I had a twitter conversation with someone recently about whether God’s model for humanity involves hierarchy and whether his model for marriage involves headship. My view was that hierarchy and headship are not from God, his was that they are God’s constructs. This is how it ended:
Them: “Yes, it’s clear from both of you that men have abused their position. However, just because they have does not make almost all of the arguments you’re offering. If you are saved, then you simply cannot ignore scripture, or reduce it to fit your needs or argument. I say this not because I’m a bloke, but because it’s God’s word!”
Me: “But perhaps in part you can say that because you haven’t been abused by those Scriptures.”
Them: “..and THATS the issue.”
The person I was conversing with then left Twitter and I was left trying to deduce what he meant by his statement. Although afterwards I said I didn’t understand what he meant, he has not clarified his meaning and so I am left wondering.
The conclusion I have come to about his comment was that he somehow thinks that my having been abused through the use of headship and hierarchy puts me in a less capable position to be able to see how God views these things. That somehow his privilege at not knowing first hand the damage hierarchy and patriarchy does means he is in a better position to understand the Scriptures. Perhaps that I am too emotionally involved with this issue to really “get” what God is saying.
[Of course, this may not be what he was saying, and if I’ve misinterpreted his view, I apologise, but I shall continue with this blog as I believe even if this man doesn’t believe this stuff, there are plenty of people who do.]
Firstly I would like address the idea that being emotionally involved with an issue means we are less able to have a suitable perspective on it. God came to earth as a human baby, how much more emotionally involved does it get than that? Jesus lived, died and was resurrected in a state of complete vulnerability. Throughout the Bible we see God relating to Israel as an emotionally involved Father. Jesus calls us to love sacrificially; he calls us blessed when we mourn and when we are merciful. Being emotionally involved is not only an asset when making theological decisions, it is essential.
It is only as we see the true consequences of the theology we hold, that we can make decisions as to whether it is God’s heart or mans understanding. Just as the Pharisees spent their lives running around trying to obey rules that they had missed the heart of, so many of us Christians are busy trying to stay true to teachings that we don’t understand, blaming God’s sovereignty on perpetuating teaching that abuse, damage or undermine people’s humanity.
I understand people’s reluctance at picking and choosing Scripture, but have we learnt nothing from Jesus’ response to the religious leaders? Blaming it on the rules isn’t good enough! Jesus came into the place and time He did and blasted apart the religious views of the time. He advocated a radical third way, in which the heart is more significant than the letter could ever be; in which the least became the greatest and the most sinful more capable of redemption.
I resist anybody who tries to tell me that the fact I was subjected to abuse by my ex-husband, or having listened to the horrific stories of many Christian women, who have been abused by their “Christian” husbands makes me less able to understand what God is saying. God has truly healed me from the abuse and trauma caused to me, and yet my heart is broken for the abuse and hurt in this beautiful world. It is broken for the women and children that suffer, for the men who destroy lives, for a society that accepts abuse and for a Church that perpetuates it with teaching of hierarchy and headship. This does not make me less able to understand theology. This is theology.