The powerful love of God for women
The ESV translation of the Bible, the most recent translation and widely used because of it’s closeness to the original Greek, even though footnoting every mention of brothers (Acts 12:17: “tell these things to James and to the brothers…”), with 'Or brothers and sisters', continues to translate the Greek only as brothers. In fact, in this particular passage the brothers were gathered at a woman’s home, Mary’s, who no doubt had already scrounged up the first century’s equivalent of a few bowls of chips and guacamole to feed the brothers.
Chips and guacamole example notwithstanding, I’m not bashing men here. If you think I am, you’re an idiot.
I’ve developed the habit, after years of faithfully scanning down the page to assure myself that yes, the closest translation is indeed “brothers and sisters,” of translating the passage in my head to include the ‘sisters’ part, of inserting my gender, because, well, I’m included in this big, wondrously mysterious story, and I like to remind myself of this. It’s a visceral and not an intellectual thing, I’m well aware that women are included in all these passages, but it makes me feel good to do this. It just does.
Historically, women have had to fight for what they want. They were pernicious and persevering. They held the objects of their love tight to their chests and fought like a young David (i.e. with great faith) to preserve it.
Rahab, Ruth, Mary Magdalene, the Syrophoenician woman (“even the dogs get the crumbs from the table”), all wisely and intelligently understood the glory of heaven and the only thing that satisfies. Two of these women, with great faith, preserved the lineage of the messiah, two the gospel itself. And far from taking off their shirts and bras—this, the seventies version of feminism—and waving them around above their heads in an act of proud defiance over years of oppression, they took their case humbly to the Lord—again, with great faith—longing to experience their rightful place among the saints. Acting with both powerful silence and loud, full-bodied strength, they made their way through history towards the goal of their desires; the love of God displayed in Christ Jesus.
It’s my belief that God loves women uniquely, and in a crazy, nonsensical way that I think somehow involves passion, even “more” (please don’t misunderstand me here) than men. God has given women the honor of a nonpareil fight: a fight that involves an awful lot of faith and a deep desire for him.
Historically, Satan has fought long and hard to deplete the feminine voice. Just look at a woman in a burka. Mute beneath a carpet of dark, she’s lucky if she can see out. In fact, often burkas even hide the eyes. A thinner, see-through cloth covers them. At least she’s able to navigate enough to keep her kid from the fire and herself from smacking into walls. Yay. Forget driving a car or going to school.
And for a western bent on the same general idea, add the sexualizing, the objectification. Same scheme, different tactic. Women become nothing. They are distilled down to a body. Just a body, no feelings, no brains, no soul. Perfect. The lineage of Jesus, the kingdom of Jesus, stopped short.
Praise the woman who let down a basket over the city wall and saved her family. Praise the woman who followed her mother-in-law into uncertainty and obedience because she was devoted to her mother-in-law’s God. Praise the woman who knew that the love and power of God was strong enough to forgive even her own, despicable sin. Praise the woman, the humble woman, who was willing to take anything she could get because she knew crumbs were better than nothing at all. Praise the child who grew into a woman, who developed breasts, and didn’t flinch when she found herself nursing the God of the universe.
Women are strong and they love God. They love God. If you are a woman and are reading this; go, be strong and courageous, and go.