You Do Not Receive Our Testimony

John 3:11-17 (New Revised Standard Version)

Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Confirmation hearings are quite interesting, particularly when they involve women. Many of us remember in October 1991 when Anita Hill took the stand against Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court nominee. Hill accused Thomas of making unwanted sexual advances. Her testimony was met with backlash, disbelieve, and doubt from a panel of male senators including President Joe Biden. During Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, a GOP male senator who was in disbelief that Barrett could engage for hours without a cheat sheet, requested she hold up her notes. Barrett held up a blank page proving she could hold her own.

This week we are witnessing history in the making. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first African American woman Supreme Court nominee and once again, we see that a woman’s testimony is not received and her questioning is overtly sexist. One senator asked Jackson to define the word “woman.” Another senator wanted to know if babies are racist.

Baptist Joint Committee, our ministry partner, reminds us that “Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked how faithful she is in terms of religion. Her response echoes Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: ‘… but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’”

Black women know far too well what it is like to be educated and qualified only to be doubted, overlooked, disrespected, and discriminated against. Once confirmed, Jackson will become the first Supreme Court Justice with experience as a federal public defender; the only justice on the new court with experience on the US Sentencing Commission; and the only justice since Thurgood Marshall with significant experience as a criminal defense attorney on behalf of poor defendants. What more does she have to do to be seen, affirmed, confirmed, and deemed worthy of respect?

Jesus faced a similar situation. He came to share His testimony on what He knew, witnessed, and experienced, only to be doubted by a posse that was underqualified to question His authority. You would think Jesus’ teachings would be received without interrogation, but even the Son of Man had to prove His words and qualifications were valid. “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

With her impressive resume and character, if Judge Brown Jackson isn’t deemed worthy enough to be appointed to the highest court in the land, then who is?

It is unfortunate that women, particularly black women, are often invisible and deemed unworthy by persons of privilege, but the God who sees Black women is on the side of the oppressed. The God who created us in the Imago Dei sees the strength of Black women, their long-suffering, and will confirm them for God’s glory. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lynn Brinkley is Associate Director of Baptist Women in Ministry.

This blog series made possible in part by a gift from Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC.