The Dignity of Women : Perspectives of the Christian Vision and Mission
Rekha Chennattu, RA
The Christian understanding of the dignity of women is based on the biblical presentation of women and their rightful place in society as human persons. Even a quick reading of the Bible perceives the overarching presence of biblical women who played significant leadership roles in Salvation History. The creation stories in Genesis 1-2 uphold the dignity of both women and men and presents human existence as a partnership of man and woman that celebrates mutuality and interdependence.
The presentation of women in the gospels is revolutionary in the context of the socio-religious traditions concerning women in the Second Temple period of Judaism. We have different portrayals of women in the life and ministry of Jesus. Women played significant roles at every stage in the life of Jesus, from conception to resurrection. The gospels thus demonstrate the decisive role played by women in the progressive unfolding of Salvation History.
Women did play important leadership roles in the life and mission of the churches founded by Paul. The actualization of Paul’s vision of a new society characterized by gender equality and dynamic partnership between women and men still remains a task of the church in the unfolding history of salvation.
These stories challenge us to uphold the dignity of women as God’s beloved daughters created in God’s image and likeness as well as to promote their active participation in the mission of the Church.
The teachings of the Church recognise and appreciate that women through their manifold resources devote themselves to the service of the Church. The CBCI has taken a bold step forward by articulating the guiding principles of the Gender Policy, which underlines the equality and dignity of all human persons form the basis of a just and humane society.
However, the Indian Church has to go a long way in giving women their rightful place in the Church. Theological illiteracy is indeed one of the reasons for the subordination of women in the Church. An ongoing transformative process among women as well as men is an imperative for the realization of full humanity for women proclaimed by Jesus as free daughters of God created in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:28). In the present context of ever increasing alienation and brokenness in the world, a more dynamic partnership between men and women and an inclusive leadership can be a transforming grace in the life and mission of the Church.
Rekha Chennattu, RA