Monday, May 30, 2016

Men and Women and Jesus

I'm a Christian Egalitarian. I would also claim the name of Feminist. Men and women are equal in God's eyes. We were created equal from the very beginning. Patriarchal and hierarchical social structures were created by human societies early on. In the Bible, we see that hierarchy of men over women occurred after the Fall (Eve and then Adam eating the fruit in Eden).

The good news is that Jesus came to rescue us from sin, even the sinful social structures of hierarchy (and poverty and other kinds of injustice). You'll notice that Jesus never mentions that men and women are to follow him differently. He never says that women should do this or that while men do the other. Yes, his Twelve closest disciples were men, which isn't surprising in that day and time. However, he had a number of close women who supported him financially. Women were present with him at the very end, when he died on the cross. And, it was a woman who saw that the tomb was empty after his Resurrection, and "preached" that good news to the disciples.

Because of our tendency toward hierarchical societies, we've tried to impose them on Christian societies, despite Jesus' wiping away of sin. When Paul uses the Roman household codes to show how much further we are to show each other love, biblical interpreters have decided that they mean that men are to be rulers over women. When Junia was listed as an apostle, translators a number of years later couldn't believe that a woman could have been an apostle, so they changed her name to Junio, a man's name.

And, now, many Christians want us to believe that to be Christians, we must live in a hierarchical prison. I came across an article that I believe warrants a response. This article purports to help people disciple other Christians and show them the differences between male and female spiritual maturity.

I could get down into the nit-picking details, but I don't think that's the real problem. The issue that I have is overarching: the author has to make everything complicated. There are not just the questions of how wifely submission looks at home (it's more convoluted than you think), but how does a single woman relate to the men in her world? How does a woman relate to the older teenage boys? Are they men? Should she submit to them as she would to her husband? But does hierarchy require that she submit to men other than her husband?

None of this trying to nail down every detail is even necessary. Paul tells us that there is no male or female in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Jesus died to set us free from sin, and that includes the sin of spiritual and social hierarchy. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to "Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ." 

This business of who is in charge of whom sounds suspiciously like when the disciples asked who would get to sit at his right hand in glory (Mark 11). Jesus first told them they didn't know what they were asking, but then made the point that anyone who wants to be first is to be a servant to everyone. This is the crux of the whole Christianity thing: love, service, sacrifice. It's the opposite of hierarchy and patriarchy.

That's why discipleship and complementarianism don't go together. Complementarianism is the height of legalism. It's human-made rules that make us feel better and more spiritual. And there are entirely too many rules. The author of the blog post even admitted that he was only getting the ball rolling on the topic. (Consider that Wayne Grudem made a list of 83 jobs that women could perform in a church. Talk about overkill!)

I'm not an egalitarian because I don't want to be oppressed by the patriarchy. I'm an egalitarian because it's what Jesus taught. It's not my job to be spiritually in charge of anyone (OK, my kids before they became adults). (Obviously, when I was working, I had people who were working under me, and I was working for my employer. But, that was clearly only a business relationship.) I'm to submit to everyone and not just my husband. Our faith is all about mutually submissive relationships.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Gonna be a Crazy Month!

Ever since I quit working . . . OK, let's stop right there. Quit working just sounds so . . I don't know, like I just decided one day that I didn't want to work. How do I say that I stopped working because I was hurting all the time? That's pretty wordy. Now that I'm approaching 50 (but still only 48!), I could say I retired. I don't like any of those. Let's try again.

Ever since I left the practice of medicine due to illness (wordy, but precise), I've tried to keep life a little more simple. It's hard to make firm plans when I don't know what kind of pain I'm likely to have on any given day. Homeschooling was a godsend for us. We didn't have to work with the school's schedule; we made plans that worked for us. Even when Wild Man joined choir as well as band, it was just a few extra concerts. I've missed the occasional concert over the years, but the kids are understanding.

The next month, though, is just ridiculous. We have graduation, dance recital, graduation party, going home dinner, my parents visiting, and I'm sure a few other things. Somehow, I have to remember to breathe. 

Literally breathe. Meditation is one of the things that I do almost every day. When I have a bad migraine, my meditation is short. Otherwise, I do about 20-30 minutes of meditation and prayer. I start with the Lord's Prayer, then the Gloria Patri, then the Jesus Prayer for several repetitions and then everything backward. Then I just chat with God. Then I meditate on a piece of scripture or a prayer.

Other than that, I am going to keep anything extraneous out of our lives. I'm going to cook simple things. I'll make some casseroles or multi-day meals. And I'll give myself some grace when the house is a mess or things don't get done because we're busy or tired or I'm headache-y.

This is a time for family and celebration. It's not a time for stress or perfectionism. We're going to love each other in spite of migraines and deadlines like God tells us to.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Tow Trucks, Sanders, and Jesus

I came across this article in the Huffington Post the other day. I wasn't going to write about it, but I posted it on Facebook. A friend commented on it and then I commented on his comment and my comment got so long and I just decided to write an entire blog post on it.

The basic story is this: A disabled young woman with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia (she's got other illnesses, but those are most pertinent) was in a car wreck. After the wreck, someone was able to move her car off the highway so she was safe. The tow truck arrived, but the tow truck driver saw the Sanders sticker on her car and said that he was a conservative Christian and that he, in good conscience, could not tow her. He said that she was safe in her car with the air conditioning on while she waited for another tow truck.

