Is Christianity Sexist?

Is Christianity Sexist?

For the writers of Scripture to specifically name and honor women like Rahab, Ruth, Naomi, and Deborah, as well as the women who served alongside Jesus and the apostles in the Gospel accounts, was to make a radically bold statement in an era of human history that more often erased women than included them. Scripture records their bravery, honor, intellect, and service, not to mention first arriving at the empty tomb. 

February 6 marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The World Health Organization estimates more than 200 million women and girls across the globe have been subjected to this violent practice, which forcibly cuts or mutilates a woman’s sexual organs as a so-called “rite of passage.” Not only is FGM a gross violation of the human rights and dignity of these girls, most of whom either do not consent to it or are not old enough to understand what’s being done to them, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. 

Diverse people groups practice FGM, including unfortunately, a few remote tribes who identify as Christian. However, far more Christians have fought the practice than committed it, including missionaries, Christian aid organizations, and many local African Christian communities. These Christians are motivated by a biblical view of humanity, that includes the inherent dignity of women and children. 

Nevertheless, a common accusation is that Christianity is an oppressively patriarchal religion that either subjugates women or, at least, devalues them. This accusation is almost exclusively Western and modern. The first Christians were actually criticized for teaching that women were equal in value to men, and accused of being “incestuous” for referring to fellow believers as “brothers and sisters.” 

It was when Christians distorted the Scriptures and used them as justification to devalue women that real harm was done. Cases of sexual abuse in the Church, of domestic violence, of charges of abuse going unheard or dismissed, of keeping women from learning theology, and of otherwise cruel and demeaning treatment of women by some Christian men are a horrible stain on Church history. Church history has always been marked by human sin.  

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