Article: Can We Close the Gap? | Sarah Joshua, Australia

Greetings to all dear Igniters readers in Jesus’ name!
We observed International Women’s Day last month, with the theme of closing the gender gap. Although it is a sensitive topic in our culture, the New Testament consistently supports equality for everyone, including men and women. The idea is that everyone should have equal opportunities, regardless of their gender, language, or race, rather than that men and women should be treated equally. Even though Judaism at the time was against women, Jesus gave them power. Jesus broke social conventions by speaking to a woman alone and healing them, regardless of their gender.
The life of Pandita RamaBhai is a glowing example in Indian history of a woman, who against all odds, stood for the rights of women that included fighting against child marriage and Sati. She could write many books as she was well taught by her liberal father at a time education was denied to women. In 1924, she published a complete Bible in Marathi. During 1900-01, when India was devastated by two famines in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat respectively, RamaBhai rescued about 2000 women and girls from perishing due to hunger and housed them at a 100-acre farm at Kedgaon. It came to be known as the Mukti Mission (The House of Salvation). The Mukti mission became the epicentre of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early 1900s. The Government of India recognized her contributions to the upliftment of women in India for 20 years and issued a commemorative stamp on 26th October 1989.

Yes, we remember Rama Bhai because of the revival, but we forget about her fight against social evils. Many people think social evils are a thing of the past, but I would like the readers to truthfully answer the uncomfortable questions — are you happy when a baby girl is born, or do you think only boys are a blessing from God? What is the reason behind this thought? I believe the first thought when a baby is born in certain cultures is mostly about marriage, and that too about dowry In this article, I aim to address the issue of dowry, a practice in certain societies predominantly Indian where the girl’s family has to give money for marriage to take place.
We discuss everything under the sun in social media except this. The dowry system is a cruel primitive system that must be stopped immediately. Firstly, it is illegal, and secondly, it is unbiblical to trade off your daughters in the name of custom or tradition. The number of parents who suffer due to the fact they are unable to afford dowry or wedding celebrations is huge. There are lots of girls living with low social esteem thinking that they are a burden to society. Marriage is not the end goal of life and I believe if someone chooses not to marry no one should stop them, which is biblical too. Girls being verbally abused for not bringing enough dowry or being made feel low should be a thing of the past. I am sure Jesus can wipe out all the sorrows of the past generations of both men and women who are suffering. Moreover, people who are living away from India might think that we have enough money to give and that it is not a problem affecting us. The fact that you are born in India gives you enough responsibility to be gatekeepers of the land and be spokespersons in whichever way possible. How come we are tolerant to this? I have heard preachers say they will not conduct the marriage if the bride is wearing this and that, but how come they silently support how much money the girl’s family has given? Is it not corrupt practice to get a tithe of that from the boy’s family?

This International Women’s Day, I am challenging all Igniter readers, both parents of girls and boys to decide, as this is brutal and is affecting the gender equality of the next generation. We agree this was a practice that was happening for years, but it is time to stop this now. Maybe the battle is not easy but if Pandita RamaBhai could wage war against Sati and conserve the life of many young widows, I believe this is the first step of women empowerment we can do in our societies. Young men, how many of you think it is good practice to get money from your in-laws? If you think so, why can’t you give the money to your wife’s family? We need to remove all our fake masks of spirituality and must come clean about this issue. There are a lot of areas where there are unequal opportunities and unfairness in economic independence, but I want every reader and my team members to put forth this issue and carry out the propaganda. We might not be successful in stopping every money transaction, but we can certainly create that level of awareness so that people will be guilty and more conscious of the consequences of their actions.
The Bible is always for gender equality. Especially in the New Testament Jesus always considered women in the ministry and gave them unique roles. Even when Jewish customs and the laws were very different in terms of going near men during certain physical conditions Jesus never denied access for women to go near him and get healed. Remember gender equality is not the idea of feminists. It was in the Bible so don’t be worried that if we support gender equality it would be against the Bible. The argument here is not that men and women are equal, but that equal opportunities should be provided for all.

A Christian perspective on gender equality- Lynne Marie Kohm


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