This blog posting was originally published
Given how Lent went, I’m thankful that we are reminded that resurrection comes. After the darkness and disappointment of losing Christ, resurrection is the beginning of all things being made new.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the state of women and girls in the world, and have been having lots of conversations about the hook-up culture that singles find themselves in. The combination of all of that is not necessarily encouraging.
So, I’d like to share with you a list of things that I think would be different if women lived in a world of resurrection; a world of creation being made new.
Full women’s equality in all of Christianity. Women preachers would be a regular occurrence. Women priests would lead the Eucharist and absolve sins. Little girls around the world would know that they are co-heirs in Christ because they would see it in front of them at church. The vitriol spewed against women would end. Women and men would lead the church together.
Not only would this happen in Christianity, but in religions around the world. No longer would women be oppressed by patriarchal and abusive religious systems but they would be allowed and encouraged to flourish in their system of faith.
That individual churches and denominations would critically examine how they live out equality. There are many churches and denominations that claim gender equality, but often, without thinking about it, fall into the traps of unconscious bias, popular theology, and treating equality as a insignificant subject. Equality is always a significant subject because so much of the input we see and hear in our lives imposes inequality. Churches in particular should work hard at striving to live out what they preach.
The end of purity culture. Purity culture is extremely damaging to men and women. (An example.) It places all of someone’s value on one act and that’s not Biblical. Our value comes from the fact that we are all created in God’s image. I think we do need to address sexual ethics and morality, but forbidding it and shaming people into obedience, especially when that is so unequally doled out between women and men, is not the way forward. We have to find new ways to address these issues that are healthy for women, men, and our future families.
Harassment, Abuse, Assault, and Rape
Women can safely go anywhere without the threat of harm. That may seem a little rosy for an outlook, but we’re talking resurrection. Women need to be able to go about life without being catcalled, harassed, threatened, sent pornography, asked for nudes, or expected to commit sexual acts. Women are experiencing this in record numbers, especially girls in high school and college. Safe spaces are hard to find.
The end of rape, abuse, assault, harassment, and FGM. That women could live in a world where their bodies were not in danger. That rape and assault would not be experienced by 1 in 5 women. That no one would ever suffer from FGM (female genital mutilation). That women could feel safe.
An end to sex trafficking. No longer would women and men be trapped in the dark world of sex trafficking. Forced into having their bodies used for the pleasure of others. Often walled off from normal society and kept in deplorable conditions. Ending slavery is part of resurrection.
Women are no longer judged by what they look like. With the constant emphasis on beauty, thinness, and perfection, women are constantly under pressure to change who they are. Girls as young as 10 are posting sexy pictures on social media to get more likes and find their value. This pressure, often fueled by the growing use of pornography, means girls become women before they have even finished playing with dolls.
Women could just live in their bodies the way they want to. Women would have complete control over their own bodies. No more catcalls and objectification, no more pressure to move this fat around or fix that wrinkle, no more strange laws that apply only to women, no more measuring and sizing up.
A world where hooking up doesn’t define relationships. Hook-up culture hurts women and men. With no requirements for relationships before physical connection, sexual intimacy becomes transactional in nature. From 6th grade on, girls and boys are living out what they see on tv, on social media, and in pornography. It is making insecurity, name calling, labeling, and shaming, the primary currency in relationships. We need to get back to a place where true connection is foundational in relationship.
Where women have access to their basic needs. Food, clean water, shelter, hygiene supplies, and bathrooms. In many places around the world women lack access to the most basic of supplies and safe places to take care of their bodily functions. All people should have access to the basic needs of life.
Women could choose what to do with their lives no matter what other people think. To work or not to work. To have kids or not to have kids. To have long or short hair. To wear skirts or pants. None of these things would mean anything other than letting women live the way they want.
That the role of unconscious bias in how women are treated would end. That as people learn about bias and the role it plays in how they treat women, minorities, and people that are different from themselves, that equality would become more and more achievable. It’s complicated and takes work, but it’s worth it for creating a more equal society and world. Here’s a video that demonstrates how unconscious bias works.
Women would be treated as equal at work. They would be given the full spectrum of jobs and titles. They would have equal pay for equal work. They would have all the responsibilities and privileges of other people in equal positions.
There wouldn’t be a “potential pregnancy penalty.” This is when women are denied opportunities, positions, and projects simply because they are of childbearing age.
Equal work, equal pay, equal confidence. That we would live in a world where women are paid the same as men for the same work. And that their pay wouldn’t go down because jobs traditionally filled by men are now filled by women.
That women are treated well at work and treat others well at work. In some fields there is a basic level of discrimination and harassment that women are expected to put up with. It may not be said out loud, but in practice women know that they will be treated this way without recourse. That shouldn’t be true for anyone, male or female.
Women could expect help at home. In fact, it would be so normal that they wouldn’t even have to ask. Typically women have an extra part-time job simply taking care of the home. In a resurrected world, we would all be stewards and work together to take care of where we live.
That both moms and dads can stay home if they choose. One of my good friends is a pastor who has chosen to be a stay at home parent while his wife pursues training as a doctor. He does an amazing job and is a great role model for equality in the home. New creation means that moms and dads can stay at home in the way that best suits their family without question.
Paid maternity and paternity leave as a mandatory practice. Around the world many moms and dads have the options to spend significant time at home with their newborn or newly adopted children. Not in the US. In the US parents can take 12 weeks off with guarantee of returning to their job (let’s be honest - many women are pushed out after this time), and there is no mandatory compensation required.
That girls and women would have equal access to education. And that they would have the support they need to complete that education including feminine hygiene products, safe travel to and from school, someone to care for siblings, a basic standard of living, uniforms, books, and supplies.
That women and girls would be treated equally in the classroom. Girls in the classroom are often chosen to speak less. They are often discouraged from pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). “In college, women earn only 12 percent of computer science degrees.” There aren’t enough women entering technology jobs to fill the need in companies that want women to join. Just a little extra encouragement can make a huge difference for women in science and math programs (and ministry, too).
That women would be treated equally in academia. Being a woman academic is hard. Bias and discrimination can seem ever present. Women are penalized not only for their gender but also for having children, where men don’t face the same penalties. “Men with young children are 35 percent more likely than women with young children to secure tenure-track positions after completing their Ph.D.s. Fathers also outstrip mothers in securing tenure by about 20 percent.” We see this especially clearly in the theological realm, where women are the blatant minority in schools teaching theology.
Equal representation in print and on film. That women would be represented numerically and in positive ways in the news media and in entertainment. That they would be healthy, be leaders, be scientists. It shouldn’t be abnormal to see a woman leading in any capacity. It shouldn’t be abnormal for women to carry the narrative in a television show or movie. There shouldn’t be only a handful of women in a room of politicians. To change the way our culture functions, women need to be represented doing the things women do every day.
The end of objectification of women. The highly sexualized culture we live in, as exacerbated by the way women are seen in media and in pornography, is having some pretty negative outcomes. While people may disagree on the solution, the fact is that we need to be addressing the problem instead of trying to bury it. When women are seen as objects and not people, as modified graphics instead of humans, all of us suffer. Women and men need to be free from objectifying each other.
There are still many more things that could be included on this list. For women to experience the new creation brought through resurrection we all have to work toward equality. Thankfully, we know the one that has the power to transform the world. And he started spreading the message of new creation through the women that met him at the tomb on Easter morning.
To learn more specifically about how women’s equality matters in the church check out any of these organizations and people.
If you want to dive deep, consider reading American Girls.