In response to Rachel Held Evans blog…
I typically don’t blog gender on this blog, for while I am an deep supporter of the decentralization of “masculine” interpretations, I find that the best decentralizing interpretations come from female voices. And I and the world are bettered by my silence and my listening. I can say with certainty that such voices in and out of academia have had a positive and profound influence on my life as a husband. So I blog gender now, in solidarity with “the feminine.” In addition to esteeming examples of “the feminine” as some blogs have already done (here and here), I will also lift up Piper’s so-called “masculine” Jesus, as One who is challenged and is changed by such a decentralizing, marginalized voice.
And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (Mark 7:24-30 ESV)
Even my own patriarch, Luther (yay, ELCA!), doesn’t let Jesus off the hook, and recognizes the heroic woman of the story. In one of his sermons, he preached,
“She catches Christ with his own words. He compares her to a dog, she concedes it, and asks nothing more that he let her be a dog….. Where will Christ now take refuge? He is caught…. [she clings] in her confidence to the good news she heard and embraced concerning him, and never gives up…. [she] still firmly believes his goodness is yet concealed in that answer, and still she will not pass judgment that Christ is or may be ungracious.”
And Jesus is changed, the raw incompletness of his “masculine” humanity is laid bare, by another human, marginalized by her ethnicity and gender. Yet she has a voice, and we thank God for that voice. And we thank God that we too may be transformed by that voice. Transformed to affirm “the feminine,” and transformed to know that all humans transcend gender, rendering the social locations of “the feminine” and “the masculine” only as a starting place for one’s humanity, and never as terminal boundaries for it.
And I thank God for all the female voices that have transformed me and my scholarship.