Gender Justice: Evangelical Initiatives in India -- By: Elizabeth Leelavathi Manasseh

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 21:2 (Spring 2007)
Article: Gender Justice: Evangelical Initiatives in India
Author: Elizabeth Leelavathi Manasseh

Gender Justice: Evangelical Initiatives in India

Elizabeth Leelavathi Manasseh

ELIZABETH LEELAVATHI MANASSEH is Secretary of the women’s ministries department of the Evangelical Fellowship of India.

An important point out of which spring many of our contemporary problems in relation to gender justice is our failure to start from the right point, i.e., the glory shared equally by boys and girls and men and women of being created in the image of God, of being redeemed in Christ, and of being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Presumably, we have all studied, argued, and reached conclusions in conferences, seminars, symposiums, etc., about gender justice in various spheres of life, namely, the home (family), the church, and the society. Nonetheless, the evangelical tradition has, by and large, remained strongly patriarchal until today, perhaps as the universal form of gender relations in the home, church, and society. This means that, in India and around the world, among other things, that source on which evangelicalism is based, mainly, is the Bible—the inspired word of God, as it has been interpreted by men who have taken on themselves the task of defining the theological, sociological, ontological, eschatological, and ecclesiological status of women. However, there has been a tremendous change, both in India and around the world, as Christians have drawn lessons despite the patriarchal pattern of gender relations, since the Bible contains examples both hierarchical (e.g., Boaz and Ruth model) and non-hierarchical (e.g., Priscilla and Aquila) of man/woman relationships, both found within its patriarchal family structure. To cite another example, women have been integrated into decision-making bodies and positions of leadership in theological institutions, local churches, etc., based on their callings, gifting, training, interests, and experience. Furthermore, the Evangelical Fellowship of India, with which I serve, has come up with a position statement and the World Evangelical Fellowship has passed a resolution at its Eleventh General Assembly in May 2001 at Kualalumpur “to stop abuse in the Church.” Through the international Task Force to Stop Abuse Against Women,1 we have launched a book entitled No Place for Abuse. Thus, conscious and consistent efforts are being made by men and women in leadership to promote gender justice in all spheres of life.

The purpose of this article is to challenge the church in India—and in all the Christian community—to facilitate mutual respect and support, edification, communication, and resources (spiritual, theological, experiential, socioeconomic, and legal) in order to work and strive for gender justice in all spheres of life and in all faith com...

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