Liberation Theology vs Biblical Race Relations with Dr. Tony Evans

Here’s an accompanying quote from Dr. Tony Evan’s latest book Oneness Embraced, which is referenced in the video clip: “Our racial divide is a disease.  Over-the-counter human remedies won’t fix it; they merely mask the symptoms for a season” ( p. 22, bold added).

The biblical perspective applied is what we need.  This will move us onto God’s Kingdom agenda.

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69 Responses to Liberation Theology vs Biblical Race Relations with Dr. Tony Evans

  1. Interesting & hopeful video. Thanks for posting it. Several months back I recall linking to something about racial diversity in the church on FB. I was shocked how many of my (mostly Anglo, of course) friends didn’t see this as an issue, and didn’t want to consider it to be an issue.

  2. Iris Godfrey says:

    Thank you for posting this. He has some good stuff. I hope to read the book because I believe the issue is critical, and it is also critical that we realize unity has already been accomplished by the Holy Spirit and our job is to preserve it(“keep it” NIV 2011). (Eph. 4:3 I think, no matter what the issue, our approach must be to embrace what the Lord has done on the issue and move together in that. His explanations are good about how we are to move together focused on the same thing. This is empowered by what the Holy Spirit has already done in each of us. His comment, “we may have come over on different boats, but we are in the same boat now,” is so very, very true. That boat is Jesus and He is our unity. He has made us one (past-tense) by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into each of us that name His name. To truly Embrace Unity is to move in that provision.

    • T.C. R says:

      Craig,

      Yes, I too remain shocked when others do not see it as an issue, still plaguing the church’s witness and so forth. Most rather not talk about it, and pretend that it is still not a real issue.

      Iris,

      Yes, I think you will be blessed by this book. I’m encouraged that you’re willing to give it a read.

      Yes, great point about the “boats”! 😀

  3. Theophrastus says:

    TC, do we really want a biblical perspective on race — e.g., that we should could commit genocide of the Amelekites? Do we want a perspective on race that is informed by 1 Timothy 6:1 and Matthew 10:24?

    And is race only an issue that Christians should deal with? What about those from different religions, or no religion?

    What is wrong with taking a humanist perspective on race, of accepting the Enlightenment view expressed in the opening of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….”

    • T.C. R says:

      Theo,

      1. How about looking to God as Creator and Redeemer from which to construct our biblical perspective on race that is so needed?

      2. Yes, race relations remains an issue for the church. If you’re not aware of this, then I don’t know what to say!

      3. What you called humanist perspective on race is simply an echo of God’s perspective as Creator of all people in his image, beginning with the first man (Acts 17:26).

      • Theophrastus says:

        TC, I don’t have a problem with deducing the equality of all people from first theological principles. However, I don’t think it is a point clearly revealed in the Christian Bible. If it were, the last 2000 years of Christian history would have been quite different.

  4. elna says:

    As a white south African that grew up in apartheid I am quite hesitant to get involved in the discussion… In south Africa (my s on the keyboard refuses to be capitalised) we have had a long history of race problems. At the moment we just had our municipal elections in which the ANC played the race card to the hilt. This included calls for the taking of farms ala Zimbabwe. We have a court case going because Julius Malema keeps on singing an old liberation song calling for the ‘Kill the Boer kill the Farmer” A ‘Boer’ is a term for a white south African that speaks Afrikaans. Coupled with that we have the ultra-right whites that believe the Afrikaner is the long lost 10 tribes and therefor are the only people ‘chosen’ by God for salvation. Incidentally the same ‘heritage’ is claimed by some African Americans, black tribes in Zimbabwe, Filipinos, Brits, etc etc.
    I had to go back to the Bible and ask God to show me the truth. All of the ’10 tribe’-believers use the old testament, and I confronted some of them with the OT…and lost some friends on facebook on the way.
    This is what I found:
    Num 15:15-16 You and the alien shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply to you and the alien living among you. (Keep in mind the argument of ‘us’ as the lost ten tribes and ‘them’ the aliens as non-israelites and there for not acceptable to God and His blessings)
    Deut 1:16 hear the disputes between your brothers fairly..or between one of them and an alien.
    Deut 10:19 And you are to love those who are aliens
    Deut 24:17 Do not deprive the alien of justice…
    Deut 26:11 And you and the levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord you God has given…
    Deut 26:12 …you shall give the tithe to the levite, the alien the fatherless and the widow
    Deut 27:Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien….
    etc etc..
    God love the whole world (John 3:16) and Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2)

    • Theophrastus says:

      The standard understanding of the word “ger” (which is translated as “alien” in the quotes used by Elna above in her references from Numbers and Deuteronomy) is “proselyte.”

