Nobody wants to contribute to dodgy propaganda for sweeping political agendas. The Bible has provoked ire on this matter in some circles.
Its treatment of women, for instance. The Bible has a reputation in some circles of telling women to PIPE DOWN already. Folks have quoted Bible verses to make that point.
Other verses show God’s opinion on the matter a little differently, to the tune of telling women: do not neglect to use your voice. The message is a strong one, if we chose to give it a look.
If ever a story demonstrated that the clear voice of women matters to the God of the Bible, it would be the story of Pontius Pilate’s wife.
Actually, there are a lot of stories. But in this one she really said something. And her husband really didn’t listen.
It’s interesting to me that her comments were included in the Bible at all.
“Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night'” (Matthew 27:19).
Cue the music crescendo. These were the moments leading up to the cruelest, most tortured hours in the Christian story. Jesus was going to be killed and Pontius Pilate was about to turn him over to the people to start the process.
And his wife told him not to do it.
Remember the über-popular book called The Da Vinci Code? In my book club, we discussed author Dan Brown’s fictional take on what got in and what got cut from the Bible, and his storyline about the monks who were allegedly excluding stuff about strong, smart women.
Sorry, boys. You missed a spot.
I assume Pilate’s wife had been instructed as a little girl and then many, many, many times throughout her life to be quiet.
But she is the one God used to say something to Pilate.
Renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon remarked on her boldness when he wrote in an 1882 sermon, “It shows a wonderful Providence of God that this lady was moved to send so strong a message to her self-willed husband–to beseech, to entreat, to implore–almost to demand of him that he let this just Man go.”
The lesson sounds like one we have heard over and over: when it comes to societal rules or cultural norms or even stereotypically appropriate religious behavior, lean toward your inclination called IGNORE.
God seems to.
It is good to hold common refrains in society–and common refrains in the church–up to the light of how God managed a similar incident with the Bible heroes who went before us.
In the case of Pilate’s wife, her voice sliced through any common refrains of the time. “Leave that innocent man alone…” Pilate had already suspected the clamoring crowd was wrong and then came his wife’s words.
But he didn’t listen. At least, he didn’t stop what was about to happen. He didn’t stand up to the crowd–a crowd over which he ruled.
So her words influenced…nothing?
Her words should influence how women feel about their voices. God is longing for you to use your voice. Don’t give it up.
The Author of the Bible wishes you wouldn’t.