Session 17: Wallking with Women

Walking with Women

Thesis:  Jesus calls us to walk with him into gender equality.

Scripture: Luke 8:1-3
Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

NOTE:  Please take some time to review the section of Jesus, #Metoo, and the Church.  This is a timely, important, and sensitive topic, and may cause some tension in your group.  Do you best to be prepared, yet loving as you discuss this weeks lesson.


OPENING ACTIVITIES:

Game:  Scattergories: Famous Female Edition

Supplies: Paper, pens, timer

Give the group a category (ex: Female SuperHeroes) and give them one minute (or perhaps 30-45 seconds, so you have more rounds) to write down as many names from that category as possible.  After the minute have them share their list. If somone else in the group has the same name, they need to cross it off.  Count up the remaining names for score.

Categories:

  • Female Harry Potter Characters
  • Female Superheroes
  • Animated Females
  • Female Movie Stars
  • Female pronouns
  • Songs sung by women
  • Women Taylor swift had arguments with
  • Females in our church
  • Female Bible characters


Fun Discussions:

  • How effective in stopping Voldemort would Harry Potter be if he had not been friends with Hermione? (What value did she bring that could not be found between Harry and Ron?)
  • How effective would the Justice League be without Wonder Woman? (What unique qualities does she bring to stopping super villains?)
  • How effective would Mystery Inc (Scooby Doo’s team) be at stopping “ghosts” if Velma (brown haired girl) or Daphne (red haired girl) not been on the team?
  • Why were their no women in the Fellowship of the Ring (the group going to destroy the ring, not the book itself), and how might that have shaped the story?


Video:

RETURN OF THE KING: Eowyn vs the Witch King/Nazgul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ_-rmuPZC4

Ask:  Why was Eowyn able to slay the Witch King?  Was it simply her gender, or was there something more?


BIBLE STUDY

Icebreaker Questions:

  • Who is a woman in your life (aside from your mother) that has helped you grow in your faith? How?
  • Who are some women in the Bible, and what are they known for?
  • Do you have a favorite female Bible character, and why her?

Read Luke 8: 1-3
Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

Ask:

  • Who were the women listed in this passage, and what were they known for?
  • What might this say about the people that Jesus surrounded himself with?
  • What might this say about the type of people that are drawn to Jesus?

Read: (Commentary by William Barclay)

This passage lists a little group of women who served him out of their resources. It was always considered to be a pious act to support a Rabbi, and the fact that the devoted followers of Jesus helped him in this way was in direct line with ordinary practice. But, as with the disciples, so with these women, we cannot fail to see how mixed a company they were. There was Mary Magdalene, that is Mary from the town of Magdala, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Clearly she had a past that was a dark and terrible thing. There was Joanna. She was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager (epitropos: the official who looked after the king’s financial interests)… It is an amazing thing to find Mary Magdalene, with the dark past, and Joanna, the lady of the court, in the one company. – William Barclay

Ask:

  • What might it mean that Jesus had these women with him?
  • What might it mean that Jesus had any women following him?
  • How does Jesus treatment of women go against the norms of gender roles in Jesus day?

Excerpt from Jesus’ Extraordinary Treatment of Women
Barbara Leonhard  (www.franciscanmedia.org/jesus-extraordinary-treatment-of-women)
Printable version of this full acticle

A woman was almost always under the protection and authority of a man. This left women in a very vulnerable position. They had little access to property or inheritance, except through a male relative. Any money a woman earned belonged to her husband. In the area of religious practice, women were in many ways overlooked. While the study of Scripture was regarded as extremely important for men, women were not allowed to study the sacred texts. At the Temple in Jerusalem, women were restricted to an outer court. In synagogues they were separated from the men and not permitted to read aloud. They were not allowed to bear witness in a religious court. But Jesus defies these expectations. Jesus steps over expected boundaries between men and women by his acceptance of women as disciples. Unlike rabbis of his day, Jesus taught women about Scripture and his way of love. In Luke 8:1-3, Jesus is described as journeying from village to village, preaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. “The Twelve” were with him and several women. This picture of women disciples is astounding, given that Jewish women at this time were not to learn the Scriptures or even to leave their households. Jesus was doing something startlingly new. Gospel writers each testify to Jesus’ treating women with respect, frequently responding in ways that reject cultural norms. He recognizes their dignity, their desires and their gifts. Jesus recognized that women had gifts for discipleship, and he was not afraid to call these women forth

Ask:

  • What was the view of women in Jesus’ time?
  • How did Jesus treat women, compared to society? Compared to the Jewish church?
  • Share some stories where Jesus treated women with dignity and respect. (ie: Woman at the Well, Bleeding Woman, Mary and Martha, Adulterous Woman to be stoned, etc)
  • What does this say about Jesus view of all humanity?
  • Why do you think Luke (a gentile man) included these women in his Gospel?
  • What does that say for how we should include others?

Jesus, #MeToo, and the Church:
In the past few months a movement for people to speak out against gender inequality, misogynistic attitudes, and sexual harassment has arisen. Many believe that the church has been too quiet in these conversations.  Below are excerpts from three articles  (a blog from Beth Moore, and two posts in Presbyterian Outlook), follow the links for full articles.  These articles may make great fodder for conservation about how we as Christian are to embrace the #Metoo movement.  I want to encourage you to embrace discussing this topic, but do you best to be prepared, and willing to lead your group through conflicting opinions.

