I am joining others on this day to mark International Women’s Day and in this small way, contribute to the celebration of their voices, gifts, and presence and highlight the need for continual justice.
Each year on March 8 the world takes time to observe International Women’s Day. It is a day dedicated to the celebration of women’s social, economic and political achievements worldwide. In the United States, this official day of observance is rooted in women’s efforts to campaign for rights to work, vote and hold public office, culminating on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to sweatshop conditions and child labor. In the early 1910s, the concept gained recognition in the international community and grew momentum as women across Europe continued to fight for the right to work and protest against ensuing world conflict.
There are also others on the blogosphere also highlighting the voices of women in the Bible. One female voice that has recently spoken to me in surprising new ways is Lydia from Acts 16:11-15. My church is currently going through the book of Acts and I recently preached on that text [mp3] covering Paul, Lydia, power, and transformation. Paul went to Phillipi and likely sought out the synagogue [and men] but it did not exist. He went outside the city gate to the river – again expecting and hoping to meet men since that was his strategy. I love this passage because we see how it wasn’t Paul’s intent, strategy, or plan but God surprises and blesses him nevertheless by introducing him to Lydia who if you read through the text, can safely assume that she was an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, and someone who was a “worshiper of God.” The Lord convicts her and she not only responds to the gospel of Christ but her whole life is transformed from one particular worldview epitomized by the power of purple to the power of Jesus. Her whole household comes to faith through her. And eventually, she works alongside Paul and his cronies to plant a church in Phillipi – at her home. Pretty amazing.
May we commmit and re-commit ourselves to welcoming the voices of women to the Church.
The reality is that we need to be investing in all our young boys and girls but in many parts of the world, the balance is skewed in such a way that being born a girl is to trek uphill your entire life – like the story of Shamia who had acid thrown on her face because she dared to go to school. This video, entitled Girl Effect, is a good reminder of the positive influence we can have on young girls and beyond.
Last year, I posted two entries that may be of some interest: Ultimate Fighting Jesus and Conversation with Rob Bell [re: women in ministry] and while we’re at it, I’m re-posting the infamous 10 reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained For Ministry . It’s just too funny not to share again.
10. A man’s place is in the army.
9. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.
7. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.
5. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshipers.
4. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.
1. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.