The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.
If we believe that women (and people of color) are created equally in the image of an ineffable God—and if we long to know that God more fully—shouldn't we be actively pursuing their voices and perspectives?
The epidemic of women’s unpaid work is a serious problem and it’s one that should concern us as Christians. Whether by implication, necessity, or demand, women aren’t being credited or compensated for their work. They are often taken less seriously as professionals and expected to take sole responsibility for housework and other traditionally feminine kinds of work. Not all labor—such as household work—is the kind of work for which we give and receive a paycheck. But it remains that for much of history, patriarchy has ensured that all of women’s work—official and unofficial and paid and unpaid—is seen as less than, and that women’s labor can be taken for granted.
It can be very difficult to know what makes a solid male ally, so I took a stab at answering that question. I’ve created a list of 10 ways men can act on their Christian feminism, with specific emphasis on the church.
Before I could name the system that made negative, hurtful behavior a positive expression of masculinity, I wondered why grownups (mostly Christians) didn’t seem overly concerned when a boy shoved his crush on the playground or tugged her ponytail in line. I knew I couldn’t push my friends or pull classmates’ hair without serious consequences, but it seemed that boys played by different rules.
I recently spoke with a mental health case manager about the importance of male vulnerability. He shared with me that most of the men who use his services do so because they never learned how to process and express emotion beyond two extremes: happiness and anger. I was unsurprised by his admission, because I have long observed and grieved the intense cultural pressure on men to suppress their emotions and by extension, their humanity.
What is the difference between a leader and other workers? If you wait until someone asks for your help, you are a follower, not a leader. But if you recognize a need and then pitch in to make a difference, you have taken your first step in leadership.
Jesus submitted to His Father by actively and freely choosing to yield to weak politicians and wicked soldiers. And now Peter says likewise? Is a woman to submit to God by yielding to ungodly husbands the way Jesus willingly yielded to ungodly men? Yes.
After reading these words from an assigned reading as a master’s student, I began to question much of what I’d learned in the church about the Bible’s teachings on gender. Did the verse this quote refers to (1 Peter 3:1) really mean women should passively submit to abuse? If not, what is it about?
Whether in Darwin, Sydney, or Melbourne, there is work to be done when it comes to fully incorporating the gifts of women into the body of Christ. Life is not “as good as it gets” for women, but there are clear signs of hope.