Is Christianity Oppressive or Liberating for Women? – page 7




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)

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I just was reading in my Bible readings yesterday Romans 16, and I tweeted out that in just one chapter of the Bible, Romans 16, ten women are greeted and applauded for their love, their hard work, their commitment, their risk taking, their leadership, and their sacrifice. Romans 16 names Phoebe as a minister, protector, or president in the church, a leader; names Priscilla a fellow laborer who’s risked her life in the service of Christ; names Junia outstanding among the apostles; Mary hardworking for the saints; Tryphena hardworking for the Lord; Tryphosa hardworking for the Lord; Persis as a beloved friend of Paul who worked hard alongside him for the Lord; Julia as a saint; Rufus’s mother as “a mother to me,” a mother to Paul; and Nereus’s sister as a saint.

Patriarchy is not a logical outworking of Jesus’s teaching, and so faithful Christians in every generation have resisted it. And it really matters. Truth matters. Ideas have consequences. If male and female are equal image bearers of the divine image, underpinning the sacredness of human life, the outworkings of this will be practical. In the same way that if we are just slime and we’re just here by chance, the strong eliminating the weak, there’s no reason to be overly concerned about domination, subjugation, or sexism. We just need to make sure that we personally are not on the receiving end of it.

The specifics of life are directly impacted by the intellectual patterns we apply. Rather than male and female equally reflecting the image of God in their shared humanity, women and men actually are both demeaned by a reductionist view of women, a separate class, economically dependent on men or restricted in their spheres of activity or creativity, just based purely on arbitrary cultural prejudice. The Christian claim is that there is a divine pattern for humanity, male and female, equally human, reflecting together the image of God. And that is upheld in the ministry of Jesus. God incarnate in human history upheld that ideal intentionally, and He invited women to be first at the cradle and last at the cross. It is He who underpins an expansive view of human flourishing in which the value of all life is underpinned by our transcendent source. Where the church may have failed women, Christ as the Truth incarnate gave humanity the perfect pattern as to how to affirm that full humanity of women.


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