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Just One More in the Vanity Series (Christianity and Women)

Lately, I’ve been trying to work through my feelings on what scripture says about the ways a woman should live.  I’ve mostly ignored this issue to this point, because it bothers me. It is tough for me to take emotion out of it, but I’ve tried very hard to view it objectively. Thank you to my awesome spiritual mentors for lending your perspectives and helping expand mine. I’m writing this post after reading one from Tim (Tim’s Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another) that I thought was pretty awesome. You can read it here: http://timfall.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/biblical-womanhood-is-nothing-and-neither-is-biblical-manhood/. In it he states:

“Which brings me to the point. How Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood – whatever those phrases mean – are lived by the members of the body of Christ will be different for each individual woman and man. The only universal principle that I can discern in Scripture is that we are each destined to be more like Jesus as we grow in him.”

I love that. Here are some of my thoughts on this issue.

First, I believe that historical context has some bearing on specific verses applying to women (such as, perhaps, Paul’s instructions about women serving in the church in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35), but the general theme of submission and subservience seems to say that women are worth less than men. This offends my sensitive ego (hmm… now we’re getting somewhere. 🙂 )Please don’t misunderstand – I do believe that men and women are different and that acknowledging and embracing our diversity allows us to serve better. The issue for me is this feeling of inherent inferiority. But I think maybe I’m reading something that isn’t there. The fact is, verses about submission do not apply only to women. It is easy to pluck these verses out of the Bible and, therefore, assess them out of context, but we are ALL to live lives of submission in Christ. And the beautiful thing is that if we follow the advice given us, there is no abuse of power; in fact, we use it to give back and to serve. Submission is power, for serving others is an act of love and nothing is more valuable or powerful than that. Like any ideal, this model can and has been perverted, taken out of context and used as justification for devaluing people. That is not an indication of its validity, but of the misguided (at least, that’s the word I’ll use in polite company) nature of humanity.

I still don’t entirely understand the hierarchical structure evidenced in the Bible, even within the trinity, but at the end of the day, Christ served us and he served God. If Jesus’ ego didn’t keep him from washing the feet of his disciples, maybe mine shouldn’t keep me from washing the feet of my husband, or anyone else for that matter. The validity test? Well, I’ll let you know if the fruit is good. I suspect it will be. 🙂

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Feeling Like Pharaoh

I feel called to do certain things in this life. They are usually quite specific and probably not that interesting, so suffice it to say, I truly do feel that God asks things of me sometimes. I hope I haven’t scared anyone off already – I’m not talking about authoritative voices no one else can hear or prophetic visions (although, who am I to rule out such things?) but about feeling unusually convicted in my heart about something that might be as simple as, “Sarah, you should call Jane Smith.” I think this is a gift. I don’t know if everyone receives this gift or not, but it is pretty great that I don’t have to wonder about what I should be doing. Here’s the rub: The vast majority of the time, I don’t do these things. I harden my heart. I want to do them. I feel strongly pulled in that direction, but when the time comes to act, I feel like I just can’t.

It brings to mind Pharaoh’s repeated refusals to release the Israelites from Egypt. Scripture tells us that Pharaoh hardened his own heart a number of times and also that God hardened his heart. I think this is an important distinction. Why would God do such a thing? I can only guess, but if God knew Pharaoh’s heart and mind as intimately as only a creator could, knew Pharaoh would never act out of true and good conviction and saw that the only way to effect the release of the people and wider-spread knowledge of his power was to harden Pharaoh’s heart… well, that makes sense to me. So, at what point does God take me at my word? When does he finally say, “Okay – you’ve said no and you’ve said no. You’ve made it pretty clear that you aren’t interested in the work I’ve set before you.”?

I certainly don’t want that to happen. I want to give back. Why don’t I? I’m sure there’s lots of psychology there, but at least in part it’s vanity and power struggle. I want to be in control of my own life. Sounds ridiculous, but it burns me sometimes that no matter what I do, I am not my own master. But I didn’t make me, so whatever beauty and goodness I find there, whatever capacity for beauty and goodness I find there, I can only credit to the one who did.

I don’t have any fabulous pointers about overcoming these obstacles to obedience, but I needed to record these thoughts somewhere. If you DO happen to have pointers, by all means, comment! 🙂

God, please make me receptive to your Word and your sovereignty. Amen.