Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29)
It would be unfair to the story to make Peter and the other apostles into proto-feminists who mean literally what they say: that they cannot obey the men, the male hierarchy, the patriarchy, but must, instead, obey God.
But if Peter had been Sojourner Truth declaring “Ain’t I a woman?” it wouldn’t be so far-fetched. Sojourner Truth knew a thing or two about the trials and difficulties of being under patriarchy, and she knew she needed to obey God rather than men:
Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
Peter’s resolution along with the resolution of the other apostles, in some ways set alight a long-term fuse that would damage the very idea of “apostleship,” that certain people–certain men, in fact–would be the ones who spoke and others would have to listen. Because once Peter declared that God’s truth was more fundamental than a man’s, it made his own truth subject to nullification.
One thinks of the brave early Anabaptists who directly rejected Peter’s successors’ right to rule them in things of religion, and who directly rejected the local Protestant’s state’s right to do it, either. They, too, were all male, of course–or perhaps someone knows something about early Anabaptist women that I do not–and so they continued to light Peter’s fuse.
So, today I hope to find a godly woman rebel to listen to. And perhaps it will be my friend Allie, who says that one of the most radical things a woman can do in these days is to love one husband and raise lots of kids.