Freedom from Fear and Violence: Methodists against Gender Based Violence – Saying “No” to the powers that be.
Readings: Esther 1: 1-22, Ephesians 5: 21-33, Luke 10: 38-42
When children play together in a group, there is often a child who will move a little bit more forward than the rest when it comes to directing the games and organising the other players. I think that from the point of view of the casual observer, the child who has taken control and is most vocal at giving directions to everyone else looks like the leader but I know that when we used to play together in our neighbourhood; this wasn’t always the case. Sometimes the leader was actually the one who whispered the instructions into the ear of the one whose voice was the loudest. While the one took charge, the other orchestrated the motions from the side. Just because the one who whispered from the side’s voice was soft; it didn’t mean that it carried less value than the one whose voice was loud.
When we read scripture, we hear the voice of the men coming through strongly, but I think that the whisper we hear from the women is just as loud and often even more valuable than the voice of the men. If we pay attention, then the absence of comment is louder than the comments themselves. If we pay attention, we will know that the missing voices will tell us more about a situation than the voice that describes that situation. Stereotypically speaking, if a man is telling a story and gives the colour of the shoes that the other person was wearing, especially when he is unable to connect that fact to the purpose of the story, you can be relatively confident that the story was put together by at least two voices and his voice didn’t understand why the colour of the shoes mattered. In the same way that a sharp gasp will tell you that a statement was unexpected or inappropriate, so the absence of a comment by a woman in a crowd who are wanting to stone her for sinning speaks volumes about how pointless it would be to argue with those who have already made up their minds and who are using her as a means to get to someone else. It also speaks about how a pure and holy law had been turned into an instrument of power over those people who needed its protection the most. In a conversation where women are free to speak their mind to Jesus; it tells us the value Jesus ascribed to woman. In a community where submission is the act of doing everything to ensure that the whole is built up rather than being a doormat, we hear the word of scripture speak of the incredible value of relationship and the way in which each person in that relationship has to be recognised as equals or that relationship will not grow or add value to the whole.
I think that it is ungodly to value the voice of one person over another simply based on a chance roll of the DNA dice. I cannot find anywhere in scripture where God made a statement that Eve’s voice should not be as highly regarded as Adam’s. I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where the Kingdom of God excluded anyone from anything based on gender. When children play, the only objections they have to the children they play with are the objections that the adults give them in the whispers and careless and bigoted conversations. The God we find in Scripture is a God who tells us that those children we don’t like playing with are His favourites, in exactly the same way that we are His favourites.