There are those who feel that because I am a pastor, it is wrong for me to speak about and advocate for gender equality (and to some extent, all the other equalities I speak about). They feel it is ‘ungodly’ and that it creates disharmony in the Christian community. But today, I’d like to set the record straight – I do not advocate for gender equality as a hobby or as a trouble-maker but rather as a part of my believing the full Gospel of Christ which purpose is to restore humanity to God and to one another. I advocate for gender equality because it is part of Christ’s Gospel.
There is no single portion of Scripture that functions as the human appendix – about which function we know little or nothing. Rather, every aspect of Scripture invites us to some aspect of our human obligation and God’s role and function in the world (Deut.29:29). And I would argue that Scripture invites every Christian into issues of women’s rights by its very strategic inclusion of certain stories about women and the men in their lives, whether they be fathers, husbands, brothers, etc..
As human communities sprung up to shape their identities after the consequences of the Fall, we see that from time to time, there were women who challenged or went against the grain of the established status quo of men’s desires ruling over women (remember, every human community after Genesis 2, models the Fall rather than God’s will for humans…).
Starting with the Father of Faith, Abraham, in the community of people of color, whose wife Sarah made the decisions about using their maid to provide them children to sending the maid and her child away. Considering how the Christian community often fails to teach about women of Scripture, I am always taken aback by God’s response to Abraham to “Listen to whatever Sarah tells you. Abraham was the ‘patriarch’ but Sarah co-led by pointing their actions towards what God had in mind for their family – the promised nation would spring from their offsprings together, not through any other union.
Soon after this promised nation is born, another set of women, Zelophehad’s daughters, step up to challenge the status quo of only men ‘inheriting’ property. What I find very interesting about this story that in my entire almost five decades of existence I never heard preached from the pulpit but instead had to read on my own in the Bible(!), is that God not only supported these women and gave them both property rights along with men, but he also gave them the same marital rights as men! So that any man they married had to move in with them, stay in their land, and take up their names and their customs! But hey, nobody ever tells us that in marriage, it is biblically appropriate for a woman to keep her name and a man take her name instead!
What about precious, precious Ruth, bold, courageous, independent thinker great…grandmother of Jesus who ‘pursued’ her man, taking the role of suitor instead of suitee and how the man, Boaz, who honored her pursuit, through her, became the ancestor of Jesus Christ! Ruth, the woman by whom our Christian heritage shows God is NOT against women asking men out, neither is a woman a whore because she asked the man out! But no, when we preach, let us ignore this very important (to men and patriarchy) act of a woman taking the lead in initiating a conjugal relationship! Let us conveniently ignore this biblical truth and continue to write books and preach hogwash from the pulpit that propagates the falsity that IT IS NOT A WOMAN’S PLACE TO PURSUE A MAN!!!
So, no, when I advocate for Women’s Rights, I am NOT going against Scripture but bringing to light what sin among us Christians still covers up – that God is not and has never been satisfied with the status quo of the Fall, hence He sent Jesus! This is the Good News of the Gospel which I am obligated to preach in its entirety and not just in the areas that make people ‘comfortable!’
Advocating for Women’s Rights doesn’t create disharmony in the Christian community. That disharmony was created by the practice of gender inequality that resulted from the Fall. What Women’s Rights advocacy does is free those who are oppressed, but this creates ‘discomfort’ in those who have practiced subordination of women. Those who have ignored the cries and complaints of women as they’ve cried out “I can’t breathe!” under the heavy weight patriarch places upon my calling…, I can’t breathe under the weights of the oppression of my rights as a full human-being….I can’t breathe because of the pervasive obstruction that patriarchy, even in the Church, has placed upon women stepping into and walking in the full image of God.
It is no coincidence that in any society where women are considered ‘second to men’ women are at the bottom of the ladder rather than riding equally with men economically, socially, politically, academically, etc..
Yes, advocating for Women’s Rights creates discomfort in those who want to ‘rule’ women to perpetuate the devastating effects of the Fall on human relationships and experience, instead of embracing what God has come to do about it. In Christ, God continues to uphold His original plan for men and women – male and female He created them equal!
So when I advocate for Women’s Rights, I am in keeping with my heritage as a person of faith of color! And I do so in the full knowledge that Women’s Rights is part of the Good News of what God wants for humanity and if you are a Christian, you cannot have a complete message of Christ’s Gospel that does not include and affirm Women’s Rights!
These are a few of my favorite Women’s Rights Scripture Verses:
“So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and the Lord said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them.” (Num. 27:5-7, emphasis mine). #WomenDemandingEqualityWithMen
“When the Lord commanded my lord to give the land as an inheritance to the Israelites by lot, he ordered you to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters.” (Num. 36:2, emphasis mine). #MenAcknowledgingGodGrantedWomenEqualityWithMen
“ David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands” (I Sam.25:32-33). #WomenLeadingTheirHouseholds
““I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” (Ruth 3:9b). #WomenAskingMenOut!