Hidden behind much patriarchal thinking is a pervasive patrilineal worldview. The belief that the family line is a male line and that males own and inherit the resources, has colored nearly all our cultures in the past and still accounts for much oppression and sidelining of women. Beulah will speak from her experience in south Asian culture, recognizing that, within families, women often become the perpetrators of discrimination against females. Does that happen to some extent near all of us? The Bible culture too is patrilineal. How shall we view that?
When rightly understood, Gen. 2:24-25 and Eph. 5: 21-33 provide an almost formula-like description for a pleasurable, loving, faithful marriage of oneness built on equality and mutuality. Modern science teaches what the writers of Genesis and Ephesians could not have known.
The church in Africa has not been able to name and shame sexual harassment and abuse in society in general or in Christian families specifically. The silence has led to untold misery for sexual harassment survivors. In order for the church to remain credible in society, it must name and challenge sexual harassment, and must offer safe places for survivors of the same to find healing and wholeness.
Some areas of sexual violence have been perpetuated by cultural practices like wife inheritance (a male relative inheriting his kinsman’s wife after he dies). While on the surface the church seemed to challenge cultural practices, this has not been the case with practices that have been sexual and which largely affect women. Wife inheritance and gender prejudice is a major contributing factor to the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The Bible presents a three-part story of human relationship with God and with each other. This story reveals that both man and woman were created equally in the image of God to fulfill an ideal—a “one flesh,” “naked and not ashamed” relationship. That was the crowning act of creation. The second part of the story recounts our fall from grace and the loss of the fearless love for which God created us. The final chapter of the story finds us redeemed, restored to wholeness with God and with each other, a new man and new woman, restored to new life in Christ.