robert Angison

    I thought it was a pretty even discussion. After you get past the first few minutes of introductions and setting the groundwork, both Owen and Rachel do well to defend their positions. There are some aspects of nuance that seem to elude Rachel, but she makes up for that by pressing some good talking points.

    However, the discussion really never got past this silly incident. One of the challenges that I was hoping Owen or perhaps the other fellow (I forget his name) would make is the quick affiliation of complementarianism with patriarchalism. Rachel assess that label from the outset and it isn’t properly challenged. As we all know complementarianism isn’t patriarchalism.

    Several of Owen’s points are good ones. However, as a complementarian I go out of my way to point out that a man’s headship/leadership ends at the point of abuse and that the sexual act is created (in part) for protection and pleasure. Too often what folks hear in our biblical defense is too much dominance and not enough enjoyment.

    It is a good discussion. One that needs to be continually had. Thankfully both Owen and Rachel are sensible people.

    • Dave

      “One of the challenges that I was hoping Owen or perhaps the other fellow (I forget his name) would make is the quick affiliation of complementarianism with patriarchalism. Rachel assess that label from the outset and it isn’t properly challenged. As we all know complementarianism isn’t patriarchalism.”

      I’ve never heard a single good argument other than people having emotional baggage (as seems to be the argument here) for a real differentiation between the two.

    • Denise Anderson

      I don’t think he was trying to condone slavery at that point in the interview, he was trying to counter Rachel’s point about Paul’s writing on slavery being irrelevant today to justify her position of also dismissing Paul’s clear comments on gender differences as irrelevant as well.

  • Andrew

    It was a good conversation, but I’m a little disappointed in Owen’s responses. He missed a lot of weaknesses in Rachel’s argument. They talked past one another a lot.

  • Brian Beal

    Yeah Owen could have done better. Rachel was getting the most airtime and just really used any question she was asked to get in about four additional talking points.

    Owen should have just returned to the one question that non egalitarian can or will answer: Biblically what is the difference between a man and a woman? What is a man Biblically and what is a woman?

    • Don Johnson

      I am a Biblical egalitarian and there is a very simple answer. A man is a male human and a woman is a female human and they complement each other. There are differences in plumbing such that a man can have sex with and (sometimes) impregnate a woman and a woman can (sometimes) be impregnated and then later birth a baby and then (often) be able to nurse it from her body.

      • Brian Beal

        Ahh but that is just it Don you are not answering the question. I asked Biblically what is the difference between a man and a woman. You gave me how they are different anatomically and in regards to their biology. Is this all God had in mind with the Imago Dei in making men and women different to reflect his image? It can’t be since God does not have a body. So it is something much deeper that God is communicating about himself in making both men and women to reflect fully his image. And the best part about it, is that the Bible is not silent on this matter and the complementarian can read the scriptures and do justice to all the parts that speak of what it mean to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

        So again Don, what does it Biblically, mean to be a man and a woman? What is it that a man uniquely reflects about the image of God and what is it that a woman uniquely reflects about the image of God?

        The conversation always seems to go mute at this point…

        • Don Johnson

          I did answer your question. You just do not want to accept the answer. The words in Hebrew can be interpreted as “piercer” and “pierced” obviously referring to anatomy during the sex act.

          So then you want to go beyond the anatomical diffs in the discussion, as there ARE parts of Scripture where men and women are treated differently, but this goes beyond the definition of the terms, which is what you asked.

          For example, all the Mosaic covenant Levitical priests at the tabernacle or temple were men, but as far as I can tell, there is no explanation WHY this was so, it was just stated and the Israelites followed it. It is also true that in the new covenant we see this realized with the “priesthood of all believers” which I assume you believe. Importing something from the Mosaic covenant and trying to make it apply to all new covenant believers is called “Judaizing” and is not something a believer is to do, and I do not think you want to do that.

          • Brian Beal

            How do men and women uniquely reflect the Imago Dei? This is a simple question for complementarians to answer, impossible for egalitarians.

            • Don Johnson

              Both men and women and perhaps a man and a woman together in marriage display the image of God. From this we can tell that the having the image of God does not depend on one’s gender.

              See, it is not impossible for me to answer.

