Why Christians should support Malala Yousufzai and the fight for women’s equality in Pakistan

As we watch this story from Pakistan unfold it is alarming that in 2012 we are seeing women and teenage girls shot and abused because they want the right to have an education. My job has put me in contact with many Muslim women some of which are from Pakistan so I am particularly sensitive to this story.

 

I have been ruminating over why Christians should support Malala Yousufzai and the women of Pakistan.  The list of reasons could fill tomes but I would like to put forward just three. 

 

First, as Christians who are aware of our history, we know first hand what happens when a religion is controlled by zealots on the right or left in regards to women’s issues. For centuries, Christians in the name of religious purity used God’s word, the Bible to justify degrading and suppressing women’s rights. Then, starting around the 1960’s, feminists reacting to this oppression sought to rework readings of the Bible to defend ideas that went well beyond what is taught in the Bible.  Today many of the issues the church is fighting about concerning sexuality and gender stem from the oppression and then the reaction of feminists over the last fifty years.

 

Second, while zealots have controlled Christianity over the issue of women’s rights, Christianity has a history of fighting for women’s rights.   From the very beginning of the faith, Resurrection Day when Jesus Christ defeated death, God orchestrated it so that women would be the first witnesses of this miraculous event.  In a period when women were not even allowed to give testimony in courts, God chose women as the chief witnesses for the greatest event in the history of humanity.   Due to reaction of centuries of oppression many feminist scholars have castigated the New Testament for how women are depicted, but in reality the New Testament challenged Greco-Roman culture and its treatment of women.  Today, Christians should be challenging how cultures treat women based on God’s word and not enlightenment rationalism or ideas about libertarian free will.

 

Third, Christians spend millions of dollars each year sending missionaries to the Middle East and to other Islamic nations to live out the Great Commission and present the gospel. This is certainty biblical because the church was commanded to go to the nations and proclaim the gospel, but why not go one step further in presenting Christianity to Muslim nations.  Instead of just teaching people the gospel as means of getting “Saved” why not demonstrate to millions of Islamic women how the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes how we live.  Why not demonstrate that God chose to demonstrate his love for women by having them witness the resurrection of his son because in the resurrection he was over turning the world system that degraded women and the poor.  In our world the poor and women are the most oppressed people groups on earth.  During the incarnation, God came as a poor person and defeated death and then had women witness this event to proclaim it to the world. If that does not say that God cares about the women and the poor I don’t know what does. The gospel is not just about getting saved but it is about God renewing his creation and ushering in the kingdom of God, a kingdom that brings down the oppressor, the prideful and haughty and elevates the poor, the righteous and those who seek justice.

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