      Others, such as Milgrom, argue that a “ger” held a quasi-converted status — someone who accepted Jewish law (see Leviticus 24:22) and declared full loyalty to his Jewish protectors (see Genesis 21:23), but was not fully Jewish. But in any case, a “ger” is fully bound by Jewish law.

      Indeed, even under Numbers 15:16 quoted by Elna above, Gerim would fully accept Jewish law, and thus would presumably have the status of proselytes.

      There is no universalist principal here. (If you disagree, a quick reading of Joshua should convince you that the Canaanites were, in fact, treated differently than the Israelites).

    • T.C. R says:

      Elna,

      We need to begin with what God began to do anew through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the unifying implications of such, as evident in the NT, beginning with a text like Ephesians 2:11ff.

      This, however, is not to downplay what we read about in the OT. But we must keep in mind the progressiveness of revelation there.

  5. T.C. R says:

    |TC, I don’t have a problem with deducing the equality of all people from first theological principles. However, I don’t think it is a point clearly revealed in the Christian Bible. If it were, the last 2000 years of Christian history would have been quite different.|

    Theo,

    The Christian Bible is not clear about the equality of all people? So where in the Christian Bible are certain people groups created ontologically lesser than others? Please, enlighten me.

    • Theophrastus says:

      So where in the Christian Bible are certain people groups created ontologically lesser than others?

      Oh, for starters, 1 Timothy 6:1, Matthew 10:24, Leviticus 25:44-46 (note how they were held as slaves for all their lives and could be passed on to children), and pretty much every mention of Amalek in the Bible (note that even infants are doomed to execution: 1 Samuel 15:3).

      And I won’t even get into the issue of how women are treated in the Bible.

      The recognition of universal human equality is an Enlightenment value.

      • T.C. R says:

        Theo,

        Your references do not approach an answer to the question of being ontologically lesser? Functionally lesser? Yes. And if we apply this to the Trinity, the Son would be lesser than the Father, and the Spirit lesser than both the Father and the Son.

        Now, I’m not willing to put human equality in the hands of the Enlightenment project.

      • Theophrastus says:

        I leave questions of the Godhead to the theologians.

        The Enlightenment gave us the principle that all people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

        Your claimed “Biblical ontology” gives us the opposite:

        No Life: Your Biblical principle of “ontological equality” is so weak that it is compatible with genocide (1 Samuel 15:3).

        No Liberty: Your Biblical principle of “ontological equality” is so weak that it is compatible with lifetime slavery based on national origin (Leviticus 25:44-46).

        No Pursuit of Happiness: Your Biblical principle of “ontological equality” is so weak that it is compatible with a commandment never to challenge slavery (1 Timothy 6:1).

        In any case, it seems to me that your program of deriving the principle of human equality from the Bible has a lot to answer for. In the two millennia of the Christian era, why has the principle of human equality (as applied, for example, to black-white relations in the United States) only become clear in the last fifty years? How could everyone have just “missed it” in the Bible?

        How could Christiandom have authorized (based on the Bible) a massive two century long war (the Crusades) based on race and religion?

        And finally, your program reduces human equality from a universal principle to merely a Biblical principle, not binding on non-Christians. If human equality is a principle that can only be derived from the Bible, then where do the Marxists get it from?

  6. elna says:

    progressiveness of revelation? God is God… Doesn’t ‘p of r’ lead down that rocky road of ‘cut and paste’ of verses to suit our own ideas?

  7. While I do believe that faith in the Triune God is essential for Christians who wish to fight racism, I have to wonder if by a complete rejection of “over-the-counter human remedies” down plays the persons who wish to be intentional in the approach to race relations.

