And God gave them judge-leaders. Whenever God raised up a judge-leader among them, God was with them and saved the people from the hands of their enemies.
Deborah, a prophet, was the judge-leader of Israel at that time. Judges 4:4
Yesterday I preached on the story of Deborah and Jael. But before I begun, I read the following statements to the congregation and asked them to raise their hands if they recognised the phrase; if they had heard them before, whether spoken explicitly or implied.
1) Women must submit to men, in particular their husbands.
2) Girls must dress modestly to avoid causing men to sin.
3) Women are created for different roles to men: their ultimate calling is to serve their families by keeping things clean, having supper on the table by six, and, most importantly, making babies.
4) Women can’t preach in church, that is a man’s job.
5) A woman must not have authority over a man.
Our congregation at MCC Newcastle is very diverse, with members coming from various Christian traditions, and yet most of them had heard these statements at some point. Almost everyone raised their hands for points 3 and 5.
Then I asked for those who knew the story of Deborah to raise their hands.
And that’s when I could feel the anger starting. The good kind of anger, a kind that lent passion, nuance and humour to words I had fairly emotionlessly written earlier. The kind that finally gets it.