Just as Covid won’t go away without effective vaccines . . . . As Christians, we cannot in good conscience adequately address this global crisis of Violence Against Women without exploring causative factors that increase female vulnerability and allow violence against women to occur within our ranks.—————————Carolyn Custis James
This past weekend the Society of Pentecostal Studies held their 50th Annual Meeting at The King’s University in Southlake, Texas. It was the SPS’s second attempt to hold this conference. SPS’s 2020 conference location was Southern California, which at the exact same time became the USA’s biggest Coronavirus hotspot. The conference had to be cancelled. But the conference theme lived on.
Conference planners stuck to their original theme and moved it into 2021: This is My Body: Violence Against Women. Only, with the Covid-19 pandemic still with us, the 2021 conference would be hybrid.
In explaining the urgency of the crisis of Violence Against Women, Program Chair, Professor Melissa Archer, Assoc Professor of Biblical Studies at Southeastern University, referenced a 2006 Study of the United Nations Secretary-General, “Ending Violence Against Women: From Words to Actions.” The report declared that
“eliminating violence against women remains one of the most serious challenges of our time. Global statistics show that 7 out of 10 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. In the United States, more than 600 are raped or sexually assaulted every day. . . . The pervasiveness of violence against women across the boundaries of nation, culture, race, class and religion points to its roots in patriarchy the systemic domination of women by men.
My plenary presentation (below) reflects my current focus on the root causes of the #MeToo/#ChurchToo pandemic and patriarchy in particular. I draw on what I learned while researching Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World and the conclusion I drew that ultimately went into that book:
Patriarchy is not the Bible’s message. Rather, it is the fallen cultural backdrop that sets off in the strongest relief the radical nature and potency of the Bible’s gospel message. We need to understand that world and patriarchy in particular—much better than we do—if we hope to grasp the radical countercultural message of the Bible.
Malestrom features the stories of men in the Bible we all too often overlook. These men put on display a whole new gospel brand of masculinity that is both freeing and empowering for men in ways that reflect Jesus, bless the lives of others, and give hard evidence that Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world.