Catherine Woodiwiss – In the Image of God: Sex, Power, and ‘Masculine Christianity’

The Sojourners have published a very insightful article by Catherine Woodiwiss, on a very up-to-date topic: sexual violence in religious contexts.

Here the first part of this text:

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Most of us are too familiar with this story: an Upper Midwestern Baptist minister claims that “God made Christianity to have a masculine feel [and] ordained for the church a masculine ministry.” Or a Reformed Christian pastor mocks the appointment of the first female head of the Episcopal Church, comparing her to a “fluffy baby bunny rabbit.” Or a Southern Baptist megachurch pastor in California says physical abuse by one’s spouse is not a reason for divorce. Or numerous young evangelical ministers brag about their hot wives in tight leather pants.

Fewer of us are familiar with this story: Tamar is raped by her half-brother Amnon. Tamar protests her brother’s advances, citing the social code of Israel, his reputation, and her shame, to no avail. Their brother Absalom commands her to keep quiet, and their father, the great King David, turns a blind eye.

What do these contemporary statements above, delivered into cultural megaphones with conviction and certainty, have to do with the Old Testament rape and silencing of Tamar? The difficult answer is, quite a lot. The narrative dominance of these stories rests on power and control, which — whether intentional or not — speaks volumes about whom the church serves and what the church values.

In short, the stories that fail to treat women seriously are the kinds of narratives that lead to manipulation, devaluation, and sexual abuse of these very women.

There is too often a shameful culture of silence around rape and abuse in the church. But equally pressing is the confusion or silence in many evangelical communities around the pattern-forming behaviors that lead to it. For men and women alike, this brand of silence has roots in a sexualized view of women, and is given context in a power narrative that is built to protect and perpetuate male dominance in the church.

This kind of silence is incompatible with valuing women as made in the image of God.

 

You may read HERE the entire article.

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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