The attitude of Jesus of Nazareth toward women bearing sexual stigma was quite exceptional compared to that of his contemporaries. Behind this we can see, for instance, the radical idea of a woman being an individual capable of making independent decisions.
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?
When rightly understood, Gen. 2:24-25 and Eph. 5: 21-33 provide an almost formula-like description for a pleasurable, loving, faithful marriage of oneness built on equality and mutuality. Modern science teaches what the writers of Genesis and Ephesians could not have known.
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.