  8. T.C. R says:

    Elna,

    The nature of revelation throughout Scripture as being progressive is upheld by faithful exegetes of Scripture. There’s a kind of accommodation going on that we must recognize.

    Rod,

    For such persons they need a better foundation from which to operate, or we will never truly get to the root of the matter.

  9. T.C. R says:

    Theo,

    There are a number of problems with you reply: 1. Once again you have failed to grapple with “ontological equality.” None of the passage you continue to cite overturns what I’m arguing. For example, you keep appealing to a text like 1 Sam. 15:3. But nowhere is is stated that the genocide was due to the fact that these people were lesser than Israel as human beings. 2. Sin in our world is what has brought about the inhumane sins that we see perpetrator against other humans, not because God created certain people groups lesser. 3. “And finally, your program reduces human equality from a universal principle to merely a Biblical principle, not binding on non-Christians.” You fail to see how a biblical principle has universal application. The God of the Bible is the God of the Universe. Have you forgotten that? That is why Marxism has failed. That is why all other human derived projects have and will fail.

    God as Creator and Redeemer of the human race must be defined from a biblical perspective.

    • Theophrastus says:

      I think you missed the point of my reply.

      For the sake of argument let us assume that there is some sort of special “ontological equality,”, and let us assume that as you claim, it has a biblical basis.

      So, then, this “ontological equality” permits

      * genocide
      * slavery
      * racism based on national origin

      I have very little use for such “ontological equality.” Instead, I say that genocide is wrong, that slavery is wrong, that racism is wrong. If you agree with me, from whence did those values come? Apparently, not from “Biblical ontological equality.”

      • T.C. R says:

        Then you do not believe in ontological equality of all human beings?

        The distortions are simply the result of sin. It’s that simple.

      • Theophrastus says:

        Then you do not believe in ontological equality of all human beings?

        The distortions are commandments in the Bible, both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

  10. T.C. R says:

    Theo,

    Part of the challenge of biblical interpretation. The Jews were in bondage to the Egyptians. Does this mean that the Jews were ontological inferior, lesser than their captors?

    • Theophrastus says:

      The difference is that the captivity of the Israelites by the Egyptians was not divinely sanctioned. Indeed, it is clear from the text of Exodus 3:7-10 that God wished that the Jews be removed Egypt and “into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

      I wish that the Bible had as clear a statement forbidding slavery, or even better forbidding the subjugation of human dignity.

      • T.C. R says:

        Theo,

        If Israel’s captivity in Egypt was divinely sanctioned, how did they end up there? Did God fall asleep? He didn’t see it coming?

        It seems like you’re not willing to account for the presence of sin and its manifestations in our fallen world.

      • Theophrastus says:

        But you see, that’s the difference. I don’t claim Israel’s captivity in Egypt was divinely sanctioned. The Biblical account is quite clear that it was out of a defensive measure by the Egyptians facing a population explosion and potential defeat in war (Exodus 1:9-10). And the Biblical account is quite clear that the Egyptians were punished.

        So the captivity in Egypt was never a good thing.

        Contrast that with these Biblical assertions:

        “Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor” or

        “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling”

        How are we supposed to understand the plain meaning of these statements?

  11. Sue says:

    “Ontological equality” is one of the most cruel and callous doctrines ever held in Christianity. It simply means that a white man can acknowledge that a black man or a woman is intellectually equal and still treat a slave as a slave and a woman as a subordinate. It has been flaunted in my face more times than I could count. If some man says that I am ontologically equal to him this is not exactly news. But when he continues with his belief that a wife has no right to make decisions, to chose who to vote for, to earn money, to save money, to have a retirement income, to care for the children, when a wife is deprived of the right to make the tiniest decision for herself, the acknowledgement of ontological equality is simply too painful to discuss. It is the final turn of the knife in her heart.

    The fact that this Christianity we are aware of, whatever one may call it, divorces ontological equality from being a “neighbour” from being a fellow human being, is despicable.

    The truth is that I was already 50 years old before I thought that a woman could ever be included in the word “neighbour” in the Bible. I had never once ever thought that a Christian man could ever treat a woman as a fellow human being. I don’t think most Christian men do.

