Before my current career, I was a High School Biology Teacher. I taught for six years, and Germ Theory was one of my favorite lessons.
Between 1646 and the early 1800s, the cause of childbed fever could not be determined; invisible agents such as bacteria and viruses were not yet realized. New mothers and babies were dying in maternity hospitals at alarming rates because the doctors with good intentions were unaware that they carried and spread germs to them as they assisted in deliveries. A simple change in hygienic practices (the act of washing their hands between caring for each patient) was a revolutionary shift that was initially met with push back as childbed fever was thought to be God’s punishment to women for the act of giving birth. Changing their point of view would mean accepting this deadly disease was caused by something they could not see. They would also have to admit that they themselves had spread the disease and killed their patients instead of curing them. One doctor argued that no such care was needed, “Doctors are gentlemen, and gentlemen’s hands are clean.” How could the pure of heart possibly be spreading disease? For this doctor and many others, noble intentions mentally equated to good outcomes. It would be hard to find another example of the sympathetic fallacy with such far-reaching and tragic consequences.
When my students were done reading about the germ theory, we discussed that the germ theory of disease is widely accepted now, and it affects the way people behave even if they are quite unaware of the science supporting it. I would ask my students how is their behavior is affected by their belief in the germ theory of disease. I would challenge them to consider how their behavior would be different if they did not know about bacteria and viruses. Using a different lens can really change how you handle what you are facing.
So a little about me: I was raised in the church with exceptional Christian parents. I accepted Jesus into my heart at the age of 4 after watching a children’s show called Gospel Bill. A year later I prayed the same prayer with my parents, went in front of the church and got baptized. On top of being brought up in the church, I am also a southern belle. I was raised with the idea that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; therefore, I was taught how to cook, clean, do laundry, etc. I was raised this way, but at the age of 33 I still have not found “Mr. Right.”
Now with this said, I honestly believe what screws us up in life is the picture in our head of how life is supposed to be. My parents never sat me down and gave me expectations of when I was supposed to be married or have children. The church never preached a lesson on the proper age to do these things. Instead, there were small ‘invisible agents’ that ultimately created a picture of what life is supposed to be. In my world, I was supposed to meet my future husband in college, get married, and 3-5 years later start having kids. I can laugh about it now, but it wasn’t until Women, Wine and Jesus that I finally felt the freedom to live the life that I have. Every single day I woke up feeling like I was single as punishment for my past sins. That burden laid heavy on my heart for a decade! We all have an expectation of what life should be like, but is it really biblical or just something we have grown up knowing?
After talking with my good friend, Starla, she thought I would love this Bible study she was attending, so I went with her. The lesson was on submission. I’ve HEARD submission before; I’ve heard about it hundreds of times. However, in this lesson, we did something different. We looked at scripture through different lenses. That night we looked at it from the perspective of women in biblical time….and my mind was blown. I was hooked.
The next semester my mind was blown again. Jackie mentioned that Jesus’ presence on Earth was a good thing for women. He empowered those without power. While we were going around the room giving examples of Jesus loving on the weak and shunned, I shouted out “the woman at the well.”. For the last decade, I had identified myself as the woman at the well. as the promiscuous woman who couldn’t seem to keep a man and goes to the well in the middle of the day to avoid the nay-sayers. Jackie stopped right then and there. Instead of moving on to the next example, she said (I’m paraphrasing, of course), “You know, women couldn’t divorce men at the time. Women had no say at all. Men divorced women. She was left 5 times. If she wasn’t married, she would be left to be a prostitute.” Mind. Blown. I had never heard this lesson preached that way. I went back and read it with a new set of lenses and felt Jesus’ love even more. I might still identify as the woman at the well, but not as the one Jesus has come to ‘make right’ but rather as the woman whose pain of broken trust and relationships He knows. As the woman to whom Jesus is offering love that will never fail and can’t be taken away by anyone.
Preachers say it all the time, “I get something different out of scripture every time I read it.” Maybe that is because they are in a different place in life, have experienced more, and therefore have a different lens through which they are reading. The doctors had the best intentions in the world; they didn’t want their patients to die. They did what they were taught to do, what was done for years before them. They didn’t know they needed a magnification lens to identify organisms not seen by the naked eye. What about the church? While the church has the best intentions in the world, are we hurting people because we aren’t bringing all the lenses to the table? There are small non-biblical things being said on Sunday morning that are creating pictures of what life is supposed to be, and this causes pain in the body of Christ.
Why did I join Marcella? Because women hear things differently than men. We even give directions different than men. We see life through a different lens, and it is time that we have a voice that is heard at the table. We are not substandard, inferior, or second-rate. God created and loves both men and women of all races. If half the church is female, shouldn’t we have women voice how they see things so that we can bring more of God’s love to the people in this world? If women did have a voice in the church, how would the church’s behavior be different? How could that impact the world?