First let me assure “believers” out there: I am not “abandoning” my faith. I am contending for it, as any true seeker will, without a prod from admonition. I am forever, it seems, coming to terms with the fact that the Gospel, otherwise known as the “Holy Bible”, was penned by men. There’s no denying stories of noteworthy women are included among its pages, but I continue to struggle with imagery and analogies offered from a masculine perspective. Specifically, in a study taught by a reputable woman, references to “The Armor of God” as protectors vulnerable female hearts from “the wiles of the devil”, presents cumbersome verbiage and visuals. Understanding that Paul was simply drawing on his surroundings in a prison to explain spiritual tenants and persuade Roman guards, it’s still a disappointment to me that illustrations women might better “get” aren’t referenced. (Ok, so women are now invited to try their hand at combat too, but it doesn’t help those of us who are not inclined to conform our bodies to military issued clothing, or who don’t choose to approach life through a lens through which violence is accepted as a means to an end.)
As a woman, I’m more interested these days in cultivating a quiet and gentle spirit; preferring a more creative process to be clothed with an “unfading beauty” , to become a conduit of restoration and healing. As a woman, I care more about God’s promise to “give beauty for ashes and the oil of gladness for mourning”. I am tired of hearing about how we are to “put on the whole Armor of God” that connotates being impenetrable, unfeeling, and burdened by an outward hard shell. I would choose to hear about the freedom of creating and wearing clothes to celebrate life with unique colors and designs—not “camo” for hiding and preparing to surprise an enemy before destruction, or dark robes with head-pieces and facial drapes designed to “hide away” women, or even the more commonly accepted monotone uniforms of corporate attire.
“It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1)
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again…” (Romans 8:15)
“God’s yoke is easy and His burden light.” (Matthew 11:30)
Today I considered King Saul’s armor, once offered to a young David before confronting the taunts of the giant Goliath. David refused the help of man (the reigning king), because it would have been cumbersome and restricted movement essential to his task. David was confident in God’s ability to set invisible angels behind and before him, and fully trusted the power and guidance of a greater Spirit within to defeat a formidable enemy’s advances. (My kind of warrior, if fighting is necessary.)
I wonder sometimes, too, how Paul would have reacted if he’d met Deborah, an Old Testament judge and prophetess; or Rahab, who was a prostitute giving aid to men carrying the message of redemption within hostile territory. I wonder how Paul the Apostle, would have responded to any of the women Jesus chose to reveal himself to, whose lives had been touched by transformative conversations and gestures from the one he would call “Lord”. I understand, Paul was a man, so he cannot be expected to present a teaching from a woman’s perspective. Never-the-less, as a woman, I tire of hearing Spiritual Story-telling from a man’s viewpoint—especially one who seemed to blame or have an aversion to women (my assessment).
Accepting the fact men wrote and selected the scriptures for inclusion in a manual held as sacred in Christianity, I am a woman who wants to hear from women, in terms women relate to and understand. I want to hear from them and know their thoughts on spiritual “freedom” (or bondage) by way of their own experiences, in their own words. Without aspiring to military power, political clout, religious leadership, or man-made endorsements, I want to know “what is the height and depth and breadth of love” that “can do far more abundantly than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
A time has come for the voice of women to be heard, once again, as creative, peace-making ambassadors of light, unwilling to simply accept terms and explanations handed down to them by patriarchal traditions. I am ready to hear the truth spoken in love, as an affirmation of women’s worth in spiritual realms……alongside men, but not dictated to or demeaned by them.