It would seem that Nigerian feminist groups, apart from being upset about so many things, are very upset with a prominent Christian Pastor named Chris Oyakhilome. He made a statement during one of his sermons in which he said that a woman was not the equal of a man and that a woman should not expect to be the equal of her husband. He stated, in no uncertain terms, that the husband is supposed to be the master in a proper Christian marriage, and that most marital problems result from a failure on the woman’s part to know her proper place.
According to Pastor Chris, A woman must work to understand her man and provide for his needs, not the other way around. While both men and women are considered to be heirs to God’s kingdom, he does not consider them equal. He even went so far as to tell women that to disobey their husbands was the equivalent of rebelling against God himself.
He justified the statement with several examples from scripture, such as the Book of Genesis, where God first created Adam and then created Eve as a companion and helper for him. In his view, God gave men certain responsibilities and created women to help them carry out those responsibilities. He urges women not to try and act like a mother, or an older sister, but instead to accept their role as caretakers, helpers, and faithful keepers of the family.
Dr. Ijabla Raymond wrote a lengthy response to the Pastor’s statements, in which he tries to make the case that both Christianity and Islam are inherently oppressive against women. He takes a number of bible verses out of context in order to make his case. For instance, in 1 Timothy, Chapter 2, The apostle for which the book is named gives his opinions about how religious services are to be conducted. He lays down rules for both men and women to follow, including modesty and faithful prayer. He does say that the services are to be led by men, but that is not to say that women do not also have an important role. 1 Corinthians 14:34 says basically the same thing. Dr. Raymond, though he is an educated man, is clearly unaware of the fact that much of the Old Testament does not apply to Christians, as it was not written by Christ or by any Christian.
While it is true that women often did not have equal rights in the ancient world, it is important to note that the Bible, both Old, and New Testaments, also places many rules and responsibilities upon men. Neither men nor women are supposed to just go around and do whatever they want to. Both have specific roles to play in the unfolding of God’s plan. This is what Christianity teaches. Islam, however, is another story.
The holy books and religious law (Sharia) of Islam are absolutely full of sexism and are generally far more sexist than anything that Christians say or believe. According to Sharia law, the testimony of a man is worth the same as the testimony of two women. This part of Islam cannot be denied because it came straight from Muhammed himself. Sharia law was created after Muhammed’s death, but it is based on the example that Muhammed set during his lifetime. Dr. Raymond rightly states that, since the Koran repeatedly tells Muslims to follow Muhammed’s example completely, there is no way around this. Even Muhammed’s favorite wife Aisha complained that her husband had made women the equal of a dog or a donkey.
While feminists are offended by the words of Pastor Chris, many Christians are likewise offended at the notion that there is any comparison between Christianity and Islam in this matter. While Christian societies in the past did not give equal rights to women, the Christian religion certainly does not teach people to brutally oppress women, while Islam specifically and unquestionably calls for it. This is why women in Christian societies have much more rights than those in Muslim societies.
Dr. Raymond’s view is typical of those who call themselves humanists. While he has every right to his opinion, he apparently doesn’t believe Christians have the right to theirs, as he says that society (presumably Nigerian society) cannot allow the sermons of preachers like Pastor Chris to go unchallenged. When he compares the morality of the Bible to a caveman trying to do brain surgery and speaks of God as having low morals, he reveals the fact that he simply has a bias against religion. When he speaks of religious texts as being archaic things written by ignorant goat herders, his bias could not be more evident.