By Young Lee Hertig
My daughter, Raia, is scheduled to undergo a gallbladder removal surgery at the young age of 24. My immediate reaction is to wonder whether her doctor has exhausted all other options available.
Seen from an Eastern lens, I tend to be skeptical of the more surgery-prone Western medical approach. The reductionist lens (epistemology) of the West tends to see one leaf without checking the whole tree or the forest. By contrast, the non-western epistemology is holistic which sees the forest before checking the leaf.
My grandfather practiced acupuncture and herbal medicine and therefore, I am much more rooted in the Eastern medical wisdom than the Western. Its interdependent and holistic approach to the human body surely poses challenges to the fragmented Western mindset. For example, according to Chinese medicine, the gallbladder, besides its function as the deposit of the liver’s bile, is also a channel where Qi flows.
How does one reconcile such different perspectives in interpreting health, humanity, the world, and God? For instance, churches are also impacted by reductionist epistemology. Unlike the Triune interdependent God, churches in general reduce Christianity to a half-gendered partiarchal religion.
I am weary of the increasing gender exclusive line-up featured speakers in evangelical conferences in Los Angeles. It feels weary to have to call it out as it seems to fall on deaf ears or is easily dismissed through negative labeling. When these labels come from former students who are now established senior pastors, it feels even more unusual.
Rev. Dr. Willie James Jennings (at ISAAC’s 6th symposium in November 3-4,) theologically- critiqued patriarchal Christianity as a counterfeit Christianity that runs against the interdependent, Triune God. I wonder how long we are to settle with this counterfeit version of Christianity out of a fear of being labeled or dismissed.
Dear sisters in Christ, gendered patriarchal Christianity — besides producing a counterfeit Christianity — also ensues unintended consequences such as human trafficking, divorce, domestic violence, and other socioeconomic ills.
How long are we to continue various missions of window-dressing without questioning the root cause–patriarchal gender exclusion and oppression? How can the church become the body of Christ when the majority — women — are excluded from exercising their callings from God?
Dear brothers in Christ, it is for your vested interests that you practice gender-inclusive leadership in the church. Inviting women to the table when planning conferences will benefit God’s ministry, including your church and the world.
Dear sisters in Christ, fear not when speaking the truth. When we allow only male and white female role models, we perpetuate the internalized self-inadequacies if not self-hatred.
Becoming the body of Christ involves representation and participation of all parts. For these ecclesial reasons, and for a gender-inclusive imago dei, we ought to stay alert. Hence, I plead to both men and women to liberate ourselves from half the gospel toward a more wholesome gospel. I have been grappling with this increasing gender-regressive trend today compared to the ’90s. And I will continue to voice it.
Some of you may wonder how my daughter’s gallbladder surgery turned into gender inclusion pitch? The Apostle Paul’s metaphor “the body of Christ” is a holistic epistemology that is interrelated, not independent; inclusive, not exclusive; and offers preferential treatment to the weaker parts, such as the gallbladder.
Rev. Dr. Young Lee Hertig is executive director and a founding member of ISAAC (Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity) and AAWOL (Asian American Women On Leadership). She teaches in the Global Studies and Sociology Department at Azusa Pacific University and is an ordained Presbyterian clergy as well as a commissioner of the Presbyterian Church USA to the National Council of Churches Faith and Order.