"Home-schooled girls do not need 'further' education; they should just prepare for being a wife and mother." "A daughter should stay at home and serve her father until he chooses a husband for her." "The daughter is a 'helpmeet' for her father." "Parents should never let their daughter be out of their sight." "Women should never work outside the home." These and many similar sentiments are being dogmatically expressed by leaders of the Christian Patriarchy Movement.
In the past few years, numerous people have asked me why I make such a big deal about gender equality. Have I experienced such extreme inequality? What traumatic experience drives my activism? Why am I so passionate and outspoken about this issue? People often assume that a tragic event in my personal life led to this behavior.
If God’s design for male-female relationships was unity and interdependence, and if hierarchy in relationships came as a result of sin, perhaps we need to reevaluate teachings on male “headship” in marriage today.
Adam calling Eve “woman” does not indicate Adam’s authority over her; rather, it is an expression of the similarities that they share, as Adam exclaims “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called woman, for out of man this one was taken” (Gen. 2:23).
In patriarchy, not only is the misuse and abuse of power justified, it is also institutionalized. But the misuse and abuse of power is abominable to God. The prophet Isaiah wrote: "I have more than enough of burnt offerings...Stop bringing meaningless offerings...Take your evil deeds out of my sight!" (Isa. 1:11-16). Then he solemnly declared in 1:17, "Seek justice, rebuke the oppressors, defend the fatherless and plead for the widows."
As I read the church’s brief report, my anger mounted. We knew that my friend had been abused. But we were now being told by our spiritual leaders, people with no professional training or knowledge on the subject, that she had not been abused.
This contextual reading notes that Jesus’s death on the cross, represented by Eve’s offspring crushing the head of the serpent, frees humankind from sin’s consequences and reorders concepts of male dominion for all time.
This prayer challenges us to live into the gospel and make it real for our own day. In the case of domestic violence, this may mean finding ways that local churches and people of faith can do something that will gently and persistently shape the way members view and respond to issues of intimate partner abuse, whether it be in the community or inside the house of faith.
Here is a list of practical immediate ways to make your church a “Safe House.”