I’m going to follow a couple of rabbit trails that continue to call me. I may have lost you with the very first word in the title, but my context has and always will be Christian. I wrestle with what it means to walk in The Way. I am willing to be open with my angst, and trust in God’s grace for me.
I feel we have made some beautiful steps toward equality in the Church by lessening the burden of complementarianism, and moving toward acceptance of women as fully capable, fully functional, fully contributing humans and leaders. Of course this is still only spoken of at face value in some circles, and to dig below the surface just a wee bit a woman can very quickly grow discouraged with paternalistic leanings, with the language of the bible which is clearly and significantly rooted in a masculine cultural context.
This Her Story series of The Meeting House is compelling, and I’m going to give it a listen. Maybe we can talk about it sometime?
Last night we had a wide ranging discussion at our house group. I asked what everyone’s impression was of the Holy Spirit…the gender identity of Spirit? We talked around it, landed on a couple of scriptures that used “he” as a descriptor. And then someone said well, I never consider gender when I consider Spirit. And someone else said perhaps it’s all just beyond our limited understanding? Yes, I get that, the paradox and mystery of the divine is often where we have to rest when we cannot find answers to our questions.
OK, I thought but did not say, what I really wonder is where is woman in the God-head, and why all male, and how open might we be to imagine a fully gendered mystery of God? We say God is Father and has female attributes and characteristics, and we say that Jesus was the Son of God in a human male body on this earth. But to say “God, our Mother” as the poem in this Liturgists podcast does, rings heretical to some, and at times to me. But why?
And then the intertwining of this topic of gender to the topic of sex, and a difficult situation in our faith community. I wonder what it means to be sexual creatures, and I think of all the damage that has been done in and through the Church around sex. I feel God is asking me to love unconditionally through these tough times, and to move past my hurt/shock/grief/anger into acceptance and loving practice. Sexual sin is no different, is it? Should it be? Are the consequences more weighty? Is is justified to attach moral outrage to some sins and not to others? So many questions…
Growing up in a fundamentalist setting, I was told that to engage in any sexual activity including sexual intercourse outside marriage, was a sin against my own flesh. That’s brutal, heavy, and set me on on a very painful journey. The same was not said about pride, or cheating on taxes, or slandering people, or even murder. Couple this type of teaching with all male leadership, headship etc., and being a woman didn’t have much going for it. And there’s more I won’t touch on.
The past speaks to the present and I imagine how in elevating sexual sin and focusing on gender differences rather than common humanity, it might set us back as the Body of Christ. Back to thinking men and woman can’t be trusted alone together, or to lead together. Back to women meeting only with women, and men gathering only with men, and this makes me so sad. Surely there are other sins that raise their heads when two or more are gathered together. Gossip comes to mind. Envy is right there too. And what about greed, and wrath, and pride? Lust is one of the seven deadly sins, but it isn’t alone.
So, how do we learn to function together in community as humans and not, out of fear, fall back into patterns of repression, segregation, shame, and discrimination? Must sex, apart from all other aspects of our human nature, be what we fear most? Can we as sexual creatures trust ourselves to have full, wholesome, mutually contributing relationships regardless of gender?
Things I’m chewing on, wrestling with, not sure where I’ll land. Thoughts?