I went to graduate school at Regent University, which was founded by extremely conservative public figure, Pat Robertson. Oddly enough, it was at Regent University that I became a Christian feminist. I have noticed that the more educated Christian women become, the more likely they are to become feminists – which is the “radical” notion that men and women are equal in all ways (including God-given authority).
I believe this is why global patriarchy strives not to educate girls. I also believe that global patriarchy is highly spiritual and that the enemy of our souls is behind it all (Note: Genesis 3:16 is a curse, that Christ has redeemed girls and women from).
An educated girl leads to a “thinking” woman and a “thinking” woman is a powerful and free woman. Hosea 4:6 signifies that a people group can be destroyed due to a lack of knowledge. Worldwide, 66 million girls are not in school and 33 million fewer girls than boys attend primary school (Source).
Educating a girl, in much of the world, is not considered to be a worthy investment. Girls are thought of as mere property of men and often end up working difficult, insignificant, and life threatening jobs; while boys go to school.
In fact, 80% of all human trafficking victims are girls. “75% of AIDS cases in sub-Saharan Africa—the region hardest hit by the disease—are women and girls (Source).”
In one year’s time, about 150 million girls are victims of sexual assault and 50% of those assaults are on girls under the age of 15. Fourteen million girls under the age of 18 will be married this year as child brides. “The #1 cause of death for girls 15-19 is childbirth (Source).”
It is only darkness that suggests “educating a girl is a waste of time” because stats and simple logic proves otherwise.
- Girls with 8 years of education are 4 times less likely to be married as children.
- A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.
- Educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school.
- A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult.
- If India enrolled 1% more girls in secondary school, their GDP would rise by $5.5 billion (Source of All Bullet Points).
The truth is that entire countries benefit socially and economically when they prioritize the equality of education and leadership opportunities between the sexes.
Even major companies benefit from female leadership:
In 2014, a Forbes magazine article states,
The companies that perform best financially have the greatest numbers of women in leadership roles, according to a new study that is one of the most comprehensive ever. According to the worldwide survey, conducted by Pittsburgh-based human resources consulting firm DDI together with nonprofit business research group The Conference Board, in the companies that have the top 20% of financial performance, 27% of leaders are women. Among the bottom 20% of financial performers, only 19% of leaders are women (Source).
Yet, the conservative faith community is still struggling to see this truth due to a lack of education on “how” to read the Bible concerning gender. As author Carolyn Custis James puts it, “Patriarchy is not the Bible’s message. Patriarchy is the backdrop to the Bible’s message.”
Popular gender role theologies, such as complementarianism, claims that women are equal in value, but not in authority and that God designed men to lead and women to follow. A classic suggestion of a complementarian is as follows: Men and women are equal in worth, but different in function or role.
While I would agree that men and women do generally function differently, claiming a baby born female is inherently designed to function in the role of a subordinate or assistant inside or outside the church/marriage is a grave misunderstanding of scripture and God’s heart for humanity.
As a woman who works with women, I can tell you that women do not believe themselves to be equal in value, if there is a “but” after that statement. If women are equal in value in the Church, then why do recent studies show that the gender pay gap among clergy is worse than the national average?
Some will claim that someone’s value should not be equated with what they are paid, but this is simply another way of religiously shaming women for wanting to be paid equally for their experience and education in the Church.
The Bible says that where we place our treasure, is where our hearts are (Matt. 6:21). In other words, if the Church really did have a heart for female clergy and lay women alike, they would invest more money into them.
Look around. Many churches will hire several male pastors before they will even consider hiring a female pastor. Often, women’s pastors and directors are only found at mega churches or as volunteer positions. In most conservative churches, the only paid female pastor or director is the children’s pastor and that is only because most male ministers have no desire to work with children.
To make matters worse, the children’s pastor normally makes the lowest salary among all clergy in the Church. Laywomen in the Church have little to no female mentors or spiritual advisors. I would argue that women are the least invested in group among the conservative faith community, but are the most faithfully invested members.
God sees and God is just.
For some reason the conservative faith community has lost sight of the justice of God. We seem to be invested in righteous living and Bible study, but blind to the justice that the Son of God carried with Him everywhere He walked.
May God give us eyes to see the connection between the way women in the Church are mistreated and the way girls and women are mistreated globally. Our theology matters.
Equal and free Christian women are the answer to equal and free girls and women globally.
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