  12. Sue says:

    In fact, this was a discussion that I had with Theo on a blog one day. Is a woman a “neighbour?” Is a slave a “neighbour?” Is a “foreigner” a “neighbour?” If not, then let’s just carry on with cruelty to all others that we can safely exclude from being “neighbours.”

  13. Pingback: Quip of the Day: Equality | Political Jesus

  14. T.C. R says:

    Sue,

    One question: Did God make some people inferior to others?

  15. Sue says:

    People with Down’s syndrome are inferior in some ways. They don’t have the same cognitive potential as most others. But they still need the dignity of making choices, of being able to have some choice, some control over their own life. It really hit me when I started working with children like this, that I had been deprived of basic human rights that I accorded to others. You know how devastating this has been for me. Although now I stay away from the internet for a week or two at a time, and in my own work life I work with men who act like women are equals, so I get some reprieve. But when I read again certain phrases, certain doctrine, as you know, reaction is one of total devastation. I profoundly react with physical trauma to the terms of subordination. Can you imagine living 30 years with no basic human rights, and then being expected to hobnob happily with the oppressors?

  16. Sue says:

    I have to honestly say that I don’t understand this selective cruelty in Christianity. Women like Carolyn McCulley want to support microloans for women in Africa. But here in the USA, my aunt, in her old age, married a manhood man, and has gone from being financially independent , to worrying about how to get her dental work done, because her dear hubby, has spent much of her pension on his “Christian” work. I detest the callousness of those men who think that their right to make decisions is greater than their wife’s. It is profoundly disturbing. How can anyone justify this cruelty?

  17. T.C. R says:

    Sue,

    The post is about racial matters, not people with deformities. That’s another issue. Physical and mental disorders are the result of sin. We both can agree on that, right?

    I’m talking the equality of every people group on earth.

  18. Sue says:

    “I’m talking the equality of every people group on earth.”

    I’m sorry – that wasn’t clear. People have varying cognitive potential – that’s for sure. I believe that the average cognitive potential of every people group on earth is equal. Does that answer your question?

  19. T.C. R says:

    Sue,

    Equality on the basis of “average cognitive potential”? Is this the best we can do in addressing the equality question? Wow!

  20. Sue says:

    TC,

    I feel as if you are asking me a trick question. I really don’t know what you are getting at. Honest.

    PS, I am not sure if Down’s syndrome is a result of sin, except that reproduction itself is a result of sin.

    I regret that I am a bit dense here – but honestly, I don’t know what you are driving at.

  21. Sue says:

    I believe that all people have equal human dignity, but clearly most Christians don’t so I have assumed that this statement would be a non-starter.

  22. Sue says:

    When discussing equality, one always needs to establish a measure for equality. The terms must be defined. I made an initial attempt to introduce terms of some kind, a measure. I have no difficulty discussing other terms, but I would now expect you to introduce the terms of your initial question to me. You have not given enough information to elicit an intelligent response.

  23. Sue says:

    Perhaps you are suggesting that I should discuss equality in terms of physical beauty. I can only respond that I do believe all people groups are of equal beauty.

    Here is how the discussion is framed on Polical Jesus,

    “While Fanon goes on to say that black men try to prove to the white man their equality in terms of being just as rational, I would add just as beautiful as well. It would seem to me that in terms of racial doctrine, if to be “fully human” is to accept Euro-centric definitions of what it means to be human, then divinization is nothing less than the black person’s effort to fully partake in whiteness.”

    Now, explain to me how Rod gets away with discussing equality in terms of being “just as rational”, and I am mocked for discussing equality in terms of “average cognitive potential.”

    I believe, after reading Rod’s post, that you are mocking me for some other reason that for what I have said. Somehow, there is a need to put me, as a woman who challenges the way that some Christian men treat women, out of the discourse.

    You are an exemplary human being, in your ability to interact on the internet, really topnotch, but at certain times, I feel shut down because I am a woman who challenges male dominance.

  24. T.C. R says:

    |I believe that all people have equal human dignity…|

    Sue,

    And that is all I am saying as well. We are all created in the image of God, equally, whether male or female or whatever the ethnicity. Amen.

    • Theophrastus says:

      Here is Sue’s point put in another way:

      In our age, it is not acceptable, in Christian circles, a person who speaks out against slavery — the submission of one people to another — consider the pro-Christian film about William Wilberforce: Amazing Grace.

