Enlist Every Hand
New book articulates how Gospel's reversal of power dynamic transcends masculine-feminine cultural norms
In her book, Theory and Practice of Gender Equality in The Salvation Army, Colonel Janet Munn presents her findings from a survey of the Army’s international leaders taken in 2014. Her work challenges readers to think about the distribution of power in The Salvation Army, specifically in relation to married, female Salvation Army officers. Her arguments challenge readers to consider whether the cultural norms surrounding a woman’s place in leadership are in fact antithetical to gospel teaching.
Munn considers three different scripture passages for the premise of her book: two from Genesis (1:26-29, 3:28) and a third from Luke 18, the parable of the persistent widow. From Genesis 3:28, she argues that Christians have a new egalitarian identity in unity that reflects the image of God. The Kingdom of God truly begins, she says, when the marginalized and poor are properly valued and when women are returned to their full humanity in partnership with men. With her research, Munn argues that power is neither masculine nor feminine—instead, it is rooted in love.
The Kingdom of God, as a result, offers a new and radically different idea of power in the world, one that stands apart from cultural norms. Though the Father and His love do not change, within the earthly bounds of His Kingdom, she notes that power has become too individualized. In its truest form, the Kingdom of God represents a reversal of this normative power dynamic.
After her analysis of the survey data, Munn is able to recommend practical safeguards for distributing power with accountability. She also argues for appointments based upon ability rather than an officer’s gender, for the creation of more gender-neutral training and development plans for officers and for more research on the subject as a whole.
In its early days, the Army was innovative in expanding the Kingdom by challenging the status quo of the role of women regularly placing women in leadership roles. Colonel Munn’s book shows that it must return to this spirit of equality and enlist every hand in working to build the Kingdom of God.