Over the past few weeks it seems like the blogosphere, facebook, and my twitter log have been filled with feminine angst. As I read across some of my favorite posts, it appears as if more than a few of us have bonded over heartbreak and the groundswell of public atrocities such as the kidnapping of 300 innocent girls in Nigeria and the vitriolic videos of the gunman prior to the mass shooting in Santa Barbara. In one week, the twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen reached 1million and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign united nations in the cry for justice and the safe return of the abducted school girls.
It is not as if violence toward women is a new phenomenon in our world, perhaps what is new is the emergence of generations of women who have found our voice and now have public forums, such as social media, to collectively express our pain, fear, and white hot anger. As a follower of Christ, a Bible Professor and someone who works with women who are victim to sexual exploitation, I cannot help but wonder about the response of the church.
I wonder if it is incumbent upon us to return to conversations about violence toward women in our own sacred canon, to struggle through the pain and confusion of the Biblical narrative which though Spirit breathed, preserves the stories of men, remembered by men, recorded and handed down to us by men. I wonder if this is not an opportune time to consider other ancient texts, ones held in high esteem and considered holy by early Christ followers such as the recently recovered Jesus’ Wife Papyrus which confirms in the least that Mary Magdalene was a disciple and held a position of leadership in the inner circle. I wonder if this is a moment when we should join with newly fashioned #YesAllBibleWomen and begin to resurrect those stories, the counter narrative also present in the canon of named and unnamed women who are a part of the story of God.
It seems as crucial now as ever to begin to engage the stories of Miriam and those women prophets, to speak of Sarah and Jael and the wise women of old, to think about Susannah and Judith and Esther, Lydia and the woman caught in adultery, along with the women who remained at the foot of the cross until the end and were the first to arrive at the tomb. I wonder if our sermons and blog posts and teaching series should be filled with new scholarship aimed to reconstruct portraits of these Bible women carved out of stone and dust so we might know them and be better for it.
I pray this is an opportunity for the church to harness the momentum and to respond to the palpable cries of women for respect, equality, and a need for a theology that embraces also the femaleness of God as both woman and man are made in the image of our Creator.
Travel with me to Rome/Pompeii August 2015 to study Early Church Holy Women
Favorite blogs: The Junia Project, Christians for Biblical Equality, SisterMaryDandelion, A Woman at the Well, Unsettled Christianity