        • Suzanne McCarthy


          This is a very new and peculiar for me. The classical way to understand imago dei is to say that humans were created with reason and free will. This belongs equally, to both men and women, and they are both equally human. Imago dei may also refer to the act of loving one another, as fellow human beings, being coregents over creation, having agency and immortal souls.

          I honestly am not aware of ANY theologians before Bruce Ware who split the image of of God asunder, and applied some to men and some to women. That is very recent. As an egalitarian, I feel at home in historical Christian views of what it means to be human and in relation to God. I honestly am not aware of how complementarians divide the essence of God into male and female.

          • Denise Anderson

            What is new, Suzanne, is the feminist movement of a few decades ago that obscured traditional roles affirmed by classical Christianity traced back to the creation order.

  • Brian Beal

    You did not answer the question. How do men uniquely reflect the image of God? What does it biblically mean to be a man? Egals have to avoid at all cost to answer this question because it then draws distinction and all distinction is bad. Like it or not, egalitarianism must have an implicit androgyny results.

    • Don Johnson

      No, there are no implicit androgyny results, a man is different than a woman, as I have already pointed out. By far the most discussion in the Bible is what it means to be human, specifically a loving human following Christ.

      It is possible to ask a question that has no answer, an example of this is when the question implies an invalid premise. Your question has such a premise, therefore that is the reason it cannot be answered. It is not that I am avoiding answering it, the answer to your question is that it contains an invalid premise and is therefore an invalid question. “Why is the color blue pink?” is a similar question.

      • Brian Beal

        And finally I think we get at the core of the difference Don. Egals believe there is no answer to my question about how men and women uniquely reflect the Imago Dei and Comps do not.

        But just realize that the implications of your position are massive. Men and women are fully interchangable and the same outside of anatomy. There is absolutely no difference between a little boy and a little girl in how they are designed and wired other than their anatomy. This is stunning and just one that forces you to ignore almost all of human history, sociology, and human experience.


        • Don Johnson

          Whoa! Hold on there pardner. You keep putting words in my mouth, things I never said, nor implied, nor even thought. The better to set up a strawman, methinks.

          I certainly do not ignore “almost all of human history, sociology, and human experience”. Besides the outside diffs, I can believe that there are inside diffs, I have read that female brains tend to have more connections between the 2 halves than male brains and that could plausibly affect the way their minds work in different ways. A woman can suffer a lot more from non-consensual sex than I man can, women who are raped can get pregnant and that effect can imply large consequences on the way the 2 genders act together each other. the point is there can be behavior differences due to the sex diffs.

          The fundamental disagreement between comps and egals is that comps think men are to be over women in church and home and egals do not think this is true, according to the Bible. It is an exegetical question and debate, all the rest of possible diffs that science finds I accept.

          • Denise Anderson

            Right, and Brian is trying to ask you an exegetical question on the point of difference between the two camps. You said that his question is based on an invalid premise. Please specify what premise you have in mind and why it is invalid. Is it a category error or some other fallacy? Why doesn’t it follow that if “God created man in His image, male and female he created them” that there are specific ways each sex reflects God’s image?

            • Don Johnson

              Good question. I think it is an invalid premise because every human is made in the image of God, this includes males, females, intersex people, eunuchs, everyone. So it is their humanity, not their gender, that matters in terms of reflecting God’s image. Being in the image of God is inherent in being human, by God’s design and decree. No one can add to it and no one can take away from it.

  • Don Johnson

    I got to finish listening to the debate.

    Overall, I find this format to just allow for a sampling of info about the sides; if one really wants to study this, they will need to study books by both sides of the debate.

    2 comps tag teaming an egal, one trying to be slightly more moderate than the other. That aspect was pretty strange, all by itself.

    Owen was totally wrong is his claim about kephale/head not meaning source. He has obviously not looked at a lexicon, it is easy for anyone to check and see just how wrong he was. I was surprised at his faux pas.

    Owen also spoke with a false confidence about the “clearness” of the gender verses.
    The truth is the gender verses are complicated to even begin to understand in context.

    I do not agree with Rachel on how she understands 1 Cor 11 on what is often translated as headcoverings, but she has one flavor of egal understanding, while I have another.

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