Free­dom from Dis­crim­i­na­tion: Gen­der Dis­crim­i­na­tion

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Ac­cord­ing to the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights, Ar­ti­cle 1:131 “All hu­man be­ings are born free and equal in dig­nity and rights. They are en­dowed with rea­son and con­science and should act to­wards one another in a spirit of brother­hood.”

The Chris­tian teach­ing also pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion. “There is nei­ther Greek nor Jew, nei­ther cir­cum­cised nor un­cir­cum­cised, bar­bar­ian, Scythian, nei­ther slave nor free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:11). Ac­cord­ingly, it does not mat­ter to Christ whether one is racially or eth­ni­cally dif­fer­ent, or of a dif­fer so­cial­caste, rich or poor, master or slave, or any sim­i­lar kind of dif­fer­ences. All be­lieves in Christ be­come one and are equal. As a model of this, Je­sus dealt with both Jews and Gen­tiles dur­ing life­time in His life.

The apos­tle Paul pro­moted unity in Christ. “…who[Je­sus] has made the two one and has de­stroyed the bar­rier, the di­vid­ing wall of hos­til­ity, by abol­ish­ing in his flesh the law with its com­mand­ments and reg­u­la­tions. His pur­pose was to cre­ate in him­self one new man out of the two” (Eph 2:14-17). Paul fur­ther spoke about unity in Col 2:2 “my pur­pose is that they may be en­cour­aged in heart and united in love.” We can found that racial dis­crim­i­na­tion is not bib­li­cal. Nei­ther is gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion en­cour­aged.

In ear­lier times, women were clearly dis­crim­i­nated against. They had few rights in any as­pect of so­ci­ety, such as in vot­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, and prop­erty own­er­ship. In the nine­teenth cen­tury, the women’s move­ment arose in Amer­ica; women first won the right to vote in the Wy­oming Ter­ri­tory in 1869.132 At the same time, women’s ac­tivist like Mar­garet Fuller, Lucy Stone, and a score of oth­ers, cam­paigned for the rights of women “to re­ceive an ed­u­ca­tion, en­ter any pro­fes­sion, con­trol their own prop­erty, and make their voices heard on public is­sues.”133

At this time the Ad­ven­tist Church, had a strong fe­male leader, E. G. White, upon whom the church heav­ily de­pended for coun­sel. Some crit­ics even say the Ad­ven­tist Church vir­tu­ally fol­lows E. G. White’s lead­er­ship up to the present time.134 Ac­tu­ally, “E. G. White was a woman in a man's world. She was not only a woman who be­gan to speak to mixed au­di­ences in 1845, but also an ac­tivist who rec­om­mended bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion for women. Fur­ther­more, she even­tu­ally be­came a noted speaker not only among Ad­ven­tists but in the larger world of tem­per­ance ral­lies.”135 In any case it seems that the Ad­ven­tist Church would have a spe­cial in­sight into fem­i­nist is­sues com­pared to other de­nom­i­na­tions. But there is still much room for im­prove­ment.

Com­pared to other parts of the world, Western coun­tries have made more progress on fem­i­nist is­sues. E. G. White in the Ad­ven­tist Church, women ac­tivists Mar­garet Fuller and Lucy Stone, were shown the achieve­ment of women rights in Amer­ica.

In Asia, women are still strug­gling for their rights. In some parts of Asia, women are still un­der re­stric­tion and op­pressed. Ac­cord­ing to the Con­fu­cian sys­tem: “Women should serve their hus­bands and par­ents-in-law. This even ap­plies to one's kindly treat­ment of other rel­a­tives (younger wives, sis­ter-in-laws, and so on), as well as of ser­vants and even chick­ens and dogs.”136 Where women were tra­di­tion­ally

con­sid­ered merely ser­vants, it is a chal­lenge for churches to ad­vo­cate for equal rights on be­half of women.

Ac­cord­ing to the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Elim­i­na­tion of Vi­o­lence against Women,

Ar­ti­cle 3: “women are en­ti­tled to the equal en­joy­ment and pro­tec­tion of all hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms in the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, so­cial, cul­tural, civil or

any other field.”137 This dec­la­ra­tion guar­an­tees to women the same rights as men

have.

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