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.
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.
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?