Pushback....

"The patriarchy system that God apparently condoned subjected women by restricting their access to social and cultural power."


[Note: This is a simple summary of the detailed data in the syllabus. Refer there for sources/discussion. Updated: 01/02/97]
There are two main problems I have with this.

One, it seems to be factually incorrect relative to the OT--women apparently developed increasing amounts of 'access' over time (contra Lerner, WS:TCP:176-177).

From the sage-like power of the Matriarchs, through the Wise Women of I Samuel, through the Wisdom-Woman in Proverbs, through the prophetesses, to the Queen-mothers, there was tremendous power exerted by women.

Women had the ear of kings, and, as the main 'newspaper' in Israel, had 'control' of the message of national history (cf. I Sam 18.7-8!).

Women of wealth and power are mentioned throughout the text (e.g. Miriam, patron of Elisha, Abigal, Queen of the South, Esther), although many powerful Jewish women abused this power and oppressed/exploited the poor (e.g. Amos 4.1; Is 3.11-17; Ezek 16.38).

We have already seen how they had access to legal power, and the widespread practice of 6-year servants (contracted by SOMEONE more wealthy!), means that affluence among some women was not unheard of!

If one takes the biblical narratives and 'adjusts for' (1) the large number of featureless male names in genealogies/lists; and (2) the large number of male characters in military scenes, one becomes impressed with how many participants in the biblical narratives are female, AND, with how much more often their words are recorded in more detail. (Remember, the longest quotes, songs, prayers, etc.--apart from GOD and an occasional king--originate with women).

At least in the OT documents, women do NOT seem to face major difficulties in being used by God to further His kingdom!

The second problem I have with this pushback is theological.

Simply stated, "access to social and cultural power" is NOT a Judeo-Christian value! "Access to servanthood" is! Compare the words of Jesus Christ:

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mrk 10.42ff)
And He specifically told us to be faithful with what we CURRENTLY HAVE, and that "access to power" is a increased responsibility that comes from the Lord:
"His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. (Mt 25.21)
Now this is NOT to say that "access to social and cultural power" is a BAD thing; only that it can easily be distorted into a 'lust for power' that is decidedly un-Christian.

And this is NOT to say that we should refuse "access to social and cultural power"--the wealthy were told to USE their resources for God (I Tim 6.17f: Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.), unless that wealth stopped them from coming to Jesus--in which case it needed to be "de-prioritized" radically--cf. The Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18.18ff.

It is obvious in the way God used women in the OT that He considered many, many of them faithful stewards, who earned more responsibility in the course of their lives. They did not necessarily seek it, but they were faithful in "the place where God called them" (I Cor 7.17,20,24).

Power is simply NOT a 'thing to be sought after'--Zech 4.6:So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: `Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

So, the objection is factually wrong, but more importantly, it is misguided in the value-system it represents.


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