I was in a conversation recently with a friend and the subject of women serving others came up. When I started to consider what I would write about for today’s post, that conversation resurfaced and I decided to search for some passages that concerned women serving. Here are a few, starting with the Gospel of Mark:
29 And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.
Then we move to the Gospel of Luke:
Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag′dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Jo-an′na, the wife of Chu′za, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
This brings us to St. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians:
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife,[a] as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
(1 Cor 9:1-5)
I left the footnote in place for the passage from 1st Corinthians because some translations render it as “believing wife”, while others render it as “believing woman” or “believing sister.” Either way, it was clear that the Apostles were accompanied by women who served, who might have been their wives or sisters in the faith.
I mention all of these because women have a divine calling to serve others, especially men of the faith. It is also a noble calling- that is, one which doesn’t demean or degrade women. Unfortunately, it appears as though the long tradition of valuing and encouraging this divine service has been abandoned. Most faith traditions seems to have replaced it instead with the overall secular paradigm of “women can do anything and everything that men can do (and often better!).” What this means is that women, Christian women, are often encouraged to act just like Christian men. I consider this a tragic loss to the faith, as a huge gap has been left which cannot be readily replaced.
This gap is what drove the conversation that started this line of thought. We were discussing how many women these days don’t like the idea of serving others. Or at least, serving their family or loved ones. Serving someone random guy or gal who happens to be your boss (aka a career)? That’s just great! And empowering! And you Go Grrllll! But serve the man to whom you are bound for life, and your children by that man? Why that’s awful! And degrading! And You Deserve More!
As for those who do serve others through mission trips and the like, even that is corrupted. Because it seems to me, and to those I’ve talked with, that those mission trips are really all about her. About how great and wonderful she is. Which means that she isn’t serving others, but herself.
Sadly, even when you point this out to most Christian women they just don’t get it. Or maybe they do, but they don’t want to accept it. Either way, the church is the worse off for it.