Reading tweets this morning I read:
@theglenmarshall Angel goes straight to Mary. Ignores Joe & Mary’s dad who really should have given their permission 1st. Way to subvert patriarchy Gabe.
But reflecting a little more on that, it goes way farther than simply undermining the cultural phenomenon of patriarchy: it completely blows apart class, culture and gender. No longer content to be ‘interpreted’ by prophets and patriarchs, wise old men and ‘the great and the good’, God’s voice is heard by a poor young woman, whose poverty, youth and gender place her at the absolute margins of society.
When God chooses to speak directly to, and ask an immense task of, one of these ‘raised up lowly’ He shows that our constructs of how it has to be are just so wrong. Who are we therefore to impose our models of hierarchy, of marriage, of status when God so outrageously cuts across them.
THIS is why I am a Christian, not to cling to status or influence, not to preserve conservatively a past age, but to proclaim the radical Good News which transforms society and individuals. The new orthodoxies of ‘complimentarianism’ which look not at the message of Scripture but the culture within which the Scripture was revealed and say ‘well, if its in the bible, then it must be right’ suddenly look less credible, less orthodox, and more about inhibiting the work of the Holy Spirit than living in it.
The First Apostle did not seek permission either, but responded to God; she asked serious questions of God and then gave her own consent. In a supposedly complimentarianist environment, this could not happen, this must not happen because the final buck must rest with the man of the household. God looks at such constructs, such conceits and laughs. Always one to subvert our prejudices, God goes direct and viral.
Without Our Lady’s ‘yes’, there is no Incarnation, without humanity’s engagement in the process, Christ’s saving work would not (then) have begun. The story of the Incarnation is one of empowerment, of liberation, of engagement; and gender does not really enter into it at all.