Misunderstood… Counterintuitive…

21 01 2010

I get a jerk reaction of… well, a bit of anger and a bit of defensiveness when Christianity is misrepresented in articles or any sort of public media (especially a widely read one).  Couple of weeks ago, Nicholas Kristof wrote a NY Times Op-Ed Column titled, “Religion and Women“. He describes in the brief column the history of oppression that religion caused upon women. Targeted broadly at the world religions, it felt like the bull’s eye was directed right at me. Kristof quotes 1 Timothy 2 and Deuteronomy and interprets the verses outside the context of the Biblical narrative, that is, too literally. But I realized that the primary problem was not Kristof’s hermeneutic (because, quite frankly, He is not trained for that), but it was me and my jerk reaction. Most jerk reactions are never good outside the context of evading immediate danger. When it is not used to dodge a drunk driver or to run from a wild animal, reaction without thought causes harm wrongly in the name of self-defense. We say we are defending our beliefs or faith, but in fact, it is out of our fear (what if Christianity loses out?), out of lack of trust (can the truth of Christianity be understood?), ironically, a lack of faith (is Christ sovereign over His Gospel?) that we “jerk react”. I am not saying that we should not be apologetic about our faith, Kristof should be corrected and informed of the correct interpretation of the verses quoted, but before we react towards correcting and arguing, we have to admit that the history he describes is true. Women were oppressed and women are oppressed. Mind you, Kristof idea of freedom from oppression is incorrect, but his observation of the injustices that exist and existed against women is very much true. And part of the answer will be teaching correct interpretations of the verses that Kristof quoted (and the whole Bible), or realizing what Former President Carter states  “The belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God,” as a primary reason for oppression. The the solution will become fuller only when, we realize the nature of ourselves, that the problem is not ultimately religion, or a set of beliefs, or even oppressors, but that the problem is us, that we are the ones with the superiority complex, the inferiority complex, the doers of injustice, and the violators of other’s rights. Religion has oppressed, religion has violated, but not all beliefs lead to oppression. It is not that you believe, but what you believe that will turn you into an oppressor or an emancipator.




3 responses

22 01 2010

Ever consider writing to him?

23 01 2010
Paul Park

I tried looking for his email. I’ll try harder…

23 01 2010
sarah kim lee

kristof will knee-jerk-react also if you wrote him, ha ha,

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