I spoke briefly about how the “Honour Shame” system works on Guys (here) – it is only fair to now talk about how this affects women. It is also only fair to warn you ladies, that the news is not good.
The “Honour Shame” system was a way of thinking that was prevalent in Jesus time. The system controlled all social behaviour.
The thing to notice here is that there were two sets of rules in play – one for men and one for women. Where it was honourable for a man to self promote and dislay one’s honour, whether it be in status, wealth, power; it was different for women. Honour for women was to be displayed in the internal – she was to be humble, chaste, submissive/obedient, quiet – she wasn’t to have opinions, that was for the man and she was to learn from him. A man could regain his honour if he lost virtue, whereas a woman could never regain honour once lost.
I want to point out two things:
1. Jesus walked above this system.
2. We still walk below it.
Nearly all of Jesus teaching was about the Kingdom – the Kingdom that we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus lived the Kingdom life, he just blatantly ignored the Honour Shame system. The stories come more alive when you understand this background information. It makes so much more sense to see the reactions of the religious leaders as Jesus liberally spoke to women, associated with the poor, the lame, other races – because all these things made Jesus Shameless…..and he didn’t care!
I believe the Gospel has had an affect on the blatent manifestations of the Honour Shame system in our country, and I would like to say in our Churches. The problem is that the male ego finds the perfect hiding place in religion – not only are we dealing with a silent and dark system of domination – God ordains it! I recently read an essay by an influential figure in our church(if interested John Kleinigs essay is here) which said that we can no longer trust that Pastors who promote “women’s ordination” will be able to deliver God’s Word – God will not recognize their ministries. Can we see remnants of the Honour Shame system in our church? I think it is more obvious in the Lutheran Churches where women still come to church with head coverings, because as pointed out it is not honourable for a woman to show her glory like it is for a man. The point is, while we have one rule for men and one for women we are not walking above the Honour Shame system like Jesus did.