No More Compromise with Gender Injustice

What I learned from MLK

In the USA we honor and remember Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  every year with a national holiday on the third Monday in January.  And rightly so. Dr. King may have been the greatest champion of social justice in the world in my lifetime.

We should learn from Dr. King, and not merely about racial injustice and the fight for equality in that area. We can also be inspired by his wisdom, courage, determination, and other qualities of his character that were gifts bestowed on him from God to lead that fight at that time. Because we all have our battle to fight.  It may be racial justice, like Dr. King. Or it may be something else, like gender equality.  We can learn from Dr. King no matter what our fight may be.

I have a friend  who writes for gender justice in the church.  Last week she wrote a piece that generated quite a bit of anger from several complementarians- Why Gender Equality in the Church is no Longer a “Secondary Issue”

In one “Christian Bloggers” group it immediately generated harsh pushback and complaints.  “How dare she claim egalitarianism is a primary issue! The creeds alone define what is primary! We can agree to disagree!”

Things became very heated against her. Despite being very gracious in her disagreement, this time someone couldn’t “agree to disagree.” She was ejected from the group and blocked so she couldn’t even read their comments. Meanwhile, the discussion continued about her in several places. They continued to rake her over the coals about how out of line she had been, unwilling to listen to reason, that she alone bore the responsibility for her own ejection, and good riddance anyway!

So were they right? Did she bring all this on herself? Should she have backed down and agreed to disagree about gender equality in the church? Should we keep on attending our complementarian churches, pay our tithes regardless of what happens, and say little or nothing when gender injustice is perpetuated?

Let’s ask Dr. King.

It was April, 1963. The segregationist police commissioner, “Bull” Connor, had sought and won an injunction from  a state court that forbade all demonstrations.  Dr. King refused, and led a protest, for which he was immediately jailed.

From that jail in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. King wrote the following:

~I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not . . . the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direction action.’ . . . Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. . . . We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.~
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

 

To apply Dr. King’s wisdom to the gender issue, we must reach the regrettable conclusion that the woman’s great stumbling block in her stride toward equality is not the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the Southern Baptist Convention, martin-luther-king-jrbut the egalitarian moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than justice; who prefers a negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action,’ …

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. . . . We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.

Those words seem to this brother to be as applicable to gender equality now as they were to racial equality then. Being moderate in our approach to gender equality, going along to get along, may make us a bigger stumbling block than all those patriarchal organizations combined. Because it shows we’re willing to do something Dr. King was not- accept things as they are.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “No More Compromise with Gender Injustice

  1. I agree. Gender equality per se isn’t a primary issue. But upholding justice and defending the oppressed is. This is not ultimately about doctrines, it’s about people– female people for whom Christ died.

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  2. I agree. Gender equality per se isn’t a primary issue. But upholding justice and defending the oppressed is. This is not ultimately about doctrines, it’s about people– female people for whom Christ died.

    Like

  3. Yes! I often think about King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Your parallel is spot on. So many don’t stand up against gender inequality because the system works for them. Thanks for being a voice!

    Like

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