During Lent 2021, we are focusing our attention on the groups of people whom we advocate for as Progressive Christians. One of the tenets of Progressive Christianity is focused on living out our faith for the benefit of others; therefore, we need to focus our attention on others, especially those whose rights are denied or who are being discriminated against because of who they are. This Sunday, we will focus on the largest minority group in the world, the women.
It is rather ironic that we need to think about women, the largest group in the world, as a minority group. Still, social history teaches us that it has only been in the last hundred years women were given any recognition or respect at all. However, the #Metoo movement has shown us that we have not progressed very much at all.
Throughout the world, there are places where it is a crime for women to drive a car, leave home without a male relative's supervision, or even learn to read and write. The problem is not only in other countries but also here in the U.S. Today, women are only compensated at 77% compared to men for the same work. We celebrated Kamala Harris being elected as the Vice-president, but it took the U.S more than 250 years of its existence to recognize female leadership. To our national shame, we have yet to have a woman president.
Scripture declares the equality of men and women from the beginning of the creation story. The purpose of the Genesis creation story is to declare that men and women are created from the same materials; therefore, they are equal. Paul in the New Testament reiterates that in Jesus, there is no distinction between men and women. Although Paul declared the equality of men and women, it took almost 2000 years before women's rights to allow women to vote in the church, preach the word of God, and be pastors. Apparently, we did not read the bible very carefully.
As a church, we have given into the social construct of power and weakness and called women "the weaker sex," simply based on physical strength. In contrast to scriptures, the church intentionally misinterpreted scriptures to uphold Neanderthal ideation of the relationship between men and women. Sexualization of men and women's relationships leaves both men and women in the worst of stereotypes. It does not allow us to create an environment where we can encourage one another's faith.
A study of church history demonstrates that the Christian church would not have lasted this long, much less get started, if it had not been for women. From the beginning, women provided for Jesus and the disciples as they wandered the countryside ministering to the people. It was women who supported the ministries of the church as well as the leaders in the missionary movement. In modern times, we know that more than 65% of attendees in all churches are women. The decline of churches in the last 75 years coincides with women entering the workforce, highlighting that women were the ones who did most of the church's work. When women went to work, churches lost their volunteer force and thus declined.
As a church, we will work to create a more just world where women are recognized as equally gifted and equally talented. We will appreciate their leadership, and we will follow them.