I got an answer to something that I have been wrestling with for a while at synod. This was an answer to the question what do we do about the abuse of women?
I find so many of our Christian responses well-meaning, but I'm not sure that they achieve anything. Does making God out to be female really help? Our synod supported the Thursdays in Black campaign which encourages people to . . . wear black on Thursdays! with the intention of promoting awareness of woman abuse. I have always felt that this gave one the feeling that one was doing something whereas actually little was being achieved.
At synod a lady stood up and spoke, perceptively I think. We had all laughed during a Bible Study as the leader explained that the description in the Bible of an elder having only one wife stemmed from the belief that several wives were legal, but they were disruptive and a nuisance and so it was better for a man to have only one. This lady stood up and challenged us that we were willing to wear black which may or may not mean anything, but when it came to laughing at a hurtful stereotype of women we all gave in and legitimised it. (These are my words, I can't remember exactly how she put it!)
I felt that she had put her finger on the issue. If we truly are opposed to the abuse of women we need to vehemently reject these sorts of incidents. We know that they are intended as light-hearted and teasing, but they ingrain the idea that women are a nuisance and are appropriate subjects for jokes.
I just saw a facebook comment of someone wondering how a group of women is going to manage to keep quiet for the duration of a silent retreat - because we all know women can't keep quiet! I'd love one of our men in black to take that comment on.