I don’t profess to be a feminist, not that feminism is a bad thing. It’s just that I, like most women, would just like to be appreciated and accepted for who I am which includes being a woman, though not by all means, all I am. I am a black woman, a mother, an educated, opinionated, sister, daughter and a friend. None of these things define me completely, singly or together and I’m sure I’m one or another of all these things one at a time or sometimes, possibly all at once.
One thing I would like to be defined as completely, though, is a Christian and as a Christian woman, I often found my self challenged , about being divorced, being a single parent and being a woman in a leadership position.
Ever since I can remember there has always been a question about the role of women as leaders in the church. The questions are still being asked as we speak, as the Church of England discusses the role of women as Bishops.
For my part, I searched for answers, I read the Bible, listened to sermons and prayed. I didn’t feel strongly about it one way or another, I was just sometimes surprised to find some of the stereotypes of women bandied about in Church.
I think a turning point came for me when I wrote an Easter article for a church magazine, Outflow, called The Fall and Rise of Mary Magdalene, who is often referred to as the disciple’s apostle, because she was the first to see Jesus after he rose from the dead and went to tell the others. All the male disciples had turned back, accepting the matter of fact position that Jesus was dead, buried and wasn’t coming back. It was Mary’s steadfast faith and love for Jesus that led her to his grave and caused her to be the first to see him in his risen state. I subsequently adapted the article into a play, which was staged at my church at the time, called the Mary Monologues.
Through all this writing and exploring, I realised that throughout the bible, God used both men and women to achieve his purposes on earth. From Deborah, to Rahab and Ruth, God was not concerned with a woman’s status, married or single, divorced or living with many men, as was the Samaritan woman. God used her to proclaim the Gospel in that region after she met Jesus at the well.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, ‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.’
Christ united the church and made us one in him, men and women.