Firsts, Erasure, & Radical Equality
This week there was a hashtag in the Twitterverse that highlighted the problematic fusion of sexism and Christianity #thingsonlychristianwomenhear. The comments ranged from the ridiculousness of only women's bodies and clothing being policed in Christian communities to the horrors of women being encouraged and told to stay in violent and abusive relationships because "God hate's divorce" to cognitive dissonance like "I'm pretty much an egalitarian, but I don't think I could ever respect a female head pastor." What the majority of the statements listed under this hashtag at is the imbalanced and double gendered standards that are at play for those who identify as female, even in progressive spaces such as our community. It is a reminder that the fullness of Christ's Good News or Gospel has yet to be experienced by many of the people of God. The experience and freedom of women, as well as other marginalized people, in the story of God both textually and on going has been meant with limiting and erasing views harming not only those who are identified as female but the community as a whole. When stories or lenses for engaging the text are silenced or missing, it becomes very easy to miss important things.
I was struck by something Ryan mentioned in his Easter sermon, that Mary Magdalene was the first person to preach the Risen Christ, through her encounter with Christ and subsequently telling the other disciples. And yet she is often only remembered as that prostitute (different Mary) or the woman Christ freed from the seven demons. She is rarely remember as the faithful disciple of Christ, one of the few people (mainly women) at the foot of the cross while he is executed by the state, or the first person to encounter the risen Christ and the first person to preach of Christ Resurrected. Mary, and all the other women sited in the biblical text for courage, creativity, faith , etc, are erased and silenced by early and subsequent church leadership that didn't truly believe in the radical equality offered in the person of Christ and the Gospel of Christ.(Galatians 3:26-28) "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." In Christ there is a radically shared equality that breaks down all socially constructed limitations and barrier. And so the constructed boundaries remained and the church was harmed and is harmed by the upholding of silence and erasure. Mary Magdalene the first pastor is only remembered as that demon possessed sinner, and in 2017 women are still shamed and silenced and people are still unjustly executed and harmed and we continue to allow modern forms of slavery. So what can we do? How can we embody news that is truly good? What does it look like for us to allow Christ to continue breaking down barriers that we have constructed? How will we engage in the radical equality of the Risen Christ?