Tuesday, 16 June 2020 23:47

Christian, Repent for Your Sins Against Women

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The church has consistently let women and girls down in this country. Dare I say, we have let Christ down in the way we have treated women and the treatment of women we have quietly allowed in and outside of our churches. I believe the body of Christ here in Ethiopia, the local churches that confess the name of Jesus, as well as church leaders, theologians, and prominent Christians need to repent of ongoing sins against women. For many, this call to repentance is an affront and abomination; an evil, grotesque attempt to reconcile post-modern liberalization with the teachings of the Church. To others, it is a call to spiritual conviction and a call to action. However, I pray for all who read: may the Gospel of the crucified Jesus Christ save us from our version of truth and redeem us to His. 

 

"What did our churches say about the abducted girls that continue to be missing, other than echoing the deafening silence from our government? Why do our churches sit— empty and hollow during this time— when they can serve as sanctuaries?"

 

The truth is, we have been neglecting women. The sin of neglecting the lowly in our community is spoken of by Paul in Romans 12:15-16. We have been quiet for far too long as all sorts of evil deeds are committed against women, the image-bearers of God, while again Paul tells us to speak out against such evil deeds (Ephesians 5:11). Even when we do speak up, it’s just that— words! We don’t repent, we don’t call others to repentance, and we do not show our love— Christ’s love— in action (1 John 3:18). Though our pastors are called to “give instruction in sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9) and be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2), the flock— both men and women— remain deeply confused, uneducated, and thus sinful when it comes to understanding and honoring their own and the other’s sex and gender. Though it calls elders to be “examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3), we idly sit by or gently chastise as many teachers, elders, and other members of the Christian community in our very churches set destructive, illegal, and immoral examples to the flock when it comes to treating women equally, fairly, and honorably. 

God will hold us accountable, saints. 

"What do we teach our men in pre-marital counseling about loving like Christ?"


This may all seem extreme and vague. I want to give real examples by asking some questions: where are our churches for the women and girls that are being raped and abused during this pandemic? What did our churches say about the abducted girls that continue to be missing, other than echoing the deafening silence from our government? Why do our churches sit— empty and hollow during this time— when they can serve as sanctuaries? How about during everyday life in Ethiopia, how come they’re not home for the needy? Where are we crying with the women and girls that are crying? Where are we publicly calling out rapists, wife-beaters, child molesters, catcallers, abusers, those who disrespect and degrade women at work and at home, those who look down on them? How are we practically teaching them to do differently? Where are our leaders that exposit and exegete the Word to teach men honor, respect, and Christ-like love? When will we stop idolizing marriage for women as though their only valid value is in their role as wives and mothers? When are we going to stop and hold accountable superficial interpretation of the Word? When was the last time your church assessed the needs of women in the church by way of what needs to be taught, who needs to be mentored, and what outreach needs to be organized? Where are our pastors that teach women the beautiful, intricate, and delightful identity Christ gave them? When will we stop painting women as subservient, second-class citizens of this side of heaven? When will we openly and loudly rebuke rape, assault, abuse (emotional, physical, and spiritual), and abandonment by husbands and fathers? When will we teach women what the Word says about women in the Bible; when will we theologically equip ourselves to counter worldly doctrine and affirm the wholeness and dignity of women? When will we stop using shame and humiliation as a front-line response to everything we don’t like or to everything that makes us uncomfortable? How have we perpetuated the “Men are cerebral, women are emotional” notion through our teaching? How have we substantially and consistently countered doctrines of sexual liberalization? When will we stop allowing holy text to be a cover-up for the abuse and degradation of women in and outside of the Church? How have we substantially, evidentially, and kindly exposed the Word to defend our faith to those who say Christianity subjugates women? What does the way in which we spend our personal and church funds say about what we’re doing to help the marginalized? What do we teach our men in pre-marital counseling about loving like Christ? We speak of the heartbreaking rate at which abortions are growing and are being normalized; but what are we doing to educate women, to support single moms, and to promote adoption? How have we created a safer environment where women and girls can come to Church for safety and love? Do we see women?

 

"... Our echoing silence on issues within and outside of our church walls concerning women has empowered the darkness that is in the world."


Our culture in Ethiopia does not allow for open and honest conversations; and this very same “hush-hush” culture has seeped through our church walls and saturated our pulpits and pews.  This has turned churches into quiet, conformist cliques promoting self-interest instead of living and exemplifying the Gospel. God sweeps nothing under the rug; God confronts sin in the world and in those He loves. Instead of being the light unto the world, and being the preservative salt we were meant to be, our echoing silence on issues within and outside of our church walls concerning women has empowered the darkness that is in the world. Instead of being the voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless, our church has sulked to the corner, throwing half-baked solutions and watered down Gospel from its pulpits. Our attempts to “maintain”— simply meeting the status quo of gathering people, preaching a feel-good sermon, and dispersing— has produced sheep led easily astray and it has deeply misrepresented God. Our attempts to stay “agreeable” has left us weak, misrepresenting the power of the Gospel and the decisive stand of our Lord. Our attempts to protect our leaders from scrutiny have left our congregants hurt with righteous anger, and deeply misled about the heart of God and thus deeply confused about their own identity. We have idly sat by as many built their house on sand. 

