[Every few weeks, I'm asked to write an original piece and deliver it as the Call to Worship during our Sunday liturgy. This Sunday, the sermon was on the topic of gender, and so I spoke about the challenges, plight, and beauty of being a woman in the world. A huge thanks to everyone who chimed in on my Facebook page - some of your answers are mentioned here!]
My name is Nish.
I am made in the image of God, and I am a woman.
If my thighs touch, I’m too fat. If they don’t touch, I’m too skinny.
If I take initiative and lead, I’m bossy. If I don’t step up and lead, I’m a doormat.
If I act like I’ve got it together, I’m a hypocrite. If I don’t act like I have it together, I’m a train wreck.
If I wear too much makeup, I’m vain and insecure. If I don’t wear enough, I don’t care about looking presentable.
If I lose weight quickly after having a baby, I care too much about how I look. If I don’t lose the weight, I’ve really let myself go.
If I show emotion, I’m a drama queen, I’m weak, or I’m PMSing. If I show no emotion, I’m cold and heartless.
If I have a career, I’m neglecting the needs of my family. If I stay home, I’m undoing all the work of years of feminism and throwing my life away.
If I’m in charge and do the work, I’m too controlling. If I delegate, I don’t care enough to do the work myself.
If I speak my opinion, I’m aggressive or arrogant. If I stay silent, I’m an enabler.
If I don’t keep up a good appearance, it’s my fault if my husband cheats on me. But, if I look too good, I’m causing other men to stumble into lust.
If I don’t have sex before marriage, I’m a prude. If I do have sex before marriage, I’m damaged goods.
If I don’t have sex or don’t enjoy it, I’m a prude. If I do have sex, and heaven forbid enjoy it, I’m a whore.
If I don’t show enough skin, I’m a prude. If I show too much skin, well, I’m just asking for it.
We are made in the image of God and we are women.
We are more likely to be aborted, with almost 100 million of us having gone missing. It amounts to gendercide, and we are the victims because we are culturally less desirable and less valued than our male counterparts. If we happen to make it out of the womb, we’re more likely to be the victims of trafficking, and the burden of war and poverty weighs more heavily on our shoulders.
We are less likely to make a living wage. We are less likely to own property and less likely hold a seat in public office. We are less likely to have access to education and we make less money for doing the same work.
We are systemically & systematically blocked out of board rooms and locked out of pulpits.
We are more silenced, more oppressed, more enslaved, and more marginalized, and it comes at the hands of societies, cultures, governments and faith traditions that value men over women.
We are made in the image of God, and we are women.
But when I think of women, I don’t think of us cowering in the corner. I see resilience in the face of oppression. I see tenderness in the face of harshness. I see bravery in the face of cowardice.
When I think of the faces of my sisters around the world, I think of the women in the Scriptures. I think of Queen Esther who risked her life and faced death in order to save her people. I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who in a revolutionary act of obedience, changed the course of history on earth and eternity for all. I think of the Samaritan woman at the well, who moments after her conversion, preached Christ to her whole village and they believed. I think of Mary Magdalene, who remained close with Christ throughout his ministry, who lingered at the cross after everyone else had run off, she and was the first person trusted with the gospel of the resurrected Jesus, our first evangelist.
I think of the tender ways that Christ loved, cared for, spoke value to, and emboldened women.
He knew that the fullness of the image of God was not really known without women in the picture. He was there when God came up with the idea, after all. The Scriptures tell us,
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Male and female. Two parts of a whole. God declared it very good after he created man and woman, together.
We are made in the image of God, and we are women.
We are embodied with the same Holy Spirit who gives us same power and authority, who puts us on the same mission. We are given the same spiritual gifts. We are given the same commandments and the same marching orders, to love God, love others and fulfill the great commission. We are working to advance the same Kingdom that worships the same Jesus. And you cannot understand or comprehend the fullness of the image of God without us.
Men and women are not the same. But we are absolutely, unequivocally, 100% equal in every regard. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all ONE in Christ Jesus.” Declares the apostle Paul.
And this morning, we worship the God who created mankind in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male AND female he created them.
This God is worthy of our praise.