Social equality especially on gender is one of the areas that have been studied and presented in various views and theories ranging from the feminist to religious. In fact, gender equality is the circumstances where female and male sexes are provided with equal treatment despite their biological differences. However, such views have been held on theory. The current situation is that the roles and responsibilities of both men and women are ascribed differently by the cultural belief systems (McClay par 3).
In fact, cultural values and beliefs shape the manner in which males and females are viewed by the society. Essentially, culture defines the roles and responsibilities of both women and men in society.
For instance, extensive societal and artistic traditions have considered women’s role to be entirely that of the wife and mother without sufficient attendance to communal gatherings, which have normally been held in reserve for men. However, contemporary view holds that women should be given equal rights and opportunities as men (McClay Par 3). As such, social equalities should focus on providing equal opportunities to both men and women.
Religious perspective on gender equality
Diverse religious views have been used to argue for equal opportunities, rights and dignity for women in society. On the contrary, the scriptures have been utilized to dispute the equal view on gender and emphasis has been placed on the traditional religious perspectives on how men and women should be treated.
Even though majority holds the traditional point of views on gender issues within the religious circles, they are constantly being overtaken by the modern societal changes that require new models to explain the relationships that exist in marriage environment. In fact, various biblical verses have unwarranted the need to offer women equal opportunities such as that found in Corinthians and Timothy.
Similarly, supporters of gender equality have used certain verses to justify the need to offer equal opportunities for both men and women. For instance, the Genesis story of creation holds that if all people were created equally in the image of God then why could there be a balanced perspective on gender equality within the religious cycles and society.
While traditional religious views on gender are based on certain biblical verses such seen in Timothy and Corinthians, the current religious scholars argue that a common middle ground need to be established to avoid split in the teachings of the book.
Essentially, the argument has been that the religious scriptures should not cause a division on the church based on the equalities of gender but instead should find a place for a reconciliation and truth. In (1 Timothy 2:11-15), a woman is portrayed as submissive and answerable to men. In fact, Timothy quoted the genesis story of creation to establish the traditional religious perspective on gender.
Similarly, in (1 Corinthians 11:1-3; 8-9; 11-12) Paul placed the woman below the man. In fact, the chain of command begins from God to Jesus who is the head of man. The man is the head of a wife. In fact, Paul also quoted from the book of Genesis and established a chain of command that placed the woman below the man. Both scriptures base their arguments from the Genesis story of creation.
The scriptures have been used by the traditional Christians to allude that a woman is unequal to a man therefore does not have equal opportunities, rights and dignity (Putnam and Campbell 248). In fact, Timothy and Paul were writing from the traditional viewpoint on gender equality.
Main sources of catholic teachings on gender
The catholic perspective on gender is diverse like any other religious view on gender issues. In fact, many clerics within the religion hold on the traditional holistic view on the equalities between men and women. The catholic teachings on social issues are found on papal declarations, teachings and writings, the bishops’ views on social issues and encyclicals. The traditional catholic teachings and views on gender follow the original Christian perspectives and descriptions of a man and a woman.
In fact, Catholics have traditionally taught the old Christian teachings of gender inequality among the men and women. The traditional catholic view is that women compared with men and supposed to remain within the homestead for the common good of the family. Such views have been debated over a considerable period. In addition, such views have changed over time due the changes occurring in society.
The catholic teachings on social issues particularly gender has changed dramatically since 1960s due advances in technology and social settings. In other words, societal and technological changes have transformed the manner in which the Catholic has upheld certain perspectives and views of the Church on issues such as gender equalities.
The traditional Catholic Church has held that women should be answerable to men, a view that has been supported by various traditional religious beliefs. In fact, currently, the catholic belief systems have increasingly regarded women and men as equal partners in marital relations constituted primarily on mutual love (Catholic Church, 23).
The view on equal partners has been heavily criticized given the church’s opposing view on contraceptives and artificial family planning methods. Essentially, the conventional beliefs in natural family planning methods have received considerable support from the catholic teachings. The beliefs in natural family planning have undermined the original perspective on spousal equality based on mutual love and respect.
In other words, the totality in which the catholic ways of life and practices have proscribed the simulated contraception has increased effect on superiority of marital associations, which they contend to sustain (Catholic Church, 23). In situations where woman ability to have control over maternity and domesticity is compromised, the equality principle is highly threatened.
Essentially, the equal opportunities and rights in the household are to a certain extent determined by the woman’s ability to assume roles beyond maternity and domesticity. Moreover, women are judged with their ability to have full control over the prospect of pregnancy.
Furthermore, according to the catholic teachings, gender equality has been applied to guarantee reciprocated dealings in spousal relationships in which men and women share household tasks. Essentially, the notions of gender equality have been applied in various occasions to give emphasis on significance of reciprocated love and respect in marriage.
In addition, the notions of gender equality have been used by the church to underscore the importance of sharing responsibilities between men and women, the basic unit of society, which is the family, church and society. Most of the papal writings on the issue have confirmed that both women and men have discrete personality attributes that are equal but complimentary (Humanae vitae 3).
Contemporary catholic teachings on gender issues
Contemporary teachings of the catholic on gender issues have emphasized on members of the society as having equal privileges and responsibilities. Essentially equality in terms of roles and responsibilities conferred to an individual are in similar level.
As such, all members constituting the communal entity are at liberty on equal terms to participate on the common good of the society. However, the manner in which the concept is true to men and women may differ. In other words, the concept can be used invariably to justify one’s actions depending on the gender divide.
Even though some of the catholic encyclical such as Casti connubii have criticized the view and placed men above women, the notion have increased the capabilities of women not only as the bearer of children but also their participation in the economic and social well being in the society. The opposing encyclicals have always placed women on the traditional perspective in which women were viewed as only responsible for the upkeep of the family.
