Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gender, Race, and the Bible

          This semester I am taking a class titled “Gender and Race in Biblical Literature.”  While the “biblical literature” implies that the course will include some apocryphal writings, I am excited to take a class where the Bible will be used as a textbook.  Another exciting aspect of the class is that at various times during the semester, I will be required to read a passage from scripture, along with an article critiquing a various aspect of the selected verses, and then write my own response.  While I have found religious classes in a secular school to be enjoyable in the past, I am excited to gain a deeper knowledge of the Biblical text while being challenged to form a view on gender and race with regards to the Bible.
            While gender and race issues still cause problems for the church, I feel that race issues are not nearly as prevalent in the churches I have grown up in.  I definitely don’t want to diminish or ignore the ways the church has abused minority races throughout history, but taking into account my personal experiences, the focus of the course, and the current church I attend, I will primarily be focusing my writing on the topic of gender.  
As I am already learning words like androcentrism, I find myself forced to face the cruel reality that male domination over women has existed throughout history both inside and outside the church.  Suddenly I am pressured to understand why the church holds its current views on the roles of women and men (and why there is so much variation throughout); and more importantly, to understand what I actually believe.  While it is true that my attention has been drawn to this issue primarily by this class, I cannot ignore the radical changes taking place throughout the churches in our country regarding women.  Nor can I deny the likelihood that sometime in the next 5-15 years, my church (or at least denomination) will be forced to reexamine its stance on women.  
While I don’t fear that there will be an upheaval throughout the church (although it’s certainly a possibility), I must acknowledge that as these issues are raised they will ultimately cause some to leave the church.  I go on this tangent not to create an unwarranted emotional response or to garner your attention, but rather to stress the importance of addressing these issues and finding a biblically sound (rather than culturally acceptable) answer to the relationship between men, women, and the church.
Given the phrasing in the above paragraphs (and if you have ever talked to me for more than 30 seconds) you’ve probably concluded that I am writing this shortly after reading an academic article.  Due to my excitement about this class and its subject matter, I want to start writing immediately.  The article I just read can be found here, the scripture passage (Genesis 1-3 although primarily focusing on chapters 2 and 3) can be found here, and my response to these texts can be found here.

Adam and Eve

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