When I started seminary I was particularly interested in studying Jezebel with a new lens. This is because the election of 2016 rocked my world in a way I never thought possible. The church I had grown up in and loved with all of my heart did not love me (or any woman) back in the same way we loved and served the church. When the Access Hollywood tapes were released, I heard so many men and women in the church easily dismiss it as “Locker Room Talk.” I was also in the middle of dealing with a sexual assault charge against someone we knew and loved with all our heart, and the charge came from a child–I 100% believed (and still do) the child. As you can imagine, my anger and trauma were through the roof at this point. How could I keep going and loving a world that I knew cared little for my existence. It loves my work done with no fanfare or recognition, but does not my love humanity or our children’s humanity. Unless we are winners, of course. People who do not complain when things are not as they should be and shake the status quo.
The people who were angered by the sex tapes were loudly silent because we have been trained to avoid controversy. This letting things go because the loudest voices are too mean is exactly what is happening in dealing with the January 6, 2021 riot. Members of Congress and the Senate are not being held accountable for inciting this riot with their rhetoric. Hawley and Cruz should absolutely be expelled. They are done. Trump should also be charged and put in prison for treason. He should have been in jail long ago–long before he even came on the political scene. I say this conflicted because I do not believe in the prison system. Prison does not help people. We need places to heal, not be punished. Punishment does not work, but being held accountable absolutely does! All of the men and woman who have led us into demeaning, dehumanizing and encouraging violence against our fellow citizens should be removed from office immediately, and face the consequences of their actions. No excuses or blaming the other side. Pastors should also lose their position permanently, and also get help, when they violate their office. They can be restored, but not back into the role of pastor. That is a high office that cannot be reclaimed once violated. In 2016 I had no idea how prevalent sexual assault was in church against women and children. No wonder why no one really cared about the charge I was dealing with personally and our political sexual assault either. All of these sins had been going on for so long and were covered up by “winning” or money. David Dark said this yesterday: God sees what money hides. This goes for winning too.
What I also found troubling was this hatred towards Hillary Clinton. Dislike her policies all you want, but the rhetoric against her humanity was un-Christlike. Ungodly in every way. The hatred of her was so deep that every sin of Trumps became no big deal, and his sins were grievous and many. This post would be way too long to list them, and everyone who is paying attention should already know by now. To survive, I started researching why this was happening. It was quickly revealed to me we have cared 0% about the women in the Bible and their experiences. We were quick to call women whores and manipulators instead of listening to them. Many stories we do not even tell, or we leave it for women to study. Men cannot be bothered with stories about women. Women have basically been treated as only good for procreation, nothing else to contribute lest we mislead a man as Eve did Adam. That is an unfaithful reading of that deeply complicated story. I also noticed we would praise when a woman showed up who was faithful, but we quickly explained how sinful she was but God loved her anyway. Tamar and Rahab come to mind. We never once considered their need to survive. Then there is Jezebel. The wickedest witch there ever was according to the narrative. And the Bible is guilty of this portrayal, too. I am not afraid to interrogate the Bible telling a story about someone else who does not get to speak for themselves. But the Bible did leave me something that I had never noticed before until I got to seminary, and I wrote about it. Also, weirdly, I had also connected it to what is going on in Washington. I will repost what I wrote on February 9, 2020:
I don’t know how to OT homework and not share what I am learning. This is good stuff. It reads like today’s news. When people tell me what is going on in Washington, I want to say: Yeah, I read that in the Bible. It isn’t new, and God isn’t having it. The prophets tell me so. I want to talk about two prophets that have revealed several things to me that I can apply to today:1) Elijah- (2 Kings 18-19) This guy comes to King Ahab with all the confidence in the world of destroying the idols of Baal and Asherah, and rain will come to the land again. If you read Chapter 18, it seems he accomplished his goal. He was even mocking the people as they were learning their Gods wouldn’t answer them. He is triumphant over the Priests of Baal and the Drought ends. End of story, but wait…Jezebel shows up. When Jezebel confronts him he runs like a scaredy. He tells God no one is faithful – only he is – and they want to kill him. (I can say this b/c I talk to Elijah (I talk to those who went before us, so I can hear what they are saying). He knows he did (he laughs with me), and I was trying to do