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.
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.
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 ordination of women has been a contentious issue in the history of the church. For almost nineteen centuries, churches have debated whether women should hold leadership positions within the body of Christ. Despite what women have done in the history of the church, some churches have found it difficult to ordain women to the Ministry of the Word and Sacrament based on cultural tradition. In fact, the question of ordination is still unanswered in many churches today.
This recording examines how early church leaders viewed women. It begins with Jesus Christ, moves to Paul, and highlights how various early church leaders’ insights into Paul’s teachings are helpful in guiding us to understand those statements as Paul intended them, namely as affirmations of women and their leadership roles in the church. Some church leaders did this in spite of reflecting elsewhere the demeaning attitudes toward women common in their culture. This illustrates a gradual shift away from the New Testament’s affirmations of the equal standing of men and women in Christ.