My senior project is done and in. I wrote a paper about Jesus' relationship with women. What that looked like, what that meant for women then, what that means for us today. I am a poor judge of my own writing and I often think my writing sucks but somehow I pass, so I guess it's not as bad as I think. So of course I have no idea how good my paper is but regardless I loved it. I loved every part of this because of everything I learned and how it affected me on a personal level. Some of the best things I learned I didn't even use in my paper. I'm still processing a lot of it now that I can actually take a step back and soak in what I learned instead of putting it in thought form appropriate for a phenomenological paper.
Last summer when my teammates and I were planning out our lessons for AIM during O-week we were having problems figuring out what to say and teach. Then we got the advice that regardless of the problems you may be having theologically or with the church go back to Jesus. Go back to the root to the foundation and start from there. And I took that advice again. I was going to write on feminist theology but then I realized what I really wanted to know was what Jesus had to say about women. I wanted to know how I, as a woman, fit into Christianity. I wanted to know where my authority came from. I wanted to know in a world where women are told no and religion is used against them what Jesus was actually saying for them.
In the end I was sad and disappointed. I was sad and disappointed that women have been excluded from leadership due to an apostolic tradition that they were left out of not because of Jesus, but because of men with agendas that wrote down everything. I was sad that verses have been skewed and taken out of context to keep women in abusive relationships. I was frustrated because I feel like we follow Paul more then we follow Christ. I was sad and frustrated with women today who wrote that we are wrong to look for equality and to think that there were female disciples. I was angry that a Christian women author said that God could not possibly be female and then proceeded to quote verses that distinctly give God motherly attributes and said that these verses don't mean anything. I was sad that these types of books are sold and given to women within Christianity as authoritative. I was sad that we place so much weight in gender when God is non-gendered and Jesus was ontologically male but that means absolutely nothing to the grand scheme of who Jesus is and what his message is. I was sad that the first time I heard this revolutionary message of Christ's love and respect for women was in my senior thesis class and not in my church.
At the same time I was happy and filled with joy in the end. I was ecstatic that Jesus gave authority to women and included them within his disciples. I was ecstatic that there were three main women disciples. I was overjoyed that Martha was never in the kitchen. I was overjoyed that you do not have to choose between being a Martha or a Mary but that it is about a balance between them. I was happy to learn my history as a Christian female and wrestle with it. I was excited to see that Jesus called for an authentic existence between the sexes. I was encouraged that Jesus did not tell women that they should suffer silently but that they should stand up against unjust suffering. I loved that Jesus gave women voices and let them speak. I was happy to see women letting their hair down and Jesus affiriming them. I was happy to see women speaking out and speaking up in faith and Jesus affiriming them. I loved that without the women's testimony that Jesus was really dead and that his tomb was really empty then never would have been Christianity, because everyone else ran away. I was encouraged that redemptive readings are possible. I was encouraged that 10 women got into the party and that we need to watch for his coming and that these are two different stories are not one to hurt women. I love that acts of love are encouraged. I love that women are examples when men run away. I love that women have been there since the beginning and that Luke had the courage to write that down so that his community would know. I found joy in the fact that Jesus revealed his identity to women and that many believed because of women. I love that no one is excluded.
In the end I am determined more then anything else. I am determined to live like I have authority and that I have every right to be where I am and do what I want to do. I am determined to live the life Christ opened up to me as a women. I am determined.
The Five Virgins by Thomas Merton
There were five virgins
Who arrived for the Wedding of the Lamb
With their motor-scooters burned out
And their gas tanks
But since they knew how to
They were told to
Stick around anyhow.
So that's it: there were
Five rowdy virgins
But really caught up
In the action.
There were then ten virgins
At the Wedding of the Lamb.