International Womens’ Day

International Womens Day

A political interruption…

I’ve started calling myself a feminist again…

The Bible needs to take a fair bit of responsibility for what i believe about not just the place of women, but the part women can play in shaping God’s realm of justice and peace.

I learnt this through stories of women throughout the Hebrew Scriptures – Rahab (a prostitute, no less, who taught me about courage, and supporting liberation, even for a people who aren’t your own), Esther (who never named God as her motivation, but who risked all to bring liberation and freedom to the people of her country), Naomi and Ruth (who taught me how women need to be strategic to survive when a country and its faith renege on its primary responsibilities)…

and then there are the stories of the women around Jesus:

the woman – unnamed – who confronted and challenged Jesus’ beliefs about who his salvation was for, and so taught him more about the truth of God.

the woman – some call her Mary – who knew Jesus needed her touch, and the gift of her anointing… even though that led to her being the subject of gossip and rumour (and – still today – being known better by her profession than her name)… how much easier would it have been for her to stay in the shadows.

Mary who opened her home to Jesus, who didn’t make him a meal, wash his feet, or fuss around him, but who grabbed the opportunity of a rare moment face to face with him, unemcumbered by the rules of the synagogue, or the tightly held protection of the disciples… i wonder what they talked about…

Martha, who opened her home to Jesus, served him in the only way she knew, and then discovered that serving isn’t always what Jesus wants.

the woman – unnamed – who was liberated by Jesus from the scornful judgement of religious leaders and the threat of stoning… (although she’s still stoned regularly in bible studies around the world today…)

the women – Mary, Mary Magdalene and the others whose names we can only speculate – who stayed with Jesus in the darkest of hours, while he was on a cross, faithful to their friendship and love for him… even though it must have seemed the promise he’d offered – that in God’s realm every social and religious convention that denied their humanity would be broken – was dying there in front of them

And then there’s the example of Jesus, who refused to let any part of the humanity of women be diminished… regardless of their behaviour, religion, profession, ethnicity, social status, marital status, wealth.

But this is the real reason why I’ll start calling myself a feminist again:
“It was here [as presenter on ABC radio] that I started to learn of the circumstances of women not blessed with the same geographical and economic birthrights as my own, women living under political oppression, women forced into sex slavery and human trafficking, the systemic rape of women as a tool of war, women being stoned to death for adultery and the culturally entrenched practices of genital mutilation, to name a few…”
Tracee Hutchison, The Age, 4th March 2006

Loving the stories of the Bible is a start. Making them transform the world today is the real challenge.

Happy International Women’s Day. Here’s a link to the Amnesty International Women’s Day campaign


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  2. Thanks Cheryl. A reminder indeed of my own need to continue to understand and celebrate the remarkable role of women in the Bible and in the world today. Perhaps time to ask the same questions of myself as those that were directed at Jesus. Keep prompting us.

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