 

"Perhaps we do all this because we think gender is a peripheral issue and not a core issue, but the intrinsic worth of humanity— all humanity including women— was central enough that Jesus came into this earth and died for it. "

 

We need to repent, saints. Perhaps we do all this because we think gender is a peripheral issue and not a core issue, but the intrinsic worth of humanity— all humanity including women— was central enough that Jesus came into this earth and died for it. Justice, compassion, value… that’s at the core of the Gospel. If we’re not preaching and living that, what are we preaching? What does this Gospel look like when it’s worked out or manifested in our lives, in our community? 

Remorse Versus Repentance 

Women, ladies, girls… the Evangelical Church and community of Ethiopia owe you a public, genuine, and repentant apology. Of course, this is not to say this is the case for every churchgoer or every church leader. But the climate around the evangelical community that we all reinforce and perpetuate— either through our silence or through willful ignorance— remains the same: condescending towards women in and outside of the church, weaponizes shame, and quiet about the aching hearts of women as they bear through social, professional, personal, and spiritual suffering.

What’s expected of us Christians is deep and genuine repentance not to be confused with remorse. Judas Iscariot, after betraying Christ, was seized with remorse (Matthew 27:3); he felt an emotional regret. Jesus calls us to repentance, not just regret, and that is why, in the end, Judas was doomed to destruction (John 17:12). Repentance is different; it’s a commitment not to do something again, it’s active and moves forward with a change of heart and commitment to transformation fueled by the love and mercy of Christ. Zacchaeus lives this out (Luke 19:1-10); not only does Zacchaeus feel bad for his offenses, but he also has a change of heart; and he acts from that changed posture of his heart. 

God is calling us to be Zacchaeus’ of this world for women. He is calling us to knowledge and understanding, and He is calling us to a change of heart posture that will overflow into our lives and the way we come together as a church. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says — 'Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.'

 

  "… Outdo one another in showing honor." 
Romans 12:10
 

 

What’s a Church to Do

Pray

David asks God to search him, to see if there’s anything in him that is offensive to God, and then he asks God to lead him back to the path of righteousness (Psalm 139: 23-24). This must also be our prayer. To truly make ourselves open and available to the audit of the Holy Spirit, and to be pliable to the leading of His Word. God is not looking for our skin-deep responses and neither are women; He is looking for a moved and a broken heart (Psalm 51:17). Repent of shaming and humiliating women, even if it was just in your heart. Repent of your silence. Repent of your lack of compassion.

Learn

As a Christian and/or pastor, study the Word of God; allow it to “discern the thoughts and intentions of your heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Learn what the Word of God has to say on gender and the sexes. Ask questions, find answers, and lay your mind at the mercy and teaching of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Gain wisdom, take time, listen, and read. Learn about the struggles of women, both of those in your congregation and those outside. Be humble and approachable; listen to women and girls and what they have to say. 


Teach 

The body of Christ is charged with the privilege and responsibility of the edification and equipping of the saints (Colossians 3:16), and this is meant to be dictated and governed by the supreme example of Christ’s life as documented in the holy Word of God, the Bible. Don’t take that charge lightly; discuss it with your friends and family. If you pastor a church or have been given the gift of teaching, don’t dodge the subject. Don’t water down the Gospel. Don’t slap a Bible verse on your ideology and call it holy; seek to bring others to the light of truth, to the heart of God. Don’t be afraid of others’ questions or opinions that you may or may not be able to answer to; lean on God to help you speak, and don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know. If you are in a place to influence a Christian couple, or singles, or anyone; use it as an opportunity to shine a light on the heart God has for the love of humanity; both men and women. Don’t shy away from context; we all know the truths we hear in the outcries of women (privately, corporately, and nationally)… Preach the Gospel in light of the context. The truth of the Gospel is your only gem: John the Baptist lost his head for it, Stephen was stoned for it, the disciples were persecuted for it, and Jesus was hung for it. Teach the truth even if it kills you, you’re in good company.

“... Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"
1 Corinthians 9:16 


Act

The key to your repentance is action.  Affirm to women, through whatever platform and relationship God has granted you, the honor and dignity God has given them. Ask for the forgiveness of women you have wronged, dismissed, mistreated, and devalued. Hold those in power and leadership accountable for their actions and inactions. If you have been honored to occupy a pulpit, speak on this. Teach on this. Exegete the Word. Preach the Gospel and make it relevant to issues women face every day. Support and donate to women; make a suggestion to your church to collect alms to support local women and single moms in your congregation. Evangelize through medical outreach; get Christian doctors to educate girls and women on the biology of their bodies. Preach and promote adoption; support local adoption agencies. Rebuke the culture of shaming and humiliation in your church. Use your platform to defend your faith; to show others that Christ is serious about women.   

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:8-9


Know this, if we don’t defend our faith; if we don’t teach and practice sound doctrine that upholds and honors women as image-bearers, if we don’t equip and affirm women through Biblical literacy, if we continue to dismiss and devalue women and the unique issues they face; God will hold us personally and corporately accountable. 

"To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." 
Proverbs 21:3

 

Diana Yohannes

Diana Yohannes is a writer, communications specialist, and a lover of Christ. Diana’s passion lies in countering narratives and rhetorics surrounding women with that God has to say about us. 

https://addisandotherthings.wordpress.com/
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