Here are some questions you could ask:

  • Have you seen or experienced gender inequality?
  • What are some of the causes for gender inequality in the church?
    (Note: “the church” is not referring to a specific congregation, but to churches in general or the whole body of Christ.)
  • Do you think the church has been relatively silent regarding this issue?
  • How have you seen “the church” respond either positively or negatively to #Metoo or gender inequality?
  • How do you think Jesus might address #Metoo or gender inequality in the church?
  • What should be the church’s response to #Metoo or gender inequality?
  • How do you think San Pedro should/could respond to #Metoo or gender inequality?
Excerpts from A Letter to My Brothers
By Beth Moore (5/3/18) (https://blog.lproof.org/2018/05/a-letter-to-my-brothers.html)
A Letter to My Brothers – Beth Moore Blog

Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness. The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place. Many women have experienced horrific abuses within the power structures of our Christian world. Being any part of shaping misogynistic attitudes, whether or not they result in criminal behaviors, is sinful and harmful and produces terrible fruit. Many churches quick to teach submission are often slow to point out that women were also among the followers of Christ (Luke 8), that the first recorded word out of His resurrected mouth was “woman” (John 20:15) and that same woman was the first evangelist. Many churches wholly devoted to teaching the household codes are slow to also point out the numerous women with whom the Apostle Paul served and for whom he possessed obvious esteem. We are fully capable of grappling with the tension the two spectrums create and we must if we’re truly devoted to the whole counsel of God’s Word. I’m asking that you would simply have no tolerance for misogyny and dismissiveness toward women in your spheres of influence. I’m asking for your deliberate and clearly conveyed influence toward the imitation of Christ in His attitude and actions toward women.

Printable versions of the Presbyterian Outlook (2 articles) (Excerpts below)

Excerpts from #MeToo, silence and the church
December 4, 2017 by Leslie Scanlon (https://pres-outlook.org/2017/12/metoo-silence-church)

I’m listening to the silence.The rest of the country seems to be on fire with revelations involving sexual misconduct, violence and harassment. #MeToo echoes everywhere.The church, however, isn’t saying much. In a church that draws on the prophetic tradition and claims to stand for justice, that silence is loud. Most of the parishioners in churches are women. And if the experience of women in churches is anything like that of women anywhere else, the pews are full of #MeToo stories. The women in the pews have lived it. They sit in the pews; they follow the news. And some of them are asking: Why is the church not talking more about this? Because – let’s be clear – everyone else is. So let’s take the next step. If it’s happening to women pastors, it’s happening to women in the congregations too. The #MeToo conversation in the church needs to move beyond describing only gender inequity and sexual harassment involving women in ministry (as significant as that is, it’s a small part of the big picture) to speaking directly to the experiences of people in congregations as well. Too often, these stories are met with silence. When it comes to sexual misconduct and harassment and unwanted touch and words inside the church, the price for silence is extraordinary. Every day, more women tell their #MeToo stories. People are listening to see if the church cares about this issue that has shaped the personal and professional lives of so many women. They want to know: Will the church speak the truth about this? Listen. The silence is really loud.

Excerpts from #MeToo in the Bible
December 4, 2017 by Jill Duffield (https://pres-outlook.org/2017/12/metoo-in-the-bible)

The Bible surprises sometimes. As a colleague of mine used to say: “The Bible is not a children’s book.” No part of our human experience remains unheard of in Scripture and yet, such Scripture is often unheard in our congregations. We do tend to avoid speaking of sexual sins from the pulpit or lectern. Perhaps the avoidance stems from fear of saying the wrong thing or offending. Maybe our Puritan sensibilities get in the way of naming what is being named everywhere else as politicians, actors, journalists and more are being called out for sexual misconduct. Could our selective biblical reading come from our own recognition of complicity and misdeeds or, alternatively, our fear of repercussions should we voice our own victimization? The omission of texts that speak of sexual violence reflects our own tendency to avoid speaking of sexual sins from the pulpit or lectern. But the effects of such sins are as common in our world as they were for our forebears, who were generally more willing to name the crime and address it. Our calling is to proclaim both sides of the gospel: justice and love. However, neither justice nor love will be proclaimed if we do not stop avoiding the topic. But where to begin? Start with repentance. Repentance for our silence. Repentance for what we have done and what we have left undone: ignoring abuse, blaming and shaming victims, protecting perpetrators, excusing behaviors for which there is no excuse. Repentance must lead to the soul-searching question: What then should we do? Stop ignoring the parts of our biblical canon that name that which shall not be named. Read them, dig deep into the texts. Opening the Bible to these not-so-well-worn pages begins to open our ears to the stories of those in our midst who have posted #MeToo or #ChurchToo or those who have never before opened their mouths to share their pain. We should be creating space for people in the pews to share their stories of #MeToo and find care. The Bible is not silent about sexual exploitation and abuse and we shouldn’t be either.

Say: These women were “were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.”

  • What do you think it means that they were contributing from their own resources?
  • How might these women be supporting Jesus ministry?
  • What are the resources that you have been entrusted?
  • How might you use these resources to support Jesus’ ministry?

Prayer: 

  • Ask God that he would give us the eyes to see people the way Jesus saw people, as equals.
  • Ask God to help us to treat people as Jesus treated them, as equals.
  • Ask God to help you love people the way he loved them, sacrificially.