Watching Beyond A.D. this morning, I saw this tweet being discussed: “I don’t remember the wives of high ranking officials having influence on decision making. Is it based on the Bible or for drama only?”
An entertainer opted to answer the question, neither the mega-church pastor or the priest from the arch-diocese apparently had any thoughts to contribute to the conversation. The answer he came up with is that: “Women have female intuition.”
It’s not like the wives of high ranking officials had no influence whatsoever. Queen Vashti’s actions influenced the decisions that King Xerxes made. With Queen Esther in charge, she was able to influence the decisions being made to save her people. Jezebel didn’t exactly sit around and do nothing, either. When Pilate’s wife sent him a message – is there the slightest possibility that influenced his decisions? Watching A.D. The Series, sometimes Pilate makes decisions to spite his wife. Sometimes he follows through on her decisions.
Through it all, women have always found a way to contribute. Like Vashti’s banquet for the other women – they weren’t only sipping tea and swapping dinner recipes. Like Esther’s banquets for Xerxes and Haman. Like Jezebel’s messages sent in secret. It’s similar to Herodius schooling her daughter how to dance in order to get what she wanted done. Everything they do has an influence. It might not be immediately visible or through direct means. In the ancient world, that was the best they could hope for. So it is Bible based, and it’s cultural, and it’s historical, and there’s no shortage of drama – but only if you keep your mind open to the possibilities.
The Bible doesn’t always record every detail of day-to-day life in the ancient world. We have to remember that just because something is not recorded, it does not mean that it didn’t happen. The Bible doesn’t always tell us that every day the sun rose and every night the sun set and yet we don’t question if it is so.
Because of their limited public role, women are named less frequently than men by Roman historians. But while Roman women held no direct political power, those from wealthy or powerful families could and did exert influence through private negotiations. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_ancient_Rome
Which brings me to the entertainer’s answer – ‘Women have female intuition.’ Seriously? The catholic priest or the mega-church pastor couldn’t come up with a better answer? I’d like to think that my answer is pretty good and I’m not even a priest or a pastor! Let’s start with: “Why wouldn’t you want somebody famous for their intuition helping you to make decisions?” A commercial for an well-known investment firm often suggests that we ‘rely on their intuition’ to make a small fortune grow. In one of my shows, Sliders, an episode features a version of Earth where people with extrasensory perception are an accepted part of society. They tend to rise to positions of power, as they can foresee disaster and avert it or avoid it before it even happens. We don’t have people with that kind of power, but we do have people who read others to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.
Men and women both have the very same intuition, however the world encourages women to rely more upon their feelings while men are encouraged to think both in linear terms and logical terms. As a result, women get better at intuitive reasoning with practice while men tend to get worse at it by not practicing. Not only that, but the historical reality that women had lower status meant that they had to develop the ability to read people’s body language and facial expressions to determine how other people were feeling and how best to speak to them or else risk their position, power, and possibly life. That could very well be the reason it took two banquets for Esther to see the subtle cue that it was time to bring up the matter she had against Haman. Who knows, as men and women get used to having more equal status, intuition will become less effective.
You would think that Christianity would welcome having intuitive men and women in charge to help put an end to various scandals in the last few decades. And yet, that’s not the reality we see. We need to value all of the gifts, including intuition and the way that it can help decision making and the work of the ministry. Without them, we’re a church with a hand tied behind it’s back and without the use of a one leg. We’re a head without the use of both eyes and both ears.
We shouldn’t have to live in the church as if the same rules that were the norm for Ancient Rome apply here and now. Women should not have to hold hushed conversations, have secret negotiations, use carefully hidden messages, resort to masterful manipulation, or do any such thing in order to have an influence in the decision making of the church. They’re meant to working alongside in full partnership and equality. Ancient Rome couldn’t make that a reality, but we can. And we’ll be so much better for it if it happens sooner rather than later.