I read, a lot. Possibly my favorite pastime ever. And reading while at the beach, even better. I need to go the beach. Tangent. Recently I discovered this blogger, Frank Viola. By recently, I mean, yesterday. I have no idea if I agree with everything he says or most of it or only this post, so this is by no means an endorsement. But he wrote this post on women. And I was blown away.
As a woman who majored in Christian Ministry and is now pursuing a seminary degree, I have thought LONG AND HARD about what the Bible has to say about women. What it says about our giftedness, our ministry, our role, the callings we may or may not receive and well, Frank brought up stuff I had never even considered.
So I am sharing his post. Linking because I don't want to steal his work. You should read it. Don't give it more credence just because it's a man writing it either. ;-)
Frank Viola, God's View of a Woman
After you read, come back here and see my reflection.
(Did you actually go read it? Come on now, clicking a link is not that hard)
(Besides what good is my reflection going to do you if you don't read what he has to say first?)
Okay for those of you who got this far, I'll start reflecting.
Frank uses the term 'not ashamed" frequently in his article to describe how God feels toward and about women. I wonder if this is really the best phrase in this discussion. I think God feels a lot more for women than just not ashamed of us. I think he relishes our company, desires relationships with us immensely. Perhaps his use of this phrase is intentional, he places as a disclaimer that he gave this talk in Chile and their culture is very demeaning of women. But I think as a woman it is so important for you to know that God is a lot more than not ashamed of your existence, desire for relationship with him, your ultimate dependence on him for your health and well-being.
If God just felt not ashamed of our existence I wonder if he would have created us to begin with? I think he was looking for a creation that he delighted in completely, not one that just functioned as a necessity. I don't think God sees us that way. I believe in my brain and my heart that woman was the final culmination of Creation. The last brush stroke of an artistic masterpiece without which the work would have been incomplete, lacking that essential finishing touch. Its not just that he ended his creative process with us, it is that it reached its Zenith with us.
Am I suggesting that in any way we are better than men? NO, despite a little tongue in cheek jab about our absolute superiority in the area of relationships. ;-) No, God did not save the best for last, but he didn't use leftovers either. We are not day old pot roast. We are not 'oh, whoops, how are they going to reproduce?' We are not help meet, whatever the hell that is. God help the next person who uses that word in a conversation with me. We are not saved through childbirth, sorry Paul, all the barren women aren't going to hell. We are not unnecessary, relegated to the sidelines in ministry and life.
Jesus wasn't intimidated by women of ill-repute that let their hair down in public and poured perfume on his feet. Just as Frank says, our company was not unwelcome. We were not one of The Twelve. But as Frank talks about there was another group of disciples, The Women and unlike their male counterparts they followed our Christ everywhere even to Calvary. This isn't to demean the Twelve. I think the reason the Women were at Calvary was because the men who were their crucifying Christ, they just didn't care who the heck these women were.
Were the male disciples chicken? Too scared to step up, probably. But because of the marginalized status of women in the culture of Jesus' day these women were granted an absolution by their society to come and go as they pleased. It was as simple as no one caring. No one thought a revolution would be started by a group of women crying at the foot of the cross. Unlike Peter, his sword wielding at one moment followed by cowardice the next, apparently he was more likely to start a revolution. It is sad that the men were not there, but I believe the women that stayed, they received an honorable gift, the gift of being there until the very end with Jesus. God clearly blessed that when he revealed himself to them first.
I'm thankful we live in a society where we aren't as unnecessary and unwelcome as The Women were back then. But there are plenty of women who still live in societies like that today. There are plenty of challenges for women in our society, especially in the Christian community. Whether you walk down the streets of America or an Arab nation where you need a chaperone is irrelevant God values you equally with your male-counterparts where ever you are.
As you have probably surmised by now, I don't believe that calling or what we do in any church setting should be limited by what gender we are born. I don't believe this because I don't believe that the Bible supports this thought. Please don't flood me with verses I know the ones to which you are referring. But I've read the Bible, the whole way through, more than once. My conclusion from reading the whole of scripture is that women being inferior is an unbiblical attitude. I can verse reference you as much as you'd like, but I'd rather you just read the Bible yourself. Frank illustrated well how in Jesus' ministry and his relationships with women he was lifting them up. Allowing them to be front and center, encouraging them to do so. He was not ashamed. Any shame based attitude that we still hold in our belief systems regarding the position of women within the Church is simply an unbiblical attitude. I am really not saying that to be harsh. But I'm also not going to be all mamby pamby on this issue. That is not God's view of us. I don't hold this opinion because I sort of believe it. I really believe it and although I am unlikely to enter into this discussion just to argue with you about it. If you believe differently, I believe that you are wrong. I still love you. And I still believe you can do great things for God.
I know that some people maintain these positions out of a supposed deference to women. We are supposed to protect them and keep them safe at home. This is not NCIS people, we don't have to follow Gibb's rule #1 hide the women and children. No one is storming the door with an AR. This is the body of Christ and women have a voice, a unique voice that brings something different to the body.
I have listened to a fair amount of women preach in the last decade and I have to say it's in no way better than a man preaching but it is different. We bring a different perspective. Our lives have taken us different places. We relate more from our hearts. Folks, this is good. It's good because God says so. But it's also just good. We need to hear more of this in our churches. We need BOTH men and women speaking to our Churches, ministering in our churches, caring for our babies and loving our youth. We need BOTH. Some of the best sermons I have ever heard were preached by men I respect. Please don't silence their voices either, but let us share the pulpit. Let us share the Word of God together.
"Sisters, take your high place. This is God's view of a woman." Frank Viola