God loves diversity. From the very beginning of the Hebrew scriptures we can see diversity in action. According to the Biblical text, creation begins with difference: light and darkness, water and dry land, greater light and lesser light. Fish, birds, beasts, and creeping things reproduce after their different kinds. At the apex of creation stands humanity and the very tip of the apex is woman. Instead of making us asexual borglike robots he stamps us with difference: male and female. This is the first human diversity and all other diversity pales in comparison. Man and woman are different.
These differences govern not only how our body functions but they also give us different experiences and outlooks. There is nothing that shapes and defines us in the core of our being more than our sexuality. The fact of whether on an application or form we write an “m” or an “f” next to the word sex speaks volumes on how we approach life and see the world around us. It is more than just biology. Because of this biology we acquire a different psyche, a different perspective. This biology has over thousands of years given rise to certain roles and ways of relating in our society and culture. Irregardless of whether the society or culture conditions us to act in these ways the biology was there first and gave birth to it. The first instance of diversity set us on a trajectory that has been adventurous, exciting, and….full of conflict. Patriarchy, misogyny, polygamy, female mutilation, pornography and a whole host of other evils has sprung from the fact that men and women are different and need reconciliation. For the most part is has been men who have initiated the oppression and violence against women and this is something that still needs to be remedied even in our modern times of women’s liberation.
As an advocate for diversity I seek to be an advocate of women. This month is women’s history month and to honor that I will be exploring the perspectives of women through reading from the vantage point of my two prominent identities as black and Christian. The books on my list are:
Women, leaders, and the church by Linda L. Belleville
The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
Words on Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought by Beverly Guy-Sheftall
The Word According to Eve by Cullen Murphy (Male author but a survey of women scholars involved in Biblical studies)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I am already knee deep in a couple of these and they are already readjusting my lens and perspective. Do you have any other suggestions?