One thing that’s enjoyable about dystopian novels and films is that you can imagine and see a world where segregation is problematic. One terrible thing about reality is that we have a way of making fiction seem like a poor shadow of the evils humanity is capable of inflicting on our fellow humans who are different from us.
I just watched Divergent and saw a society divided into five system of belief, with each of it’s factions represented by a different set of colors for their wardrobes. Selfless Abnegation wears grey. Knowledgeable Erudite wears blue. Kind Amity wears yellows and oranges. Honest Candor wears white. Brave Dauntless wears black. Your colors show everyone else your faction – where you belong and what you believe in. But there’s another group of people the Factionless who have no representation or decision-making power in the government and survive only because Abnegation gives them food. Such a society was organized to prevent war, but it was inevitable that one would happen and tear it apart. A society built on division will always be the divided house that wars within itself.
I remember reading in our history books that Jewish people were ordered to wear yellow badges in Nazi-controlled Germany: “The German government’s policy of forcing Jews to wear identifying badges was but one of many psychological tactics aimed at isolating and dehumanizing the Jews of Europe, directly marking them as being different (i.e., inferior) to everyone else. It allowed for the easier facilitation of their separation from society and subsequent ghettoization, which ultimately led to the deportation and murder of 6 million Jews. Those who failed or refused to wear the badge risked severe punishment, including death.” http://www.holocaustcenter.org/holocaust-badges
So I’m rather leery when Christians get all excited about different treatment along gender lines – “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.”
See – the Bible says it there plainly, women ought to wear head coverings and men ought not wear head coverings. Not only that, but other verses that govern the different treatment for men and women forbid women from speaking, teaching, having authority, or any leadership positions.
I always thought this line of reasoning was absurd: “Now women, aren’t you lucky? You get to do something very special that men cannot. I wish I was a woman so I could publicly show my faith in a bold counter-cultural statement by wearing a head covering, but I’m not. I’ll just have to stand here preaching at you with my bald head reflecting the lighting. Now let’s talk about your glorious hair …”
It’s almost as annoying as the counter-cultural statement: “When women wear a head-covering, they’re making a bold counter-cultural statement about what it means to be a woman. It means affirming one’s role by submitting to the authorities over them. It means turning their back on the curse, to say ‘I will not usurp the role of men’ or ‘I will stand against the tide of gender confusion, this head covering means that I am a woman who affirms my gender role with every fiber of my feminine being.’ The world will see your head covering and tremble at your faith, they will say: ‘I understand that your head covering is a symbol of your biblical womanhood, you really represent the role of the Church in her relationship to Christ!’” Yeah … no. Seriously?
We’ve seen how making somebody wear something because they’re different is a really bad idea. You can say that two people are equal all the day long, but if they don’t get equal treatment, the by definition, one of them is superior and the other is inferior. I think it goes with the territory of people being unable to serve two masters – money or God, fame or God, etc.; when we have to choose between two things – there has to be something that makes them different, one superior to the other, that makes it more desirable.
So when we search the Scriptures and see women doing things that usually the men do, we have to explain why the woman did it in an inferior capacity. That’s why it’s commonly taught that Deborah’s leadership was a judgement on Israel because no suitable man could be found to be a Judge and even it’s chief army officer was cowardly and if he was an indication of the best men of the time then it must mean that all men were worse than him. And Huldah wasn’t a prophetess in the mode of Isaiah or Ezekiel, she didn’t wander around doing miraculous signs but she just stayed home. Phoebe wasn’t a deacon, she was a servant who was known to the deacons for her faithful non-deacon service to the church. And Junia really wasn’t an apostle either, they knew about her because she was famous for being helpful. See, these women were totally equal; but different.
And having women wear head coverings is not about modesty. (Though women are not allowed to wear immodest clothing and there’s no such thing as an immodest head covering, but let’s not dwell on that.) It can’t be about modesty because the word ‘modest’ isn’t used or hinted at. Women’s hair wasn’t viewed as ‘immodest’ because Jesus let a woman wipe his feet with her hair and didn’t freak out as if it were the equivalent of her being in the state of nakedness. (But the lack of a head covering was a divorce-able offense and could be viewed as proof that a woman had just been known by a man in the Biblical sense of the word, but because the Bible doesn’t actually say that’s the cultural reason for head coverings, we can ignore that, too. So women’s hair, in and of itself wasn’t immodest, but being able to see it in public was.) Besides, hair is glorious and supposed to be seen (except we want you to cover it up because the Bible says so.)
So wait a moment – if modesty’s mean to cover nakedness – then why are there fifty or so rules about what constitutes nakedness? Why is four-inch sleeves acceptable but three-inch sleeves the equivalent of nakedness? Why do ankle-length skirts get a pass and knee-length skirts scandalous as if it were the equivalent of nakedness? Why do certain styles of jewellery and make-up get labeled as ‘immodest’ and the equivalent of nakedness while going without jewelry and make-up is labeled as modest? Why is it that men have hardly any rules about modesty anyway?
But women aren’t to worry their pretty little (covered) heads about these things – they’re to accept them all in stride that they’re equal but their roles are different. They’re equal but they can’t teach. They’re equal but they can’t lead. They’re equal but they can’t speak. They’re equal but they can’t not wear head coverings. They’re equal but they can’t be the equal of men. After all, it’s not about modesty. Yay.