Remember Pinocchio, the marionette made by the woodcarver, Gepetto? He was created a wooden puppet but he dreams of being a real boy.
But what was wrong with being a puppet? After all, that’s the way his creator made him, carefully crafting each part of the lifelike marrionette with love and expert craftmanship.
Sometimes when I study the Bible I feel like Pinocchio.
I know I’m supposed to become more and more like Jesus as I mature as a Christian. But … but … but … Jesus was male, the SON of Man, and, … well, I’m not male.
Jesus was not a Christian. He was an observant Jew, and the fact that He was surrounded by His male disciples meant that they always had a minyan, a quorum of men for certain religious practices, including the study of Scripture (Torah) and the observance of Passover at the Last Supper. Women didn’t count in constituting a minyan and weren’t allowed to study Torah or recite various corporate prayers. So Jesus’s and His disciples’ maleness wasn’t just a quaint but inessential detail of history.
So where does that leave me in my journey to become more like Jesus?
- Am I supposed to pretend I’m a man when I read about becoming more like Jesus?
- Or am I supposed to comb through the Bible scouring it for scant clues about how the Holy Spirit works within women?
- Am I supposed to see myself as an evil temptress constantly tempting otherwise virtuous men to sin just by my very existence?
- Or am I to believe that the words, “man” and “son” and “brother” and “father” and “heir” all mean me too, because those are universal terms in the Bible that apply to all people?
- How should I read passages that instruct me on how to treat my wife?
It’s exhausting to keep bouncing back and forth between these alternating demands on my imagination, and wondering which of them I’m supposed to invoke as I read the passage at hand.
I find myself feeling like Pinocchio, wishing that I were a real person instead of just a woman. My relationship with God’s Word would be so much less complicated if only I were a man!
And let me be clear here. Wishing I weren’t on the losing side of Patriarchy has nothing whatsoever to do with questioning my gender identity. I know which gender I am. I just wish that either (1) what I am wasn’t regarded as less-than, or (2) I had been born the other flavor.
Either way, I imagine I’d have a lot less trouble reading the Bible.
One thought on “Pinocchio”
I definitely feel where you’re coming from on this. Reading the Gospel of Mary Magdalene & its commentary has really helped me come to a greater appreciation for women’s (completely equal) role in learning and growing in God. The figure of Mary Magdalene is important to me for her incredible closeness with Christ. 3 gospels list her as the first one who He appears to after rising from the dead. Either she or Mary of Bethany was at His feet learning instead of helping her sister with the chores, which Jesus encouraged her to keep doing (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus never dissuaded a woman from learning about God. Off the top of my head, there are 2 other instances of Him actively defending women from men who wish to hurt or disparage them:
1 (John 7:53-8:11) the woman caught in adultery whom Christ defended from those who wished to kill her
2 (Matt 26:6-13) the woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume was derided by the apostles, who Jesus promptly told off for their harassment
Christ demonstrated through His actions that women were deserving of healing, closeness, education, & support, and that we have the same capacity to grow into spiritual maturity as men.
Sexist interpretations of the Epistolary books give me some problems, but that’s not the same thing as the way Christ acted.
To me, Christ is a fairly androgynous figure. He’s the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6). He was also the Lamb of God, silent before his aggressors like an “*ewe* lamb” specifically (Isaiah 53:7). The imagery used to refer to and symbolize Him reads to me as fairly balanced in its masculinity and femininity. Powerful and gentle at the same time–powerful through His gentleness, which even at that time was derided as weakness (Mark 15:27-32). He is the Son which is within the Father while holding the Father within Him, completely messing with our understanding of age and the social hierarchy that comes with that. Reflecting upon Christ’s nature in this way might make it easier for people of any gender or age to relate to Him.
I’ve also been working on a long post about the 4 Old Testament women of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew, but suffice to say, they were included in that genealogy because they expressed complete agency in line with God’s heart for justice. This isn’t a New Testament, “suddenly God works through women” thing. God made all of us in Their image. Women have nothing extra to make up for or live up to. God is already alive in and through us.
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