Last Sunday in church, we sang “Hail to the Lord’s Annointed.” When James Montgomery wrote the words in 1821, it is doubtful if he was speaking about freeing women from oppression. It is sure that when congregations sang the song, the fact that women were being oppressed was not on their minds. Just as it is not on the minds of most congregations when they sing the song today.
“Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed,
his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
to set the captive free;
to take away transgression,
and rule in equity.”
Even as congregations sang the words and cried out for freedom that was promised in Christ, for years they were confident that they had the right to oppress women and slaves in their households, in their cities, and in their churches.
In fact, it was in churches where slavery and oppression found favorable breeding ground, as pastors regularly preached against giving them freedom. Congregations took it to heart and kept their slaves. The Southern Baptist Convention was formed expressly to keep black representatives away from annual Baptist meetings. Women continued to be silenced in service and in the pulpit.
The Civil War had yet to come and the outcome would not be seen for another 140 years when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave women and blacks the same freedoms that should have been acknowledged by the church a long time ago.
2017 has brought many changes. A new president took office. Women’s voices were heard, really heard, for the first time when they told about sexual abuse and harassment. Movie moguls, business leaders, news media personalities and Congressmen and Senators fell from grace as their abuses were exposed. Time Magazine chose “the Silence Breakers” as their Person of the Year.
But the church is silent. The church is silent when they should be standing up for women. As usual, the church doesn’t stand up for anything. The church is more likely to stand against social justice, claiming biblical authority. Traditionally, the church stands up against civil rights for all.
“For he delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalm 72)”
Advent Hope – Hope that justice for women will prevail, and that what is happening now will bring a lasting change for women and that the church will realize, that, just as it was finally recognized as being wrong to own another human being in slavery, it is wrong to deny women the right and privilege to serve God as she feels she is called.
2018 is coming. What are you going to do for women’s equality?