By Anna Sieges
This past semester I taught a course on the women of the Bible. I have taught the course before and so I thought I knew what to expect. I was prepared for some moments of surprise, joy, wonder, and confusion from my students.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the anger.
Anger because of the lost storiesMy (all female) students were angry. They were angry that, despite growing up in the church, they had not heard the stories of these brave, muddled, wise, Spirit filled women.
One student mused: “I was discouraged by how much had been skipped over by the church… I feel misled by the church because of the way I was taught about the Bible.”
In a discussion about Rahab one student expressed anger because she felt that Rahab’s powerful expression of faith had been ignored: “I am so mad at the fact that Rahab and women in general are overlooked and viewed as unvaluable most times.”
After reading about Deborah and Jael one student said: “The more I learn in this class the more disappointed I become in my upbringing because of the lack of Biblical women I was taught about.”
“I’m angry that texts have been twisted, misinterpreted or completely removed from the pulpit.”
After reading about Bathsheba, students were incensed that they had never heard David called a rapist. One student wrote, “I almost want to get angry” and another commented, “You should totally get angry. I get SO ANGRY…not only about David raping Bathsheba but David’s treatment of women in general is disgusting.”
One student summarized her experience of reading about Mary, Martha, Phoebe, and Lydia this way: “I’m angry that texts have been twisted, misinterpreted or completely removed from the pulpit.”
Anger over the lost image of God
A tattoo, inspired by the class, depicting the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the deep.My students were also angry that no one had taught them that the Bible envisions God as a mother and not only a father. They were surprised to find that the Bible often uses feminine imagery to describe God.
One student remarked: “Who are we to limit God? When we refer to God only in the masculine, our language limits God. We create an idol that is an imaginary masculine God and that should make everyone angry.”
Another stated: “As Christians was are called to speak truth and to show people who God really is. If we, the Church, are not referring to God as having female attributes, then we are not really speaking truth.”
Anger over a biblical callingInterestingly, my students found it most infuriating that their churches had not nourished their (very biblical!) calls to ministry.
One student remarked to another after she shared about being overlooked for a ministry position: “I am furious at your experiences in church. You are following your God given calling to pursue ministry and that is incredible.”
Another student shared about an encounter with a family member after expressing her call to ministry, “She looked me straight in the face and told me- the Bible says that only men can be spiritual leaders. This statement infuriated me.”
Another shared her calling with a pastor who encouraged her to pursue children’s ministry. She explained that she wanted to preach and lead and minister to adults. The pastor replied, “Well, that’s nice but that sort of thing doesn’t really happen for girls.”
After completing the week’s reading another student expressed that she, “felt more anger than anything….so many people are so uneducated or brainwashed into thinking that women are subordinates to men but the reality is that God calls women too!”
And another joined: “I think after we study so many of these women in the Bible, it’s hard not to acknowledge the pattern of training and manipulation that keeps women subordinate.”
Zooming with my classThe semester was certainly transformative for them and for me. Their holy anger was an amazing grace to watch and experience. My students joined me for the BWIM NC symposium.
They were encouraged.
One student said, “I joined Dr. Sieges and my classmates and watched the symposium. I thoroughly enjoyed what was said by many of the women. These women (ministers!) said that our stories are so valuable and that they are meant to be shared. I believe that so many women in churches today believe that their story is not good enough because of what they have been taught. It felt good to be reminded that I am important.”
After hearing about BWIM NC’s commitment to opening doors for women in ministry, one student remarked, “No one has ever opened a door for me.” An older student who currently serves as a youth pastor replied, “I will. I will open doors for you.”
Anger transformed By the end of the semester, these student’s anger had transformed into a call to action.
One student reflected her newfound passion in this way: “It starts with us being bold and valuing the stories, the life, and calling that God has given to us!”
Another looked to the women of the Bible for encouragement in her own call to ministry: “I have seen myself in so many of the women that we have covered and whenever I get down about where women stand in the church today, I just look back at how great Biblical women were. These women were being constantly oppressed, but God continued to give them messages to preach.”
“I give because their work is biblical. I give because I’m angry that BWIM NC needs to exist at all. I give because women’s stories are valuable. I give because more doors need to be opened. I give for my students. The transformative power of holy anger called me to action this semester.”
Others remarked on the significant work remaining: “There is still so much to be done on behalf of women in ministry. We are such an impactful force that is just waiting to be released into the church!”
“Today there is still a stigma that women cannot lead as well as men and I HATE that people actually believe it…It is so important that we as women keep our heads held high and we continue to break the glass ceiling placed on us.”
Another noted that God is on the move and will not be stopped. “I now know that there are so many amazing women in the Bible that God chose to use to spread God’s love. Why would God stop now? It is so important that women continue to be leaders in the church so that someday the little girls that want to be pastors can have that dream fulfilled.”
Friends, this is why I give to BWIM NC. I give because their work is biblical. I give because I’m angry that BWIM NC needs to exist at all. I give because women’s stories are valuable. I give because more doors need to be opened. I give for my students. The transformative power of holy anger called me to action this semester. Please consider giving to this outstanding ministry.
You can give here: http://www.bwimnc.org/giving/
If you have any questions, email me at: email@example.com
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