Issues of Christian Life and Women

As an effect of sin, humans are deeply driven toward autonomy, preferring to live independent of God’s authority instead of within the shelter of his divine sovereignty. This is the temptation to which Eve would surrender. Instead of a life dependent on God, she evaluated on the basis of her self-appointed authority that the fruit of the forbidden tree was beautiful and an acceptable source for knowledge and sustenance. God was no longer necessary in her new view of the world because she chose instead to believe the twisted words of the serpent, that she could “be like God” (Gen 3:5). She quickly dismissed the distinction between herself, the created, and the Creator.

When faced with difficult life circumstances, we are called to submit to God’s wisdom and authority and recognize our own insufficiency. It is true that scripture does not provide explicit answers for each and every situation, so while God’s normative method of self-disclosure is not through audible voice, studying God’s word is necessary to develop a biblical worldview that will enable godly reflection in the absence of obvious solutions. Trusting God in the midst of any degree of crisis is probably one of the the greatest challenges to living the Christian life.

Popular culture argues, on the other hand, that God, if he even exists, is irrelevant to just about everything. Religion, and specifically evangelical Christianity, is regarded as bigoted and narrow-minded, outside the scope of logic and reason. Christian truth claims are viewed as merely private values, but the “promise” of scientific progress and “hope” through human reason-with little room for ethical reflection-are believed to be neutral sources of information, and therefore, the source of truth for everyone. This way of thinking is dominant in the area of women’s issues and is wielding great influence on the lives of women inside and outside of the church.

When biblical and theological reflection on women’s issues is tolerated, it is usually through a theology of liberation known as feminist theology. This theology seeks primarily to free women from the oppression of what they describe as patriarchalism, referring to male headship or authority that demands unquestioned female submission. In this context, feminist theology argues that women are not really free due to an imbalance of power. This experience then becomes the interpretive grid to understand revelation, rather than revelation interpreting experience

Locating the meaning of scripture in one’s own experience is the equivalent of dethroning God, taking his seat, and wearing his crown. It is an approach that fails to recognize God’s authority over his entire creation, the exact problem Eve encountered as she replaced the revealed word of God with her own rationalizations. Our experiences can only describe how we live, they certainly do not prescribe how to live. Yet, this is not a matter of cold hard facts about the nature of God. God is the source of all that is true, he transcends all that is in the earth, yet he cares deeply about it and is closer than it may seem. Scripture reveals that our experiences do matter to God, he cares deeply about the problems we face and solutions we find.

At the core of “women’s issues” is a long list of topics that matter to women. The list includes access to abortion, conception and contraception, careers, gender equity in the workplace, end-of-life health care, domestic violence and human trafficking. All issues of great significance to the every day lives of women, yet for the most part, not a part of the evangelical discussion within the walls of the church. Of course, there is a strong Christian voice in defense of the unborn and for the moral status of the embryo-and this voice needs to continue its bold proclamation. As well, there is an appropriate voice reacting against the ideology of secular feminism, a voice that rightly shows how this worldview fails women spiritually and in all other practical ways. What has been lacking, however, is a proactive voice intentionally educating women on these and related issues, a voice that teaches women to think through complicated life issues from a Christian worldview. Organizations like the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority, and NARAL have been declared by the dominant culture to be the source for addressing women’s issues and equipping women to live triumphantly in this “patriarchal” society. The Christian community is quick to provide a response to these organizations and issues, but little education has been directed to the women in the pew, women of all ages, ethnicities and economic levels who have been or are potentially swayed by the seductive gospel of unfettered “women’s rights.”

It is erroneous to believe that with the assurance of salvation comes the instant ability to effectively reason through issues and achieve resolutions that are pleasing to God. The status of “born again” is not a guarantee that a young woman won’t consider an abortion, because the dominant culture may have convinced her that the embryo is not really her child or that this is not actually a spiritual issue. A financially-strapped college student may have little knowledge of what is involved in selling her eggs, as an act of good-will to an infertile couple or for research purposes. She may not understand that this egg, when fertilized, is her biological child. What she has been told by the college “women’s center” is that the egg is nothing more than tissue and a fertilized egg (an embryo) is nothing more than a “clump of cells.” To top all that off, she probably has not been fully informed about the health risks in undergoing such a procedure.

A young married couple in the congregation may struggle with infertility and is willing to pursue the use of reproductive technologies to solve their heart-wrenching crisis. After three years of treatment, they may have 2 children, but four more children are in cryopreservation at the fertility clinic because the most economical route for their family was to have many embryos fertilized at one time. Still, there are other women who are entering into the Christian community, ashamed to talk to anyone about the abusive relationship they are in, fearing judgment, blame, and ridicule.