“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities- Mary called Magdelene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.”
A few weeks ago, we commemorated the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, the Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles. The Church’s lectionary for today includes the reading above. Luke speaks of Mary, Joanna, and Susanna by name, as well as “many others” who provided for Christ from their own substance. The typical explanation that I’ve heard is that these women supported Jesus financially. Obviously, they left their homes and followed Him, just as his male disciples did. Some of them, like Joanna, had husbands and the Holy Scriptures make no mention of these men being disciples of Jesus. Why didn’t Jesus tell these women to go home and have a quiverfull of children?
Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin state that we have no examples of female missionaries in the Bible:
“We should give godly people honor for the worthy things they did and learn from their examples. But we should recognize that these godly women do not in fact feature in the Bible.” So Much More, pg. 262
Here, they are talking about contemporary female missionaries and how they went about doing a good thing in the wrong way. In other words, God can work good through sin. They go on to state that we do not see female missionaries in the Bible. Am I misunderstanding the quote? They seem to ignore Church history with this statement as we know of many “biblical” women who went on to proclaim the Good News or to serve Christ’s Church in a position of leadership:
And they certainly ignore the hundreds of women canonized by the Church within its first 1,000 years of existence. Part of what I am trying to do here is to show that women played a major role in the founding of the Church, its spread, and its continued existence.
Such emphasis is placed on varying points in history where women behaved as patriocentrists think they should- the Reformation, the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the Antebellum South… but like it or not, there WAS a church before Martin Luther came on the scene. I would like to see any patriocentrist stand before any one of the women I’ve mentioned here and tell them that their lives flew in the face of the “gospel-centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy.” Tell that to those women whom Christ allowed to travel with Him and fund His ministry. Tell that to those women whom the Apostles’ sent out as missionaries or ordained as deaconesses. Tell that to the women who were in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in the same manner as the men.
Now, I am NOT trying to argue that any of these women were egalitarian feminists or that they would even agree with either side of the whole comp/egal debate. Not at all! What I am trying to say is that they don’t fit the patriarchal paradigm. They would likely be rejected by these patriarchal groups or cast aside as “non-normative.”
I like what Anne has to say about this- “I refuse to make women something less than my God does.” He made some of them “equal-to-the-apostles.” The Twelve made some of them missionaries and deaconesses. The Holy Spirit made some of them martyrs.
We are all members of One Body and we are not all meant to be the same body part. I think its a shame that patriarchalists think women should all be the same body part while men fill in all the other body parts. I guess I missed that section in Paul’s epistles.