Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lesson 5--Womanhood

Ladies, I have flown off course this morning...just a tad. But I think its important...let me know what you think.
  1. 1 Kings 2:13
    [ Solomon's Throne Established ] Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon's mother. Bathsheba asked him, "Do you come peacefully?" He answered, "Yes, peacefully."
    1 Kings 2:12-14 (in Context) 1 Kings 2 (Whole Chapter)

Awww, Sweet motherhood. We’ve wrapped back around to this subject, as I was sure we would. Why? Because it’s our “thing” that’s why. I am firm in my belief that it is not all we do. But, it’s a huge part of who we were created to be. Not mothers just to our own children, as we will see, but to those whose mothers’ have lost their voice. We are mothers even when we do not give physically give birth. I have a dear friend who physically gave birth to only 2 of her 5 children, but you wouldn’t know it. She pours out nurturing over her children. I have to half-way bar her from my own house, lest she take the 3 that I have. I have another dear friend who gave birth to none of her 4 children. She adopted them when she married her husband. I have another dear sister whom God has not deemed to bless with children of her own. She feels that void every day…so she works with children as a way to stand on God’s word in Isaiah 54 that proclaims to God, she will be the childless mother who has more children than those of us who have given birth.

Finally, I have a dear sister who wants no children. She believes she does not have a nurturing bone in her body. What about her, is she out of God’s will?

This little point is off course a tad bit. I promise I will wrap back around to Bathsheba, but because I have spent and will spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the women as it pertains to their children and their spouses, I want to clarify or at least discuss those of us who decided that children and husbands are not for us.

Can I first admit, that when I was young, about 8 or 9, I wanted to be a nun? To this day, I revere Mother Theresa. I devour books about Theresa of Avila and others. In my case, boys, consequently sex, and then just daily life took root. My call to the convent never materialized. I suppose back in my mind I still do harbor notions of one day, when my children are grown, spending time at convents for extended retreats, etc. Why am I talking about nuns? Nuns were not just women who pined away for Christ in a barren broom-closet of a room. Mother Theresa was at the helm of quite a few non-profit organizations. She was overseer of quite a few convents. She was a busy busy woman going about the affairs God had for her. I do not think anyone would look at her and suggest that she must have somehow not been given appropriate female DNA because she did not marry and have children. Why do we expect that God’s intention for every woman is a marriage with children? I am always confounded by the judgment we pass on each other in this way. We meet a woman around the age of 30 and the first thing we want to ask is, “Marriage?” The second, and sometimes first, question we ask “Children?”

There are two women from early church history that may strike such a chord with women who do not believe marriage and children are their calling, but who desire to know that God does have a plan for their lives. In the book of Romans, there is Pheobe, “Romans 16:1
NOW I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae.” We have reason to believe that in addition to her role of deaconess she was something of a traveling missionary. It is believed that Pheobe traveled to deliver the letter to the Romans (the Book of Romans) to the Roman churches. She worked closely with Paul in establishing churches. She was dedicated to service for the church, such service, especially during that time, was not suited for a woman with immediate family obligations. She worked closely with Paul in establishing churches.

The second is a non-canonical representative, bus she is no less real, and is a whole lot more dynamic. Her book is taken as part of what is called the Christian apocryphal, The Acts of Paul and Thecla. Thecla was later canonized by the Catholic Church as one of the earliest saints, one given up in martyrdom. She was a dynamic figure by all accounts who ministry was so intertwined with that of Paul’s, that her tomb is reportedly within steps of his. She proclaimed chastity and devoted her life to the traveling mission of saving souls for Christ. She is a very very interesting figure. She ran into some political firestorm with early church officials because Thecla declared that women, too, were called to minister and baptize just as men were under the ministry of Jesus Christ. Her teachings were wide spread, and lead to the organization of many churches and feasts giving honor to her ministry to women throughout Europe.

Obviously, I think this subject is so very import to digress to such a degree away from Bathsheba as much as I have. As we go through these weeks, I need for us to understand, God has a role and a life for each one of us. In context, Bathsheba is defining what Solomon should look for in a wife. Her definitions are going to be one that has femininity cast in the role of mother and wife. I would remind you, though, Solomon’s greatest love affair was with the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba. Whether the relationship between the two was of a sexual nature, there is no direct evidence. In order to be Queen, Sheba had to remain a virgin and she was not legally able to be married. She left Solomon to return to her land where she continued to reign over a vast region of Africa. I am going out on a limb here, but I believe Solomon saw all of the qualities and traits of the Proverbs 31 woman in the character of the Queen of Sheba. The Queen of Sheba, however, was unwilling to be part of a polygamous society in which she would lose her kingdom and her people. Does that make her any less a representation of the Proverbs 31 woman?

I think not. The traits we will cover are character traits. They are the fibers that make up the woman’s being. Where she is called—as a mother, as a president, as a nun—that makes no difference. The traits are innate, thus there prior to marriage and children. Just because a woman is not called to family, does not mean that she is not called to rule. Would not the same traits of the Proverbs 31 woman be necessary?

Why is this important? One day our children will grow up. One day we may be without spouses. If we believe God’s only desired intention for our lives is motherhood and marriage, we will be lost. We will flounder while trying to get understanding over what we should do and who we are. If instead, we realize that the Proverbs 31 woman contains character traits that are universally useful, universally respected and universally needed for success and fulfillment, then no matter what season we find ourselves, we will be confident that we have a life to live.

Tomorrow, I will continue with the verses of Bathsheba, and conclude her verses. Friday, will conclude this chapter with an audio version of her narrative. I hope you will enjoy it.

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