Did I check all the right boxes?Read More
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, the Apostle Paul reminds us of the good news that “we are being transformed into his image.” We are mirrors of God to the world around us; it is our privilege to reflect Him to others.Read More
This post is part of the Rachel Held Evans synchroblog event “One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality.” You can follow this event on Twitter by entering #mutuality2012 to read the entries by participating bloggers. Isn’t it telling which accounts from the Bible we use to shape our understandings of God, ourselves and our place in the world?
Earlier this week, author and blogger Rachel Held Evans made the point that “when it comes to womanhood, many Christians tend to read the rest of scripture through the lens of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 rather than the other way around.”
11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
I was just reading the first few chapters of Luke. The angel Gabriel visits Zechariah and tells him that Zechariah and Elizabeth will have a child (improbable because of their advanced age). Then a few months later, Gabriel visits Mary and tells her she will carry the Son of God.
By reading this passage through the lens of 1 Timothy 2:11-15, we might have expected this account to play out differently. Luke tells us that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God” (Luke 1:6). Wouldn’t we have expected Luke to say that Zechariah was righteous, but that Elizabeth needed to be saved through bearing this child (1 Tim 2:15)? And we might have expected that Elizabeth would be silenced, so she couldn’t disrupt the work of the Holy Spirit, rather than Zechariah being rendered mute until Elizabeth had spoken the name of their son. But that’s not the way it happened.
And then consider when Gabriel told Mary she would carry Jesus. If these events had met with the expectations of 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Gabriel would have appeared to Joseph instead of Mary, right? Given him the message for her? Or at the very least, wouldn’t he have reminded Mary to “check with your fiancé”? Gabriel probably wouldn’t have told Mary “you are highly favored” (Luke 1:28), but instead he would said “if you do this, you will be highly favored. God will save you if you have this child.” Salvation for all of us comes through her childbirth – because she bore Jesus. But it’s not like she had to do this to earn God’s favor.
But that’s not the way it happened either. God chose to speak straight to Mary through Gabriel, to ask her to do something very important. He didn’t do it through her husband, and He didn’t tell her that this act of obedience would save her. He called her personally and directly and asked her to do something that took courage and strength, just as He continues to call other women personally and directly too – throughout the Bible and into today – to do things that required courage and strength: Miriam, Deborah, Mary Magdalene, Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Elliot, Mother Teresa, Christine Kane, Margaret Feinberg, Katherine Leary Asdorf, Stephanie Summers.
The church needs to be a place where the direct and personal call of God upon women to act on His behalf is celebrated. When Christians use one or two passages (like 1 Timothy or 1 Corinthians 14) to shape our worldview of women and their roles in society, we are failing to embrace a wholly Biblical view of how God spoke to women and acted through them, and continues to do so today.
Last week I wrote about International Women’s Day and encouraged you to do something to honor or help the women around you.
As I was writing that blog post, I was wondering to myself: “What am I going to do?” I told myself I would pray for an opportunity.
Without having time to utter even one prayer, I found an email in my inbox asking me for a BIG FAVOR. My friend Lydia works for an organization called Restoration Ministries –a Christian organization seeking to bring healing and wholeness to men, women and children trapped in sex trafficking here in D.C.
Restoration Ministries held its annual benefit concert this past Friday night, and their emcee had to cancel at the last minute. Lydia was emailing to ask me to fill in.
This was a big favor for her? Just the thought of it was such an honor for me. And it was an answer to a prayer I hadn’t even prayed yet. This was what I would do to honor women for International Women’s Day.
The Domestic Sex Trade
To prepare for the evening I started researching domestic sex trafficking.
To me, sex trafficking used to be something far away. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Asia and that was my mental picture of the sex trade. Young girls, taken from their families in the rural parts of Thailand or India, offered a job as a housemaid for a rich family in the big city. The next thing they know, they’re on a stage, wearing a number, waiting to have their bodies sold.
But I started reading stories of young women from D.C. (the average age for women to enter the commercial sex industry is 12-14 years old). These women have often been tricked by their families, abused by their families, and sold by their families. Many of these girls don’t even know what has happened to them.
Seriously? This is what is going on in the city around me? I had no idea.
I welcomed everyone and shared that I was in learning mode, that I was not an expert in sex trafficking. Thankfully my job was to interview the experts. I interviewed the founder of Restoration Ministries and one of their caseworkers. They talked about trafficking in D.C. and the range of problems they are working to address. Candace Wheeler, Restoration Ministries’ founder explained that prostitution is a symptom of an underlying problem. Megan, one of RM’s case-workers explained the range of issues they are trying to address – from family strife to academic struggles to sexual health. They have their hands more than full.
I then shared a story a young girl who Restoration Ministries has been working with for four years who recently decided to go back to her pimp. It was an unsettling story, and it made these issues very real.
But I also encouraged everyone to think about how they could change that reality. When we allow our hearts to be burdened for those in need, when we allow our lives to be rearranged so we can free up time or finances to give to ending domestic human trafficking, we can help change reality.
The music, by Bethany and the Guitar, was awesome. I encourage you to take a listen on their website.
I don’t know how much was raised, or how many new people learned about domestic trafficking. But I know my perspectives were changed. And I know that I have a new burden about a problem I didn’t even know about.
International Women’s Day
It’s not too late – what will you do to mark the day?
Some other resources on human trafficking/sex trafficking:
- Nomi Network: Currently serving women in South and South East Asia, Nomi Network is a non-profit based in New York City dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty that is caused by human trafficking globally. (Bethany and the Guitar, the band that played Friday night also partners with the Nomi Network)
- iEmpathize: a child advocacy and media movement that creates and collaborates with grassroots solutions that impact vulnerable and victimized children. Working in the US and Mexico with development projects in Russia and SE Asia, they implement strategies in the field while inspiring culture to empathize and engage.
- Polaris Project: Named after the North Star that guided slaves towards freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking and serving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims, including men, women, and children.
Advent is a Latin word which means “coming” or “beginning.”
I grew up in a church that observed the liturgical calendar. But to be honest, many of the traditions and rituals were lost on me. I knew what I was supposed to do, at what point in the service, but I didn’t know why.
In college I started attending non-denominational churches, which often didn’t follow the liturgical calendar. For a time, the break from traditions was good for me: it allowed me to make sure my “religious actions” came from my own faith, not just because it was the right time of the service (or year) to do that particular thing.
But in the past few years I’ve been rediscovering the rhythms of the church calendar. I’m seeing these traditions – that used to have limited meaning for me – in a whole new light. I’m finding out how the rituals are steeped in significance and are really useful for focusing your heart and mind on God and learning more about Him.
To help me anticipate Christmas this year, I’ve been reading “A Jesus Advent Celebration” by Ann Voskamp. It’s wonderful – every day has a short scripture reading that shows how history was pointing to Jesus long before He was born. She writes a brief commentary and includes a small exercise or application point.
Here are a few reasons I think you should check it out:
- It’s accessible – she includes the day’s scripture right there. And she is a gifted writer, painting pictures with her words in the commentary portion
- It’s short – it takes me about 10 minutes each day
- It helps me keep the true meaning of Christmas as my focus
- It’s free! She’s giving it away!
Check it out!
ps – don’t have any concern that you are “starting late” – we’re not even halfway through Advent. Just jump in today. Or - read two per day till you catch up if you're worried about missing anything.