How to answer tough questions

Christianity Is Patriarchal, Oppressive, and Sexist

Conversation Stopper

In the media today, we often hear accusations of how outdated the Bible and the church are, especially as it relates to issues like women’s rights. The implication is that Christianity is irrelevant to the world today. These types of accusations are often made as authoritative blanket statements, yet rarely does anyone stop and question the validity of these accusations.

Assumptions

  • The Bible’s content is patriarchal, oppressive and sexist (versus a person’s interpretation of it)
  • God should not be patriarchal, oppressive or sexist.
  • The Church (as a Christian institution) should not be patriarchal, oppressive or sexist.
  • Thus, if a person commits to the bible and/or the church, he/she is approving of and participating in a patriarchal, oppressive and sexist mindset.

Talking Points

Begin with: “How would you define ___?” (Fill in the blank with one of the three adjectives)

Proceed with either the bible or the church—though they are inter-related, it is best to treat each topic separately:

Bible

Begin with: “Why would you say the bible is ___?”

If they have a ready answer from Scripture (e.g. some of Paul’s writings about women’s roles in the church:

  • i. Share a different perspective on the passage (if you are able)
  • ii. “The bible was written in an imperfect world. As a code of ethics, it is actually ahead of its time in thinking about women’s rights, treatment of captives, etc. We believe that as a follower of the bible and as a follower of Jesus, we are also called to be ahead of our time in working against these types of injustices.”
  • iii. “Did you know that the bible is the reason why many people over the centuries have chosen to fight injustices? Even if you dislike certain passages in the bible, the bible as a whole has been a rallying cry against injustices in our world.”
  • iv. Invite the person to look with you at what the bible says about these issues.

If they do not have a ready answer, invite the person to look with you at what the bible says about these issues.

Church

Begin with: “Why would you say the church is ___?”

If they have a ready answer (e.g. from personal experience):

  • i. Apologize for the church’s wrongdoing (esp. if it’s a personal experience!).
  • ii. Share an example of how you’ve seen a church correct injustice
  • iii. “Just as one bad meal in the cafeteria does not mean you’ll rule out ever eating there again, so too one bad church experience does not mean that you should rule out Christianity as true and meaningful for you.”
  • iv. “You cannot determine the validity of Christianity by merely looking at what churches do, because churches make mistakes. You should determine the validity of Christianity by reading about Jesus in the bible.”
  • v. Invite the person to look with you at what the bible says about these issues.

If they do not have a ready answer, invite the person to look with you at what the bible says about these issues.

Additional Resources:

What are some other passages in scripture where you see Jesus being counter cultural toward how society views women?

Share a passage in a comment below.

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