Is Christianity Oppressive or Liberating for Women? – page 1




Is Christianity
Oppressive or Liberating
for Women?

by Amy Orr-Ewing,
Europe/Middle East Director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and Director of Programs for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA)

BROADCAST TALKS presents ideas to cultivate Christ-like thinking and living. Each issue features a transcription of a talk presented at an event of The C. S. Lewis Institute. The following is adapted from a talk given by Amy Orr-Ewing at the C.S. Lewis Institute’s first Greater Washington Women’s Apologetics Conference entitled “Conversations that Count,” October 21, 2017, at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia.

s Christianity oppressive to women? I think this question is very important and really relevant in our cultural context today. And it’s part of a suite of questions and objections that people have whereby Christianity is seen in general terms as being sort of oppressive to groups of people. If you’re ministering as we do as a team on the African continent, there’s a sense now increasing in universities that Christianity is the white man’s religion, it was brought as part of a kind of cultural, imperialistic, oppressive force for ill to the continent, and therefore it needs to be resisted. Christianity is seen by many as being intolerant, and at least a part of that is this idea of patriarchy; it’s seen as a tool of oppressors, and at least one way in which it has been oppressive is toward women.

Now I think it’s good for us as Christians to be exposed to what people really think of us. Sometimes we can be in the bubble, and we can forget that people really do have objections.

Let’s consider, then, on what basis should we judge this question, is Christianity oppressive to women? Undoubtedly, from personal experience some are going to say, “Well, the church has oppressed me,” or, “I can cite this specific example,” and others are going to say, “Well no, no, I don’t believe that. In my personal experience the church has been very good and liberating for women.” How are we going to judge this question? In the wide cultural context today of objectification and sexual violence, this question is more crucial than ever, not just for ourselves but for our sons and our daughters. Does the Christian worldview have anything to say in a culture that objectifies women? Is there a coherent intellectual basis for the dignity of humanity, male and female? I want to suggest that to settle this question we need to go to the primary source material. The experiences we’ve had, whether they’re negative or positive, are they warranted by the Christ of the Bible and the text that He upheld — the source material about Him? After all, my personal preferences on one level need to be secondary to the question, where is the evidence going to lead us? So what does the Bible say?


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