GENDER - THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
by MIRIAM JACOB
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Gender equality is a revolutionary tenet in Christianity. The Bible clearly states: "There is no longer male or female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" - (Galatians 3:28b). When Christians preach love as a firm foundation of faith, there is no room for gender inequality. Men and women are made in Godís image, blessed by God, and given dominion over creation. They have equal dignity, value and worth - (Genesis 1:27-28). They are equally united with Christ, adopted as children, and heirs of Godís promises - (Galatians 3:28). They have the Holy Spirit poured out on them, empowering them to prophesy - (Acts 2:18). They are recipients of the Spirit of God - (1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 2), equipping them for ministries - (1 Corinthians 12), none of which are gender differentiated.
In dealing with gender equality, are we tracking the eye of a hurricane? Gender issues turn out to be avid storms in biblical studies. It rides the crest of the wave. It strikes at the heart of the storm. Gender equality has the powerful potential for radical transformation. It transforms the human heart. It makes people humane enough to see their neighbours as themselves, one in Christ.
What does gender and gender equality mean? Gender is a specific identity by our society that defines male and female. Gender equality is the equal rights and responsibilities of men and women, that is not gender differentiated. Beneath the smooth facade of gender equality is a deep-rooted, socio-cultural system that is characterised by inequality, an injustice to be confronted and overcome to give freedom and justice for all. Equality between men and women is a basic human rights issue to deal with.
Where is the Church in this gender debate? How does the Church view gender and gender equality? How does the Bible construct gender according to God's laws? We must bring our beliefs under the spotlight of Godís Word to live our lives in faith. God has given specific principles for His Church.
To study gender roles in the Church, we must obey the Word of God. People must understand that their value does not depend on their gender role but rests solely on their relationship with Jesus Christ. The Word of God defines their roles so that they can live in His will and come under His authority. The Church must reflect what God intends for humanity. When we obey Godís divine plan for His Church, we will become the Church of His heart, His chosen ones.
The Bible affirms the equality and value of men and women concerning their spiritual inheritance. ďSo God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Ē - (Genesis 1:27). ďYou are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There in neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahamís seed and heirs according to the promiseĒ. - (Galatians 3:26-29). In Godís eyes, men and women have equal worth as Christ died for our salvation. Our standing with God depends on our relationship with Him, and not on our gender. Godís love for His Church is reflected in the hearts of His people.
In dealing with gender equality, the Biblical picture of leadership is to serve as the Servant Leader. We are not to claim our rights to authority over others. We must serve one another. True Biblical leadership is the ultimate form of servanthood, walking in the footsteps of the Master. Christ has all power and authority over all the earth. His kingdom reigns over all. Yet He humbled himself more than anyone else. Jesus washed feet and served. Here is a challenge for all who are called to lead in Christís Church. This is true Christ-like leadership, following our Master, who served with His life's blood.
© Miriam Jacob
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