Contrary to a widely held assumption in the secular world, the Christian faith is not harmful to women and in fact, elevates them, according to female apologist Jo Vitale.
Speaking before hundreds of attendees assembled in a Saturday afternoon session during the annual Wilberforce Weekend, Vitale, dean of studies at the Zacharias Institute and an itinerant speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, sought to answer the question: Is Christianity Harmful to Women?
She recounted the words of Daisy in F. Scott Fitzgerald's popular novel The Great Gatsby, who said that the best she could hope or expect for her daughter was for her to be a "little fool." Vitale added that she sometimes wondered if that was true of Christianity's expectation of her, that her purpose was to be "ornamental" or "decorative," that she was to be seen and not heard.
She recalled a time where she was giving a talk at the University of California, Berkeley, which coincided with International Women's Day. Amid the rallies and protests occurring on campus she encountered a girl who had a paper bag over her head with eye holes cut out, was topless, and was wearing fishnet stockings and a short denim skirt.
Onlookers and passers-by appeared to not know what to do but as Vitale and her group got closer they saw that written across the paper bag on her head were the words: "All five of my rapists are getting away with it."
"And then you looked into her eyes, and they were just completely haunted," Vitale said, calling the girl Rachel, which was not her real name.
Vitale found herself wondering what Jesus Christ would say to Rachel in that moment. And she simultaneously found herself feeling grateful that He was real.
Only God gives intrinsic worth, she said, because when viewed from a purely naturalistic perspective it is hard to justify why what happened to Rachel was a big deal.
"After all, if all of our lives are just cosmic, evolutionary accidents, on what basis are we going to assign value or significance to another person, let alone equal value? We talk about women's rights but what are they grounded on? And what if we are just dancing to our DNA and the name of the game is survival, that one life is of greater worth than the other, or that might makes right?" she asked.
Yet the Bible paints a different picture, starting from the very first page, she said, noting that human beings are made in the image of God as male and female. In the Christian faith, no one is a random accident; each is made in God's likeness.
"How sad that those who claim to be too feminist for Christianity rarely see that the very equality that they long for is ultimately grounded in the very same God that they are rejecting. There is simply no other statement of gender equality like this in the ancient world," Vitale said.
It was the early church that helped end the Roman practice of exposure and the killing of infants, which were disproportionately female, she elaborated.