Freedom from Discrimination: Gender Discrimination
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