      On the other hand, it is acceptable to decry a woman who speaks out against the submission of women to men — and to call her shrill.

      Why the double standard?

    • Theophrastus says:

      That post came out mangled. Let me try again:

      Here is Sue’s point put in another way:

      In our age, Christians celebrate those who speaks out against slavery — the submission of one people to another — consider the pro-Christian film about William Wilberforce: Amazing Grace.

      On the other hand, many Christians decry a woman who speaks out against the submission of women to men — and to call her shrill.

      Why the double standard?

  25. Sue says:

    TC,

    Christ, who is God, was called a slave. He surrendered his right to be God. So this justifies slavery. There is no reason at all to reject slavery on this basis. It is often pointed out to women that God the son always submitted, he was in total submission and God the Father never submitted, he was in total authority. Each of these persons are equally God, and some of us are in the image of God the father, and have all authority, and some of us are in the image of God the Son, and we have total submission. Being in the image of God is just as likely to make me look out for the hammer and nails. I don’t want to die on the cross, just because I am a woman.

  26. T.C. R says:

    |So the captivity in Egypt was never a good thing.”

    Theo,

    We both have different understanding of God’s sovereignty. That is clear. Are you forgetting the Exodus motif through Israel’s history and albeit the history of redemption, both OT and NT?

    Slavery in Scripture, whether of the Jews or any other nation is the resutl of sin, not because God created the Jews on anyone else for the sole purpose of slavery to another. That is what I see in Scripture.

    Sue & Theo,

    Regarding Sue’s comment, I’m more concern with the biblical perspective when addressing race relations, not what has been filtered through human philosophy, movie makers and the like.

  27. Sue says:

    “Regarding Sue’s comment, I’m more concern with the biblical perspective when addressing race relations, not what has been filtered through human philosophy, movie makers and the like.”

    TC,

    I am at a loss. How does this relate to any of my comments. In my view, ontological equality and being in the image of a God, who in his various persons, separately and distinctly, either has total authority, or has total submission, has degraded in a total and complete way, that part of the human race, who is considered to be in the image of the one who submits.

    That is why Dr. Piper was confronted with the woman who had to get permission from her husband to void herself. Because this kind of treatment is the logical end of total submission.

  28. Sue says:

    Don’t you think that the doctrine of ontological equality and functional subordination promotes slavery? I think it does. I think it means that a Christian can totally subordinate and force to suffer, any other human being that is in every way equal. After all. isn’t that what happened to Christ?

  29. J. K. Gayle says:

    Regarding Sue’s comment, I’m more concern with the biblical perspective when addressing race relations, not what has been filtered through human philosophy, movie makers and the like.

    TC,
    Looking at Dr. Tony Evans’s book, Oneness Embraced, it seems clear to me that he is interested in human philosophy (i.e., from page 133, “When one reads Aristotle’s Metaphysics, one would think that Aristotle was a Christian. Many of Aristotle’s postulations seem as though they were extracted from the [Jewish, Hebrew] Psalms.”). He goes on and on:

    “The first thing blacks were taught about our history in school is that we were descendants of slaves who arrived in America from the West Coast of Africa. In contrast, whites were the creators of Western civilization — in Greece, Rome, France, England, and America — thereby producing the first physician of antiquity, Hippocrates; the father of history, Herodotus; great philosophers, Socrates and Plato; and the great scientists, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton. // Rarely were our children taught about the great nations of North East, and Central Africa, and if they were, they were never taught …. the name Imhotep …. never reconized Mantheo …. Nor was anyone taught about Queen Ti …..” (pages 97-98).

    Likewise, Dr. Evans discusses the movies (i.e., on page 191, he quotes James Cone and mentions how he had to sit in the balcony at the theater, because of his race; and on page 247, he mentions the influence of the movies on culture).

    But he does get to the Bible. On page 44 are his trinitarian views: “… the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — each unique in personhood and at the same time one in essence …. Unity does not mean everyone needs to be like everyone else. God’s creative variety is replete displaying itself through a humanity crafted in different shapes, colors, and styles.”

