let my people go

can i admit to you an ambivalence? i find myself stuck between two thoughts, two ways to 'be'.

a while ago i was listening to a sermon on the exodus, well actually if i'm honest i'm not sure i was totally listening, because it was one of those moments where preaching does what it is meant to do, it lived up to its sacramental calling, and it opened up a space in which God was speaking to me, and every so often the sound of the speaker's voice broke in but, it was really more a guide on the road that i was taking with God, than a definitive interpretation. anyway, the refrain 'let my people go' was left wringing in my ears, with that 'in your face' sense that for 'my people' - women - there is yet to be an exodus moment.

with this there was the overarching sense that we need God to raise up those who would be moses and proclaim in the face of Pharoah 'let my people go'. a few posts ago i made the point that it is important to hear men step up and fight against the prevailing sexism/misogyny/gynophobia or whatever it is that drives people to marginalise women. and it is important. but it is also no less important to raise up, or to be, those women who will proclaim loudly 'let my people go'.

so what is my ambivalence?

i spend quite a bit of time with people who don't think this way, they either are unsure about the extent of the problem, some are unsure their is a problem, some haven't even begun to think that there might be a problem. this is both within the church culture and without. so, believe it or not, i have to bite my tongue - a lot. when i find myself in debates about the validity of women in leadership i have to draw on every bit of me that might be gracious about that view, or those people who have that view, not because i actually care too much about what that person thinks of me, but because i believe that these debates are about something deeper, that they're about the fullness of humanity for every human being and that the world that we live in, which still sees it as inevitable that people are bought and sold, or sees it as unfortunate but feels powerless to do anything when women are beheaded for baring an inch of skin, or shrugs its shoulders at the fact that poverty in the world is for the majority born on the shoulders of women, or agrees with alan sugar that women of childbearing age should be discriminated against in the workplace, or or or... , is in need of a people of God who will be a prophetic witness.

so my question is this, when we talk about showing grace to those who would perpetuate views by which the world we live in continues to enslave women in many ways - what do we mean? who am i showing grace to - my brothers and sisters or my enemy? or are my brothers and sisters my enemy? i worry that in having these conversations that i validate a view which i think is pretty shit, which i think enslaves human beings and is anti-gospel and anti-christ. what does 'showing grace' mean in this context?

it's not that i am advocating hatred or bitterness. i'm hoping that i've done a good journey with that - but i do hate the view that women are lesser humans. what does grace mean?

what does it mean for those who believe these things? what does it mean for the woman trafficked into london this month? what does it mean for me?


Rachel said...

Oh Jody - thank you for this - once again you articulate what I'm going through. I tuned into this just after responding in conversation to someone on my blog, which left me feeling 'wiped out' - and I guess I mean that in the modern sense of its usage and theologically - it's an interesting phrase. In my post about The Shack this postee delivers that oftentime heard articulation that a reading of the Bible which prohibits women ministering to congregations which contain men is the 'plain' reading of the Bible. So I write my response, then I re-write it with my WWJD ethos and try to articulate my viewpoint with more grace but I feel burdened and that this is going to be an arduous journey but I continue undeterred and assured that my discernment is sound and God has a plan for me - a woman! God has a plan for me!

Big sigh


love Rach

jody said...

rachel :) - i have no doubt that God has called you to the place you are now, as painful as that might feel sometimes, and believe me, i know.

i knew when we met that st john's would be one of your 'thin places' and that you would find a nourishment of your calling there.

keep going, keep talking, keep writing, keep thinking. God will use it all, and when you feel tired, rest in God - because one thing that i am learning more and more is that i need the grace offered to me, by God and by God through other people, we are going to make mistakes, but grace is big enough.

Jenny Baker said...

I had a similar conversation with a friend yesterday who is a vicar. She met with a local Baptist minister to find out what he's doing in the area and to see whether they could work together, as she's new in the area. Firstly he said that he couldn't meet her on his own, so his wife had to be present. And then he told her that she was living in sin and was in error because she was a woman in leadership and there was no way he could work with her. She was left feeling shaky and condemned but didn't want to label him in the way that she felt he was labelling her. But it's difficult to just say 'you're entitled to your opinion and I'll have mine' on an issue that seems so fundamental to who we are as human beings.

By the way, Jody, I've added your blog to the members' blog page on the Sophia Network site - I hope that's ok! Thanks for your comment on there the other day - I'm keen to get a bit more interaction going!

jody said...

hi jenny

wow, that's pretty grim. there's so much of that around

there is also need for ongoing conversation about how we 'do' being colleagues in a way that means the relationships are 'nourished' or healthful.

but i still have hope :)

and yes, that's fine about the connection on the sophia website - it's been a good place to 'be' in cyberspace :)