December 29, 2005

gender inequality

One of my struggles in the faith until…a few minutes ago? =) (Ah, God, thank You for taking the extra time and effort to tutor me in this! =) )

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your husbands…
…For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,
as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…(1 Peter 3:1, 5-7)

Peter, how can you say such things?! To think you’re my favorite among the twelve!... :( (hmp.)
i used to take sayings like the one above as, to be honest, sexist, bigoted, unfair. i sensed the danger in the possibility that men might twist Scripture --- or to be honest again, i sensed the danger in men explicitly using this Scripture as it is, no need to twist it, it’s all there: Women, be submissive, you are weak. The same way i would feel if --- when --- other nations dismiss the Filipinos as (insert negative trait here). But then again, since Filipinos are at times looked down upon, and Filipino women are at times looked down upon by Filipino men, then a Filipina like me would be…at the bottom?!
Why, of all places, in Scripture?

I felt God gently telling me something.
Because it’s true, LORD? Are You saying men aren’t weak?! But they ARE!!! Look at Peter: he became my favorite because of his many fumbles --- fumbles which he eventually overcame with God’s grace…Look at Saul before he became Paul! Look at…aaarrrrggg!!!!

(You might think i'm such a hypocrite, calling God my ‘Lord’ and yet whining like a brat. I’m not even submissive to the Creator of the universe! =) But He knows my heart; He sees my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:23). =) So please just bear with my whining till i figure this out. =)
If you have questions, doubts, fears, VIOLENT reactions, He’d rather you bring them to Him than to turn away completely. He’d rather you honestly confront Him, for it is His pleasure to reveal His truths to you. Just keep seeking. =)
This has been my struggle, often just at the back of my thoughts but i still consider it important --- i believe in fairness and justice and goodness, and i put my trust in God who is ultimately fair and just and good. And after almost two years, things are becoming clear. Thanks God! So you, i, let’s all just keep seeking. =)
There’s an entire lifetime --- and an eternity --- to realize and understand our unfathomable God. =) )

Back to my (former) struggle.

Because, God had said.
Will I let it be written if it’s not true?

But, GOD. How unfair is that! Some people are “better” than others?!
Women followers of Jesus being the first to realize that His tomb was empty; Mary Magdalene being the first to talk to the risen Lord.
Women, women SINNERS, welcoming Jesus wholeheartedly wherever He went, while self-righteous proud men refuse to acknowledge their need for a Savior.
One dear pastor telling us, don’t be offended, but usually male drivers refuse to ask directions and would drive around lost for hours. (Maybe this is active imagination on my part and not memory anymore, but you get the point. I do know guys who do this.)
Another dear pastor saying that it’s usually easier for women to get saved because it’s easier for women to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. It’s harder to get into the core of a man, past his inner defenses and barriers, and the walls he erects to be ‘strong’.
Okay, okay. OKAY. You’re really one of a kind, Lord. You don’t drown us with all the details of life’s truths in one sitting. So we’d have fun digging treasure after treasure, eh?
Shall we go back to Peter? (You’re not off the hook yet, favorite!) i like Peter so much because i can relate to his personality. Very extreme. Easy for him to believe, easy for him to falter, to deny. Er, of course we don’t want to ever deny Jesus, nor do we ever eant to be put into situations where the littleness of our faith is rebuked for everyone to see…BUT I am impulsive, over-the-top, all-out-give-it-your-best-shot. And so was Simon, who Jesus knew had the potential to be a Rock (Peter, Petra, Cephas). (Me too, Lord, i want to be a Rock too…now! now! =) )
i read somewhere that Peter may be at times on the wrong side of the fence (who else can rebuke Jesus? hehehe! i don’t recall satan ever doing that!), but Peter can never be accused of sitting on the fence (lukewarm, not even bothering).
Now to my gender.
Are we women like that? Um, yes…YES! Easily swayed to go to the wrong side of the fence. Let us not forget that satan tempted Eve, not Adam. ( =( )
But God has given me hope --- hasn’t He always? =) --- because this trait in women is also what makes it easier for us to be swayed back to the RIGHT side of the fence. =)
Finally, a balance. =)
A dear guy friend mentioned what he realized: that Adam knew that what Eve was doing was wrong, yet he did nothing to stop her, and even joined her in doing wrong.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)

As a young woman growing up, i firmly held that men and women are created equal. As a slightly-less-younger woman growing up in the LORD, i simply hold on to God. He who created man and woman and saw that it was good. He who created man and woman sublimely different from each other --- in body, in psyche.
THIS was what i've been looking for all along. Not equality per se, but balance. Where one person is weak, the other can be strong. You can choose to highlight the weaknesses in yourself and in other people, and stop there, or you can eliminate the weaknesses by tapping on all your strengths.
For myself, God has already come through for this struggle because He has shown me that He did NOT create man and woman to be equal ---but He did what He did so they would complement each other, and NOT because one gender is better than the other.
To man, who is not easily swayed by temptation, God gave the authority to lead:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…in this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself…Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-24, 25, 28, 33)

To woman, who is easily drawn to God’s still small voice, God gave the opportunity to serve with all humility:

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
Do not let your adornment be merely outward --- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel ---
rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit
, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:1-4)

Ah, there’s Peter talking again. Now the entire context of what he was saying (finally!) dawned on me. (Note to self: read the entire passage to help understand the entire passage! hehehe…)

But in generalizing the character and traits of men vs. women, am i not being a sexist myself?
i do not want to be TOO specific and generalize and discriminate and so on. But there ARE differences, there ARE weaknesses, men DO tend to have more of some characteristics than women and vice versa. i am only mentioning these general traits with regard to my own stuggle of faith about the genders.
Besides, it was Peter who was saying most of the Scriptures i'm quoting: formerly named Simon, he who was easily drawn to great acts of faith as well as huge blunders in his own relationship with Christ.
In his epistles and preaching later on in his life, he was obviously transformed --- not necessarily because he was male, no necessarily despite his being male. Ultimately it is not your gender but your personal encounter with Jesus Christ that changes you, renews you, restores you to who God originally designed you to be before sin took its toll.
And for all this, i am thankful.
Thankful to a faithful God, who never ceases to reveal His truths to me.
Thankful to a loving God who planned my gender, my circumstances, and my personality for Him to love a unique me --- as He has certainly done for all of us.
Thankful to a wise God who once again demonstrates that there are deep, sublime purposes beyond His actions (and sometimes, purposes beyond His seeming lack of action).
Thankful to a good God because, whether i understand His ways or not, i can trust that they are always for my behalf.
Lastly, thankful to a creative God, who even now gives me the opportunity to share what i have learned even while in the process of learning it. Thank You for the creative insights, the creative revelations, the creative ways of saying what i want and need to say, and for the creative use of blogging and the Net. (Yeah.)
Added with my day job as teacher and my being a student and a researcher, writing all this has taken me an entire day. But that’s nothing compred with the wealth of truth i've suddenly uncovered. Whee. =)
Thank You for that, dear God, and i hope that you, dear reader, would also be blessed with this writing. =)

Another question answered, as i take another step closer to God, in walking with God.
Next question please.

POSTSCRIPT: What about God as a “He”? “Father” and “Son”? My friend told me this is just a consequence of translating into English, which has gender-specific terms. i'll like the original text daw. Hmm, i haven’t checked that yet. But i've heard from other sources that God IS sexless, that He (here i go again with “He”!) transcends gender. Makes sense. As always, God, You be the One to make it clear for me. Yeah. =)

(written December 6, 2005)

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