    And back on page 98, Evans mentions Frederick Douglass, whom President Lincoln himself recognized as “a statesman, an orator, and a key voice for freedom and equality not only for blacks but also for women’s rights.”

  30. T.C. R says:

    J.K.,

    Yes, Evans has referenced Aristotle. But please notice how the reference was made. Evans even notes that Aristotle may be echoing the Psalms. Besides, Evans points out the limitations of Aristotle.

    Perhaps we should reserve the discussion of the equality of women for another post.

  31. Sue says:

    TC,

    I don’t really want my comments to be about gender – although they are, of course. What I want is some kind of dicussion about equality in general, within Christianity. We need to discuss equality as a principle. What does it mean to treat others as equals? And do these principles apply only to male human beings, or to all human beings. If keeping women restricted and in submission is consonant with ontological equality, and is acceptable then what compels us to treat anyone as an equal?

    If we posit that we are articulating the principle of equality only for groups of people, and we make it clear that by that we exclude women, then fair enough, women are excluded. But let’s not pretend.

  32. Sue says:

    I mean why can’t white people treat blacks the way men treat women – with a list of rules, and places and proper respectful and submissive demeanor and all that.

  33. KR Wordgazer says:

    Sue said:

    “Each of these persons are equally God, and some of us are in the image of God the father, and have all authority, and some of us are in the image of God the Son, and we have total submission.”

    Yes, it does seem that this is the way “ontological submission” is often practiced. The ironic thing is that in Scriptures like Ephesians 5:25, it is the man who is being asked to take the role of God the Son in self-sacrifice towards the woman. To divide up the image of God in this manner, assigning one role of the Godhead to man and one to woman (or one to the freeman and one to the slave), does violence to the text. We are all called to follow Christ in His submission– and with regards to authority, to remember His words “not so among you.”

  34. Sue says:

    TC,

    It should be possible to have a discussion on race relations and a biblical perspective on the equality of different people groups without discussing gender. However, I don’t think you could use any text which referred to our equality “as human beings” if the intention is to exclude women. You would have to find some other principles.

    I wrote a 100+ page MA thesis on the right of Canadian First Nations to have native leadership in their own church. I was incensed at the way some First Nations leaders (mostly men) were treated. It was not until many years later that I even thought of what equality would mean in my life. I I truly applied the principle of equality to native leaders first, and much later to myself as a woman. In my real life, I frequently voice what I think it means to treat others as equals, in other contexts than gender. I have often gone to bat for men in leadership who I thought were being mistreated. This is just a bit of history for you. The Christian leaders that I know that treat women as those who cannot function as equals, are also hard on other men. I have written my share of letters for men. And one of them went on about how much he appreciated it, and then turned around and preached on the submission of the wife. Honour for him and the dirt floor for me.

    • T.C. R says:

      Sue,

      I admire your passion for equality, especially for womanhood. I sure do. But I believe we can discuss the equality of all humanity, despite ethnicity, without being drawn into the debate over the equality of women. For example, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26 ESV).

  35. Sue says:

    TC,

    Thanks. That is exactly what I am looking for. I want to see this framed in terms of equality of nations, as you say, rather than human beings made in the image of God. Every time that phrase comes up, I know some people mean women are in the image of Christ who died on the cross, and men in the image of the father who sent Christ.

    But if you don’t use that principle, and really look at the equality of nations, then that would work.

    And I had much more passion for the equality of others, not women, before. But my geography and other circumstances have changed and now I champion those with learing difficulties most of the time.

    • T.C. R says:

      |”From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands.” CEB|

      Sue,

      I quoted the CEB above this time.

      “But if you don’t use that principle, and really look at the equality of nations, then that would work.”

      I believe we both have legitimate burdens and seek to look to Scripture for support. But we’re also coming from two different reference points here: you, a woman, and I, a black man. Yes, our concerns are legitimate, and our individual history seems to intertwine at times, but there are also divergences here and there. Imagine not only being a woman, but being a black woman.

  36. Sue says:

    “Imagine not only being a woman, but being a black woman.”

    Fair enough! But I have dedicated quite a bit of time to championing the equality of other groups. I have no difficulty saying that I want the same equality for others that I want for myself. And I came only to seeking equality for myself when I saw how utterly irresponsible i had been toward my own children and my family, living as a subordinate.

