Do faulty religious views on gender contribute to violence and poverty?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shalom and Gender Justice
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing  for Sojourners, says she wishes that women and girls weren’t considered to be a special case “and we could just talk about humans and the human family.”  But instead, a relationship that God created to be good became broken as humanity turned from God’s ways.  Men began seeing women as inferior, regarding women as their property rather than as their equals.  “It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” claims Harper in this article from Faith in Action, the monthly newsletter of Sojourners.  She says this about Genesis 1:26:

“God created both men and women in God’s image — in the tselem of God. The Hebrew word tselem means representative figure. The writer of Genesis was communicating a revolutionary truth to the original readers. To a culture where women were considered property to be traded for goods, to an ancient world where women had no rights at all, the writer of Genesis proclaimed that both men and women are divine image bearers. As God’s representative figures we are both endowed with the inherent dignity reserved for royalty!”

When this truth is forgotten, neglected, or denied, and faulty religious teachings are used to subjugate women and block them from developing to their full potential, can we be surprised at the widespread poverty and associated violence in today’s world?  Harper believes it’s a question worth pondering—and then doing something about it.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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