What if Mary were “the disciple Jesus loved”? What if Esther were a woman “after God’s own heart”? What if Junia were the primary writer of the New Testament epistles? What if God created them – both female and male – in the image of the divine? What if the story we’ve believed – about hierarchy, about power, about apostolic succession – is really just a story of what we’ve become, not the story of what we were or what we were meant to be? What if the story of freedom is the real story?
If it’s not true, then the Church is a tool of oppression.
If it’s true, then the Church as organic, egalitarian community has succumbed to a masculine culture.
That’s what’s called a lose-lose proposition. And the only way to deal with it is straight on. We have to face what we really are. We have to deal with the mess we’ve made. We have to admit that doing so will take both time and work. Hard work. And a lot of time.
We start by re-imagining what it means to be the Church, and starting with an inversion of gender shows us one possible beginning. What if “womankind” stood for all humanity? What if “Jesus came to save all women”? What if we only spoke of the “motherhood of God”?
When we laugh aloud (or privately scoff) at such a suggestion, we reveal the truth of the argument. Whatever it is that makes us uncomfortable deserves further inspection.
I’m not arguing for the feminization of theology or of the Church. Instead, I’m arguing for freedom and for a freedom that extends to all. My hope is that the Church might become truly counter-cultural, truly transformational, truly revolutionary, that the Church might become Christ’s body, offering saving grace and liberation to a culture in chains.
What if the story we’ve believed is really just a story of what we’ve become