“What Churches Don’t Get About Ministering to Marginalized Women” – By
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“One of the things that most saddens me in conversations with criminalized and marginalized women is the absence of any sort of philosophy or theology — what I call cultural scripts — for making sense out of their suffering,” sociologist Dr. Susan Sered explained to my church earlier this year. …
Many of the classes and programs in which women participate (voluntarily or not) teach them that in order to ‘recover’ they must take responsibility for their own problems, stop blaming others, extricate themselves from ‘co-dependent relationships,’ and learn to ‘do me’ rather than giving themselves to others. “This message undermines traits such as generosity and sympathy which women may most value in themselves,” Sered told me. “It distracts attention from the social violence that sends so many women into the institutional circuit to begin with, and negates the possibility of finding meaning in suffering.”
Sered believes that faith communities, especially churches, have a radical opportunity to do something different: help these women make meaning out of their suffering. “At least as a Jewish outsider looking in, it seems to me that the power of Jesus’ preaching as well as his horrific death is that suffering has cosmic meaning, that it has identifiable causes, and that those who have suffered the most can have the most to offer other people,” said Sered.
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