Definition of idolatry
Definition of ideology
I started this post several times, wanting to be positive, a bit less controversal, and with propriety. I couldn’t do it because I did promise a sense of wild abandon, so here goes. I seem to take umbrage with almost every angle of the state of women in our world today. I am sickened by movements to censure, mutilate, deny education, control and retract any advances made through history. And yet, I take as much umbrage with a culture that objectifies, sexualizes, and at the opposite end values a woman based on some prudish matronly definition of goodness. Seriously people, what in the sam hill is going on?
Jesus set the standard so clearly in his ministry. Women were of great value to him; especially women who chose his instruction over what culture restricted them to, check out the Mary and Martha story…( I blogged about it here, maryfrancesflood.com/2012/06/18/im-a-mary-and-not-a-martha/. I think women owe Jesus a great deal for the place that he brought us to…and with that comes responsibility. We, as women, must take a stand against those who would force us to lose the sacred ground that many fought so hard to attain. So where the hell do I stand?
While I am plagued with fear when I hear most men speak of rape, whether on a college campus, foreign soil, a military base or from the mouth of a politician, I have to admit that I am plagued with as much fear at the cavalier attitude and sexually charged culture in this country. While I think we should celebrate our physical bodies, I am tired of how sex inundates our culture. I don’t want to see young women run around in their underwear, or clothing designed to cradle a man’s package. While I am not a prude…I say EEEWWWWW! The pervasiveness of sex in just about everything is a problem for me. Being a good lover by today’s standards is understood by sexual prowess and not in the way the gospel intended. Getting better at sex will never help us get better at love…PERIOD. And it won’t help us reclaim our power either.
I have thought long and hard about whether or not my attitude is based on my aging form and diminishing beauty…and then that very thought even pissed me off! Who defined aging and beauty anyway? Well, I include myself when I say we all had a hand in that too. With age, I’ve gained great experience and education and was for a moment ready to hold those accomplishments at a lesser value than my aging appearance…and yet, in all truthfulness I understand why. We live in a culture that worships youth and marginalizes maturity. Look at the amount of money that goes into physical beauty; the money women spend on achieving some skewed idea of youthful perfection is tragic. We could save all the starving children in the world many times over, if we allowed ourselves to age naturally and dump our obsession with beauty regimens.
I’m not saying as women, we can’t try to be beautiful and celebrate our sexuality. But if we aren’t working as hard for the standard the Jesus set, i.e. we are as valuable as any man, and are offered the same gift of grace, with the same expectations for our behavior…then we’ve failed on a massive level. Let’s be better at loving, starting with ourselves.
The story of Mary and Martha is one of my favorites in scripture. When, in response to Martha’s rebuke against her sister for not helping her with her chores, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and affirms Mary for choosing the better course, it gave the direction of my soul an authentication and authority straight from the mouth of God. Sure, it may be easy to say that most everyone would choose to listen to the Son of God over doing housework, but for me it was so much more than that. The affinity that I have for education and learning parallels another’s for sports, or music. It is when I’m in the pursuit of new information to broaden my ever-expanding world that I feel the happiest, hopeful and most successful. Had I been Martha’s sister, I wouldn’t have sat smugly listening to Jesus retort to my sister, I would have quickly stuck out my tongue at my nagging sister in an infantile vindication of my chosen path…and sadly, today it would literally be hanging out all the time. It is sad that in today’s culture I almost feel the need to apologize for all the sheepskin trailing behind me. I readily acknowledge the talents of the men in my house, that their affinity for sports, health or acuity in computers largely remains uncontested. But whenever intelligence or education comes up, I’m just being arrogant or a know-it-all. And that is just unfair. I attended the classes, I did the work, I wrote every paper, attended every class, finished every internship, and I finished and paid for every degree. And like some are just really adept at sports or a host of other talents…my brain may be more adept for knowledge than a lot of other people…it is neither good or bad, it just is.
The greatest irony, though, lies in the fact that once done listening to Jesus…I’m sure Mary was up half the night doing chores because I’m pretty sure not one of the disciples pitched in to cover the slack. Sadly, that is the tenure of the workings of my house as well. Am I suited to the domestic arts because I am a woman? Compared to the men at my house, that would be a yes…but only because they all miss the common sense gene that is necessary to maintain a household. Otherwise, I would never choose the task…but I suck it up and do it anyway because I don’t want to suffer bodily harm because “someone” thought the wood floors would look pretty if they sprayed a whole can of pledge on them making them dangerous to walk on with socks, or being so excited to eat the soup they cooked, they forget to turn off the burner. In my family, support for the men in my house falls to me, because it seems that most obvious and best way we can all be successful and stay alive. Even though the men in my house don’t always appreciate the synergy that my role has created..my big brain does. Most importantly it was and is my choice to do so and not because of some predilection to some inherent role women are supposed to play. Most days I do feel that I made the right choice pursuing so many different academic roads, even though it may be more difficult to show the success of those degrees financially or when my arms are knee-deep in a toilet or answering phones at our clinic. I do think it makes be better at everything I do. Which brings me to the most important point.
I remember those brave women who have fought for us so that we are availed equal opportunities to utilize our God-given gifts and follow our dreams, whatever they may be. So I fear a back slide into a past that held us to a propriety that was more a mask of control than anything else. It does make me angry at those men in the world who claim superiority as their God-given right, especially under the auspices of scripture. Why does one line from Paul in his letter to the Ephesians hold greater weight than the words and actions of Jesus? In the Gospels, the conversations he has with women make clear the regard he has for them as people. Mary, learning at Jesus knee was credited for making the greater choice…the operative word being “choice…” something women didn’t have much of in Jesus time, yet I am continuously befuddled at those who would judge women for making the same choice today. My choice to play a supportive role in my family is a result balancing talents and what works best for us…not because of some preordained role dictated by God. Submitting to any man has never been within my realm of experience…just ask my father, brothers, husband and sons. But I have chosen to stand in support of many men in my life, which I can do while still sharing the vast stores of knowledge in my big brain. Whether they listen is another story….