Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Sexism: A Hermetical Interrogation of Galatians 3: 28 and Women in the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Sexism: A Hermetical Interrogation of Galatians 3: 28 and Women in the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe

Article excerpt


It is still a bone of contention as to whether the Church of Christ is upgrading or down-grading the status of women. Though the church has been known to be the voice of the voiceless in dealing with critical issues like the welfare of widows and orphans, disabled persons; one wonders what has happened to the case of women on leadership positions. Were they born to be followers of men? It is the assumption of this paper that, patriarchy is to blame on most challenges faced by women. Patriarchy has produced distinctions that alienate women by defining life and determining relationships. Distinctions nurture attitudes of superiority against inferiority hence allowing domination and support of certain groups (Williams 1997:106). Yet for William, distinctions are no more for communities of persons who have clothed themselves with Christ. It is against this background that the hermeneutical interrogation of Galatians 3:28 in relation to the status of women in the Church of Christ will possibly give insight on the implication of Paul's teachings when he said that: "In Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female'. Galatians 3:28 is one of the texts that has not found prominence with the leadership in the Church of Christ. Its lack of prominence is not surprising as all leadership positions in the church are gendered with men as leaders and women as followers. The text is only invoked in circumstances that point to the love of God towards all humanity and not in circumstances meant to change the status of women and mentality of men towards the status of women. In most cases the text is used to support other texts that portray men as predestined leaders or heads or families, for example, Ephesians 5:21-25 states:

21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

24 As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her,

Texts like Ephesians 5:21-25 have found prominence in many Zimbabwean Churches like Church of Christ because of its patriarchal nature. Church of Christ in Zimbabwe has its roots in the reformation times and is also known as the Christian Church. Masengwe, Machingura and Magwidi (2012:186) postulated that the Church of Christ was founded upon the 200-year old declaration of the stone-Campbell movement which was unfortunately meant for an association rather than a church. Foster and Blowers (2004:58) also argue that, this Church is one Church that did not like to be associated with denominationalism and is traced back to the Campbell movement. The Church was against the idea of attaching personal or family name to the congregation. It has stood that test until now. As a result they agreed that only geographical labels would be accepted.

The Church of Christ in Zimbabwe accepts the following doctrines: the lordship of Christ, baptism by immersing in water and the observance of the Lord's Supper. These are the common doctrines accepted in other Churches. However, the Church's doctrine on the roles, responsibilities and privileges of women is found wanting even though they always celebrate the popular statement that, "we speak where the Bible speak and become silent where the Bible is silent". The Church of Christ claim to adapt to the biblical teachings on day to day issues though some of the biblical texts are quoted out of context, misinterpreted or deliberately ignored, for example, texts that put women in good light like Galatians 3:28. Some of the church doctrines on women besides being influenced by what they literally read from the Bible have an influence from the Shona culture.

Patriarchal Dominance in the Zimbabwean Culture: The Case of the Shona

The Zimbabwean Shona culture has to some extent been described by critics and women activists as anti-women, unfriendly and male dominated. …

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