Ideas Have Consequences -- By: Mimi Haddad
PP 26:1 (Winter 2012) p. 18
Ideas Have Consequences
Mimi Haddad (Ph.D., University of Durham) is president of Christians for Biblical Equality. She is a founding member of the Evangelicals and Gender Study Group at the Evangelical Theological Society, an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, and an adjunct associate professor at Bethel University, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Plato said ideas rule the world. All action begins with an idea. Paul said, “Take every thought captive to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Why? Because ideas have consequences.
The most prominent indicator of whether a girl will be sold to a brothel, killed as a fetus, abused in her marriage or family, or denied a place of decision making in her church, community, or marriage is not based on her gender, but the value ascribed to the female gender. In study after study, research suggests that when a culture values females as much as males, we are more likely to see equal numbers of girls surviving to adulthood. Gender justice begins with an idea—that males and females are of equal value.
Thus, for every devaluation made of at the level of being, there is a consequence in the form of marginalization, abuse, or injustice. To say it another way, more positively, when communities give females equal authority and resources in decision making, not only are levels of abuse reduced, but economic stability also increases within families and communities. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) call this the girl effect.1 Christians might call this phenomenon the ezer effect because ezer is the Hebrew word God used to describe the strong help females provide (Gen 2:18). Ezer is found twenty-one times in the Old Testament, and, of these, fourteen describe God’s help. According to R. David Freedman, the Hebrew word used to describe woman’s help (ezer) arises from two Hebrew roots that mean “to rescue, to save” and “to be strong.”2 Perhaps the most common use of the word is found in Psalm 121:1-2, where ezer is used for God’s rescue of Israel: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” What stronger help is there apart from God’s rescue?
Scripture suggests that females were created to provide a strong rescue, a fact NGOs now recognize. Support for women’s leadership leads to significant social benefits, while denying them equal value places them at risk fo...
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