Tag Archives: history

Advent and Anthropology: True Equality and Honor for Women

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke have extensive birth narratives with the young, betrothed Jewish woman name Mary as the focus of God’s grace and self-disclosure to the world. Luke’s Gospel carries this theme of empowerment and equality forward with the list of women that funded the mission of Jesus next to the list of his first disciples (Luke, chapter 8). In almost every passage with parables, Luke has a woman and a man as the focus of Jesus’ illustrative teaching (see Luke, chapter 15). And in all the gospels, women are the first to see the Risen Christ and share the good news.

Throughout history, there are godly women in all vocations who proclaimed the gospel, ruled empires, led communities, pioneered new ministries, and raised families. The great 4th century Cappadocian Fathers were discipled by Macrina the Elder and Macrina the Younger. Hildegard of Bingen confronted bishops and popes, offered deep scientific and theological insights, and composed amazing poems and songs in a medieval era if systemic inequality. Eleanor of Aquitaine astonished all around her. From the 1800s to the present, courageous female leaders have served the vulnerable, fought for justice, started businesses, and made the world a better place. Think of Dorothy Day, Catholic social reformer, Margaret Thatcher, Methodist Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mother Teresa, prophet for the poor, and many others. There stories are often buried under the weight of a dominant patriarchal culture.

It is time for all thoughtful persons to end ungodly and unprincipled sexism and affirm the equality of all persons and the gifts that each one brings to our world. This is not eliminating male and female differences or opening the door to confusion. In our responses to the anarchistic anthropologies of our day, we must not react with unjust subcultural responses, confusing truth with particular cultural or historical gender roles. In the end, we are catching up to the divine image bestowed by the Creator.

Choosing a Divergent Path: Wisdom in a World Gone Mad

We are inundated with loud voices clamoring for emotional reactions. In contrast, followers of Jesus are invited to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and choose loving obedience. Let’s take time to still our hearts, listen deeply, and love wisely.

We do not live in the best or worst of times…but in the most instantaneous information moment of history. Our conflicts are not new, but much more immediate and our responses are often unreflective. We can shun vulgarity. We can choose intercession for those who disagree. And we can recognize that power itself is an addiction affecting every part of the political spectrum. 

Forgiveness often sparks revival in persons and communities. Without pretending about our real pain or excusing transgression, what if we let go of the rap sheet that we keep against ourselves and others and truly forgive? And when we bless those who frustrate us most, we are liberated, and a new future opens to us.

An antidote for our epidemic and anger: In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, we can meet every insult with blessing, every denial of truth with love and truth, arrogance with humility, and intolerance with civil discourse. And let’s respond to emotionalism and incipient Orwellian controls with careful thought and affirmation of liberty rooted in virtue. Systemic issues of class, gender, and race must be exposed…and overcome with love, relationships, and wisdom. Protest is one step…and practical, sacrificial action for others moves our vision of shalom forward. This is more than being nice and it is not passive. Living in the opposite spirit of our age of insults and vulgarity is a courageous spiritual posture.