Caveat: I do not pretend to think that by writing about this I am some sort of expert or have considered the sociological influences of this matter from multiple angles. This is not meant to be eloquent but just a gut reaction.
BBC today featured today a story about an exclusively female hotel that has just opened in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a hotel run by women, for women with female IT personnel, housekeeping, front staff and bellhops.
Gut reaction: Great!
That’s so great to provide women with a place where they can relax, not have to wear the full abaya, and feel safe from the perusal of men.
Following reaction: Feminist
Why should a woman have to feel threatened by the perusal of men because they’re not completely covered head to toe in stifling black fabric?
Final reaction: Sadness
This is just not how Jesus intended it. My friend Jason spoke very thoughtfully last night to what changed after Creation that set man and God apart. Creation was very good when God was walking with man and woman in the cool of the garden. Man worked and tended to the garden and the woman helped the man. When we ate from the tree of good and evil, it wasn’t that the fruit in itself contained the knowledge of good and evil and that is what separated us from God…
Woman and man ate the fruit in direct opposition to the will of God which had man’s good in mind (Gen 2:17– in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die). When we went in the opposite direction of God’s will, our eyes were open to a new measure of whether what Adam and Eve were doing was very good and in God’s will or not. This new measure is the measure of good and evil. Where did they fall in the spectrum? Well Adam believed himself more good than Eve, and Eve saw herself more good than the serpent. From that point forward, we’ve been judging ourselves and the healthiness of our lives against the good-ness of others’ lives.
This situation brings that contrast into a startling light. Extreme Islamic cultures continue to be the Adam, blaming the Eve for their failings. This sends women under covers, hiding in hotels where they can be safe, dangerously submitting to paths they’ve been ordered to follow. One of the Saudi IT specialists said, “It’s not easy to work in a company, male and female together, so I feel really lucky.” This is just not the natural order of things! God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and made Eve. Not good to be alone! We are meant to be complementary, men and women and to work together.
Jesus, reconcile our world to you, your will, and your order.