It is sad to admit that in 2014 there is a need to establish March as Women's History Month. It is even harder to admit there is more need in the church world than in the secular to stop our infantile role playing and become adults. If we had lived up to our creative purpose, women and men would be the workers together we were intended to be.
Most of us have heard, even quoted, the words: "The truth will set you free." Few of us can identify its source or the context in which it was spoken. Far too many base our own "truth" on personal opinion, never seeing that most of our opinions come from what others, equally confused, taught us. Those opinions form cultures and institutions that harden into narrow-mindedness that punishes and intimidates those who question.
The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakkol Karman, a woman who rose up against the authoritarian government of Yemen, said: "The women were asleep, but now they've awakened - and they're not about to go back to sleep."
Called "Iron Woman," Karman has paid a price for standing tall - from being shunned to spending 36 hours chained in a women's prison. She fights such horrors as girls suffering malnutrition so boys can be fed, and the disgraceful, two-thirds illiteracy rate among the women. She says: "I am a citizen of the world. The Earth is my country, and humanity is my nation."
As Hillary Clinton states plainly, "Women's rights are human rights." If we think comparing the status of American women to those in third-world countries, or comparing the status of American Christian women to Islamic women, is a stretch, consider that the American Psychological Association recently said that 43 percent of women report increased stress levels and 39 percent are experiencing more anger and irritability.
Could it be that American women being the primary breadwinner in 15 percent of households, that daughters being more than twice as likely to care for aging parents than sons, that mothers still doing nearly double the childcare and housework dads do, that a woman with a Ph.D. in Theology cannot be an elder in her local Baptist (and other) churches-could it be that dignity and self-respect of women, long put down, is waking up? Enough stress topples nations.
President Obama just called for legislation requiring equal pay for equal work. He was criticized for focusing on a "lesser" issue while such serious matters as the Ukraine crisis loom. For thousands of America's women hitting the "glass ceiling" of unequal pay and position, nothing is more important than bringing this bastion of injustice down.
Even Apostle Paul sometimes found it necessary to present his credentials. Following his example, I am an ordained minister with a Master's in biblical literature, freelance writer, former college English teacher, and former Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer for a healthcare corporation. But mostly, I am a woman who knows that in John 8:31-32 Jesus proclaimed truth would set me free if-a vital "if"-I know and live in his teachings. I know freedom and equality for women is a God-gift backed up by the Bible, the dependable gift of His Word. When rightly understood, there is no biblical passage that refutes that proclamation.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.