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December 30, 2016 / compassioninpolitics

Women Roles, Feminism, and Christianity: What we Can Learn from Love, Jesus, and Ephesians

Question: Why are religions so sexist?

Initially, that may be true for Islam, but its not true for Christianity.  Here are a critical considerations to understand:

  1. Christianity values very much a women’s role as a leader in the family and caretaker for kids. In the Christian view that is arguably the most important job anyone could have. It also values this for the man, but its important that far from undermining women, this holds them up.
  2. Christianity holds up women as heroes.
  3. Christianity features women in key roles.
  4. Christianity values all. The imagio dei, which is the idea that all people (not just some people or rich people) are made in Gods image. This is fundamentally transformative.
  5. In india you have groups of people that are looked down upon because of the caste system, but in Christianity the outcasts are brought to the center. Jesus was an outcast. The Good Samaritan is the story of helping even the outcasts. Jesus and the Bible is the ultimate story of love and bringing “the least of these” to the center and allowing them to live out their full value as human beings.
  6. Christianity historically provided the basis for human rights and human dignity. The oft quoted lines from Habermas as helpful for historical clarity: “Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.” (Jürgen Habermas – “Time of Transitions“, Polity Press, 2006, pp. 150-151, translation of an interview from 1999).
  7. The Bible verses that are usually cited for this line of thinking are entirely out of context. The verses on this question in context talk about how love and marriage are about mutual submission and mutual admiration and mutual love:

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

If you want to learn more about the transformative cultural change brought about by Christianity from a historical perspective I would highly suggest reading the following: The Impact of Christianity

Source: Bible Gateway passage: Ephesians 5 – New International Version

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