Toward the end of my first semester as graduate assistant for Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt, professor of theology and social ethics at Northeastern Seminary, she asked me to help her edit the book she was working on. This included things like checking sources, making sure things were cited properly (I almost memorized the Turabian style guide throughout this process), and checking grammar. I had already gotten to know her fairly well having had the privilege of serving at an orphanage in Fushun, China, with a team that included Beth and her daughter. So when she told me that the subject matter of the book centered on issues of gendercide and violence toward women and how the church needs to respond, I was on board. It was a topic that I had wanted to learn more about.
I was not prepared for what confronted me during this project. I spent hours immersed in some of the most evil things human beings do to each other. Harsh realities were consistently in my face, statistics that were staggering, images that portrayed unspeakable horrors. I found myself weeping when faced with all of these, and with the realization that we are doing so little. I was reminded of a quote from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: “What can men do against such reckless hate?”
There are those who are out there, doing something about it. Dr. Gerhardt’s book, “The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls,” helps churches to not only become informed, but to also develop a corporate theology to confront this plague. Using the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dr. Gerhardt reaffirms what we as Christians should already know: We need to die to ourselves and live as Christ taught us to live. Whether the violence is in the home of a family in the U.S., a village in Sudan, or a hospital in China, there are ways for the church to rise up and act.
Prepare yourself to feel conviction about how little we have done so far and overwhelmed by how much there is still to do. Dr. Gerhardt’s journey in writing this book has inspired me to find ways to fight gendercide and violence against women. I pray that “The Cross and Gendercide” does the same for you.Rev. Nicole Brodeur, M.Div. ’11, is the associate pastor for youth and educational ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Greensburg, PA.