Some of us come from traditions where you don’t ask questions of the text. If you ask questions, that means you are questioning God, and that’s not allowed. I want to expose you to the two typical ways this passage has been understood.
It is undeniable that women are negatively impacted by patriarchy. I can go round after round on how patriarchy teaches women that they are peripheral and secondary in the grand story of God’s relationship with humanity. I can argue for days that gender roles and sexism limit and oppress women. I can write about femicide and gender-based violence, rape culture, female identity, female giftedness, mutuality in relationships, and the consequences of purity/modesty culture on women.
In my last article, "4 Sexist Myths That The Church Should Reject," I did my best to dismantle four sexist myths that have caused significant pain and division in the church. I wasn’t going to add to my list, but after many of you responded with sexist cultural myths of your own, I could see that another list was in the works—with me or without me. So, here goes, people.
Egalitarians believe the Bible promotes two senses of equality: equality of nature and equality of opportunity. Neither requires or even hints that women and men are or should be identical. Egalitarians don’t deny difference, we deny that difference is destiny.
Recently I was told the story of a 55-year-old woman currently attending an evangelical seminary. This story, and others like it, drive my upcoming research at the Evangelical Theological Society conference.
The Western sexual revolution brought renewed emphasis on consent, body affirmation/confidence, female pleasure, and women’s equal (and enthusiastic!) sexual participation in marriage. We should celebrate those gains. But it also brought a slew of toxic, oppressive ideas about female sexuality.
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.
I’ve heard this statement in different forms over the years, from popular media to large volumes of scholarly work, from the progressive left and the traditionalist right, from scientist and non-scientist alike. The specific mode of thinking—that your genes ultimately determine your identity, and your future, is known as biological determinism. It is a popular idea that has been around for quite a long time. The advent of molecular biology in the latter part of the twentieth century has only given it impetus. Importantly, I have also heard modifications of this statement in the church—percolating from the pulpit to the pew, supported through sermon and song, and legitimized through liturgy and “leadership.”
How does gender breed violence, and what can we do to cange this? The gender caste system and men's violence have kept us in captivity for too long. Jesus re-reveals God's original intention for male-female partnership and demonstrates what it means to be fully human and truly free in the kingdom of God.
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.