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?
The Bible teaches equality and essential dignity of men and women of all ethnicities, ages, and classes, as all are created in the image and likeness of God. Since the church is called to be salt and light in the context in which we live, it is essential that the church recognizes and promotes the biblical understanding that leadership and service is based on the gifting of the Holy Spirit. The revelation of Triune God is the foundation of mutuality.
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.
In Kenya, many churches bar women from church leadership and some teach very strongly against women as religious leaders, hence men dominate church leadership. This is also manifested in the political arena, where women lack representation. This parallel suggests that barring women from leadership is not a biblical premise but a cultural one. This session will bring into focus fundamental values inherent in both religion and politics that tend to inform our sense of judgment and the constitutionality of our engagements.