Praying with Macrina (330-379) against the Global Abuse of Women
by Mimi Haddad
The book of Hebrews asks us to remember our leaders, those who spoke God's words to us in order that we might "consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith" (Heb. 13:7). As we negotiate a romantic glorification of sexual abuse, such as what is portrayed in Fifty Shades of Grey, we remember the 200 million girls missing through death or enslavement. Although these numbers represent the deepest and most devastating holocaust in history, the names, faces and stories of these girls remain obscure and unfamiliar to us—a heaping of insult added to their injury and oppression. For these and others who are marginalized and oppressed globally, we pray beside Saint Macrina, who welcomed the poor, the disabled, and the abused prostitute into her home. Her communion with the marginalized, and her commitment to love them as family, embodied God's presence, compelling the church to serve the outcast as self.
Adapting the prayer of Macrina on her deathbed, we also pray:
Dear Lord, you have redeemed us from sin and its consequences, having taken both on yourself so that what is deformed and corruptible in us might be transformed and redeemed through the power of Calvary. Through Jesus, you have defeated the powers of evil that tempt our weaknesses and enslave humanity. Too weak to rescue ourselves, we place our life and that of neighbor into your hands, that in Christ you will crush evil and human oppression in every corner of our world.
By giving us a Savior, you preserve and redeem life and its goodness. Through Jesus, you have opened newness of life made knowable through Scripture and in the sacraments and services of your body—the church. Lead the Church, oh precious Lord, to bind the wounds of our world, as Macrina did throughout her life.
As the world celebrates, as entertainment, the sexual oppression of women and men, give us supernatural rescue. Through our Savior Jesus protect humanity—body, mind and soul—from evil, from predators, from deception, and from those forces that debase the glory of your image in humanity, both female and male. Bring us a wise and holy rescue from that which distorts the beauty of sex within marriage, and the communion of souls in that most intimate union of one-flesh.
In the strong name of Christ, we rebuke the forces of patriarchy—the domination of male over female. We renounce the power and influence of sin, especially in the lives of girls and women. Created in your likeness, and remade in the image of Christ through the Holy Spirit, we call upon you, holy God, to free humanity enslaved to a love of power and to the domination of one over the other. Let the consequences of sin be nailed to the Cross, that we might overcome sin's grip, debasement and cruelty.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to crave what is good for our bodies, what redeems our souls and brings health to our minds, and what leads us to newness of life in Christ. Give us, our Savior, victory over our oppressors, both seen and unseen. And we humbly beseech you to lead us beside still waters, green pastures, that in your holy presence we may enjoy nurture, safety and peace.
We ask not only for our own lives, but especially for that of others. Remembering the life and service of your servant Macrina, whose eyes were fixed on the suffering of oppressed and oppressor alike, help us to embrace their anguish as our own. Let us remember their plight in our daily prayers and in our work as the church. Prepare for all who suffer a table of refreshment in your presence. Let your rod and staff guide those who are marginalized and abused to dignity, safety, wholeness and strength. Let us overcome evil, as Christ did, through the power of God made manifest on the Cross.
We ask all of this through Jesus our Lord, and for Christ's glory. Amen.
Dr. Mimi Haddad is president of Christians for Biblical Equality. She is a founding member of the Evangelicals and Gender Study Group at the Evangelical Theological Society. She has written more than one hundred articles and blog posts and has contributed to ten books. She is an editor and a contributing author of Global Voices on Biblical Equality: Women and Men Serving Together in the Church. Haddad is an adjunct assistant professor at Fuller Theological Seminary (Houston), Bethel University (Saint Paul, MN), and North Park Theological Seminary (Chicago), and she serves as a gender consultant for World Vision.