Religious bodies need to change their narrative on women

Already, some media organisations portray women as the second-tier gender as compared to their male counterparts, and so do religious bodies. This mindset toward women has been a discussion that has been ongoing for centuries and a difficult one to dismantle given the existence of cultural norms and religious beliefs that perpetuate the oppression of women. That is why having a proper view of who God is will enable religious bodies and their members to have a proper view of who women are.
Pastor Migone Kabera of Women Foundation Ministries is one of the few women pastors in the country. Net photo.
Pastor Migone Kabera of Women Foundation Ministries is one of the few women pastors in the country. Net photo.

Already, some media organisations portray women as the second-tier gender as compared to their male counterparts, and so do religious bodies. This mindset toward women has been a discussion that has been ongoing for centuries and a difficult one to dismantle given the existence of cultural norms and religious beliefs that perpetuate the oppression of women. That is why having a proper view of who God is will enable religious bodies and their members to have a proper view of who women are.

Most recently, a religious preacher, Nicolas Niyibikora, was given a platform by a ‘Christian’ radio station where he spewed his hatred for women in a completely flimsy and failed attempt at preaching. This is representative of his personal beliefs, however, it doesn’t take much insight to see that his beliefs are carried by thousands of misinformed Christians who in reality believe that woman are “the source of all evil” and that “God has a specific problem with women.”

This kind of thinking is what theologians liken to gangrene. Such doctrine is contrary to biblical standards and is like an infested wound that has been neglected. It begins to rot and form gangrene that spreads to infect other good body tissue. The only cure is to cut out the infected area before proper treatment and healing can take place. This is an extremely painful process and that is why correcting the damaging effects of terrible exegesis (the proper interpretation of Scripture in its context) as preached by some religious figures is a serious matter.

The question to ask is why some men believe that women are the “source of evil”. This mindset has been used by the church for centuries as an excuse to oppress and demonize women. This mindset has perpetuated the misconceived beliefs that women are the lesser gender as created by God. This thinking has been accepted in societies and has been made worse by some cultural beliefs as well. Such doctrine that leads to division, discrimination and inequality toward certain groups of people is in fact unacceptable before God and has nothing to do with how God thinks about women.

If we look at how God thinks about women and approach this from a biblical standpoint, we see that in the beginning of all things, the Old Testament records, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27,ESV). The word ‘man’ in this text implies the generic term used for humanity and not just the male gender. It clearly shows that the intention of the Creator was that both male and female were created in his likeness. At the end of this text, it is stated in Genesis 1:31, that “God saw everything that he had created and it was very good.” The humans (male and female) were not just, “good” like every other of His creations, they were “very good.” Clearly, women cannot be the source of all evil if they were created, “very good.” The word ‘good’ cannot be likened to ‘evil’.

Moreover, when God decided to wear a human skin and show up among depraved human beings, he chose the special and comfortable womb of a woman. He developed and grew inside of a woman for nine months, was birthed the natural way and was nursed as an infant at a woman’s chest. That is the way that God chose to accord honor to women.

If we look at how Jesus Christ – whom Christians call God seeing as He is one of the Persons of the Triune God – treated women, we see the opposite of what religious discriminatory jargon perpetuates about women. Jesus was a feminist (this is open for debate).I say this because when the oppressive religiosity of his time got to a suffocating level towards women, he spoke out and defended them.

He disrupted the status-quo of His time and hangout with women that society deemed of no value. When a scandalous woman was about to get stoned for adultery, he extended His grace and stood between her and an angry crowd that later dispersed in shame – He defended her. He observed the generosity of a poor widow who gave her only coins amidst the pompous display of the offerings of the rich. He used his words to uplift her instead of degrade her. When Jesus (God) decided to get out of that dark tomb after his crucifixion, he entrusted women with the great news of His resurrection. Women were the first people to spread the good news of the resurrected Christ. And the list goes on. This is all in the Bible that Christians and particularly preachers, should all be studying before talking about it.

The unfortunate reality today is that the church has predominantly male preachers who are mostly detached from the theological discipline of studying and exegeting the Scripture well. A lot of gangrene is spread on pulpits, media platforms and among Christians. This is a problem because the people entrusted with building unity within the church and societies are the very ones damaging the process by perpetuating stereotypes against women. These mindsets have nothing to do with biblical standards of gender and what God thinks of women and their place in society. He views both the male and female genders as equal in likeness to Himself and they are both “very good” creations – something very contrary to the idea that “women are the source of evil.”

Gloria Iribagiza is a freelance writer and #AmplifyRwanda Fellow with aKoma Media

The views expressed in this article are of the authors.

Twitter: @GloriaIribagiza

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