"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.
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.
Every week, members of our small group Bible study share their “highs,” their “lows,” and how they’ve seen God this week. A couple of weeks ago, I co-led the group in a discussion on what it means to be both a Christian and a feminist. To begin, women in the group spoke openly about our “lows,” “highs,” and “how’s” of being a woman in the church.
My personal journey has led me to be more vocal about getting women involved in ministry and about encouraging women to take leadership. I try to teach in both formal and informal arenas as the opportunities present themselves.
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.”
One out of every three persons sitting in the pews or chairs in your church on Sunday morning is or has been a victim of domestic violence or knows someone who is currently facing violence. But despite this, domestic violence is one of the greatest sins we never talk about in church. Those who are being abused or have been abused hear a great deal about forgiveness and the redemptive suffering of Christ. They also hear Scriptures that are presumed to teach male authority and female submission.