According to such kind of encyclicals, the most important duties and roles are based on the major function of women in society, which is to be a mother and wife. According to this view, men’s responsibilities besides being the head of the family range from economic to political particularly outside the home. The view encourages the women’s dependency on men for their well-being. In other words, the political and socio-economic status of women depends on that of their male counterparts (Humanae vitae par 5).
However, this conventional view have consistently been opposed by various papal writings particularly that of John Paul the second in his final days of Homily of the Synod. Most of the propositions made by bishops during the period acknowledged the concept of gender equality particularly on sexes based on Genesis 1:27 and on the actions of Christ.
In fact, according to the views of the bishops, the actions of the Christ have identified the kinds of discriminations and exploitations of women and have upheld the dignity and equality of women both inside and outside homes. In addition, the Bishops declarations affirmed interchangeably the roles of wife and husband. Besides, the Bishops avowed the feminine characteristics of women and their different cultural expressions. The Bishops called for greater appreciation and enhancement of these qualities.
In fact, the Pope’s declarations emphasized on the need to uphold the dignity and rights of women at all times. The declarations focused on the importance of women in society and the need to reduce the social ills that afflict women. Feminine attributes should not be used to discriminate or prejudice the female gender in society. Instead, such attributes should be appreciated and enhanced in order to enable women to contribute positively to the society.
In most cases, the views of the catholic clerics originate from the manner in which women are treated in their cultures. In addition, based on their cultural backgrounds the liberal point of view on the roles and responsibilities of women in the modern society is attained. Essentially, the catholic clerics are accustomed to the cultural settings in which women even in their maternal and domestic roles, enjoy much less status that ascribed to women in liberal democracies.
In other words, women from low cultures feel the greatest burden of discrimination and exploitations compared with women from advanced cultures. Besides, the situations of women in large democracies are similar to the non-liberal states in which the condition of the women does not match the idealistic rhetoric or even the stated laws.
Moreover, the problems threatening the status of women such as domestic violence and sexual exploitation are rampant in some cultures compared with others. Such problems are often exacerbated by economic and social stresses.
The papal writings of John Paul II tend to emphasize on the views of the Bishops and closely linked women dignity to the “daughter of God”. According to the teachings, the women remain as a wife and a mother and always remain in the home for the good of the family. Actually the modem catholic belief systems and have been developed from the framework.
Currently, the views on gender have emphasized on the women independence and greater flexibilities on roles. Most importantly, the views on gender explicitly repudiating injustices made against women. In fact, subsequent papal writings about the women and gender followed the framework. The papal writings first recognized the communion nature of the family (Humanae vitae par4). According to the views in the papal writings, the family is a communion of people with diverse complementary roles.
The members of the communion have equal responsibilities and dignities. The views are supported by biblical points offered in the theory of creation of women and men with inalienable rights and responsibilities (Humanae vitae pr 4). In addition, the role of Mary as Mother of God is also used to justify the equal positions between men and women. Moreover, other biblical quotations including the Jesus call for women as disciple have been used to justify the importance of women in society.
In addition, other symbolic teachings in the gospels such as the appearing of Jesus appearing first to a woman on Easter before other followers have been used to justify the equal roles of women in society. Further, the evangelical missions delegated to a woman to spread the gospel are used in the papal writings to justify the equal roles women play in the society.
Contemporary views on gender equality
While traditional views on gender are based on religious perspectives, the contemporary views are based on liberal views and perspectives as advanced by various scholars and theorists. In fact, the cotemporary views on women challenge the cultural norms and belief systems that tend to deprive women their dignity as an individual and deny them equal rights and liberties as enshrined in various human rights declarations.
Based on these perspectives, contemporary proponents of gender equality have devised method and ways through which gender equality can be attained. As indicated one of the major factors that act as a barrier from to the attainment of the desired outcome is culture.
Other factors such as economic status of women have also been identified as the main obstacles for the attainment of the gender equality in society. All the contemporary proponents of gender equality including the liberal feminists have advocated for the protection of women from cultural practices that increase discrimination, prejudice and exploitation.
Other contemporary thinkers such as Putnam have combined the religious views and other ideologies on gender to explain the current view of all religious groups. Currently, the views on gender have emphasized on the women independence and greater flexibilities on roles as well as increased explicit renouncements of injustices tagainst (Putnam and Campbell 248).
Even though the roles of women and men in traditional settings is maintained in most of the views, the changing roles in the current societal systems forms the basis of the current view of equal rights and dignity between men and women (McClay par 5). The modern societal system is concerned with fair treatment of women in families and the whole society.
Moreover, contemporary view holds that women should be given equal rights and opportunities as men. As such, societies should focus on providing equal opportunities to both men and women and do away with cultural beliefs and systems that tend to promote discrimination and exploitation of women.
Issues of gender equality have constantly generated heated debate. Various theoretical approaches have been proposed to explain the manner in which society deals with such perspectives. Though the roles of women and men in conventional environments is maintained in most of the approaches, the changes occurring in the current societal systems forms the basis of the current view of equal rights and dignity between men and women.
As indicated, the modern societal system is concerned with fair treatment of women in families as well as in the community. Moreover, contemporary view holds that women should be given equal rights and opportunities. As such, modern society should focus on providing equal opportunities to both men and women. Essentially, equal rights, liberties and opportunities should be granted to all members of the society irrespective of their gender, status or capabilities.
Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church: with modifications. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1997. Print.
Humanae vitae. Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pall VI 1997. Web.
McClay, Wilfred. Review of American Grace: Are religious Believers Good Neighbors and Tolerant Citizens? 2010. Web.
Putnam, Robert and David Campbell. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. Print.