Friday, October 12, 2012

Acts 14-21

You know what's awesome about Acts? Besides all the miracles and shit? The women.

We did see a few women involved in Jesus' ministry: prostitutes, his mother, Peter's mother-in-law, Mary and Martha. And women were the first to see the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ, the first to preach the good news that He was risen. Jesus brought about a new order wherein women were a vital part of the ministry, and the disciples continued that trend after he was gone.

Granted, women are not nearly as prominent as men. Fewer of them are mentioned by name, or mentioned at all, but tucked in here and there are stories of women serving the Lord, and kicking ass and taking names.

In Acts 16:14-15, we see Lydia. The text calls her a "seller of purple", and without going into the historical and cultural details, we know that this means that she was pretty wealthy. Her husband is not mentioned; she may have been a widow, or she may have been married and her husband was simply inconsequential to her business success or her conversion.

We know that she was wealthy and independent. We know that her name was Lydia. And we know that she and her whole household were baptized, and that she opened her home to all the disciples of the Lord, whenever they were in the area.

In Acts 17:4, no one is mentioned by name. But as Paul and Silas preached in Greece, we are told that "a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas." (emphasis mine)

Now, they were Greek, so the culture was different. But the women are still mentioned apart from the men, and are still called "leading women". Their authority was recognized by the author of Acts, despite the different culture, and their conversion was considered significant. In those days, you worshiped whatever god or gods your husband worshiped. If he converted, so did you. If you came from a different country where different gods were followed, you left them behind. Granted, many women kept small idols or shrines or rites or other scraps of their home religions, worshiping in secret as they could, but it was assumed that their devotion was to their husband first, and their god or gods second. This is an idea that unfortunately has won some ground in certain "Christian" circles. I actually read a book that explained (with helpful diagrams to assist the comprehension of the poor little ladies who were struggling to read anything longer than a cupcake recipe) how a woman is able to serve and worship God through her husband. Man was made for God, the book said (and illustrated with diagrams), and woman was made for man.

Bull. Shit.

These women converted on their own. They didn't go home and talk to their husbands, they didn't follow the practices of their husbands, some of them may even have been unmarried or widowed. They converted because they believed. They came before the throne of God of their own volition, and they surrendered their own wills to Him, and not to anyone else.

This is the kingdom of God on earth. This is the new order. This is what Christianity should look like. Tell your friends.

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