Imagine this: one hundred million women missing from the earth because parents were taught that boys were more valuable than girls. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it because it is fact. In Asia, cultural and religious practices were so misguided that parents used gender selection, everything from abortion to infanticide, that males now out-number females by such a wide margin that the governments of these countries are implementing new strategies to put females on a more equal footing with males. One article refers to the current status of birth rates in Asia as “Not just a human-rights catastrophe, it is also a looming demographic disaster.” (G. Anand & J. Woo, WSJ, Nov. 27, 2015)
Fortunately, the tide is turning in South Korea, China and India. South Korea, for example, in one generation “wiped out centuries-old practices in which a son was essential to inherit property, worship ancestors, care for parents and continue the family lineage.” The challenge now moves to China and India, “one third of humanity that continues to give birth to significantly more males.” China started a “Care for Girls” campaign in 2000 to try to deal with the problems of too many men and not enough women, and it just recently abandoned the “one child policy” that likely contributed to the skewed census.
Why should we in the western world care? For me, this problem of seeing females as inferior to males continues most in, of all places, religious institutions. Religious organizations are still “a man’s world.” I can speak only to the Christian Church to which I profess allegiance. I know this: in Christ there is neither male or female. (Galatians 3:28) So, if we are all equal in Christ why are we not all equal in Christ’s church? When Christian parents today deliver a baby girl through the church’s door can they share a vision that one day their daughter would be preaching and baptizing in the church? In many expressions of the Christian Church the answer is “no.”
It is so easy for us in the west to shake our heads at the way Asian cultures and religions cause parents to cry when they bring a girl into the world. But, we are so blinded by our own cultural interpretations of God’s Word that we cannot see the log in our own eye. Let’s begin a new church year with a renewed commitment to being a Church that is a true expression of equality in Christ. Let’s commit ourselves to being able to be able to say, “Congratulations, it’s a girl. She will be a fine minister one day!”