Folks, this is what happens when we can pick and choose who to serve based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." First it was bakers and photographers for gay people, now it is tow truck drivers leaving disabled women on the side of the road for having different political beliefs. We're going back to Jim Crow, but based on whatever the heck we want. This is wrong. And, it's not Jesus-like. Jesus would have baked the cake, taken the pictures, and towed the woman's car. And more. Because that's what he tells us to do. (Matthew 5:38-48)

 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:40-42

Jesus is telling his followers that if a Roman soldier tells you to carry his load for a mile (which they were allowed to do), that they should not only carry it a mile, but carry it for two miles. We are to do more than is required, even for our "enemies". (The Jews weren't exactly friends with the Romans.)

It's pretty clear to me, here that Jesus is telling us to do more than is required to be a loving neighbor. And to be loving to people with whom we disagree. In fact, to whom might even be our enemies. I don't consider Sanders supporters to be my enemies (my daughter is one!).

My friend commented the following: 

And the people that won't do concerts or do business in NC? How about the mayor on NYC saying don't go to Click Filet? Do they get a pass on this?

My response:

Traditionally, it is the purchaser of services that chooses to whom they give their custom. This allows for competition in the marketplace. For example, we tried to entice people to purchase yarn from us by carrying different types of yarn than the yarn stores in Appleton and Stevens Point. But, in this country, a public establishment, like a business, is not legally allowed to discriminate in who they serve, hire, etc. (Note: this applies to public establishments, not private. So, churches are exempt and are free to choose not to hire women, or those with whom they disagree.) A business that is open to the public is legally required (and I would argue, ethically required) to serve anyone to chooses their business.

When someone disagrees with a business's policies or stance on an issue, an individual or group of people can choose not to give their custom to that business. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention for years encouraged people to boycott Disney. Liberal groups have encouraged people to boycott ChikFilA. Conservatives are choosing to boycott Target. These are all legal and ethical ways to show one's lack of support for a business. No one can make you choose to shop at a particular business.

Yes, this is the opposite of businesses who can't choose who to serve. But, remember the sit-ins of the 60s when African Americans were lynched just for the right to be served in the same establishments as whites. Public accommodations are for everyone, no matter their race, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. 

I can shop in any store I want. No one can turn me away because I'm a woman or a Christian. No one should be able to refuse to tow my car because I'm a Republican. The very idea of having to have a set of towing companies for liberals and a set for conservatives is laughable! It just reeks of Jim Crow! We won't stand for that kind of discrimination by race and we shouldn't stand for it for any other reason.

Back to the original post. A man used the argument that he should not serve a woman with whom he disagrees because he's a follower of Jesus. I just can't go there. Jesus was always hanging out with people with whom he disagreed. And there's no evidence that they always changed their ways and became his followers. He certainly didn't require him to become his followers before he would love them.

And here's a radical idea. That Sanders supporter might be a Christian!! Is it so hard to believe? The tow truck operator used one little bit of identification to decide that she was his "enemy" without talking to her or learning anything about her. Who knows?

In any case, as Jesus followers, we are required to live in this world. We are to be lights shining in the darkness. We can't do that when we tell people that we won't associate with them. We have to know people, talk to them, love them. We can't do that when we label them from a bumper sticker and then refuse them service.

And, yet once again, we are back to LOVE!! Jesus wants us to love people, whether we like them or not. And to love them practically. Even when it hurts. So go love someone!!!

What do you think about all this??

Monday, May 02, 2016

Rambling On . . .

This is the third post in a row about illness. Blah. I just don't have much else going on inside my head right now.

We've been very busy around here. Grandma has been here to see the Aladdin, the school musical. Wild Man had the starring role! So, of course, it was a busy weekend with three performances of the musical. And Wild Man turned 18 yesterday, although we celebrated on Saturday afternoon with chocolate cake and friends and singing! We went to UWSP last night to hear their choir concert since Rosie Girl is in the Choral Union. It was amazing, of course.

I fought a migraine through the whole weekend. I skipped the Saturday night performance of Aladdin to get some extra rest. Overall, though, it wasn't too bad.

The fibromyalgia pain is what is doing me in right now. I'm getting out and walking on the days that the migraine isn't bad, but I can still only get about 1/2 a mile. My calves hurt with every step. It was only a few weeks ago that I could do 2 miles without any excessive pain. 

The bright spot is that my antidepressants are working. As much as I hurt, my mood is staying pretty decent.

Other little tidbits of life: I knit on Fridays with another woman. She's in her 80's. She's been knitting since before my mother was born! But, her eyesight isn't as good as it used to be, so she has me cast-on stitches or pick up stitches or figure things out for her sometimes when I come over on Fridays. This week, she couldn't figure out the heel on some socks. I thought I had it sorted out, but when I was done, I only had 13 stitches where I should have had 32! Later in the afternoon when I was just sitting, I suddenly realized how to do the heel! I called my friend and told her to bring her knitting when I picked her up to take her to the play and I'd do them this weekend. I finished tonight with the correct number of stitches!!

This is certainly a well-constructed piece of writing! Talk about rambling! Well, I can vouch for the grammar at least.

Have a lovely night!