I have been a practicing Christian all my life and half of that time dedicated to the practice of painting (writing) icons. Biblical text, liturgy, and prayer are my source of strength and comfort, just like millions of people around the world. I would like to share some of the observations I have made while painting icons and at times disturbing reflections on our familiar Bible verses. Adam and Eve: the biblical text interpreted indicates Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, which of course became all women’s greatest sin, sexual sin. 1 Corinthians 14:34 : the new testament continues with verses that subvert women encouraging them to be “silent” in church and ultimately prohibiting them from serving in positions of authority, the like of which has effected every women’s place in society. In actuality it wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to thwart any ascendant positions for women within the religious hierarchy and in christian societies in general.
The underlying teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all call for the proper and equitable treatment of God’s children. I have always known in my heart and soul women are not inferior to men; without a doubt, God loves humanity equally. Tragically, we do not have to look too closely to see women have not been included the iconographers community until recently.
Those who are graced with the desire to paint sacred text, have an obligation as prayer practitioners to re-examine how or why Women are not mentioned in the great feast days like Pentecost, at the last supper, or the baptism of Christ, etc. It is not God’s commandment that they are not heard of in text or seen in sacred image. When the feminine voice and new icon images introduced in today’s church community, the addition will benefit us all.
I understand why our church leaders are reluctant about stepping up to change the way the stories are told.
They will have to recognize that society two millenniums ago was primarily male dominated, to the exclusion of Women. They will have to redesign the sacred text, eliminating some harsh and unnecessary teachings which limit women and the power men have to dominate them. They will have to bend their doctrine and theology considerably, rejoice, there is ample evidence they have done so in the past. I am not a heretic, I am not even rebellious, I am asking for a simple review to rectify what we all are beginning to see as misguided behavior of the past, that mush change if we are to go into have a thriving church in the future.
Heretics are largely called heretics because
they question the authority of our accepted norms.
It will be no surprise to watch as our religious leaders and the traditions they preserve get aggravated as the atmosphere and status quo changes. In the time of the inquisition one million named heretics were murdered for thinking differently, hopefully we are past burning witches. In a growing age of tolerance, we can have open discussion and allow for change.
World leaders have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.” It is time for the church “fathers” to draft a similar statement.
I am challenging all denominations within the christian church to re-frame part of Holy Scriptures which have justified the superiority of men over women. We are told we are One body in God, called to be One mind in Christ. Let us live into that reality where Christian women will served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, mystics, healers, teachers and prophets, etc. through image and word.