Allegations of domestic violence, sexual harassment, disparaging remarks made about a woman’s appearance, rape, sexual misconduct, you name it; all too familiar news headlines these days and the hot topic for the presidential candidates as they vie for the coveted position of Commander in Chief. All of these speak to an imbalance of power. I dare say there is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon so poetically phrased it in the book of Ecclesiastes.
What can be said is that the subjects are more out in the open than at any other time in history, but much work still needs to be done. Where is the Gloria Steinem of this generation? Say what you will, but she was effective in igniting debates that led to changes. Whether one agrees with the changes depends upon which side of the fence one is standing.
Gloria Steinem spoke to the inequality of women becoming the leading feminist of our time. For the first time in history, women were being seen and heard. My question is why do we need people like Gloria Steinem in the first place? Why weren’t women considered equal? Why did women need to fight for equality at all?
During my years in the church I heard many sermons about Yeshua (Jesus) being the champion of women, that Yeshua treated women as equals, and indeed He did as evidenced by the ministries of women as the early Christian movement got underway. The ‘lost gospels’ found in Nag Hammadi in 1945, in part, point to the rising power of women post-resurrection. So, what happened? The church happened. From the opening book of the Bible and Adam’s accusations the woman given him by God made him eat the forbidden fruit and throughout the 66 books women clearly took a backseat to men, and women let it happen. Strong statement? The lip service paid women is that God created man and woman in His likeness, that Jesus said in Christ there is no male nor female, but the message has not borne fruit within the church. Imbalances of power remain as long as one party exerts authority over the other.
The Bible as we know it was crafted by the First Council of Nicea in the 4th century under the direction of Constantine. Were there women on the council? No, and further it was decided women may hold the position of deaconess, however would serve in the lesser position as laity. Women in the pulpit is recent and still remains controversial in some church circles. Submission of women to their husbands is still taught from the pulpit and women continue to swallow the imbalance. Is submission even being challenged within the church? In more recent years the definition of submission has been altered and served to women as a relationship of lover and beloved, or as a mirror of the relationship God and Jesus share. Men inside and outside of the church didn’t seem to get the same memo. Many are still operating under the accepted definition of submission; under another’s authority. I don’t buy the repackaged definition anyway; it plays to the fact men still think women are the lesser intelligence.
Church folk would disagree with me. Their defense would be those men who are not treating their wives as their beloved are out of sync with God, not living in the likeness of Christ. And yet, if that were so, what is being done about it? Little to nothing and I experienced that firsthand. Inequality, issues of abuse in its many forms, and other imbalances of power are not addressed in the church. It is easier to sweep them under the carpet, slap a smile on our faces, and pass the offering plate or plan the next potluck. As I recall from church catechism Yeshua said, “Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he doesn’t listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation can be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to hear them, tell the congregation; and if he refuses to listen even to the congregation, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax-collector.” Further, Yeshua said, “Yes! I tell you people that whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” So there it is; heaven takes our lead. If we aren’t going to do anything about it, God won’t either. Said another way, as long as mankind allows something, God will too. (Matthew 18:15-18 Complete Jewish Bible) Case in point; how long has it taken the Catholic Church to confront and deal with the pedophilia in their midst?
When the church came to me and told me they knew my ex-husband was abusive and we should get out did they confront him? No. The pastor’s response was, “There are a lot of controlling men in the church.” I rest my case…..