Tag Archives: sexism

93: Discrimination

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My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2: 1-4 NIV

 

James reminds us that we are meant as gospel people to be with those at the edges and the bottom, we are not to be friends to the oppressors, but to the oppressed. We serve an upside down kingdom, where the first shall be last and the last first. As followers of Christ, therefore, we should always be on the side of the voiceless and the suppressed, with those who are discriminated against, whether for the colour of their skin, their indigenous identity, their gender, their sexuality, or for any other reason.

I remember Archbishop Desmond Tutu telling of what it was like to come to England when he was a banned person in South Africa, to take refuge from the regime of Apartheid. He and his wife would go up to police officers in London over and over just for the pure thrill of being called “Sir” and “Madam.”   That makes me proud. It also makes me a little sad as racism once again seems to be on the rise in this country. There should never be any question of which “side” we are on with these issues of love and hate. Love must always be our guide, and God’s love is never exclusive, so nor should ours be. It is for everyone.

The church should always be such a refuge, where people can come to be valued when they are not valued or esteemed anywhere else. Homeless people ought to be treated like kings and the well-off or well-known free to serve and relieved of any great expectations other than being themselves.

Judgement for any reason, maybe especially for the outer appearance, or the obvious things like wealth and gender, is simply not part of who we are, nor should we need, in church, or in any realm of Christian life, to suffer it. We are called to serve one another, not to look one another up and down, and no-one should ever feel the pain of racism, sexism or ableism, homophobia or the sting of anyone else’s pride or self-righteousness. As Paul also teaches us, we are one body and each part should be honoured equally, and more care and attention paid to those parts which are reviled by the world.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

9: Disbelieved

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But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Luke 24:11 NIV

Two thousand years on and women are still used to being classed as lesser witnesses. For much of history we have been branded hysterical, untrustworthy and illogical. There is something deeply painful about not being believed. Imagine how these female disciples must have felt, shamed and pained as the men dismissed them and their amazing story!  I know something of this kind of pain particularly within my chronic illness, and have had cruel and disdainful treatment from medics, health professionals and even friends.

I see the same attitude time and time again around those with so-called “invisible” illnesses that are hard to quantify or diagnose, and with those with mental illnesses or depression.   One of the kindest and best things you can ever do for someone suffering with such a problem is to believe them. Believe them when they say they can’t do something, or that it is difficult, or that they are in pain, even when it seems hard for you in a healthy mind and body to credit.

When our experience is very different from the one being related, we can be very quick to dismiss the witnesses. And if we are prejudiced and already disinclined to believe the person because of their gender, their race, their religion, if they are in some way, not like us, or not quite the ticket, our belief is likely to be still weaker.

Only Peter of the twelve, went to check out the women’s story. Don’t you think he was glad he did?  Since then, many people have dismissed the gospel message as nonsense, but God is fond of using things that seem on the surface to not make sense, things that seem upside down or back to front to teach us. He delights in turning things on their head and using the small and weak to topple the rich and the powerful. He would rather have his earthly ministry funded by a collective of women than top businessmen, and rather have fishermen and tax collectors as his pupils, than the elite of the Temple schools. He would rather announce his resurrection to a group who were unlikely to be heard, than to government officials. After rising victorious from defeating hell and death, he would rather have a barbeque on the beach with his friends than stand in the arena preaching about his triumph.

Listen. Consider. Believe.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com