Lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ parable of the woman who works a bit of leavening into a lump of dough and eventually the whole thing becomes leavened. A little bit of elbow grease and a pinch of leavening and poof! The dream of God appears before your eyes.
Have you ever noticed—I mean, really took seriously—that the agent in this parable is a woman? She is the one who transforms an unleavened lump of flour and water into bread ready to be eaten.
Since Jesus was perfect and didn’t make any mistakes (as I’ve been told and I wouldn’t dare want to question being told something), I think he must have known what a kerfuffle he would cause by indicating the important figure—the one who brings about the very intention of God—in his narrative is nothing other than a woman! Well, he probably was betting on the way we read “inspired” texts, you know, make stark lines of distinction by paying attention to the major—by major I mean male, of course—figures because they are the ones who will show us and tell us what we need to know. A few tiny verses tucked away in the midst of more important parables like the sower and the mustard seed and who is going to pay attention to the woman in the kitchen baking bread?
Because we are so predictable in our reading there are two things about this parable that follow: 1) it isn’t very well-known (how many times have you heard it mentioned?), and 2) who cares about the woman, what about that amazing yeast?
Being overshadowed by a little bit of leavening agent must be unbearable for this woman and I’ve felt pretty badly for her over the years. But recently I’ve come across an amazing biblical technique used by courtship guru Jonathan Lindvall that could have revolutionary impact on our reading and could resurrect, so to speak, our invisible kneading woman.
Lindvall, host of the website Bold Christian Living, argues for a courtship model (what he calls scriptural romance) rather than dating as the best way to prepare for and transition into marriage. He bases his reasoning on the story of Adam and Eve (do you ever wonder if any of these people read anything other than 2 chapters in Genesis, one in Proverbs, and a few verses from 1 Timothy and Titus, throwing in a couple from Ephesians for good measure?) and this is where we can benefit from adapting what I’d like to call (and I’m being polite here, mind you) Lindvall’s Loony Lesson.
It goes like this. Adam didn’t realize he was lonely and needing some companionship but God did. So, God put Adam to sleep. When Adam woke up, he had a wife: Eve! So, by comparison, when young men realize they would like to have a companion, they should go to sleep emotionally. They do this by praying for God to produce a spouse and by asking a woman’s parents for their blessings. This emotional sleeping will allow for God to work and for rational processes (you know, the God-given kind as over against the less trust-worthy emotional stuff that women are more prone to have) to maintain the upper hand.
Prayer and permission from a woman’s parents are the only necessary parameters for pursuing a marriage relationship (well, from the guy’s perspective; for a woman, she just waits—in prayer—of course).
Dating simply entails too much messiness and emotional baggage. I mean, how unnecessary to spend time together exchanging ideas and dreams, likes and dislikes. Besides since in Lindvall’s world women have virtually no independent thoughts and serve mostly as temptations to avoid, what is the purpose in actually getting to know one? Furthermore, if you happen to break up and decide to find someone else, well, what to do with all of that heartbreak?
Courtship, on the other hand, keeps everything clean and tidy and firmly in the hands of men…just how God intended.
OK. So, let me see if I can employ Lindvall’s Loony Lesson to our parable of the woman kneading the dough.
Jesus said the realm of God is like a woman who adds leaven to flour. Clearly, women are the only ones God uses since the actor in the parable was a woman. Thus the entire church up to now is heretical because it has been the result of mostly men—our bible translations, our theology, how our history has been constructed, official leaders in the church. But, based upon this parable, the person who does God’s work is a woman. Ergo, there is no doubt that women, not men, are supposed to bring about the world as God would like it to be.
The only difference between Lindvall’s reading of Genesis and mine of the woman is that mine contains at least an element of truth. Geesh.