Those of us who defend women in ministry are used to making careful biblical and theological cases, wrestling with the difficult texts as well as the occasional difficult person. We are used to listening earnestly to people who argue against women in ministry with furrowed brows and trembling chins. We aspire to be thoughtful, reasoned, and respectful because, Lord knows, we don’t want to make things any harder for women in ministry. Secretly most of us, I suspect, are sick of this circumspection and caution. For even with all our care we are frequently accused of “cramming women in ministry down our throats.”
By the time Jesus came into Galilee preaching and healing, the Israelites had been in exile over six hundred years. Jeremiah had promised that it would only be seventy years. Seventy years away from the land. Seventy years without the temple. Seventy years to contemplate their sins and bemoan their losses. Seventy years to reconnect with their God. And they had gotten back to the land. They had rebuilt the temple. They made sacrifices. They celebrated holidays once again. But it wasn’t what they expected. The glorious prophecies of Isaiah concerning the return from exile seemed to mock their present reality. It seemed to many people in Israel that the exile had been extended from seventy to nearly seven hundred years. Some Jews had begun to wonder if it would ever end!
In the media today there seems to be a discrepancy on how commercials portray women. We know that commercials are trying to get people to buy a certain product, but are commercials using women just to get people to buy a product by how they portray them, or are some companies trying to put out a more dignified portrayal of women?
In many of our modern movies and books we are bombarded by stories of men and women conquering adverse situations by being empowered by love for each other. They find much of their strength to persevere in the person they are in love with. They fight battles and conquer enemies to save the one they love.
I recently read a book called The Jedi Path which is a history and description of how the Jedi Order from Star Wars was created and how it was run. Although Star Wars is not a story intentionally made to be a Christian allegory, many themes do demonstrate Christ-like morals, actions, ideas, and principles. For all of you Star Wars fans, and even those who know little about these popular movies and books, you will find the resounding truth in Star Wars to be very encouraging.
Many engaged couples tend to read books together, and sometimes have a few pre-marital sessions with a counselor in preparation for marriage. When we were engaged, we too read books and met with our pastor, and understandably, both were invaluably helpful and hilariously uncomfortable. We also were lucky enough to stumble upon three key principles for a partnership in marriage through a hobby we both love: rock climbing. They are communication, trust, and give and take.
Few things bring me more joy than seeing the gospel incarnated in the different cultures of our world, and few things shed more light on the gospel. Each culture has the potential to reveal something of the nature of God and his love. I was reminded of this recently when I read two accounts about Bible translation in Cameroon, both distributed by Bob Creson, the president of Wycliffe USA.
In my dream, I sat at a table in a large room full to tables of laughing men and women. A man stood up and among other comments jokingly accused my friend, John, of having minimized women with a comment he had made the day before. Laughter and catcalls broke out across the room. Clearly he had thrown down the gauntlet and was expecting John to banter back. Instead, John said, "Someone else will answer for me. Ellen, why don't you tell him how I treat women?"
Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, people have never hated their own bodies, but they feed and care for them, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Eph. 5:18-33, TNIV).