Hey all! So it was International Womens Day yesterday, and I didn’t write a single thing about it! Truth is, my brain has been too full of paid work projects that have taken up large chunks of my concentration and left me a little worse for wear when it comes to concentrating on my Kit K. stuff. I spent the beginning of International Womens Day in church (I hadn’t been for weeks! Shhh). The preacher did a great job talking about the unsung heroes of the Bible, but he made a mistake and would have had no idea he did it: He called Junia “Junius.” He was reading straight from the Bible, so of course he had no idea of the big little thing that had happened there on the page: Junius is a mans name. Junia is a woman name.
For generations, translators of the Bible have been assuming that only a man could be counted among the apostles, and hence Junia the woman had been replaced by Junius the man.
Now, I’m not going to write a big expose on Junia the female apostle. One of my all-time favourite bloggers, Marg Mowczko has done a brilliant job of that here. You should go read that. Because Marg is great.
I spent Womens Day recharging my batteries. They had been drained by life and parenting, and taking on too many contracts for work and my guy saw that and sent me off to enjoy myself. I sat across the table from a friend I hadn’t seen in about a decade, and eventually the conversation turned to why the church seems to be the last bastion of patriarchy in modern society.
It’s an interesting thing. I’ve spoken before about how complementarian theology (based on the belief that women and men are equal in value but not equal in authority) manifests itself in all sorts of ways. In some cases, it’s quite obvious, with prohibitions against women in leadership. In other cases it is more subtle, and I’d argue insidious.
- It is there in churches that almost empower women to the same degree as men.
- It is there in churches where demands are put on the way women dress, lest they tempt the men. As if men aren’t responsible for their own eyes or actions.
- It is there in churches where purity culture hasn’t been deconstructed, but is simply not talked about.
- It is there in churches that don’t announce they are complementarian, but don’t allow women to rise to their fullest potential.
I am lucky to be in an egalitarian kind of church. There are three pastors. Two of them are women. A couple runs the kids ministry, but the one at the front of that is a woman. Women lead worship. Women preach. We had a woman come an induct the latest pastor into her role. I love this. But it takes a trained eye to spot the bad theology gifted to us by years of Bible translations that result in Junia becoming Junius. There are a thousand more examples of this but the point is that little girls learn, in church, that they aren’t able to lead like men do. They learn it because we don’t have the trained eye to see it and correct it.
I’m the first to admit that church isn’t easy for me. I’m in a great church now, but my sweet little fam bam is likely to move in a couple of months and my suspicion is that when this happens, my relationship with church will become more tidal than the steady stalwart of my week that it has been in the past.
So I find myself sitting on womens day and reflecting on what I what my daughter to know. I want my son to know these things too, but I want my daughter to know it on a conscious level not just a subconscious level:
- She can be anything she wants. She will have to work hard. But she can be anything she wants
- She should never let anyone make her feel ashamed of herself, her gender or her body.
- Beauty is obvious, but the external isn’t what makes her beautiful. Her soul does. And she should look after that.
- She should be able to walk through a park late at night without fear. But that doesn’t mean she can. So she should learn self-defence, create good networks of friends she can call on, and not be afraid to whoop-arse if she needs to protect herself.
- Women can be gentle. Women can be strong. Women can be creative. Women can be analytical. Women can be authors, scientists, athletes, mothers, prime ministers, painters, carpenters, builders, lawyers or whatever the heck they want. They don’t have to mute their femininity in order to succeed. Its whether they work hard, do it with intention and integrity, and love what they do that matters to me.
- Being a woman doesn’t mean she should have to work harder for respect. When someone refuses to respect her based on her gender, that says more about them than it does about her.
Look, I’m sure there are a million other things I’ll tell her. But I just actually fell asleep in a cafe, in a public place for a hot minute there so I’m going to finish this blog up, publish it and leave my research and literary brilliance (heh heh) for another day.
So I’ll just raise my glass of less than life-changing coffee and toast to strong women. May we never diminish them. May we never diminish ourselves.