Cultures of hierarchy maintain authority by claiming ontological distinction. The power and dominance inherent in hierarchy, which directly conflict with ontological equality, perpetuates abuse. This session will examine the abuse that results from hierarchical human relationships and the biblical response to dominance.
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.
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.
Too often the patriarchy of Bible culture has been confused with the moral teachings of Scripture. This workshop will explore how Christians working to end slavery challenged power, dominance, and self-interest in interpreting Scripture so that the church might become more effective agents of reconciliation in the world. What might egalitarians today learn from the interpretative methods of the abolitionists in their work as agents of gender justice?