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Christian Doctrine of Sin and Women’s Leadership Essay

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Updated: Aug 6th, 2020

The doctrine of sin has proved to be a very vexing issue in the Christian Church. This is normally the case when it comes to the role and position of women in running the church. Women are seen as the originators of sin; hence, they are not given the respect they deserve in the leadership of the church. This is based on the reasoning that Eve succumbed to temptations that led to the first sin which affects all of us. The labeling of women as originators of sin is problematic because it is based on escapism and fails to put into consideration that we are all sinners. Therefore, the reasoning does not resonate with the biblical view of sin. With the increasing push for active roles of women in the church, there is a need for changes that will ensure inclusivity.

In examining the doctrine of sin and salvation, Jones pointed out that there has always been a sense of fragility and fragmentation because the doctrine presents women as evil and shameful.1 Therefore, instead of being antagonistic to the needs of women, it is important for the church to reflect on sin based on the doctrine of justification and sanctification in order to understand the best ways to accommodate all the people who feel oppressed. In summary, the position of women in the church needs to be reviewed. According to Jones, the roles of women should be based on the understanding that all people are equal before God as provided by the doctrine of justification and sanctification.2

Feminist Theory and Christian Theology

Feminist theory stipulates that women undergo different forms of oppression in the church, but due to the traditional view of sin, they are rendered helpless and are made to suffer psychologically.3 The main argument by Jones is that the revelation of God in scriptures is presented in the human language, and has cultural connotations that sideline women from core operations of the church. For instance, the scriptures and the theology express various issues that define Christianity, such as salvation in images and language that enhance patriarchal and sexist society.4

Thus, based on Christian theology, the doctrine of sin is not expressed in its truth as God desired, but presented in hermeneutical and historical basis that is dictated by social forces. To sum up the argument, societal forces harm women in different ways. Therefore, various types of oppression in the places of work, home, and the church should be included in the oppression theories. It is through such measures that the important roles of women can be realized and their relationship with God can be redefined not based on the patriarchal thought.

An inclusive church that is not oppressive to women should be rife to changes in the society; it should not be based on traditions that consider women as the cause of human suffering through Eve’s sin. The traditions of the church are creations of individuals and are structured based on cultural views of the society. Jones states, “feminist theorists insist that although large cultural forces are involved, individuals’ intentions and actions do work to oppress women, and thus individual (and not just large institutions) must be held responsible.”5

The statement calls for a moral discourse in which the oppressors, either women or men, should be held accountable in order to avoid the social injustices. Jones insists on the ‘wholeness of women’, in which they are allowed to flourish in different sectors of the church.6 The basis of Jones advocacy for flourishing women is based on the patriarchal society which is characterized by men holding power and excluding women from occupying roles that culturally have been identified as unsuitable for them. In summary, the inclusion of feminist theory in the Christian doctrine should entail eliminating the issues that bar the advancement of women such as the patriarchal set up and personal issues that undermine women.

To change the situation, the church needs to redefine the roles of women based on the reflective account of sin. It needs to end the perception that women caused the first sin that makes them shameful and not worthy to partake in the wholeness of Christ. The brokenness of women should be based on the reflection of ‘fall’ and how God is ready to reconcile all humankind to make Christians united with Christ. Women should not be marginalized; Jones points out that “Christian’s view of sin had taught them that they were ‘bad,’ that they should be ashamed of their bodies and sexuality.”7 In summary, women are oppressed on the account of bearing the brand of Eve’s role when she succumbed to temptations in the Garden of Eden. However, this should not be the case if the reality of Christian salvation is to be based on justification and sanctification doctrines which are the key to God’s reconciliation.

Doctrines of Justification and Sanctification

The justification and sanctification doctrines have an existential effect. The justification doctrine entails judging an individual based on his or her experiences and spirituality. It is through the doctrine that Christians are taught how salvation is realized and what it constitutes. It brings the encounter of a Christian with Jesus Christ.8 The doctrine upholds that it is through faith that all Christians are reconciled with Christ. Similarly, concerning the sanctification, it is through the actions of an individual that grace is bestowed. The perspective presented in Jones’ argument is that divine forgiveness is only realized by justification and sanctification. In summary, the two doctrines are helpful in remapping the definition of sin. This is because they introduce a new perspective in which women can be acknowledged in church as equal to men.

In the perspective of feminist theory, the church should not limit women by viewing them as symbolic daughters of Eve; this makes them guilty because the presence of sin in the world is attributed to them. However, the main weakness related to the doctrines is that they have not been internalized in the modern church system. This is because the systems and processes of the current church lead to the exploitation and oppression of women.9 Therefore, remapping of sin should entail linking it to the eschatological doctrines of justification and sanctification. This denotes that sin can be understood through the acts of faith. The failure to internalize the doctrines has not only barred women from contributing to the work of God but rejected the salvation teachings in which God uses all of the church in the reconciliation of the world. To sum up, the church can benefit from feminist theory if it shifts from defining salvation based on the original sin. Leaders should reflect on the present and not on the past eschatological perspective of God in order to allow humankind to flourish. Therefore, women should consider themselves justified and sanctified in faith as per the doctrines.

Bibliography

Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Feminist Theology as a Critical Theology of Liberation. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, n.d.

Jones, Serene. Feminist Theory and Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.

McDougall, Joy. “Sin-No More? A Feminist Re-Visioning of a Christian Theology of Sin.” Anglican Theological Review 88, no. 2 (2006): 215-217.

Footnotes

  1. Serene Jones, Feminist Theory and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 70.
  2. Ibid., 74.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Elisabeth Fiorenza, Feminist Theology as a Critical Theology of Liberation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, n.d.), 611.
  5. Serene Jones, Feminist Theory and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 74.
  6. Ibid., 79.
  7. Ibid., 94.
  8. Joy McDougall, “Sin-No More? A Feminist Re-Visioning of a Christian Theology of Sin,” Anglican Theological Review 88, no. 2 (2006): 216.
  9. Serene Jones, Feminist Theory and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 111.
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