Updated: Aug 21, 2018
Thanks so much for taking some time to talk to us here at EgalMag. Let's start out by letting the readers know that you pronounce your name, Marg, with a “hard g” at the end, and not like “Marge”. (Smile)
Now that we have that established, haha, can you tell us a little bit about yourself... where you live, family, things that refresh or recharge you?
I live north of Sydney Australia in a beautiful part of the world with my husband Peter, my younger son and his wife and their two children. It can get a bit crowded at times, but I love that I get to see my grandchildren every day.
Apart from my faith, the things that refresh me are:
1. Looking at mountain views. My favourite mountain views are at a place called Blackheath
2. Listening to or playing music. At the moment, I’m smitten by the music of Hermine Deurloo, a jazz harmonica player. And nothing clears the head like playing Bach’s Two-Part Inventions on the piano.
How long have you been a Christian and can you tell us a little about “where you were at” when God broke into your life in a real and meaningful way?
I’ve been a Christian for a long time. I first heard what it meant to be a Christian at a camp when I was about 10 years old. And I wanted in! Before the person had even finished speaking, I went to the dormitory alone and prayed about what I had just heard. To my complete surprise, as I talked with God, I experienced an overpowering tangible sensation that could be described as “bliss”. (Up until that point, my only exposure to Christianity was what happened at rather staid church services where “experiences” were never part of the conversation.) I’ve had similar experiences since then, and they usually happen either very unexpectedly or during times of worship.
I’m super stoked that you agreed to this interview because I have become a big fan of your writing. First off, I’m fascinated by both the amount of writing you do and the technical/high quality of it. I realize this is a big question, but how did you get to where you are now with your writing?
Thank you. That’s so lovely to hear.
From the moment I prayed that prayer in the dormitory, I’ve read the Bible. Even as a girl, I read it every day, and I loved it! And as soon as I knew the New Testament was written in Greek, I knew that one day I would learn to read it in Greek. I’ve achieved that goal and the Greek New Testament is what I use for devotional reading and for study. (I do an annual five-day Greek intensive to keep my knowledge sharp and growing.)
I’m keenly interested in understanding who Jesus and Paul were as men in their time and place (without minimising Jesus’ divinity.) I figure if we understand who they were, what their culture was like, and what the concerns of the day were, it will help us to understand what they’ve said. I did my master’s degree in Early Christian and Jewish Studies to help me better understand the words and the thoughts of the writers of New Testament.
I never planned on being a writer, but I have always been curious. I love exploring certain verses and biblical themes and thinking about them. I do a lot of thinking. Then I’ve shared what I’ve discovered with others in case they’re interested, and it’s grown from that. I try to be very careful with what I write. Unfortunately, there is a lot of faulty information on the web and in books from both egalitarians and from patriarchalists, or hierarchicalists.
How and when did you start writing about Christian egalitarian issues? And while we’re at it, can you tell us in your own words what “egalitarian” means to you?
When I first started my blog eight years ago in July 2009, I wrote about various biblical themes. I only occasionally wrote about egalitarian issues, but when I did, those articles usually received many more responses than the other articles. This trend continued, and I saw that there was a need to explore certain Bible passages that especially mention women. Since the beginning of 2011, most of my articles have been related somehow to Christian egalitarianism, and in July of 2017 a friend redesigned my website to reflect this focus.
A Christian egalitarian, to me, is someone who believes that our God-given gifts and abilities trump any social distinctions of race, gender, and class when it comes to working out who does what in marriage, in the church, and in broader society, at any given point in time. Here's a link to some additional information.
Who are some of your favorite scholars that you reference and trust?
There are many excellent scholars who do great work. Some names to look out for are Margaret Y. MacDonald and Carolyn Osiek, who both write about women in Greco-Roman society and in the early church; Paul Trebilco, who writes about the first-century church, and much more besides; and the late Kenneth Bailey who wrote about the Mediterranean culture behind the New Testament texts. And I love the work of Linda Belleville, Lynn Cohick, Karen Jobes and Cynthia Westfall. But there are many scholars I trust: Robert Banks, Andrew D. Clarke, Ros Kearsley, Christine Trevett . . . I could go on. That’s not to say that I always agree 100% with their statements. I want to read more from John Walton (professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College) in 2018.
