"Q" , a young woman, studies theology at Harding Graduate School of Religion. She blogs earnestly, asking heartfelt questions. She recently explored that ever sensitive territory of the Bible, God, and women. Sometimes, it is hard to describe how it feels to be a woman reading the Bible. There are moments that one wonders why God bothered to make women with minds and voices and then let them get educations. Q ventures some of these concerns on July 23 in a discussion about what she refers to as an invisible male bias in society. Here's my response:
There is more than one thing at work here. You identified what you consider invisible. My perception varies. What remains visible really is the power of the masculine. It screams at us from the images from Arab-Muslim nations and whispers to us in the contemporary church. As to the latter, lean in close and sense this simple representation of male privilege—presented with no malice, but because “it’s just the way things are” from James Wiser, a blogger you may appreciate. The blog brings to the table an announcement of a special day of encouragement designed for ministers and their wives sponsored by a Christian university.
Visible and disturbing in a visceral way is the crushing domination of women in many Arab Muslim communities. Veiled, silent, and subject even to point of socially sanctioned honor killings, these women live in a world I have to see as much like the world Jesus came into.
Now to the invisible. Imagine Jesus today in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Iran with an entourage of women talking theology. Think of Mary, with her spirit and mind as well the uniqueness of her female anatomic capacity, encountering Gabriel, trysting with the Holy Spirit, and experiencing the inner affirmation in her meeting with the expecting Elizabeth. Relish these encounters with the divine. Between us girls, the friendship of Jesus with Mary and Martha and the other women and baptism into Christ thrills me more than the circumcision deal the guys got before the new covenant. From my eye of faith, the appearance of Jesus to his followers, both male and female, and the partnership of Paul with women in the gospel supercede the problems, large as they loom, with roles in the burgeoning movement.
Cable televsion beams the ancient order of male authority so starkly that I am now thoroughly convinced of the fallacy of putting a literal contemporary application on some of Paul’s teachings. What is visible, Q, is this: we, women in the milieu of Churches of Christ, attend and work in groups of Christians who have utterly inconsistent, even schizophrenic applications of some scripture. This is not true for all folks who take God’s word for God’s word, but it is true for many. You live with this don’t you? As hard as it is in the meetinghouse, don’t miss the invisible reality of Christ and his vibrant, radical relationship with women for visibly weak attempts to appropriate the treasures of his will. And don’t quit asking questions, Q.