“I would have to either make a decision and stand or I would have to buckle down and leave. If I left, resigned or chose to retire, I would have no voice for God’s word.”
I’m sorry, did a big, honking alarm bell just ring in everybody else’s head when they read that? Just me, then? Okay, I’ll break this down for everyone. (And I really should get that alarm bell fixed. On second thought-maybe not.)
The issue is not really religious freedom. It’s not marriage equality. It’s actually that issue that keeps rearing its persistent head-the “f” word that keeps many a Republican, Conservative and Tea Partyer up at night. It’s feminism.
Now before you start to roll your eyes, hear me out.
When I was still in college, I read Marianne Williamson’s book “A Woman’s Worth”. When I started the book I wanted to jump up and down on my dorm bed and shout, “Somebody validates me!” (yes, this was after Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley’s Daily Affirmations). This is a book every single woman should read. As a matter of fact, I became notorious for giving away my copies to other women and being forced to buy more for me. The final copy has this in front of the book: “This book belongs to Charlotte [Walker]. Do not under any circumstances allow her to give it to you. Get yer own damn book!” This was the copy that Marianne Williamson laughed at before she signed.
In the book, in the chapter called “Embracing the Goddess”, Williamson related a story told her by another woman. Her friend had watched the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings with several married couples. With the exception of this woman and two other women, the rest of the women in attendance remained silent. Their husbands held forth on the shamefulness of it all, expressing perfect liberal views, apparently unaware of what was going on in that very room. “Their wives behaved like good little girls: they sat by quietly, allowing their husbands to sound brilliant and insightful…
“What is still lacking in America is permission for women to speak up in public–loudly and clearly–without being considered ball breakers. Let’s look at that word one more time: ball breaker. Try to come up with an expression that conjures more of an association with male pain. Now try to come up with an expression more often associated with a woman who speaks her mind. Most women faced with a choice of hurting men or shutting up go back to sleep and sleep forever.” (Marianne Williamson,”A Woman’s Worth”, p. 70).
Of course, Ms. Davis would not have a voice for God. Her church does not allow women to have any influence at all, much less any leadership positions. Davis originally joined the church after making a promise to her dying mother-in-law. Why she chose this particular church is another question for another day.
In the Apostolic Christian Church to which Ms.Davis belongs:
The women are expected to cover their heads during prayer and worship.
Marriage is only encouraged between a man and a woman “of like mind, faith and fellowship”.
Dating is discouraged.
Members are discouraged from visiting churches of other denominations.
Television and radio are not permitted in the Apostolic Christian Churches of America and the Apostolic Christian Churches (Nazarean).
Members are encouraged to wear modest attire that provides gender distinction.
This church obviously became a safe haven for Davis after an apparently incredibly difficult, tumultuous life. But, there are sometimes too high a price to pay for the relative security of a safe place to rest your spirit. Davis is apparently a fierce, if misguided, at least at this point in time, woman. Her statement that she will no longer have a voice for God, is, to me, heart-rending.
Unfortunately, her passions are playing out in a theater that will not serve her best in the long run. It would be nice if someone, anyone, could come along and perhaps persuade her of the error of her ways and the ignorance that her judgment displays. Someone like a woman who is a lesbian, as well as Christian who is a bunk mate in the Carter County Detention Center, where Ms. Davis calls home, likely for an indefinite period of time.
Stranger things have happened. Cecily McMillan’s imprisonment for assaulting an officer led to a whole new direction in her life after her release as an advocate for prisoner’s rights.
It’s just within the realm of possibility that Ms. Davis might have an epiphany of another kind. An epiphany that all humans really are equal in the sight of God and that her name on a marriage license issued to a couple of the same sex is not shameful but an event for pride and celebration.
“Women have more power than we know. When we truly understand the game for what it is and deepen our awareness of the most dangerous forms of female oppression—emotional and psychological–then we will be on our way to genuine liberation. It doesn’t help to blame anyone. What we can do is face the truth.and any truth faced is closer to realization. True change doesn’t emerge just from action; it emerges from understanding. Action that flows from shallow understanding turns out to be shallow action. Action that flows from deeply felt consciousness is action that can change the world.” (Marianne Williamson, “A Woman’s Worth”, p. 134
And that is the truth that will set Ms. Davis free.