The Asian Christian Women's Institute for Culture and Theology(headed by Choi Man Ja) held a seminar entitled "Obedience an Accessory for Church Women?" on 21 June in Seongga Convent. The purpose of the seminar was to search for ways to reform the church women's culture.
Director Choi Man Ja says, "Women can become pastors now, and institutional discrimination has been resolved to a certain extent, but the internalization of obedience in church women is still a problem." Choi also points out that "to create more realistic role and status for women in the Church, we have to criticize and reform the gender discriminatory aspects of Church culture."
Researcher Jang Sook Gyeong who gave a presentation entitled 'How is obedience internalized in church women?' described in detail the reality faced by church women. This reality is characterized by the relationship of command-and-obey between pastor and church member, between men and women, the demand for material proof of obedience, the enforcement of obedience through the black-or-white notion of blessing and punishment, and sexual violence against church women perpetrated by pastors.
Professor Kim Hyun Mi (Sociology, Yonsei University) attempted to analyze obedience from a feminist-sociologist point of view. She explains, "Deep-rooted myths such as 'Women are unclean' and 'Sons are best and they should be pampered' emphasize the inferiority of women and relegate them to the job of accommodating men's needs and whims." According to Prof. Kim's analysis, such cultural mechanisms take effect within the religious framework, making church women willingly obey their male pastors.
Researcher Kim Jin Ho of the Institute of the Third Generation Christ said, "Rather than using force to oppress the women, the mechanism of voluntary obedience is cunningly combined with the rhetoric of sin and salvation to enslave women in the mechanism of power."
Cambridge professor Kang Nam Soon made use of feminist theology in observing the way Christian values are infused to patriarchal ideology. Prof. Kang pointed out that "absolute obedience to the Will of God, which is the true meaning of Christian obedience, has been distorted to mean blind obedience and uncritical thinking regarding the power of men within the Church."
Prof. Kang also added that "ultimately, obedience is regarded as an essential element to becoming 'a good woman and a good Christian,' thereby degenerating into a patriarchal ideology in which women voluntarily participate in continuously reproducing the patriarchal system within the Church." The professor's recommendation: "Let's overcome the confrontational relationship between men and women under the patriarchal system and explore the possibilities of a partnership in creating a new hegemony of resistance."