By Rebekah Giffone
I wish God was from the 1950s.
The sights and sounds of that old Bible Belt
dreamily drift toward me as I lazily sip my tea
and the soft, summer breeze rustles in the lace curtains.
I like the rose pattern on the edge of my tea cup,
and the feminine cut of my knee-length dress.
Those days are ended now,
and new patterns begin to emerge,
patterns that plague my pretty little head
and force me to pound the gates of heaven for guidance.
Life was easier for me then,
when I lived in the shade of the Bible Belt.
Sometimes, I want to go back to the days
when it was okay to be a kept woman;
when my only calling was to follow my husband,
and standing up was a man’s duty.
In those golden days,
when only men were called by God,
I thought that I could do whatever I wanted,
as long as I wanted to raise children, too.
But I have entered a man’s world,
and must, like every man,
shoulder the burden of all men,
whether male or female.
I thought that good men
knew what was what
and that as soon as I stopped
trying to wear the pants,
a good man would come along,
who wasn’t as confused as I,
and show me how to live.
Isn’t that what you told me, Mr. Harris?
Isn’t that what you promised me?
Now I see that we are all confused
and that it’s not fair for me to expect
someone else to have life all figured out
just because he has more testosterone.
I told God, amidst my womanish tears,
that I do not want to be a man,
that I am too shy and awkward
and not skilled enough,
and not strong enough,
and that I am afraid of the future,
and of scaring away all the good men.
He would have none of it.
“Daughter,” He said to me,
“Is it not I, the LORD, who have made you?
And is it not I, the LORD, who cares for you?
Is it not I, the LORD, who calls you?”
No, I do not want to be a man;
I want to stay in the world I know,
In the role I know how to play,
doing the things I know how to do.
Freedom is too heavy for woman,
And God’s call is too great for her to bear.
Do they know why it’s so hard for her?
Do they know why she’s so afraid?
They tell her God is wholly masculine
and that theology is a masculine task.
They tell her God loves her no matter what,
but that she has to be (wifelily) sexy
and bear children or God won’t approve of her.
That’s her lot. That’s her job.
That’s because their God is a man.
And if she’s tired of being sexy,
and wants to serve God with her mind,
to learn and teach the Scriptures,
they tell her that Biblical interpretation
is a man’s job
and that if she wants to teach the Bible
or lead the people of God,
she must become a man.
I told God that I am afraid to become a man,
that I’m not strong or brave or bold.
He would have none of it.