Recently I did a face book post that went something like this. "Jesus was the biggest feminist that lived." I got a range of responses from religious IC going Christians who tried to pigeon hole me into saying what issues of modern feminist Jesus wouldn't agree with to people outside of the IC who couldn't say amen enough. It seems as though I had hit a "hot button", no, more like a land mine, without realizing what I was doing. After leaving the IC I began to realize for the first time that Jesus was in the business of taking women out of their oppressed societal roles and giving them freedom and equality with men. It blew me away...I couldn't believe that after being raised in the church for 35 years I hadn't seen it before. This was yet another unspoken rule of the system - women submit to men, follow them, do as they tell you, and know that their word is the ultimate truth and authority. The idea of mutual submission was never a part of my life in the IC.
Jesus was constantly liberating women: The Samaritan woman who Jesus spoke to at the well. Not only was she a woman, but she was Samaritan - considered to be the lowest minority to the Jews and they refused to even speak to Samaritans. But Jesus spoke to her and she chose to follow Him then spread her salvation story all around town. Many consider her the first evangelist. The woman caught in adultery is another. This woman had been oppressed by the religious leaders, (I can relate to her on many levels and her story brings me freedom.) Jesus comes out and tells her that He doesn't judge her. The story of Mary and Martha is another. Jesus actually encourages the sisters to sit and learn from Him, putting them in a student role. He brings them out of the house wife role, how amazing is that? In those days women didn't learn under rabbis, (unless you were very wealthy, which was rare.) These examples show that Jesus was radical in His feminism for that day! When I realized how revolutionary Jesus was in His treatment of women the thought came to me -
Why is the church even more oppressive of women than the world 2000+ years later??
Why is it that modern feminism emerged from the secular world not the church. If feminism like Jesus was a proponent of had started in the church would we have abortion?? Could it be that in abdicating our role in liberating women we inadvertently caused the deaths of millions of lives? I think this is very possible. Then we picket abortion clinics in protest...
I can't tell you how many times I was told by a male church leader or pastor that my ideas, thoughts, impressions, etc. "needed to wait", "I'll pray about that sister", "thanks for the advice, but we don't need to do that now", etc., etc. It was as if what I had to say didn't matter - that I didn't matter. The only women who were listened to and respected seemed to be those with scales for skin,...and they were usually pastors but seemed to be more like men in their thinking and actions. I wasn't one of those, never have been honestly. Even so I got right in there with the pastors and shared my opinions, (still do in blog land and am rarely treated as an equal by male pastors, big surprise), only to be poo poo'd. All of this to say, where did this treatment of women in the church come from anyway? Why have there been so few women pastors over the ages and why do they have to act like men in that role?
Maybe it's been here from the beginning...remember how the disciples didn't believe Mary when she told them that she had seen Jesus? They had to actually enter the tomb and from the way his grave clothes lay could tell that he had risen. They needed proof - they couldn't simply take Mary at her word and trust her...why?...because she was a woman? Not to put men down, and please don't misunderstand me, but it seems that women responded to Jesus very differently from men. Mary washed Jesus feet with her tears and the disciples were disgusted. But Jesus saw that she was actually prophesying His death. She could see something the disciples were blind to.
Could it be that women's ability to have faith is the thing that has caused them to be oppressed by men in the church? Could the inherent differences between men and women be the root of the issue?
I believe this is the main reason women don't have a voice in the church. In fact, I thought about doing a blog like this for a while but kept putting it off because I didn't think anyone would be interested in hearing what I had to say. For so many years I've been conditioned into believing that my voice didn't matter, wasn't important, etc. I'm finding that there are very few blogs written by women who have left the IC. Most of them are by men, generally men who were pastors or leaders, and they have large followings. Of course they would, duh?! (Don't mind my sarcasm, please.)
The more I've thought about this the more I realize that if women in the church could find their voice and become who God had called them to be we would be a powerful beautiful force to be reckoned with. If we can shake off all of the crap that men have put on us, that we have put on ourselves, that the institution of church has put on us, and see ourselves not as women - but as children of God with every right and privilege men have, we would be a sight to behold. As I continue on my journey of freedom I ask myself this question, "Who are you in God's eyes? If Jesus walked in the room today, who would He say you are?"