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James Holzhauer and Susan B. Anthony: The Privilege of Eternal Significance

James Holzhauer won Jeopardy! thirty-two straight times and was poised to take over the top spot on the show’s all-time, regular-play winnings list. That was before Emma Boettcher, a librarian from Chicago, defeated him in last night’s episode.

While Holzhauer’s loss is making headlines this morning, another event that happened a century ago today is receiving far less attention than it deserves. 

A vote that changed history

A hundred years ago today, Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. It states simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” 

The amendment was adopted by the states the following year. While it obviously changed history, the history of the amendment is also worth our reflection this morning. 

In the 1872 presidential election, Susan B. Anthony and fourteen other women cast votes. At the time, women were forbidden from voting. Three weeks later, Anthony was arrested. She was put on trial the next June. 

Because she was a woman, she was forbidden from testifying in her own defense. She was found guilty of illegal voting but never paid the fine imposed by the judge. 

“Women, their rights, and nothing less” 

Four years later, Anthony led a protest at the 1876 Centennial celebrating America’s independence. She made famous the declaration, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Twelve years later, she helped form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and led the group until 1900. 

Anthony traveled across America giving speeches, gathered thousands of signatures on petitions, and lobbied Congress every year on behalf of women’s rights. She died in 1906, fourteen years before women won the right to vote. Neither she nor the country she loved knew the full significance of her sacrifice. 

According to Pew Research Center, women are now more likely than men to have a four-year college degree. They are also outpacing men in postgraduate education. Women make up 47 percent of the US labor force; the gender pay gap has also narrowed in recent years. 

However, women still make 83 cents for every dollar earned by men (compared with 64 cents for every man’s dollar in 1980). And women are nearly twice as likely as men to say they’ve faced gender discrimination on the job. 

The real “war on women” 

Tragically, many in our culture associate evangelical Christianity with the problem more than the solution. 

For instance, a scathing article in The New Republic is headlined, “The Criminalization of Women’s Bodies Is All About Conservative Male Power.” The writer claims that pro-life advocates (she calls us “forced-birth extremists”) believe “female sexual agency must be punished.” Hers is another version of the “war on women” rhetoric we have heard for years. 

The opposite is actually true. 

As John Stonestreet reports, there is a tragic link between abortion and gendercide. There are 160 million fewer women in the world than demographic trends suggest there should be. A major reason why: female children are being identified in utero through amniocentesis or ultrasound, then aborted. 

British researchers concluded that between 1970 and 2017, “sex-selective abortions resulted in about 23.1 million missing baby girls.” However, other researchers believe this number to be too low. As a result, China and India have done what the US has not: outlaw sex-selection abortion. 

Stonestreet summarizes: “The savage truth is hundreds of millions of missing women is the price we’ve paid for legalized abortion. It’s the elephant in the room, and it isn’t going anywhere.” 

The first Easter evangelist 

When Jesus rose from the dead, he could have appeared first to anyone he chose. John, his best friend; Peter, the leader of his disciples; and any number of other candidates were available to his providential will. He chose Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:2), who then became the first evangelist of Easter (John 20:11–18). 

When Paul began his ministry in Europe, his first convert was Lydia (Acts 16:11–15), who later hosted the church that began meeting in her home (v. 40). The apostle partnered with “Priscilla and Aquila” (Acts 18:18; Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19; note that the wife is listed before her husband). 

Women play some of the leading roles in God’s word, from the women who spared Moses (Exodus 2:1–10); to Esther, who saved her people from genocide; to Deborah, who led her nation as a judge, prophetess, and military commander; to prophetesses Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), and Anna (Luke 2:36). 

None of them could have known the ultimate significance of their faithfulness to God’s word and calling. Nor can we when we choose to answer our Father’s call to ministry. But our Lord does. 

Ryan Keith Cox and the call to courage 

America continues to mourn the deaths of twelve people murdered in Virginia Beach last Friday. One of the victims, Ryan Keith Cox, guarded a group of his colleagues, then led them into an office where they barricaded themselves. One of the survivors urged him to stay with them, but he said, “I’ve got to see if anybody else needs help.” She credits him with saving her life. 

Cox could not know the full significance of his sacrifice. Nor can we when we conquer challenges with courageous faithfulness. Every woman who answers God’s call to service makes a difference on earth and in heaven. Every believer who pays a price to follow Jesus honors our Lord and advances his kingdom. 

Our materialistic, consumeristic culture measures success by immediate rewards. Our Father measures it by eternal significance. 

Choose wisely.

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Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/Paul Thompson/Stringer

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