Radical / by Sarah Schwartz

Two years ago this month, I had the privilege of contributing to a series for the lovely Sarah Bessey, where I responded to a discussion question found in the back of Jesus Feminist. (If you don't have a copy, run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore.) With a lot of discussion on the internet this week about women's place and role in the Kingdom of God, I asked Sarah if it would be ok to revisit my response to, "Does it seem radical to you that God believes women are people, too?" here in my corner of the internet. She graciously agreed.

Does it seem radical to you that God believes women are people, too?

It is radical, in a world where 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault in their lifetime.[1]

It is radical, in a world where the worst thing you can call a man is a girl.

It is radical, in a world where women are half the world’s population, do half of the world’s work, earn one tenth of the world’s income, and own less than one percent of the world’s property. [2]

It is radical, in a world where domestic violence causes more death and disability in women ages 16-44 than traffic accidents or cancer. [3]

It is radical, because the abuse and deprivation of women, as former President Jimmy Carter has so aptly stated, is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation in the world.

With so much around us shouting that women are disposable, it is radical that our God believes women are people, too.

But isn’t that just like Him? Isn’t that just like the kind of Abba we’ve read about in the worn pages of Scripture? Isn’t that the kind God we’ve known Him to be?

Because this whole story He’s writing, Genesis to Revelation to now, isn’t the whole thing truly and deeply radical?

Enemies become friends, God becomes man, the dead sit up and talk. The last are first, the poor are blessed, the person who gives everything away gains it all in the end. Kings wash feet and the only way to live is to die. It’s nothing if not revolutionary.

Of course, of course, He calls us up from the margins, us, the unlikely and the left out. We’ve got His breath in our lungs, His image on our souls, and try as they might to tell us we’re less, He comes roaring in to remind us we’re more.

And some would try to tell us that yes, we’re people, but not to get any crazy ideas. You’re people, but you’re a certain kind of person who should know your place and understand your role. Don’t take this personhood thing too far. Fold your hands and bow your head, take up as little space as you can. Your kind is supposed to follow, not lead. You’re here to support, not dream your own dreams.

But we’ll just smile, and shake our heads, because we know this is no tale of partial redemption, or half restoration. We know this a story where all of us, men and women alike, get to be our child-of-God-selves in fullness.

We know the Kingdom needs all of us; it needs our boldness, leadership, and vision as much as it needs our teamwork, humility, and kindness. This is not an either/or scenario where we only get to participate if we can fit into the mold of what they tell us women are supposed to be like. There will be no fragmenting of personhood here, no narrow definitions or burying of talents.

What there will be is freedom. Freedom to live and move and have our being in the One who fashioned us as whole, complete people.

 We’ve tasted too much of the good news to believe it’s not good for us, too.

  1. [1] George Mason University, Worldwide Sexual Assault Statistics, 2005
  2. [2] Barber Conable, former President of World Bank
  3. [3] "Violence against Women." - Gender Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2014.