How can the source of all love and mercy be sexist?!
Yet most girls in the Coptic Church are confused about their role in church, in society and on earth in general. From a very young age, I noticed that all services can go on in church without any woman present. I realized how useless we are in the services and I became very frustrated. Moving forward a couple of years, a question was asked in my Servants’ Prep. class about the role of women in the coptic church. I got excited and leaned in to listen to the answer that I have been waiting so long for. “They give birth, they give us congregation!”, the speaker said it with such ease almost adding a “duh” at the end and I was heart broken… This means that a woman who can’t give birth or chooses not to is not fulfilling the role given to her by God and is a waste of space. Also it seemed really unfair to me that our role depends on man. A woman can’t beget children alone, it takes two. A couple of years later, I attended a coptic wedding as an adult for the first time. I was excited because the role of both husband and wife should be perfectly laid out during the ceremony so I will finally have some answers to my question. As I listened in and followed on the screen, I became even more frustrated. The husband is advised to love his wife (which is amazing, what else do you really want in a marriage), but the wife is called to submit. I knew there was submission but I was hoping for more. They gave me nothing! It was never even mentioned to her that she should love her husband.
I then decided to take matters into my own hands. I started ordering books online and reading all the commentaries I could find on Genesis, the creation and the fall. I wanted to give orthodoxy another chance to explain itself. Some books made me despair and others gave me a little hope. This dilemma was very serious to me, I constantly cry about it in prayer and ask God to show me his purpose. Why did he create me a woman? What is so special about being a woman, if any at all? Why am I not a man? Why can’t I have the blessing on serving in the alter? Why am I a “helper” in the story, I want to be a main character!
I did indeed neglect my studies during that time, but I had to have answers. I didn’t want to go to my priest yet, because when these questions are raised, I am usually accused of pride. All I want though is to know, I don’t want to be a deacon, I just want to understand why I can’t be one. I don’t want my future husband to be my slave, I want him to be the priest of my home and lead me to heaven, I just want to understand why I am the one called to submit in the relationship.
First of all, “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18). I realized that from the first few pages of the bible I am getting answers. Yes I am created to be a helper but I am also comparable to man. Knowing that I am equal or was created equal in the eyes of God have me great comfort. It was like taking a deep breathe after holding it for awhile. God can’t create inequalities since he is justice. Also “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). I am not only equal but I am just as much of His image as Adam. In this verse, there is a mathematical equality between the image of God and both male + female. Not only am I comparable to Adam, but most importantly, I am in the same image of God as he is. The irony here is that I went far and wide for answers and the first 2 chapters of the bible gave me more comfort than most of the books I read.
It was good for the first two chapters then the fall came. When Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she sinned and both herself and Adam lost their connection with God and got this corruptible and mortal nature of ours. God turned to Eve and said “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16). And… we’re back at square one. I then started asking is there indeed an inequality, not because God created it, just as He didn’t create sin or death, but as a consequence of the fall?
Short story: NO! Male and Female are still equal in the eyes of God, but they are given different responsibilities. I struggled a lot with this concept, I didn’t know how one should be in charge of the other when the two are equal. Long story: I will write a different post(s?) about this shortly.
I am still trying to understand womanhood in Jesus and my role. I know that there must be perks to both sides which complement each other. We don’t have a lot of woman writing for women in our church but maybe, we should start because I am sure all the generations to come are going to have these questions in mind and we must be ready to answer them not silence them.
Pray for me,