The Dark Stories

“Those who seek to glorify biblical womanhood have forgotten the dark stories. They have forgotten that the concubine of Bethlehem, the raped princess of David’s house, the daughter of Jephthah, and the countless unnamed women who lived and died between the lines of Scripture exploited, neglected, ravaged and crushed at the hand of patriarchy are as much a part of our shared narrative as Deborah, Esther, Rebekah and Ruth…it is our responsibility to guard the dark stories for our own daughters, and when they are old enough, to hold their faces between our hands an make them promise to remember.” -Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood

I am loving this book so far. Rachel’s point in this chapter is that not all (or maybe not any) of what is recorded (and not recorded) about Biblical womanhood looks like 1950s America and June Cleaver. Sometimes it is ugly and sometimes Biblical women were mistreated or killed in the name of serving God. That makes God sick to His stomach and that should make us sick to our stomachs as well. It is not God’s design for His daughters that they be held under the thumb of abuse and oppression in order for Him to receive glory. Not my God. Not my Jesus.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

The Spirit of The Lord is upon me, because he has appointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. Luke 4:18

Lecrae, 116 Clique and John Piper – 100% Masculinity

“Let me take you back to the tree in Eden
If you read it you’ll see that Eve was deceived
But Adam’s the one who let her eat
Instead of leading
No we ain’t leading
We Bump That
Basically little boys with muscles and our mustache
To femininity we need a remedy
The God-Man 100% masculinity.”

The above quote is from a new song called, “Man Up Anthem” by 116 Clique featuring Lecrae from Lecrae’s record label, Reach Records. It is a sentiment found all too often in Christendom and one that is slowly being chipped away at by people like Lindsey Haskins and blogs like Jesus Creed. In today’s post on the Jesus Creed blog, Ms. Haskins shows how in spite of Pipers assertion that,”for the maximum flourishing of both men and women” the church should and must have a “masculine feel”, nothing could be further from the truth.

Piper says, “the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name of the male.”
Man Up Anthem says, “Let me take you back to the tree in Eden, if you read it you’ll see that eve was deceived but Adam is the one who let it in.”

Here are some thoughts on women from well respected church fathers:

Chrysostom, speaking of Eve in the garden – “…the woman taught once for all and upset everything…for the female sex is weak and vain, and here this is said of the whole sex”

Tertullian – women  are the “ianua diabolic” or “the gate of the devil” (On Female Dress, 1.1).

St. Clement of Alexandria – “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman…the consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.

St Thomas Aquinas –  “Good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in men the discretion of reason predominates.”

I could go on and on.

Piper says, “Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female.”
Man Up Anthem says, “The femininity, we need a remedy, the God-Man, a 100 percent (strength) masculinity.”

Clearly when one looks at the history of women in the church it has NOT been “for the maximum flourishing of both men and women”. In fact, if a woman did manage to slip through the cracks and overcome societal efforts to deprive her of education, equality and opportunity, she was met with surprise and astonishment. They were so opposed to the notion that women as a gender were capable of such things that they would de-feminize her and assign manhood to her instead of her God given femaleness. They said things like:

Clement of Alexandria – “Women must seek wisdom, like men, even if men are superior and have first place in every field, at least if they are not effeminate”

Paulinus of Nola – “What a woman she is, if one can call so manly a Christian a woman!”

Palladius – she was “not a woman but a manly creature: a man in everything but body”

Melania the Younger – because of her great piety or “manly deeds” was claimed to be “like a man” by her male admirers since “she had surpassed the limits of her sex and taken on a mentality that was manly, or rather angelic”

Haskins also points out that this way of thinking whether from Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria or John Piper is damaging to God’s daughters. How could it not be? She asserts:

When holiness is equated to masculinity, it is rather difficult to side-step notions of femaleness—or “femininity”—as ontological inferiority.  If by nature weaker physically, emotionally and spiritually as compared to men, the logical—and lived—conclusion against all lip service to the contrary has been that women do not share equally with men in the imago dei.

The line from Haskins that reminded me of the Lecrae song was this, “The Son of God came into the world to be a man” [which] seems to infer—especially in light of the greater arc of Piper’s vision—that it was maleness which God redeemed, not humanity. The lyrics say, “The femininity, we need a remedy, the God-Man, a 100 percent (strength) masculinity”. I assert that it is not masculinity that saved us from femininity; rather, that love compelled Christ to come and save us from fear, hate and darkness; that love compelled Christ to sacrifice all to save us from ourselves, our sin and our selfishness. He came to restore our relationship with the one who made us BOTH, male and female, in his image. TOGETHER the two halves of humanity reflect his glory.

I agree with Haskins when she says:

What the church needs now is not by any means a “masculine feel.”  The church has had this broken and un-balanced “feel” for millennia and far from producing a “flourishing [for] both men and women” it has too often been complicit in a systematic de-humanization of half its constituency.  When masculinity becomes the virtue par execellence the value of what it means to be a woman or “feminine” is mortally undercut.  What the church desperately needs now is a prophetic voice reminding us to value both men and women as equally and wholly made in the imago dei.

Ms. Haskins, may I humbly suggest that you are one such prophet.