What was the “collective ideology – prevailing thought “consciousness” – about women back when Christ walked the Earth? We all know that the Pharisees and Sadducees (the guys in charge) were very rule bound – very “letter of the law.” What were the customs and traditions that women were bound by back then?
And NOW…what are we denied as women because of the modern, diminished consciousness surrounding the Feminine? The world just doesn’t get it, and never has. That’s why I try not to take chauvanism and the angry “it’s a man’s world” femininist movement too seriously. I realize that it is just absolute ignorance, and could not be further from the peaceable and powerful Truth of our divine feminine identities.
Back in Christ’s day, women had to have long hair and be covered before they could pray. Here are some words from the apostle Paul (whom I have to admit I thought had little respect for the gifts of women until I did some research) Many, like myself,who don’t interpret the scriptures in the right spirit have condemned Paul for demeaning and excluding women:
1 Cor. 11
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered…Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
1 Cor 14
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
I used to wince while reading these passages. I used to believe that Paul was actually promoting the fact that women were not spiritually allowed to receive what men can. It really bothered me, until I asked the Lord to provide some insight [ask, and ye shall receive…]. After some research and pondering, I looked more closely at 1 Cor 11 and 14 and attempted to put them into the right context. Paul’s not telling the women they shouldn’t pray and prophesy, he’s telling them they have to obey the customs…be respectful of traditions they’re largely forced into. He’s saying it was a shame for women to speak in the churches because it was not permitted.
It makes me think of how backwards certain cultures – including our lovely “popular” one – have it regarding the rights and roles of women.
In the Jewish Talmud (written by the Scribes and Pharisees), women were completely denied the privilege of reading and studying the scriptures. Men had usurped complete authority of all reading, studying and expounding on the scriptures. Can you imagine how that grieved the heavens?
In Christian assemblies, women -in their fervent zeal to know more- started to act disorderly within the Jewish synagogues because they didn’t know basic points of doctrine, having been denied this privilege. They wanted more! And so Paul was trying to counsel these women. He was showing them ways they could skirt the customs and peacefully receive it for themselves at home, without having to create a public scene.
Adam Clark, leading theologian on Judeo-Christianity, writes:
“It was permitted for any man to ask questions, to object, altercate, attempt to refute in the synagogue; but this liberty was not afforded to the women. Paul confirms this in reference to the Christian church. He orders them to keep silence; if they wished to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, because it was perfectly indecorous for women to be contending with men in the public assembly on points of doctrine, cases of conscience, etc. But this by no means intimated that when a woman received any particular influence(calling) from God to enable her to teach, she was to ignore that influence; on the contrary, SHE WAS TO OBEY IT.”
So, was Paul telling the ladies to put a lid on it? Au contraire, mon frere. Paul was largely admonishing women to obey the laws of the land. He wasn’t telling them to be quiet or not to develop their spiritual gifts. He was simply warning them that unfortunately, women had to acquiesce to their messed up culture. Otherwise, they may lose their right to worship as Christians. They might get shut down by those in authority.
It is interesting that later in that same chapter (Cor 14), still talking to women, Paul says, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
In Acts 16:14 we read about, “…a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple…whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Lydia and a group of women in Philippi were the first converts who helped to organized the first local church on the soil of Europe.
Rom. 16: 3 “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:”
Priscilla and her husband Aquila were associates of Paul, and taught Apollos.
When Paul started his long list of greetings to individuals in the church at Rome (Romans 16:1-16): “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church… That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
The first name he addressed in his greetings was a woman. In fact, ten of those referred to individually were women.
Philippians 4:2-3: I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel…whose names are in the book of life.”
Paul encouraged and exhorted Euodia and Syntyche (2 women) as fellow workers in the cause of the gospel. He entreated his brethren to help the women! Soooo NOT chauvinist!
See, Paul took it for granted that women would pray and prophesy in church; to pray and to prophesy were to exercise leadership and teaching roles in public worship.
This was uncommon in the Early Saints’ culture and time period…to afford women this kind of inclusion.
And who was teaching PAUL how to deal with women…the rights women should be afforded in the Church…Who taught Paul about the Divine Feminine? Certainly not his culture. But Jesus Christ. His mentor.
WHAT JESUS DID TO ATTEMPT TO RAISE THE EARTH’S CONSCIOUSNESS ABOUT WOMEN while He was a mortal?
I love this statement by Joseph Coleson, a renowned scholar and theologian at Nazarene Seminary: “Throughout the Gospels we see—if we are looking—the radically new and different treatment of women by Jesus. He talked with women, ate with, traveled with, and taught women, accepted women’s ministry to him with respect and dignity. Given the social norms of Roman Palestine, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of the fact that women were the first to see Jesus’ empty tomb, and to see Jesus himself after His resurrection, and further, that Jesus directed the women to report His resurrection to Peter and the rest of the men of the company. Women, whose witness was not accepted in a court of law, were charged with first witness to the most important event in all history. This was church leadership of the first order!” CHRIST SHOWED A NEW WAY TO TREAT WOMEN. He literally defied the customs of His day. I want to explore, in a little series of posts, how this was so. Stay tuned 🙂