the same thing today when I made a mistake. There is no way to live this life and not blow it. God still shows up and gets us back on track). I want to talk about Jezebel for a second. This woman is written by men who don’t like women. You can tell. Why would God be more angry at Jezebel and Ahab than any other king who did not listen to God? You know what it reminds me of- Hillary Clinton. You would think by the way so many talk, there is no one more evil in the sight of God than HC. I don’t get it. People would write things like Trump is carnal, but she is a demon. Say what?! And a movie was made call Hillary’s America. Give me a break. Even now Dems are infighting b/c of HC. People move on. She isn’t running. Hillary and Jezebel need a new story with a different angle. I think they reveal our own sin vs theirs in the story that has been told. Not saying they haven’t done bad things. who in power hasn’t? Every single one of them should be brought up on war crimes. I am saying how we talk about them reveals more about us than them. Watch out for people who tell women they have the “Jezebel Spirit”. That is a thing, and it is rotten and misogynistic. 2) I want to talk about an unknown prophet named Micaiah (he is a disciple of Elijah – Elijah did good work, so a mistake doesn’t define you). He is really important and speaks to our time and place right now. The King of Judah and King of Israel, who have been at peace with Aram for three years now, decide they need to get Rammoth-gilead b/c it belongs to them. They consult the prophets together. Jehoshaphat wanted to consult the prophets to make sure God was ok with this, I should say. King of Israel was ok with it, until Jehoshaphat said Micaiah. King of Israel hated him b/c he never predicts anything favorable for him. The prophets with lying spirits were telling them everything they wanted to hear to go get Rammoth-gilead. But King of Judah wants to hear Micaiah. Micaiah is the one who will only tell them what God tells him. And it isn’t good for their agenda. So the King of Israel wants him thrown in jail. To relate this today in Kentucky, Fully Armed Rally-goers enter Kentucky’s capitol with zero resistance-January 31, 2020. They are waving their AR-15s in the air loud and proud. No armed guards for them. Reverend Barber shows up with a letter for the governor and IS met with armed guards. (He came in peace, but prayer scares this principality). We have lying spirits prophesying in the WH. Who is going to be the prophet to say what God says, and only what God says. It didn’t work out for the King of Israel not to listen to Micaiah.
Look at that!
No one has ever considered that Jezebel may have held Elijah accountable for his deadly actions! We skip right over that because the Bible is written in such a way for us not to notice, and we spend little time pondering the meaning. The story is all around deeply tragic and troubling. Men clearly wrote the story, but the holes in the story remain because truth always finds a way. I do not trust a story trashing a woman who has no voice in the narrative.
The charismatic movement started calling women “Jezebel spirits” to condemn women. I did not grow up hearing that, but I sure heard about how awful she was and I was never to be like her. Jezebel has become a slur in our theology. Take a look at the following article. It is on of many I found when I looked up Jezebel spirit.
How we talk about women matters. It affects our lives in real and tangible ways. I do not care about some after life where all of this will be taken care of to avoid dealing with the sin of misogyny now. The Bible is telling us stories to sit with and think about–not live by that story when it is clearly sinful and deadly. The Bible is a meditation we are to sit with daily and ponder for the rest of our lives. The Bibles ends up reading us. Too bad we are reflecting the tragic stories instead of the beautiful ones as a whole. I love the Bible gives us stories about the human condition. Yes, there are sins that are atrocious, but it also shows us the power of humans to change and do better. The whole world is groaning for all of humanity to repent. I have a story I learned in Greek that demonstrates this biblically that I will write about later. The Bible is also constantly in tension with itself moving and changing with the times and listening to the spirit of the day. There are lying spirits, but the lying spirit may be in our house–not someone elses! Our ancestors do not handle everything in way we should repeat. Women are mistreated time and time again, and our generation is no different. This needs to stop. We can end it. We can honor our ancestors who have tried to make real and lasting change that has not been fully realized yet. We can do this by being the change they were working towards. Jesus handed the baton to Mary Magdalene in the gospel of John. It is the male disciples who did not honor that move. Jesus trained her to preach. I will never get over how little known this is in the Christian faith (Catholic and Protestant alike) that our first preacher was a woman trained by Jesus.
Instead Christians are known more for calling women Jezebels. What a travesty.
I cannot think of a better time to plug a much needed academic book about women in the Bible. It is called “Women In The Bible”, and it is by my dearest friend Rev. Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles.