I'm writing this post as part of Rachel Held Evan's synchroblog: One In Christ - A Week of Mutuality. It is about equality of women in the church.
This topic is dear and near to my heart, and I would like to write about it more often anyway, so in this post I would like to address the idea of progress in Christianity. I am inspired and blessed by the women in my life, and at the same time heart-broken about the many ways those very women have been disenfranchised by the church system, at times in a scary oppressive way, and at other times in a subtle "social norms" type of way. Clearly equality is not yet achieved, until there is no more oppression, no more pressure to submit unequally to men. So, equality would be progress for our faith.
What does progress look like for women in the church? Some random thoughts:
- The Perspective-Driven Life: as we open our eyes to what God is doing today and the people around us, we see women as sharing the fundamental light of the Holy Spirit equally with men. Their keen insights and perspective will often be different than men's, which adds even more significance to including them equally in leadership and decisions. Maybe part of the ambitious, Purpose-Driven Life definition of Christianity is coming from men's greater need for achievement. In the Perspective-Driven Life we need to listen more to the women!
- A liberating gospel message: progress in theology is leading to an understanding of a more positive, egalitarian, adaptable faith. The gospel is good news for all. Instead of "salvation in heaven through the strength or type of our faith, accompanied by appropriate works", the gospel is a message that God is Here! It is good news for all, and liberates captives, makes peace with enemies, resists corrupt systems and discrimination, and instead brings equality, freedom, compassion and human justice. This gospel is indeed hope for women who have previously been repressed by the gospel of submission and the power of the elite.
- Responsibility for nurturing the world and its inhabitants. Progress looks like caring and nurturing. Following Christ looks like caring and nurturing. We men can learn from women for more innovative and insightful ways to care for others, rather than using the more male-oriented "search and destroy" approach to solving problems. We have a seriously huge job to do here, Christians. We must fight hunger, sickness, poverty, oppression and inequality to bring God's goodness into this world. May God's kingdom come, during my lifetime! How can we ever do this with women in the passenger seat?
- Literal liberation. Human trafficking is today's slavery problem, and more people (disproportionally women and children) are enslaved today than ever in history, as part of organized crime as well as unethical and tyrannical business practices and government policies, and includes sex trafficking and forced labor. The church has a role to lead the way to liberation of slaves, period! Defend the powerless! With the power of the Holy Spirit and the call to change the world, we can't just focus on spreading good news without spreading literal liberation. More and more, Christians are getting involved in solving this problem. See:
Welcome to the A21 Campaign for an introduction to the 21st-century abolition movement..
- Of course these are generalizations and more and more I see women and men sharing each other's traits so I'm not trying to limit the potential of anyone by referring to gender differences. But men, make way, here come the women!