Religion and Women: The Oldest Injustice

By Eugene Cho 01-15-2010

Nicolas Kristof had a recent article in The New York Times titled, "Religion and Women," that's worth reading. Unlike some of his other pieces, it's not super long so it'll take one sitting; but hopefully, it'll sit with you for a bit.

I've written about this topic numerous times and will continue to do so. If you're interested in some of them, here's several to check out:

It is the oldest injustice for the simple reason that men are physically stronger and thus, can oppress the "weaker" half. And then you mix in the combustion of various religions and world ideologies that seek to elevate one half and suppress the other half and you've got a cycle of great devastation and oppression.

I'm not an expert on all world religions so I can't speak with full authority, but this is one of the reasons why I am captivated by Jesus: He liberates, not oppresses. If anything, he liberates that which has been oppressed. He turned things UPSIDE down not just merely with his words but the manners in which he embodied love, respect, and dignity to all, including women.

I'm not sure if Kristof fully understands the radical nature of Paul because I think we ourselves in the Church often misunderstand how radical he was in support of women. Yes, we have those verses to contend with, but when you examine the big picture, his position and posture is most accurately encapsulated by Galatians 3:27-28.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

For part of the Christian [C]hurch, the tension still falls on the big issue:

Does God allow women to lead, including the highest levels of leadership?

An emphatic "yes" is my answer, but I know that this will irk folks from both sides. I choose to take a posture of grace for those that do not share my conviction. I do not believe that taking a position to not fully support women in all levels of leadership = that person is a sexist or a misogynist. Now, I know that some of you will strongly disagree with that statement; but rather than debating that point, I'd like to direct my question in this way:

Even if folks disagree on the topic/justice issue of ordination and full leadership of women in the church, shouldn't we all agree that we should all work together to fight against injustices against girls and women since they clearly exist? Shouldn't we work together to build a culture (even among our own churches) of respect and dignity?

So how do we do that beyond the debates of the ordination of women? How do we do that in our lives, families, and churches (or must it be connected to the issue of ordination)?

What's clear to me is that it's really difficult to pursue these things when we don't hear directly from women. Or allow ourselves to listen to women

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