August 26, 2016
By Kristen Johnson
Today we celebrate Women’s Equality Day in the US. The National Women’s History Project tells us a bit more about this day:
The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certifiation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.
The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
Women in the US (and abroad) continue to fight for equal pay, equal access to healthcare, and equal opportunity, while fighting to break glass ceilings in the public sector, private sector, and the military.
Although women have made many strides in the 96 years since we won the right to vote, I still continue to hear from my many Christian Conservative friends and family members that women have absolutely no place in the pulpit. They are absolutely forbidden to “lead” over men in a religious setting. Of course, they are always quick to point out that it’s perfectly okay for women to lead women’s study groups or Sunday school……but lead a Church? That’s just heathen-talk!
I am a member of a United Methodist congregation in San Diego, and I am very blessed to be lead by a wonderful female Pastor. She is well-read, well-educated, and knows her Bible backwards and forwards because she graduated from United Methodist Seminary right along with her male colleagues. I was similarly blessed by my previous two pastors – both female.
My associate minister (male and lead by my female pastor) recently recommended a fabulous book for me, The Moral Teaching of Paul by Paul Furnish, which reviewed the Apostle Paul’s teaching on a variety of subjects, including women in ministry, sex, marriage, divorce, and homosexuality. In regards to women in ministry, the author points out that Paul repeatedly treated women and men in the Church as equals, and that women supported and lead the beginning Church (Lydia, Phoebe, Prisca, Julia, Tryphena, and others).
How did Jesus treat women? He broke through social norms at the time and spoke with them, healed them, insisted that society help widows and orphans, raised them up, and they worked in his ministry! Who was the first person to see the resurrected Christ? That’s right – a woman!
Women and men alike need God’s grace and love:
Matthew 12:46-50 (NRSV): 46 While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”[a] 48 But to the one who had told him this, Jesus[b] replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
God loves us equally, no matter our sex. Galatians 3:28 (NRSV): 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Preach on ladies.
Serve all with love.
(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.)