Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Reconciliation and Intercultural Studies (MA-RIS)

Department

Theology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Shannon Nicole Smythe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Theological Studies

Keywords

Christian women; Women college students; Young women; Sexism; Sex discrimination against women; Patriarchy—Religious aspects—Christianity; Male domination (Social structure); Theology—Study and teaching; Women in Christianity; Reconciliation—Religious aspects—Christianity; Grounded theory; Faith development; Feminist theology; Qualitative research

Abstract

What helps young Christian women sustain their faith in the face of sexism within Christian communities? Are there practices or traditions that leaders of these Christian communities need to consider to better support young Christian women? Do young Christian women find value in studying theology, history, and hermeneutics from female perspectives, and if so, why? These are the guiding questions this project seeks to answer. This project involves a qualitative research study with a group of students within a “Women in Christianity” course at Seattle Pacific University. Participants were interviewed twice during the course and also forwarded their written reflections to the researcher. Participants were asked to reflect on their experiences of being a Christian woman, experiences of sexism within Christian communities, and experiences within the course. The process of the research is a grounded theory study, in which the participants’ process throughout the class was used to narrate the progress of what is helpful to support and empower ones’ faith as a young Christian woman. Participants affirmed that there is deep value for young Christian women in studying theology, history, and hermeneutics from female perspectives. The knowledge gained helps young Christian women feel empowered, supported, and encouraged in their faith. This knowledge also performs a disruptive role, helping these women question the patriarchal culture they have previously experienced as “normal.” However, in order for any practices, traditions, or strategies to be effective in helping young Christian women sustain their faith and navigate sexism, Christian communities must become an active participant in working through methods of reconciliation to and for these women. Christian leaders would benefit from representing, including, and following methods laid out by women and for women, which are elaborated on within this project.

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