This is another rewrite of one of my two minute commentaries I posted in December, 2010, expanding the writing for a five minute time period.This one expands #33 on feminism.
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.In the Old Testament, women such as Deborah, Abigail, Ruth and Esther are presented in scripture as positive examples of faith and godliness, even though Israel and the societies around were male dominated, to the degree that, at the time of Jesus, some rabbis debated with each other as to whether women were even human, and forbade women to hear them teach from Tanak.This was part of why Jesus’ speaking to the woman at the well was difficult for the disciples to understand, and possibly a part of why Mary had a problem with Martha sitting and listening to Jesus teach instead of helping prepare for the other guests.
The prophet Joel, in chapter 2 verses 28 and 29, wrote “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and My maidservants I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” Phoebe, Junia, and Priscilla, Aquila’s wife, are referred to by words describing spiritually gifted leaders.Lydia had a church meet at her house, which implies that she was the wealthiest person in that church, which is congruent with the fact that she was a seller of fabrics that were only legal for royalty to wear.In Romans 16, where Paul ends his letter by greeting believers he knew there, there were only a couple of fewer women than men mentioned.The Bible shows that men and women were equal in God’s eyes when it came to receiving salvation and receiving the giftings of the Holy Spirit, including the leadership gifts.
Obviously, as the church was forced into the world’s structure common to nations, militaries, and businesses, what is now call chauvinism marked that structure.The Reformation did not change that.At the informal level, which tends to be where the Holy Spirit works most greatly, there has been a history of believing women in leading roles in the foreign mission, anti-slavery, and suffragette movements. The stand for equal rights for women was largely a Christian thing from the founding of the church at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 through the granting of the right to vote in the United States and Great Britain.It needs to be pointed out that this was not necessarily reflected in recognition with the official church and denominational organizations of which these women were connected to.
The world has rewarded men and penalized women for their gender through almost all of human history. In the early church, the world saw a new species with a different set of values even while the world was denying their right to exist, officially.The early church saved female babies exposed by those following the tradition of infanticide in the area of Greece.Eventually, the wealthy in the Empire trusted the Christians for caring for their money and children, because of their commitment before God to be honest, which, on the side, helped erode respect for the vacuous morality of the pagan myths at a practical level as much as the Greek philosophers’ criticism of the morality reflected in the myths was eroding it at the different level of Roman society.The world oftentimes sees the now institutionalized church as just another social organization.That’s part of the reason why it is rarely spoken about by today’s secular feminists, who only see an entrenched, male dominated organization, as opposed to scripture’s definition of a group of persons, male and female, young and old, of various races, ethnicities, and economic and social statuses, who have been made a new creation by Jesus, desiring, albeit not always succeeding, to follow the Spirit as He goes where He wills, and to be salt and light to a lost and dying world, and caring for the poor and downtrodden of all societies, races, classes, castes, and ethnicities as people made in God’s image and of whom He loves equally.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 757-735-xxxx.You can see a transcript of what I just said along with references to more detailed work on this subject at my blog, tevyebird (spelled t-e-v-y-e-b-i-r-d) .blogspot.com, with the blog dated August 25, 2011.For more information about organic church worldwide, visit www.simplechurch.com,and about organic church here in the Hampton Roads area at www.hrscn.org.
An excellent book on a Christian-based feminism is Elaine Storkey’s “What’s Right With Feminism” (Eerdmans, 1985).It is currently out of print, but it may well be found on sites such as half.com or amazon.com.For a couple of years, as I write this, there is a hint that the publisher, may re-release it, or possibly one may find it in an online version. She also has a sequel, “Origins of Difference”, published by Baker.As Storkey is a theology professor in Great Britain, the writings reflect dealing with the most traditional institutional church situations and deal with the most complex level of intellectual debate on this subject, i.e. some parts are not easy reading and deal with debating liberal theological positions.