    So, I have no trouble saying, “Yes! black men, and black women deserve to be treated as equals.” Perhaps you would not have implied, as I think you did, that black women have it worse than black men, if there was at least some attempt to treat them as equals. Of course, I am not naive concerning the overwhelming demograophic issues, and that is one reason I do not discuss different people groups on the internet. In my context, the closest issue is the First Nations, and I have dedicated quite a bit of time to that concrn. But I won’t express my views on racial issues in the US as I would only display my ignorance. But I am not asking for something for myself that I would be slow to request for others. And I am simply surprised that some people feel free to do that – that men feel free to ask for something that they deny to women. I really don’t understand why there should not be at least some expression of intent to treat women as equals, even if the details are opaque.

    Off the internet I do participate in a bookclub which looks at poverty and health concerns in Africa. The main purpose at the moment is to read books and really listen to what people from Africa are saying themselves. Another women in the group is a doctor who works with immigrant women so we do discuss some of the tough issues, like how to respond to child marriage and genital mutilation. But I won’t be blogging about these issues. When I read these books, I am in a listening mode only.

  37. Sue says:

    When I was writing my thesis the most formative source for me was the dissertation by Ade Ajayi.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Ade_Ajayi

    This book changed how I viewed equality forever. It was not until many years later, that I thought that perhaps I as a woman ought to have a smattering of the equality that I wrote so passionately about for men in the church in Africa.

  38. Sue says:

    I have also read James Cone’s Liberation Theology. 1970. I have listened to other people’s stories.

  39. T.C. R says:

    Sue,

    Thanks for sharing so much. I only mentioned black women because of your concerns for womanhood in general. But I wanted also to create a larger context, given the focus of this post from the very beginning.

  40. Sue says:

    TC,

    I’m sorry bout this. You have the right to write about this issue in spite of your views on women. I just have to mourn this fact.

  41. T.C. R says:

    Sue,

    I surprised that you would spin this negatively, regarding my complementarian position. It’s okay if you don’t agree with complementarianism. But you should at least respect someone who comes to that position because of their honest wrestling with the text of Scripture. I’ve documented this over and over.

    • KR Wordgazer says:

      What if I “wrestled with the text of Scripture” and concluded that it meant your race was destined by God to serve mine? That’s what sincere Christians believed in 1865.

      The Scriptures show that in the New Creation kingdom of God, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is not male and female.” It goes on to say in the next chapter that we all have equal status as “adopted sons,” (Gal 4:5) which is a Greek word denoting the full status of an adopted male Roman citizen as a full heir, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. Statements like this about the overarching nature of the New Covenant reality, should govern our interpretation of other verses– not the other way around.

      It is this perspective which led the Abolitionists to fight slavery. Why should it be applied only to race and not to gender?

  42. Sue says:

    I do not respect those who treat others as lesser based on the scripture. Why would I?

  43. Sue says:

    I don’t think you would respect me if I treated others as unequal based on the Bible. I hope you wouldn’t. Sad stuff – this broken humanity.

  44. J. K. Gayle says:

    I believe we both have legitimate burdens and seek to look to Scripture for support. But we’re also coming from two different reference points here: you, a woman, and I, a black man. Yes, our concerns are legitimate, and our individual history seems to intertwine at times, but there are also divergences here and there. Imagine not only being a woman, but being a black woman.

    T.C.,
    This is no new discussion. But it’s important. Dr. Evans seeks equality for blacks but maintains a separate (complementarian) position for wives. (On the latter, see his book, For Married Women Only: Three Principles for Honoring Your Husband. )

    But, as you suggest in your comment to Sue here, “being a black woman” is still tricker than just being a white woman or only being a black man. And some men, even black men, do really get the issue. Dr. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr., for example, discusses how the “sexual language” in Genesis 16:2 – which “is used for this nonconsensual contact [between Abraham and Hagar, ‘an enslaved Egyptian woman’]” – should remind us of enslaved Africana foremothers and forefathers raped by masters and enslavers who used their bodies for sexual gratification and their offspring as slaves.” Sadler goes on to quote Harriet Jacobs but finds the scriptures more silent that Jacobs has been:

    “‘But he was my master. I was compelled to live under the same roof with him—where I saw a man forty years my senior daily violating the most sacred commandments of nature. He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things. My soul revolted against the mean tyranny. But where could I turn for protection?. . . . My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him, and swearing by heaven and earth that he would compel me to submit to him.’ (Jacobs 44-46)

    // As we consider the plight of women victimized under a misogynistic system, we should note that Genesis provides no insight into the fear, betrayal, and incredulity that Hagar must have felt.”
    (page 75, “Genesis,” The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora).

