Tag Archives: women in the Bible

Wake up, Deborah!

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.
Judges 2:16.18

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.

One person.

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.

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How to be a woman

A few days ago a Facebook friend of mine posted this photo (I have no idea if this is, or is supposed to be, a genuine quotation from Coco Chanel or whether whoever made the image just liked the photo)

trying to be a man

I was interested to find out why she had posted it. Although we have some things in common (we are both women and Christians and of a similar age), we are from different cultural backgrounds and have different ideologies. I asked her what she thought “trying to be a man” meant. She replied that she thought it referred to women who say they “don’t need a man” and that “they can do everything themself.” She added that while women probably CAN do everything men can do, she doesn’t understand why they would want to, and finished by saying that it also referred to women who believe that “manly” things are superior  and forget that “womanly things” are just as valid.

I thought this was an interesting response which showcased some of the key attitudes that exist about women in Christian circles. It referenced the idea that women and men have different (but complimentary) roles, the idea that women need to rely upon (and perhaps submit to) men rather than attempt independence, and finally the (feminist-ish, sort of) idea that feminine things are undervalued. But what exactly is a “manly” thing, and what is a “womanly” thing, and does it matter?

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