Sin was supposed to mean “missing the mark of God’s expectation for us.” And yes, some of those expectations can be found on lists configured as rules and laws but they are only the framework of a tapestry in which our love for God is interwoven with her love for us producing the gorgeous colors and sumptuous textures of a life that is pleasing to God. In too many sermons, an epistle about sin, if read or preached with regard to women, would construct women and our bodies and our choices about our bodies as the occasion of sin. The perception that women are a thing to be controlled, to be mastered, to be dominated is as old as, if not the first humans, or the first stories about the first humans, then as the first interpretations of those stories. Interpretations of the Mary and Martha, Martha and Mary story often focus on “a woman’s place.” What passed for liberating readings in some contexts is saying that a woman’s place is not just in the kitchen but also at the feet of Jesus. Missing from the less than revolutionary readings is the question of why it is imagined that women have a “place” when men don’t.
Where are the women disciples in the epistles outside of Romans 16 and a pastoral letter about church conflict? Where is Mary Magdalene? Where is the Blessed Virgin? Where are the stories about the women pastors, apostles and bishops in whose homes these early Jesus communities were meeting? Where are their sermons and pastoral epistles? Why are there so many fewer women in the Acts of the Apostles? It seems that all of those women disciples in Luke were simply narrative tools determined to be unnecessary in Acts in which female characters simply fade to black.