    Sadler goes on to imagine how much like Hagar’s letters to God might have sounded like Celie’s letters to God (“as a window into Hagar’s soul”). You know, Celie in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, who bears her step father’s children conceived by rape only to be given by him to another man, who sees that it is only natural for her to need to submit herself to him. What’s cruel, and unusual, of course, is to set nature or God or the Bible as the enforcer of such affairs and arrangements and completements of men, as if this is somehow God’s nature.

  45. J. K. Gayle says:

    One of the best studies of how the Bible speaks in varied and perhaps incomplete ways to black women (especially those enslaved and/or married, like Harriet Jacobs and Phillis Wheatley and Celie) is Carolyn Osiek’s study, “Female Slaves, Porneia, and the Limits of Obedience.”

    Osiek notes (and this gets to T.C.’s topic here about being black and a woman):

    “From a modern perspective, we would say the categories ‘women’ and ‘slaves’ are partially overlapping. Some women were slaves, but not all were; some slaves were women, but not all slaves were. But, in fact, in ancient categories it is the expression ‘women slaves,’ which seems to us more inclusive, that is a conceptual contradiction. While women and slaves of the ancient Greco-Roman world shared much in common within the male perspective of the patriarchal household, they did not belong to overlapping categories. Both were in Aristotle’s categories fit by nature to be ruled, not to rule. Both shared intimately in the life of the household, including its religion, economy, child production and nurturing, and burial. . . .

    Both women and slaves in many ways remained in a state of perpetual liminality. Ancient literature regularly ascribes to one the vices of the other. But if females who were slaves had to be fitted either into the category of women or of slaves, the ancient thinker would have considered them slaves, not women. As females who were slaves, they were doubly fit by nature to be ruled and dominated.”

    Now, Osiek goes on to comb through the ancient literature, including the scriptures and even the NT, to find differences in how the category “women” and “slave” were treated in various texts. She concludes generally: “This sexual availability of slaves seems to have been completely taken for granted.” (And to me this sounds a little like Rodney Sadler, Jr.’s comment about Hagar and her feelings not being considered in Genesis much).

    Osiek adds, opining with good reason: “There is an astonishing lack of specification about slaves even in the literature of marital advice. More ancient authors than might be supposed advocate the marital fidelity of husbands, including Aristotle . . . and Pythagoras . . ., but it is doubtful whether sex with one’s own slaves is included. Plutarch, on the other hand, considers it normal for husbands to take their debauchery elsewhere, to go wide of the mark . . . with a . . . slave. . . . If Plutarch is consistent, then his advice about educating freeborn males not to be overbearing with slaves . . . does not prohibit rape of slaves.”

    Well, there is more. But I’d quote the whole essay if I didn’t stop soon. My point is that the scriptures treat slaves and masters unequally, treat wives and husbands unequally, that this is a double whammy for natural-born black women who are both slaves and wives. And it takes the likes of Frederick Douglass to say, Hey now. Wait a minute. Black women deserve the rights of white men, whether those women are married or single. The categories slave and wive collapse together and are given no scriptural protections if read and interpreted universally.

    • T.C. R says:

      |And it takes the likes of Frederick Douglass to say, Hey now. Wait a minute. Black women deserve the rights of white men, whether those women are married or single. The categories slave and wive collapse together and are given no scriptural protections if read and interpreted universally.|

      J.K.,

      Thanks for this. A lot of good for thought.

      I remember reading Douglass’ a Narrative of a Runner Way Slave. An inspiration in many ways.

  46. Sue says:

    “no scriptural protections”

    That’s how it was.

  47. Pingback: Denying Human(s) Categories | BLT

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