Dr Leath led the Bible study on the unnamed women in the three chapters of Judges as the first recipients of grace in the narrative. She used the words abject/abjection to describe the liminal statuses that women in the Hebrew culture were held as possessions within a variety of patriarchal relationships. Women’s sexual and reproductive potential and/or their relationship to men is what gave them value. Without such potential a woman was as good as dead and society would do to her ‘what was right in their own eyes’ (17:6).
In 19:3-10 a woman’s fate is discussed by her father and her master in her absence. Dr Leath gave similar examples of such exclusion that leads to violence today. In the context of skewed power-relations, race, sexuality, ethnicity and economic status play into such a matrix of violence. Groups named people in their own households, communities and churches, and named their biases towards them. Groups reread the passage to discover where hope in God’s justice is found in the reading of Judges 19-21.
Naming forgotten ancestors stimulates hope and could become a sign of renewal that nurtures critical reading of narratives that legitimise the building of evil structures. Engaging the matrix of power requires an understanding that violence is layered. That may be a sign of renewal and a movement towards healing. Such probing is disturbing!
‘Would you harbour me?’
VIEWS ON BIBLE STUDY #1
What is your view of the theology of “God making man and woman”? Do you think the church ignores the possibility of someone being in-between (either/or)?
The passage in Judges was about the abuse of the unnamed woman but it was also about the acceptance of others. The LGBTQ community also came up. From all the presentations it seemed to me that CWM has made a bold statement that this may be a topic that the church needs to be open to discuss. I liked it when the presenter Jennifer talked about loving God, your brother and sister as ourselves.
My view is that even though some choose to love differently whether it is a man who loves a man or a woman who loves a woman, it is the place of the church to accept anyone who loves God and wants to serve him.
Based on a person’s characteristics they may have been unsure of their sexuality even from birth. The church does not take the struggle these people go through seriously and their inner battle of identity.
The church mentality in my region can be too blunt, it is either “yes or no” “right or wrong” there is no in-between; but we should reach out to those struggling and offer guidance. Instead of having church as a place to lean on, they are pushed out. Yet we say God created us all…so why can’t we be accepting of those whom God made, just like He made us?
VIEWS ON BIBLE STUDY #2
What did you think of the main bible passage and the theme: broken bodies?
I was a bit challenged. One of the things that came to mind was that the only broken body that can be shared is the body of Christ, anything after that can’t be shared.
Do you consider the USA an “Empire”, if so, why?
Yes, I do consider it as an empire because my view or in my imagination I can see someone stepping on someone, I can see another body stepping on another body when I think of the USA in the context “Empire”.
The bible study highlights tradition of abusing and harming of women/concubines. Why do you think it is still a tradition to belittle women today?
You can speak of certain societies where women are not allowed to speak, where a woman is seen as someone who comes second in all that we do. So I will say that I do think it is still a tradition to belittle women, because women are still seen as individuals who cannot do for themselves; and men are to step first then the woman second.
VIEWS ON BIBLE STUDY #3
Did it feel like an effective bible study?
What was discussed in your table group?
The status quo was challenged and we discussed the things we take for granted. We talked about the text as well as social issues.
Did you enjoy the passion with which the leader spoke?
She was speaking from the heart; it was touching so I think everyone would have got something from it. Although I think it was too ‘above’ for some of the audience. There was a number of concepts she didn’t define which may have confused people but I think they could relate to the stories and images.