Saturday, April 05, 2008

Women Against Women

"Women and men, heh?" she said as she looked at her friend's sociology book. "...we're not equal! and God set it up that way." *awkward pause* What do you say to that when it's coming from a woman's voice?

It has always been puzzling to me whenever I hear of women who think that men are somehow 'higher' than women or that women just aren't cut out for positions of authority. To be honest, it's surprising to me. How could a woman believe such a thing about their own? There is a movement underway toward equality between men and women, and it's one thing for men to be a dissenting voice in that conversation, but women? It may be that I'm just more surprised by it so it sticks out to me more, but I believe that some of the loudest voices I have heard against the equality of men and women are the voices of women. It has caused me to wonder--were there black people saying "no, white people deserve better treatment, we're not equal, God set it up that way" during the Civil Rights Movement?

I'm sure there are huge social and psychological aspects of this phenomena, women speaking against women, but in my context the largest factor in play is the Bible. Christians read about men and women in some of the Pauline texts--passages that talk about the "head" being the man and "wives submit to your husbands"--and treat them as contextually transcendent formulas. We rip Paul's words out of the Bible, out of their contexts, and slap them upon our own. We even find ways to read this hermeneutic back into the Old Testament creation narratives, saying that it's God's ordinance. And thus, the same Bible that tells of the Jesus who empowered women beyond social and cultural boundaries--the same Bible that says "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" has become such a weapon of oppression that even the oppressed themselves become the oppressor.

The Bible should be a liberating and empowering force for women, and anyone who is subjugated in culture. Women, don't buy it! Don't place yourself lower than you should be placed on account of God's Word! Jesus was a Feminist!

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "if you can't fly, run, if you can't run, walk, if you can't walk, crawl, but by all means keep moving."

3 comments:

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

As a missionary, we see this dynamic a great deal. For example, those Christians who are most often and most strongly opposed to redemptive contextualization of First Nations (Native American) culture in the church are Native Christians.

I guess after 500 years of teaching them that their culture is evil we shouldn't be surprised that many start believing it. It is, indeed, a complex issue. One dynamic is that they find genuine authority in the Gospel message, but it being convinced of the truth, they swallow everything Christians teach them is important. The question a detail, then, becomes a question to the whole. Does that make sense?

While I don't think you will find many African-American's who affirmed white superiority (though there were some), the issue exists on another level. When we work in Uganda, for example, most of the local Christians have accepted the colonialist mentality insofar as they believe we come with the answers and they wait with nothing to give. To try and encourage mutual service and learning has been our biggest challenge.

Good post.

Peace,
Jamie

WES ELLIS said...

Jamie,
Thank you for your perspective on this subject.
It seems that they sort of do the opposite of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They like the baby so much that they just assume the bathwater is part of the package.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Well said!