Injustice around the world is incredibly staggering when you think about it too much. People are treated as less than others just based on how they were born – sometimes for religious reasons, sometimes for the color of their skin, sometimes for gender reasons, and sometimes even because of their parent’s last name. We see it everyday in the news and online.
For about the past year, I have been following the story of a person that was part of a society that saw them as less than others because of how they were born. This person was raised in these beliefs and came to agree with them because they were taught this was “truth.” But at some point, this person decided to investigate whether or not these “truths” were really true, and came upon some startling discoveries. These “truths” that this person were taught did not match up with what the religious texts they were taken from actually said. They were distorted to intentionally give one group an advantage over another. This person began to speak out against these distortions and was accused of blasphemy, of heresy, and even of hating the scriptures they were speaking about.
Most Americans get mad when they hear stories like this. Most Christians get mad when they hear stories like this. But would your anger stay the same if I told you that this story is about an evangelical Christian woman and not an untouchable male in India or religious minority in the Middle East?
Look, I believe as much as anyone else that most Americans are more well off than much of the world. There are some huge injustices out there, and there are great organizations like the Freedom Firm that are doing important work out there about some of the more heinous injustices.
But, inequality is inequality. If you take any story about inequality and replace the main victim with someone here in America and you don’t still feel anger about the situation, your justice meter is skewed. And if you replace the victim of an injustice story with a Christian woman and all of a sudden the story sounds “scripturally sound” to you… just think about what that implies. Just think about what it means to believe that an untouchable in India is more deserving of justice just because of the configuration of his genitalia at birth and nothing else.
And I get that many people feel more urgency for dealing with larger problems. I feel much stronger about ending human trafficking than I do about the complementarianism vs. egalitarianism debate here in America. So I will continue to focus on trafficking, but I will also speak out about less horrific problems here in America – because injustice is still injustice.
The story that I mentioned above is a basic but vastly over-simplified summary of what led up to the writing of a book called A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Which I haven’t read and the author said that I shouldn’t sing praises or hatred of until I have. But I think books like this are important to read because they are about questioning societal norms and searching for truth. I may end up not liking it. I may get busy and never get a chance to read it. But I recommend it to others because it tells the story of one person finding their voice and equality in the midst of a culture that told her she was different, less than, or not worthy.
James 2:16 tells us “If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” Most people think this verse only refers to food and clothing. But the heart of this scripture is the part that I highlighted – the attitude of “I don’t really care about you, so I am just going to say something that makes me look good while I actually do my best to not really see you, listen to you, or help you. You are too difficult for me.” Now-a-days, most Christians know the Bible well enough to not use these words exactly, but we all live out these words by our silence on certain issues. “That may be an issue for you, but I am more focused on the bigger picture.” Great, focus on the bigger picture. But don’t be dismissive in your language. Speak up for issues that need to be spoken up for, even if they don’t affect you personally.
Of course you can’t speak up for everything, but you can at least do better than “I wish you well in your problems… but I have better things to care about.” At some point, it may be spoken back to you.