Guest blog by Susan Durber, Christian Aid's Theological Advisor
Of the Same Flesh
Christian Aid has recently published a report exploring a theology of gender. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/churches/what-we-believe.aspx
But why should Christian Aid be bothered about theology and gender?
Because gender is one of the strongest determinants of poverty. In one oft quoted phrase, ‘Poverty has a woman’s face’, and the statistics tell a horrifying story. AND, because the habits, language and practices of faith are some of the strongest things to shape our understanding of gender. Our partners around the world tell us, what we also know from life in the UK, that church leaders have great power and potential to shape the way we live and experience and gender.
Why publish this now?
Christian Aid is working with partners in many different places to overcome poverty and a significant part of this is about overcoming gender inequality. There are projects which help to create ‘Gender Model Families’, those which tackle gender based violence, as well as those which empower women by giving them access to education, health care, and business and equipping them to take a full part in government and society. But things will never change for good unless we tackle the social and faith norms that sometimes prevent gender being a place of justice and joy.
What do we hope to achieve?
Christian Aid hopes to inspire Christian leaders and Christian people to see once more the radical witness to gender justice that is at the heart of Christian faith; to see with new eyes what it means for women and men to be both ‘in the image of God’ and together ‘flesh of my flesh’. Christian Aid wants to celebrate Jesus who lived as a new kind of human being, who had women as friends, who listened to women and who was a different kind of man himself. We hope that Christian communities can lead the way in living our gendered, embodied human life not as a place of oppression, but as a source of joy for all people.
I'm ready to speak about and introduce the report, and a discussion group version is on its way…
Susan Durber is Christian Aid’s Theology Advisor. She is also a minister of the United Reformed Church and has served churches in Manchester, Salford and Oxford. Until last year she was Principal of Westminster College in Cambridge. She is the Moderator of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.