What is the role of women in the Twelve Tribes? The dictionary definition of role is 1) A character or part played by an actor in a dramatic performance. 2) The characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual. 3) A function or position.
Some people who ask us this question are concerned that the women among us are not being “themselves,” but are playing a part dictated to them by religious doctrines. Are we just following a routine of expected social patterns of behavior?
Others who ask about woman’s role want to know what kinds of things we do with our time, and why we have chosen this life that is so different from their own. How are we regarded in our Communities, and what are our dreams and desires?
There is so much that could be said in response to such questions, but here we will attempt a little beginning, and more extensive questions surely can be answered personally by mail or a visit.
Our “characteristic social behavior” is that we help the men, because woman was originally created to be the helper of man. She was made to work alongside of him in caring for all of creation. Here in the Community, we work together with the men to make this God’s House, so to speak: a home for the lonely. You could say that all the women are “homemakers.” We work in many places and have many functions, but everywhere we live and work, we make it “home.”
Most women are wives and mothers. When we’re in the stage of having children, we like to work in our houses doing things such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, sewing, and home decorating. We find that this is an excellent place to spend time with our little ones, teaching them to how to do things that really matter in caring for and serving others, such as personal hygiene, proper nutrition, and other foundational lessons. We also find that in this environment those of us who are older wives and mothers can support and teach the women who are just beginning.
It is a wonderful “sisterhood.” We often say that this is the most difficult and the most important job in our Communities, that of training the little children with loving patience, as well as maintaining the home life to which we welcome people.
Many of the women (along with men) participate in teaching the children of all ages — some teach academics, others teach art or music or apprenticeship courses for our youth. We are writers, bakers, café workers, creators of curriculum, bookkeepers, clothing designers and seamstresses, artist/sign makers, and shopkeepers. Many of us run household kitchens that are the equivalent of sizeable restaurants, organizing the serving of home-cooked meals at least three times daily, not to mention hospitality for guests and special gatherings and meetings at a moment’s notice. Many of us do several things along with being wives and mothers. It is according to the need and what each person is able to do, which brings us to another aspect of “woman’s role” in the Twelve Tribes.
There is practically nothing that we “can’t do.” We choose not to do certain things, however, whether it is hard physical exertion that is not good for our childbearing years, or competing with men in the areas that are best left to them. It’s not that we “can’t” do this or that, but rather that our identity as women in the Twelve Tribes has to do with supporting the men here. This is our “function or position.” We don’t want to have special attention for ourselves, either as a gender or as individuals.
We cannot support just any men, just anywhere; but this is the place where God is establishing His own household and restoring His order, and we are learning what is graceful and fitting for women, in work, clothing, speech, and every other area of our life.
We want to be true women. What is that? Who can really claim to know? Surely it is the Creator who knows, and we are listening and learning carefully, to find out. We don’t have to be driven by fear of being taken advantage of, for here we are friends. We also don’t need to succumb to inferiority complexes that make us promote ourselves beyond our abilities. And we surely don’t want to leave our children in the dust of some pursuit of self-fulfillment. What greater fulfillment can a woman have than that of passing her life on to others, whether it is to her own children or to her friends’ children?
We have a flag, a national symbol. It pictures a woman clothed with the sun, crowned with twelve stars, having the full moon under her feet, and she is crying out in the deepest pains of childbirth. Any woman in such a situation is either at the strongest point of her own identity and strength, or else she is at her weakest point, utterly dependent on God to preserve her life, to strengthen her to endure, and to give breath to her child.
Our woman on the flag is weak. She chooses to live by the strength of her God, not with her own strength as her god. She is clothed in radiant purity and dignity. She is passionate, as the full orb of the moon symbolizes, yet she stands in control of her emotions rather than being dominated by waxing and waning emotions.
As women in the Twelve Tribes, we take identity in man, for male and female together are “mankind.” Yet this “woman clothed with the sun” is how our men take identity with us. They take identity in this being our symbol as a people. We stand together, serving our Master Yahshua.