I've known of fellow blogger Hannah Farver for years, but I finally had a chance to meet her this spring at the first True Woman conference. (Note to those who missed that conference: there are two more True Woman events coming up this fall in Fort Worth and Indianapolis!) We connected after the conference to talk about the new message I gave there on global women's issues. I rambled at top speed during our conversation, but Hannah heroically managed to grasp the gist of what I was saying and posted an interview on the Lies Young Women Believe website. Here's an excerpt:
Slavery, poverty, and violence directed toward women all over the world has been described by some as "the human rights cause of the 21st century." While America itself may not accept the oppression of women as a cultural norm, girls across the world are killed every day from abuse and gender-selective abortions.
At the 2010 True Woman Chattanooga conference, Carolyn McCulley spoke on these staggering statistics. She made a powerful case that "women's issues" shouldn't just be of interest to feminists and professors with axes to grind. As believers, we ought to care for the plight of the oppressed. I sat down at chatted with Carolyn over the phone, picking her brain about "social justice" and the "activist dimension" to Christianity. Here's what followed:
Hannah Farver: In your workshop at the True Woman conference, you drew a connection between social justice and biblical womanhood. For most people, just looking at those two topics side by side, they don't seem to be related at all. Could you maybe explain that connection?
Carolyn McCulley: The first is, whenever we use the phrase "social justice," it's loaded with meaning from both sides. I tended not to use that phrase, as much as I talked about standing up for oppressed women in developing nations.
I think there's two prongs [of these issues] that need to be given equal weight. One, that we're made equal in the image of God and we're equally in need of a Savior, and equally co-heirs with Christ. There's fundamental equality across the board. That's often assumed, but not expressed. My point in this message is that we who value the role of women, who value God's identity for women who are female Christ followers, [if] we don't do anything to stand up for those women in other nations who are aborted or maltreated or abused or underfed simply and soley because they're female, then we have a heartless message.
HF: Speaking here specifically to the blog audience of the Lies Young Women Believe website, why should we, as young women, develop a social conscience?
CM: Developing a social conscience has a lot of meanings...but I think that if we're going to use that phrase in Christian circles what that means is fulfilling the Philippians 2 concept of considering others needs more important than your own. Materially we live in the richest society that has ever walked the earth. We have more wealth at our disposal than any generation has ever had, and we think that everyone lives like that. It's for those reasons it's important in particular for young women to stand back and say, "I am not going to become a caricature or creation of the women's media, an empty vain woman who is only out for accolades of my personal appearance." I think women [who become] socially conscience are becoming eternally wise, thinking "What is going to earn the commendation of my Lord and Savior?"
HF: There seem to be a lot of organizations that advocate providing clean water to third-world countries and "eradicating poverty," but downplay telling people about Jesus. What would you say to that?
CM: Here's a question I'd throw out to [those who may be interested only in humanitarian work and not evangelism.] In the end, when your good works are done, are you serving in such a manner that people walk away and say "Those are good people" or "Those people who know someone very important that I need to know"? Often social justice efforts can be done in a way that builds up the reputation of our church but doesn't make a lot out of Jesus. We're not going to receive [heavenly] reward for that. It doesn't advance the gospel. It just advances our reputation. I say that with care--I'm not saying 'stop serving the poor,' but you're going to be complete ineffective if you cut it off [there].
HF: How can we pray for you, as you continue to make documentaries and advocate these issues?
CM: Pray for wisdom...[so at least I know] at the end of the day what I'm doing is bringing glory to God.