Wednesday, July 15, 2009

just thinking.

The other night, the hubs and I had a theological discussion (of sorts) with my almost-16-year old cousin.

I loved every minute.

After two years away from my college campus, I’ve almost forgotten what it was like to sit around with friends and discuss the things we believe matter: the cross, redemption, our God’s unfailing love and the gift of His Word.

It was nice to stretch my brain, to dig deep, to remember why it is I believe what I do.

Incidentally, my cousin’s question was about women’s roles.

An issue both near and dear to my heart.

And while I don’t normally delve into topics like this on the blog (at risk of offending an unknown reader), our discussion led to some thoughts I’d love to throw out into cyberspace. I warn you, though, this is longer than the typical post; if you want to come back tomorrow, I’ll understand completely. If you do decide to stay, though, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on a tricky subject like this.

I believe that women are a powerful force. They always have been. And while Gloria Steinem thinks that she invented feminism, the truth is, our God did.

Our God was the founder of women’s rights. In the Old Testament, He set laws in place to protect the women of His nation from men who might harm or misunderstand them. He showed His grace and patience to women who society would have said didn’t deserve it.

He gave us Sarah, Ruth, Esther, Deborah, Naaman’s servant girl, Abigail, Rahab. He molded their lives, gave us their stories, set them up as examples of faithful living.

An old woman.

A widow.

A Jewish teen.

A counselor.

A servant girl.

A divorcee.

A prostitute.

Our God loves His daughters.

He created them in His image.

But it’s just a few verses in the New Testament that seem to take all that way. A few verses that seem to reduce our worth. Our God, the God who created us to be powerful forces of change, asks us to be silent. To submit. To humble ourselves. To respect those in authority over us. Namely, men.

Ouch.

Doesn’t our Lord contradict Himself here?

Isn’t this just a cultural recommendation? A command that died out along with head coverings?

I don’t think so.

And while that answer is a little hard for my stubborn, 23-year-old, semi-feminist self to handle, it’s the one I believe.

Because just as our God loves women and honors them, He knows them.

He knows our weaknesses, what messes us up.

The same reason He asks us to respect our husbands is the reason He requests that we sometimes keep our mouths shut.

Because we’re not very good at it.

God knows it’s a challenge for women to truly respect the men in their lives. After all, we do everything so much better—or so we claim.

And our Father corrects our inadequacies by asking us not to love our husbands (that part is easy), but to respect them.

In the same way, women find it difficult to keep their mouths shut. We have opinions on anything and everything. And the mouth God gave us to bestow blessings and encouragement we use as a tool of destruction. Sarcasm. Hurt.

And again, our Father corrects our inadequacies; this time, by asking us to be quiet. To calm down. To humble ourselves and let others take control.

Women who choose not to listen to the command, by the way, are going nowhere fast. Because just as God gave us examples to follow, He gives us examples to flee.

Eve.

Jezebel.

Delilah.

Sapphira.

Women whose power went to their heads.

Whose urge to take over replaced their longing to be who God designed.

I understand these women, though, because deep down, I’ve been there.

I like to control.

(I’m good at it.)

Take charge.

Overrule.

And my Father knows I like it.

And He knows how quickly a desire for control can become out-of-control.

So He asks me not to.

Not to control.

Not to take charge.

But to be quiet.

To encourage men to fill the role He designed for them. Because otherwise, they won’t. They’ll think we have it covered. God knows this too.

So you see? He doesn’t ask us to do this whole “silent” thing because He’s an overbearing, old-fashioned, woman-hater.

He does it because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows who we are, who we can become, and what’s holding us back. And just as He designed a specific role for men to fill, He designed one for us.

A role full of passion. Boldness. Beauty.

That’s why I think He asks us to be quiet. He knows us and created something specific for us.

That doesn’t mean He wants us to hide behind men.

Quite the contrary.

He wants us to daringly, confidently fill a role created specifically for us. And sometimes, we’re going to have to be silent and submissive to fill it.


*Note: I do believe that there are two exceptions to the “women should be silent” concept. First, I do not believe it applies to prayer. Prayer is a communal activity of the church as a body. It is not a teaching tool, but an opportunity to join together, brothers and sisters alike, to talk to the One who created us. I think men are missing out if they don’t get the chance to hear a woman pray. It’s a daughter talking to her Dad, and it’s a pretty powerful thing. Second, I do not believe it applies when men fail to fulfill their role. The stories of Deborah and Abigail are proof that if men don’t accept their duty, someone else has to. And if it’s a woman, so be it.


3 comments:

katie said...

This is beautiful, Annie! Thank you for putting it in such a great way!

I'll probably be directing some friends to this post!

Anonymous said...

While I might design something a bit different. I am better off doing the things I am supposed to do and not trying to do the things that others should be doing. You are very thoughtful and deep. It sounds like your sixteen year old cousin is wise as well.
UR

chet said...

I've never thought of it this way. I have always considered it a culture issue of the early church, that did or did not matter today.

In regards to my blog, I guess the question, "who has more faith," isn't really a fair one. Just interesting that Caleb was slaying giants while Joshua did his thing.