The church is a faith community of women and men. It is a community of people of God, and it is an inclusive community. It should be a place where equality and mutual respect for all should be maintained because it is a community founded in the faith of Jesus Christ. In reality, church or Christian community is not free from gender discrimination. According to Longkumer, there are four factors which contribute discrimination of women in educational ministry in the church. There are (1) Theology, (2) Patriarchal culture, (3) educational theories and (4) Structure of the church. It is true that the Christian theology, the tribal culture, the educational theories or curriculum and the structure of the church are established by male-dominated. Therefore, women are not given full participation in pastoral ministry and also in the teaching ministry. There is a leadership crisis in the church in Chin society even though they are aware man and woman have equal right to be a leader in the church and society. Mostly all decision making positions or important leadership roles are taken by men in the Chin Christian community such as ordination, President and Secretary in the church, association and convention, deacons, principal and vice principal in the theological settings, therefore, the leadership and liturgical roles are still dominated by males in the churches .
Chin Christian Women in Myanmar are influenced by their society and the general believe that they are secondary citizens. They have capacity and abilities to serve; but they are not recognized by the church and society. They are not allowed to take higher leadership role in the church and in the seminary even though they are qualified. But they are happy and seem to be pleased with their work. Yin Yin Maw mentions that “Christian women are happy to use their talent in their respective areas. They have strong faith in God and are empowered in spiritual development for themselves.” Therefore, the Chin Christian women should rethink and reconstruct their mind to promote equal leadership of men and women in church ministry and theological education. In this 21st century women leadership needs to be promoted so that women themselves can realize their capacity and strengthen the generation’s self-esteem among women.
In this paper, the writer will study how Chin patriarchal culture is influenced by the Chin Baptist church women in Myanmar. In that patriarchal society, Chin women are denied in the church for the same reasons they are denied leadership in theological education, even though they have zeal and endeavor to serve for the glory of God. Through this research, therefore, the writer would like to discover how Chin Baptist Church men and women can be equal partners in the Church ministry and theological education.
Background and Motivation of the Study
Chin ethnic group is one of the eight major ethnic groups in Myanmar . The Chin people value their custom and culture, unfortunately, the culture and custom are influenced by the patriarchal system. Culture is a way of life, a way of thinking and practice of a particular group of people. Chin Khua Khai defines that “culture involves all aspects of people’s behavior, social, political, religious, economic, educational, linguistic, and worldview as well.” Culture teaches us that women are secondary citizens, subordinate to men because they are unclean, soft and weak when compared to men. According to Professor Kim (lecture on the class of Christian Education), there are three perspectives on gender differences in learning: Nature: inherence difference; Nurture: socio-cultural influence and nature and nurture approach. Under nature and nurture approach, she mentioned the way of women get knowledge in five different ways: Silence; received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge and constructed knowledge. Mostly Chin women are learning from the perspective of nurture under the socio-cultural influence, and get knowledge through silent listening and thereafter receive knowledge. In Chin society, women cannot get an opportunity the same way as men. Women are secondary, inferior to men. They do not have much opportunity to speak out, voice out in the family, in the church, community, and in the educational society. They learn education silently under the control of patriarchic culture influence.