It fatigues my already tired mettle when that worn out rag of an opinion resurfaces that Christianity is somehow anti-female. Of course, now that the definition of “female” is under debate, I suppose that is, itself, a shifting deck in a storm of opinion. No matter, because at least, historically, there is in my mind (admittedly, for what that’s worth…) substantial evidence that feminism has its actual roots in true Christianity. Note the word “true”. Not necessarily organized religion, because most people never bother to check out the Source Document for themselves, and if they do, it’s merely a cursory study without much in depth “what’s-really-going-on-here” desire to know truth. I realize that’s a scathing indictment, but there it is.
Case in point, here’s a story that can be easily misunderstood, but in reality, it’s one of my faves:
“Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret.”
Duh. He’s at the height of His popularity. He and His crew can barely eat or get a moment alone to rest. No wonder He fell sound asleep on the boat in the middle of a gale!!
“Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia…”
Okay, stop right there. There’s an old saying in ancient Judaism that goes something like, “thank God I’m not a dog, a Gentile, or a woman.” OUCH. In addition to these three, children in this era were also not exactly seen as high on the social scale, especially daughters. So here’s where Jesus’ comment can be taken as confusing to our 21st century sensibilities:
“Jesus told her, ‘First I should feed the children— my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.’”
HOLD IT! Call in the ACLU! Protest marches! Pink hats and speeches! Massive Facebook posts! NOT FAIR! Most of us (me included) would be offended and walk away.
But not this mom…
“She replied, ‘That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.’”
BINGO. This gal chose, CHOSE mind you, to not be offended. Her need, her love for her child, was more important than her selfish pride. You want to call me a dog? Fine, call me what you want, but this is what I’m asking for.
Except that Jesus wasn’t actually calling her a dog. Look again. Look at the company He was in, the dinner party of the other Jewish men. With those words, Jesus was holding a very clear mirror up to their faces, spewing their filth back at them. When He said those words, however, I can see His eyes transfixed on the mother’s eyes, unblinking, waiting, encouraging, hoping,…
C’mon, girl. Don’t give in to this cultural trash. Don’t be offended with these words. Reach out to the real Me. Push through the pain. Push through the confusion. Forget your pride, it’s not worth it. Think of your precious child. Here I am.
“Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.”
So actually the question about feminism, in this post at least, is rather moot. The real point is the pressing compassion of the Christ, to every human, in every culture, in every time period, as well as our extreme need to not give up when it’s so very much easier to just throw in the towel and be offended, confused, or just too fatigued to press on.
Because no matter what, His eyes are fixed on us. Waiting for our response.
Mark 24-29 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.