reviewed by Amy Rasmussen Buckley
Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt asserts that global violence against women and girls is the central issue of the twenty-first century. Millions of families and communities are impacted by domestic violence in the home, gender-selective abortions, sexual trafficking, rape during war, female genital mutilation, exploitation of women and girls in sweatshops, and many other horrific crimes. Gerhardt explains that this complex human rights issue exacerbates other global social concerns such as poverty, the international AIDS crisis and the proliferation of orphaned children in underdeveloped countries. While most nations prohibit such violence, political, social, and religious institutions and systems often permit it to continue unchecked. In light of recent findings of the World Health Organization—that one in three women worldwide is a victim of violence, resulting in a global health epidemic—The Cross and Gendercide warrants the attention of the global church.
Gerhard’s background in counseling, theology, social justice, and research in global studies provides a unique perspective for addressing violence. Her study offers a historical and sociological overview of the issues including systemic causes of violence, patriarchy, domination and objectification of women and girls. Moving beyond other evangelical books that address education, counseling, and self-help, Gerhardt proposes a distinctly theological response, defining human rights violations as sin. Gendercide is a confessional issue requiring broader and deeper solutions by the whole church.
Gerhardt revisits Martin Luther’s theology of the cross and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s twentieth century interpretation of it within the context of Nazi racism and church identity. She offers a radical nuanced interpretation of Luther’s theology of the cross emphasizing the encounter of the living Christ through identification with and relationship to poor, oppressed neighbors far and wide. Leaning on Bonhoeffer’s descriptions of the roles of the church, Gerhard calls for both proclamation of the gospel (kerygma) and service to neighbor (diakonia). “We must not only proclaim Christ; we must incarnate his presence to others while challenging the institutionalized subjugation of women, and racial and economic injustice.”
It is necessary for Christians to . . . Continue reading in PRISM, Summer 2014 (p. 54) . . .
Amy R. Buckley, 2014