I’m curious about what type of resistance or obstacles you’ve encountered along your journey and how it impacted you and also how you persevered? Does anything come to mind that you can share with us that might help our readers in their own journeys?
Without a doubt, I have been overlooked for ministry because of my sex, but my biggest obstacles in ministry have been internal rather than external. I was acutely shy as a child and young adult, and I have always had relatively low energy levels. Perhaps because of these limitations, I’ve never been ambitious. I just do what I do. It’s important for me to maximise my strengths and minimise the impact of my weaknesses the best I can. Everyone has weaknesses. No one can do everything. If you can outsource or share the things you are poorly equipped for, do it.
One thing I’ve noticed and admired is what I’d call in my own words, your “graceful tenacity”. You have a way of not being afraid to engage in a full out conversation online, but you do so very diplomatically and factually and seem to know when enough is enough. I’m guessing there has to have been some trial and error in that. Have you developed any parameters for yourself in engaging with others online? What advice can you give in general as to how to navigate the online world and still shine the light of Jesus boldly and also not get personally drained?
“Graceful tenacity.” I like that. I do find it fairly easy to believe the best of people. So, even if someone’s online manner seems a bit off or adversarial, I don’t want to make assumptions about their nature or their intent. And I never forget that the people I’m talking to are real people. Barring some extreme situation, I would never be rude to a person to their face, so why be rude online?
Also, I used to strongly believe that God wanted my husband to be the leader and “priest” of our family. So, I fully understand that some people who hold to hierarchical views on what men and women can be and do, are people who are devoted to God and his Word, as I am. They are my brothers and sisters. I also know that changing your mind from a hierarchicalist to an egalitarian ethos is a huge mind shift that cannot be achieved by a few online conversations. And abusive or judgemental words help no one.
As for parameters: I have no problem blocking an adversarial or even a pesky person. It helps that I have one or two people I can debrief to if conversations become unpleasant or irritating, or even comical. Some people, sad to say, are so rude that you have to laugh at how ridiculous the accusations are. Mostly, though, I just delete comments that contain only accusations and no real content. Thankfully, for every nasty comment, I get about ten lovely comments. I spend a lot of time online. I can spend hours each day replying to people. So, I try and get out a few times a day and enjoy my garden or go for a walk around the block.
I once asked this on my twitter feed, but I’ll ask it again here. Which do you think is harder to break through- the idea that women cannot lead in churches or the idea that women cannot lead in the home?
I know a few people, including ministers and scholars, who believe women can be full participants in church life and can minister in whatever capacity they are called to and gifted for, but they still have some misgivings about a husband and wife having, or sharing, the same level of authority in the home. The second scenario seems to be a bigger sticking point than the first. This seems to be due to their interpretation of Ephesians 5:22-33. (Ephesians 5:22-33, In A Nutshell)
I know a lot of people who feel like God is calling them to start a blog or Facebook page but aren’t sure if they should or even where they should begin? Any advice?
This is something I’ve thought a bit about lately. When I started my blog eight years ago, I thought, “Do we really need another Christian blog?” And now there are even more Christian blogs! I’m glad I got in when I did. Still, if someone wants to start a blog, it has never been easier or cheaper. Just do it and start writing and see how it goes. I would definitely start with a blog before starting a Facebook page, because it’s easier for people to find you on the world wide web, rather than just on Facebook. And a Facebook page with only a few followers can look a bit sad. Then again, some people are great at promoting their work, or already have a large network of friends, and a Facebook page may work well for them from day one. I’ve been impressed with the entrepreneurial abilities of Gail Wallace and Kate Wallace Nunneley at The Junia Project and of Sierra White at Ezer Rising who have done an excellent job of promoting their online ministries on Facebook.
If people want to access your resources or read more of your stuff, where can they find your stuff or connect with you on social media?
You can find me online at my website at MargMowczko.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest under the name Marg Mowczko. It’s great having an unusual name as it makes it easy for people to find me online, though the spelling of my last name can be a problem. (Every time I write my surname, I still have to say each letter carefully to myself to make sure I don’t get it wrong.)
Okay Marg, last question! What is your favorite quality about God and why?
My favourite quality about God has to be his closeness, which has been a huge source of strength for me.
Simple and sweet- I love it! Thanks again for taking the time to share your life with us! This has been great and I know our readers will be truly blessed.