God Takes On Power to Give it Away
Recently the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church released a video that struck a chord with me. Female clergy shared real words spoken to them by congregants, read out loud by male clergy. The shared comments became so terrible that the male clergy had trouble even reading them to the camera. Some even went as far as to preface with their non-belief before reading the line. (The video has been included at the top of this post.)
Meanwhile, most churches across the United States are oblivious of this video. They will go to their churches on Sunday morning, and continue to say the same scandalous things to their female clergy. Why? Because male ministers are so supportive of their female colleagues, until it comes to putting action into words.
How we have failed as clergy! How can our fellow ordained sisters live in this world without our ordained brothers rising up and speaking to this injustice? Have we learned nothing from Jesus?
One of the more frustrating aspects of being a minister is hearing fellow ministers swing the bible around like a mallet. They do it to take away the voice of the disenfranchised, smashing their sincere critiques to ribbons with quick take-away lines. One of those discussion smashing lines is Jesus came in masculine form to fortify that God puts power in exclusively male hands.
I'm here to say that nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, Jesus was born male for a purpose, but that reason was never to subjugate women to masculine rule. In truth, God took on the power of the Ancient Near East male to give that power away to others.
The Woman at the Well (John 4:5-42): If Jesus were made male to retain power within masculinity, he would have been the person to preach to the Samaritans. It would have been his words who would have changed their hearts and minds. Instead, he spoke truth to femininity and put the power of evangelism in the hands of a female. That power was purposefully given away.
Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42): If Jesus were made male to retain power within masculinity, he would have worded his response to Martha differently. Jesus' response to Martha empowers her. All he had to say was, "I'm allowing it." This would have ended the conversation, and Martha would have returned to the kitchen. Just the fact that Mary was allowed to sit where men were traditionally only allowed was scandalous enough, but he also allows Martha to counter his decision as an equal.
Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:1-10): If Jesus were made male to retain power within masculinity, the first words of a risen Christ would not have been given to a female. Realize Mary didn't have to tell the Disciples anything. Jesus would trump any words spoken for or against a risen Lord. Why give Mary the opportunity to tell the Disciples first, when just shortly afterwards they would see for themselves? It gave power to Mary to preach the Gospel.
All three of these examples would deflate if God had taken feminine form. Power was purposefully put in masculine form to share that power with females. No one saw it back then. Everyone was still looking for power for powers sake: A mighty Warrior King that would smite everyone and take back Israel. Instead, Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. Jesus came in male form because no one back then would have listened to a female. Then, God incarnate, at multiple occasions, gave power to the opposite sex.
Speaking directly to my brothers in Christ: That's a direct call. That's a call that is scandalous, and difficult. Jesus leaves Christendom with more than a backroom support. Jesus calls all males to act towards gender equality. To speak truth to the truths my sisters in Christ are already speaking.
To borrow from John Mayer:
...Even if your hands are shaking