The first reading in this week’s lectionary is in Genesis 1 telling the story of the creation. In this first story, men and women were created at the same time. In a second story (Genesis 2:18) a woman was created for a man, out of one of his ribs, because he needed a companion. The writer of that story clearly did not believe that a woman without a man was like a fish without a bicycle.
The lack of importance accorded to women and their inferior status in society is one of the shameful aspects of Christian history. The Inquisition was only one manifestation of the male dominance of the church and persecution of any women showing leadership. In our country until recently, the church actively supported the inferiority of women. Even today, 300,000 women in the UK report domestic violence against them each year, two are killed each week, and many more suffer in silence. Women are regarded by many men as being created for their convenience, subject to their needs and desires. Because women are different, they must be inferior. It is a power thing.
Christians, both male and female, have been involved in securing progress towards respect for women in all spheres of life. Today, many of our Methodist Ministers are women. Women and men contribute differently to society but we are all children of God, part of creation, worthy of respect and equal treatment.
This is Trinity Sunday. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. This is a theological idea, mainly put together by men. Notice the lack of a specifically female aspect of the Trinity. The Catholic Church, whilst denying status to women, does have a special place for Mary the mother of Jesus but in a supporting role.
Gender differences are difficult for us to understand. Why women and men; and even more, girls and boys; behave as they do is a mystery. How men interpret the way women behave is a subject of concern. It might help if we had ways of talking about God that did not imply maleness. We need to hear more about the female Spirit of God, and about God as mother and father but we are constrained by the Biblical accounts about a man who was God, from an era when women were of no importance.
To their credit, the people (men?) who wrote the Gospels went out of their way to tell the stories showing how Jesus broke the mould in dealing with women. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we need to keep up the effort. So, let’s stick to the first account of creation shall we?