There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28
I’ve been thinking about the current social climate, and how “the floodgates have opened,” over the past few weeks, with so many women coming forward to share their stories of being harassed, belittled, objectified, assaulted, and worse by men in positions of power.
What’s been going on – and continues to happen – is a massive problem and a systemic injustice that has been normalized by decades of nods, winks, and blind eyes in every conceivable institution from schools to businesses to churches to the entertainment industry.
But why? Why do people behave so badly? Why is there such scant respect for other human beings, women created equally in the image of God?
God created humanity in God’s own image,
in the divine image God created them,
male and female God created them. – Genesis 1:27
I believe three of the elements that may help us understand the contributing cause – the part of the iceberg still below the water – are revealed in the following, seemingly unrelated, phenomena.
- First, the wholesale rejection of faith as a guiding principle in American life, and most especially following the teachings of Jesus.
- The framing of absolutely everything as a commodity, as if what we value can (and indeed should) be bought and sold. When everything we want is thus reduced to something we can “own” – even access to influence, and health, and happiness, and education – it’s not a huge step to rationalize treating people as commodities too.
- Then – and deeply troubling – the continued tilt to the moralistic right of Evangelical Christianity, its sullen judgment of all who do not fall in line, and its practice of institutionalized male chauvinism, effectively promoting a lightly Christianized misogyny that denies the full image of God in women.
Where women are not regarded as equal, where they are patronized, where they are denied access to leadership, where they are routinely trapped in subservient roles, where their function is always that of supporting, cleaning up for, catering to, and elevating men…. then there is a climate, a toxic undercurrent, a general numbing of what is right and wrong, a systemic culture in place that not only sets women up, but is then unable to recognize the injustice when it is uncovered.
It’s a good thing that women are coming forward, and sharing their stories. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to get below the waterline, we need to cut inequality off where it breeds. In that respect, we are all guilty, we are all implicated, and we all have a lot of work to do.