“The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.”
– Pres. Jimmy Carter
President Carter is simply telling the truth which Christians, as with the rest of God’s message, must accept or continue to reject at their own peril. I’ve chosen to accept this truth.
Watching my Christian brothers and sisters reject it is heartbreaking. However, the allure of tradition – especially tradition that supports and justifies the current power structure – is strong.
Biblical support for war, slavery, racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and a host of other human failings has been created by Christians over the centuries. Usually, this support is based on either Old Testament writings OR twisted readings of scripture. In either case, the support is in direct conflict with actual Christian teachings.
Ignoring information that doesn’t support our own prejudices is a time-honored human tradition AND against the teachings of Christ.
And it is wrong
Whether you are a Christian or not. But especially if you are a Christian.
The ability to lead others to Christ depends on the ability to model His behavior IN YOURSELF accurately. All Christians are called to let people see the love and kindness that Jesus Christ showed all of us with His life and sacrifice. It is this that God refers to in Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.
It isn’t the physical image of God that mankind was modeled after. It was the spiritual image. And, more specifically, it is the kindness and love and caring of Christ that defines the image we are created after. And, as with Christ, part of the image included freewill.
It is this freewill that allows us to be loving (or hateful), good (or evil), fair (or bigoted), true Americans (or racists), men (or misogynists). It is God’s greatest gift AND most dangerous. It is the means by which we can lose the salvation given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Denying the character of Christ by suppressing the image of Christ in which we were created is the same as denying Christ. To quote 1 John 2:3-6
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
When you find the story of Jesus discriminating or hating or denigrating others, let me know. When you find the story of Jesus treating women as less, I’ll change. And, until you do, let’s focus on the fact that modeling Jesus wasn’t a suggestion. Following His commandments was required. And the greatest of those commands was:
Love your neighbor as yourself
It really is that simple. I’ll continue to take the advice of 1 John 2:6. I’ll continue to look at things through a Jesus-shaped lens.
You might want to consider doing the same.