A few weeks ago, I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a day. I stopped for about twelve hours between night buses to see the sights, including a beautiful, vibrant mosque near the center of town. I did some online research on dress protocol beforehand: cover your skin, wear something on your head, take your shoes off. Nothing unexpected. I had a scarf and a maxi skirt in my backpack for this purpose. I was happy to be respectful, and excited for a new experience. I arrived at the mosque, circled around to the front, and . . . walked away. I felt nervous, suddenly, and upset.
Consent: a word so bland I once found it almost ugly. Why would I base my framework for romantic relationships on a word as flippant and perfunctory as a waiver to have my photo taken? Bodies and relationships are deeply important to me as a Christian. Naturally, sex is also deeply important to me. Even after I left purity culture behind, I still searched for a rich, God-honoring sexual ethic. Consent seemed like a pretty bare standard for behavior.
As women we should be encouraged. We may be soft on the outside, but we’re strong and mighty in spirit. We are God’s secret weapons and the enemy knows it. He takes us seriously, even when others don’t. The enemy’s strategy has been to keep us quiet and in hiding. But God is doing an end run. He is going to release so many of us at once that the enemy is not going to know what hit him!
In recovering from anorexia, I had to relearn how to read Scripture, not as separate, disjointed messages colored by the voices of male “authority” around me, but as a whole, creative, redemptive narrative of God’s journey of trust with God’s people.
You see, I have been called. Deep within me is a passion for justice, a burning desire to see women freed and systems changed, to see the playing field leveled for all people, regardless of race, gender, economic status, ancestry, or ethnicity.
For those of us whose journey toward understanding and embracing biblical equality has been a winding path full of pain and epiphanies, the immense value of our role models is deeply felt. Sometimes this value is felt so deeply that it may even take us by surprise—a surprise of joy, when through the window of God’s grace, we get a glimpse of just how powerful the impact of these role models has been.
Hannah was a young woman with deep desires and a love for God. Like me, she was broken and weary. She cried out to God, deeply wounded by the fact that she could not live up to her community’s expectation for women: motherhood.