Setting: The Temple (built by King Herod), ~ 33 a.d.
A rich Jewish man had hosted his distant kinfolk and friends in Jerusalem for the better part of the month. They were celebrating together the success of their latest business venture as well as Passover; rather, they would have were it not for the events of the last week. The one called Jesus of Nazareth had arrived, and that seemed to be the start of the disturbance. Everything that followed began and ended with him. It was said that even now he was being crucified, but the host did not have the stomach to see such a gruesome display. He suggested that they all visit the Temple, which was sure to be unusually quiet and peaceful in these trying times.
The magnificence of the place was beyond imagining, but some of his friends were soon disappointed when The host translated the warning for them:
IS TO GO BEYOND THE BALUSTRADE
AND THE PLAZA OF THE TEMPLE ZONE
WHOEVER IS CAUGHT DOING SO
WILL HAVE HIMSELF TO BLAME
FOR HIS DEATH
WHICH WILL FOLLOW
So they were left behind in the Court of the Foreigner as they could go no further in. The rest of the group were again separated as this was The Court of the Women and there was a separate entrance for the wives. They were allowed only so far in and no further.
Then the host and his male relatives were allowed into the court of men, but even they could not go much further in as there was the court of priests and then past that the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could enter at high festival times. So they remained to pray. While they were doing do, an earthquake shook the building and the curtain tore in two, allowing them to look into the Holy of Holies. The awe of this reached even to the ladies and foreigners who looked beyond the gates in their respective courts wondering “What does this mean?”
Today is International Woman’s Day, no, God didn’t say so, but we took it upon ourselves to set aside time to think of women. So it really bothered me to see some bloggers discussing the merits of deleting comments from women on issues of faith. They probably don’t know this, but that’s basically what has happened for centuries. We don’t know what the ladies on the Court of Women would have said to each other, they weren’t important to write down. They weren’t important enough to answer their questions. They weren’t important even when they were Christians to discuss what they had to say. Belief was the business of men and material concerns was the occupation of women.
It took Christianity centuries to undo the damage and they’re still not done; but it amazed me to learn that during the Great Awakening, women were writing down in journals their thoughts as they studied scriptures. In a sense, they were blogging long before such a thing ever existed. It’s true that men and women don’t see things the same way. A rich man and poor man wouldn’t either. A Russian and an Peruvian person would also have different experiences. But to tell the poor man or the Peruvian that their perspectives don’t count on the basis of class or nationality would be wrong. We need to know how they contribute to humanity just as much as we need the perspective of women of all classes and nationalities to contribute to what we are as a church body.
Women have been silenced for many millennium and the church saw to that for a very long time. For Christian men to decide that Christian women aren’t worthy to contribute to a conversation on theology isn’t nobility, it’s blatant sexism even if there’s a Bible verse that says it is permitted for men to silence women. What did Jesus die for, if not this: to break down barriers?