Thursday 14th December 2023
A comment made on a post on my facebook page recently suggested that religion is bad news for women.
And it may shock some of you to know that I largely agree.
Religion is so often used to put down, subjugate and control women. That’s what religion has always done, control people.
“Why are you a Christian then, Sally?” I hear you ask. Sometimes I’m not sure I can answer that question myself, so far, I believe has the religion that has built up around the teachings of the Revolutionary known as Jesus of Nazareth strayed from his actual teachings. However, I am a theist, I do believe there is a God, and I do follow the teachings of Jesus, and as such that makes me a Christian, however much I object to the power and control we see manifest in religion. In fact, it’s that dislike that makes me want to follow Jesus, because he didn’t much like religion either, he certainly didn’t come to start one. But I digress.
So, it’s nearly Christmas, let me remind you what we celebrate at Christmas, and why it’s such good news for women. If you’re a Christian woman, I hope you’ll take away from this that “you are enough” if you are not a Christian, well, I still hope you’ll take away from this that you are enough, and I hope you’ll also take away that not all of us Christian women are meek mild, desperate housewives.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who contrary to popular belief was not a blonde haired blue eyed perfect baby with a halo round his head, born in a beautifully tended warm farmyard scene with a halo round his head.
Jesus was a dark haired, brown skinned, middle eastern boy, born in poverty to an unwed teenage mum. He would grow up to be a trouble causing homeless man who so upset the “system” of his day that it had him killed. When Mary, probably little more than 14 or 15 found out she was going to become an unwed mother in a society that treats them, well, a bit worse than they do today, you know what she did? She spouted poetry. Not just any poetry, revolutionary poetry. She fully believed that through her child God wanted to “scatter the proud” “bring down the powerful from their thrones” “lift up the lowly” “fill the hungry with good things” and “send the rich away empty”
Now you might believe Mary was a religious nut, you might believe as some do that she was a rape victim who concocted a story about a virgin birth to save her shame (I don’t believe that, but some do) or you might believe that she was the mother of God incarnate. But whatever you believe about Mary, you cannot imagine a meek, mild mannered “nice Christian girl” singing songs about revolution. Mary was a kid, a teenager, probably a similar age top Greta Thungberg when she displayed a badass feminine warrior spirit. Revere her or don’t but do not think she or her cries for justice can be silenced.
See, Mary wasn’t the only badass unacceptable woman in Jesus family, he came from a long line of them, I imagine Mary proudly telling him when he was a child, the stories of his ancestors, Ruth, Rahab, Tamar and Bathsheba, telling him that if it were not for these mighty women, who refused to accept being the second class citizens men believed them to be, then he wouldn’t be here. I imagine her teaching her son to stand up for women like Tamar, forced through their circumstances to use their cunning to get justice, I imagine her telling him to demand justice for rape victims like Bathsheba accused of adultery, to treat illegal immigrants like Ruth with love and generosity, to protect the dignity of sex workers like his great great great (etc) grandmother Rahab. These women, all women society rejected, that men said “you’re not acceptable” these “not-good-enough women” are believed, by Christians to have been absolutely instrumental in the birth of who we believe to be the most important figure in human history. We believe these “sinful women” as the religious types like to call them to have been hand-picked, chosen by God, for their tenacity, their strength of character and their love, just as Mary was, to play a really important role in his plan for the world.
And of course, we know Jesus grew up to defend the rights of sex workers, to protect so called adulterers, to treat foreign women heaped with shame with more than simply respect. He elevated women, he placed them in the same positions as men in his work, he had at least one female disciple that we know of, he was funded by women, he chose a woman as the first evangelist, and for anyone who dare =d to challenge those women on their rights he had three simple words
Leave. Her. Alone.
This Christmas, we celebrate that God looks at all of us and says You Are Enough, and to anyone who dare challenge that message he says:
“Leave her alone”