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“You believe that crap?” This woman asked yesterday, and like an out of control sneeze,  contempt just sprayed all over me. “Disgusting! Women exist for the glory of man,” she sneered.

I am never surprised by a non believer’s capacity to make the pretty things ugly, and so I thought, incoming, take cover…and for goodness sake, hand this woman a hankie, I’m getting drenched here. I had no idea what she was even referring to, and I was already off diving under chairs, hiding from black helicopters, if only metaphorically. My brain drew a complete blank until suddenly I blurted out, “for the glory….”

For those who don’t know, “for the glory,” is the slogan of this quirky, crazy, local race where people dress up in costumes with contraptions and try to make it through mud and sand traps. Although there is some athleticism that really shines through, for the most part it is the precise opposite of glory. And human dignity. In fact, much of its entertainment value comes from the epic failures and dismal defeat. And yet we chant, “for the glory…..”

She recognized the reference immediately and we laughed. Yes, women exist for the glory of man, exactly like that, exhausted, trashed, in complete disarray, little remains of human dignity left, and yet still we persist…..for the glory.

It was the perfect answer at the time and her contempt was quickly washed away with our laughter, but  after I left her I thought about that one phrase from the bible, “for the glory of man,” that had her so upset. There is so much I wanted to tell her, about the love to be found in those passages, about what it all means. About how one little misunderstanding, one word, cannot possibly cause you to reject faith entirely.

We cannot blame it all on one word, not really, but she has seen it told and said and done, that women are inferior to men, not loved and valued as much, all ideas falsely woven around a reference to 1 Corinthians 11:17, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

For her “the glory of man” meant having no worth and value of your own. I could see it in her eyes, I could feel it her very being. I ache for people like that.

Glory is a beautiful word, we are all created for the glory of God, His masterpiece if you will, all having tremendous worth and value to Him.

When it comes to human men, and the phrase, “the woman is the glory of the man,” one must look at what that word “glory” really means, very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent, something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration, adoring praise, resplendent beauty or magnificence, a state of absolute happiness, gratification, contentment.

I’m blushing already.  Women are perceived as the source of honor, adoring praise, admiration, even a state of absolute happiness, gratification, contentment. Rather than being demeaning and marking women as inferior, that is really quite charming and endearing. There is that  female burden of performance someone was looking for the other day.

There’s an interesting quirk in 1 Corinthians 11:10 that is worth mentioning because it speaks to something I encounter all the time, misunderstood definitions of authority. It says, For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” To have power on one’s head is to be under protection, defended, cherished, and valued. In all versions of the bible except the KJV, the word “power” has since been replaced with the word “authority” and taken on more negative connotations. I can look at the word “authority” and see only protection, provision, safety, but others cannot, others see “authority” and think only of abuse and exploitation.

If only this woman had read the passages herself, perhaps even read just a bit farther, because it goes on to say, For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.”

Woman, the glory of man, meaning, a source of honor, resplendent beauty or magnificence combined with power on her head because of the angels, is not demeaning at all, it’s a huge responsibility, one that really honors women with a status and standard we can never hope to fully live up to.

For the glory….. Not always the most dignified race in the world, sure to leave us trashed, in complete disarray, little remains of human dignity left, but still, not a bad deal at all.