Do Not Enter, Employees Only, Faculty Only, Keep Out, Staff Only Beyond This Point, No Entry: Ticket Holders Only, No Trespassing, Members Only.
We’ve all encountered signs like these. Signs that exclude. Signs that denote privilege and entitlement. Signs that leave us longing for the right to access the treasures and opportunities which wait behind the doors.
In elementary school, I often imagined what special secrets awaited the teachers in their “Faculty Only” lounges.
I envisioned large buffet tables lined with every possible delicacy and treat. I pictured plush chairs and couches enfolding each teacher in a comforting hug. Fun games lined shelves for their enjoyment. Any time the door would swing open, I’d crane my neck, trying to sneak a peak inside their secret lair.
It wasn’t until I became a teacher myself that my visions of luxury were replaced by noisy copy machines, sterile office furniture, and outdated vending machines. I’ve gained the coveted access to the teacher’s lounge, and although the furnishings are far from my childhood fantasies, and shelfs are lined with colored copy paper instead of games, I still feel a sense of privilege when I push open those doors and walk freely into an area where others aren’t allowed.
When the door closes behind me, I’m separated from those who lack the appropriate titles. I have the right to be there; they don’t.
Before Jesus took His last breath on the cross, a similar separation existed between God and humankind.
The Jewish Tabernacle housed a huge veil fashioned from interlacing yarns of purple and blue, hues achieved by using expensive dyes (dyes typically reserved for royalty). Angels woven from threads of pure gold covered the surface of the veil which reached a height of 60 feet and stretched 30 feet across (Exodus 26:31).
The massive expansiveness and thickness (4 inches) of the veil created a cloth wall which separated mere man from the Holy of Holies. It served as a symbolic divide between sinful humanity and God. Human sin prevented the average man, woman, or child from entering into the presence of God; only the High Priest could enter into the sanctuary of God, and even he was limited to a once-a-year admittance ticket (Hebrews 9:7).
When Jesus whispered three words from the cross, “It is finished,” and drew His last breath, a miraculous event occurred in the Tabernacle. The veil which served as a barrier between God and humanity ripped from the top to the very bottom (Matthew 27:50-51). In that moment, God’s hand reached down and supernaturally destroyed the “Do Not Enter” sign which kept His children from entering directly into His presence.
Starting from the top of the veil and tearing downward, the hierarchy of privilege was removed.
Through the sacrifice of our Savior, we may now enter boldly into the presence of God without the covering of sacrifices and High Priests: “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ…But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2: 12-13)
With the hierarchy of privilege destroyed, roles which entitled some to greater freedoms before Christ’s death also become meaningless. As Galatians 3:28 assures, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
While most see the tearing of the veil as the symbolic removal of sin impediments between God and humankind, I think it also points to Christ’s desire for an end to hierarchical power structures and privilege.
This includes patriarchy. Theology and doctrines which teach the necessity of male headship, leadership, and covering, push God’s daughters away from Him, once more sewing up a barrier between women and Christ.
Women can’t enter boldly into God’s presence through the sharing of our testimonies and spiritual gifts if men control when and how we are permitted to do our good works in Christ’s name.
Jesus welcomes Mary’s good work when she anoints Him with the expensive oil. When the disciples admonish Mary, Jesus instructs them to “leave her alone,” inquiring why they would “bother her” when she only sought to “do a beautiful thing” to Him (Mark 14:6). She enters boldly, ignoring customary laws, and she’s commended, not censured.
Women aren’t entering boldly into God’s churches when we are limited to duties which maintain a patriarchal hierarchy.
Instead of enjoying access to all areas of God’s house and exercising our complete freedom in Him, many women remain marginalized in the church, looking in from the outside, a veil of male authority obscuring our view.
Women aren’t entering boldly into Christian marriages when wives are taught to follow their husband’s leadership instead of Christ’s voice, to which they acquired direct access when the veil was torn.
2 Corinthians 5: 20-21 states, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making His appeal through us…He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If women are to become the righteousness of God, if we are to enjoy the complete access to God which the tearing of the veil permits, we cannot be limited by patriarchal doctrines of hierarchy.
Jesus makes intercession for us, not husbands or fathers or brothers or any man who places himself in a place of prominence over a woman (Romans 8:34). Jesus is the only high priest. “For the law appoints as high priests men in their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:28)
We need to stop standing on the outside, craning our necks, hoping for a glimpse of the imagined glories behind patriarchal doors.
We need to stop asking permission to enter. We are God’s daughters, created in His image (Genesis 1:27), and covered by His sacrifice on the cross (1 Corinthians 1:30). We cannot wait for the supernatural removal of man-made barriers between us and God; God did that already with the destruction of the veil.
We must trust in the authority we have in Christ and push through those doors, entering boldly and freely into our rightful place at the throne of God.
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