During a talk about the meaning of Bible verses on male headship — where men are leaders in the home and the church — an image of newly-shorn actress Kristen Stewart flashed onto an overhead screen.
Was this platinum blonde buzz cut, asked the speaker, Carmelina Read, appropriate for a woman? Was it feminine and submissive, or instead flagging independence and rebellion?
But what disturbed some attendees more — roughly 3,000 Anglican, Presbyterian and Baptist women were there, with an estimated 1,600 watching by livestream — was that another thread had emerged at the Sydney Convention Centre: that women should also consider themselves "helpers" of men in the workplace.
While it is generally accepted amongst conservative Christians that "headship" means women should submit to men at home and in the church, extending the idea to the world beyond is considered controversial, a form of mission creep.
Eternity reported that one conference speaker said if a woman became a CEO, "she should perform her role in a way that was helpful to men".
And a video was shown in which a female minister said, "what makes her happy is when she is able to make her male colleagues 'shine'".
What is the doctrine of headship?
The doctrine of headship means, in short, that men are to be the heads of women in the church as well as in marriage.
The idea of headship has long divided Protestants in Australia, with the conservative pockets — where women are not allowed to be priests, such as the Sydney Anglican diocese, and Presbyterian church — adhering to it most vigorously.
Those who argue for male headship are called complementarians; the idea being that women and men are equal before God, but have different and complementary roles to play (as per literal interpretations of verses in Ephesians 5, where wives are told to submit to their husbands as their heads, and 1 Timothy 2, where women are told not to teach or have authority over a man).
Those who believe those verses should be read in their cultural context and were never intended to permanently ouster women from leadership — and that the hallmark of a Christian marriage is mutual submission, not male headship — are called egalitarians.
Many complementarians are wary of feminism, and Ms Read reportedly said her experience showed her that it is not possible to be Christian and a feminist.
Feminism would "trick me into thinking that God's design isn't good," she said, leading her to indulge in sinful thinking: "I want headship; I want control."
It's not enough to say Islam does not condone domestic violence. We must also challenge the idea of male headship that normalises the violation of women's rights.
"More and more the world thinks in a gender-neutral way that we're people and not men and women," she said.