Posted by: Terry | July 5, 2015

Women: blamed, objectivized, Barbies – not a good thing

Could it be that when it says that God created humans in his image, male and female that there is an implication that it takes both male and female to completely express the image of God? Jesus though a man, was revolutionary in his treatment and relationships with women. True the 12 Apostles were all men, but listing his closest friends would have to include  Mary and Martha, as well as many unnamed women. He treated them as equals more than the rest of society did. And not just equal in “spiritual” things.

At creation when Adam and Eve are brought together they are described as one flesh, not two people living in harmony. They are the image of God, not two separate images of God. He said, “Let us create them,” individually but together. Simple observation makes it clear that man and woman are not the same, and it is in the uniting of both, with all the differences, that we see, or should see a more clear image of God.

If the male is elevated as primary, then the implication is that the female is secondary. There is nothing in the term “helpmate” that implies order. Even Paul, so often criticized as being chauvinistic, only refers to the order of creation, man first woman second. That is the meaning of the idea of “head”, it does not require a heirarchy.

God is not divided, Father, Son, Spirit – a unit of three individual personalities. A marriage is one unit of two individual personalities. Thus a marriage should be a beautiful illustration of God to the world. Yet, as with all things good, the evil one works to tarnish and pervert.

I would propose three ways that the original relationship between the sexes have been distorted, to tragic results:

Complimentarian vs. Egalitarian 

The Complimentarian holds that woman was made as a helper, there for the service of the man. Egalitarian’s would hold that men and women are equals in more than just “spiritual” things. It is easy to see how this view would make it natural for men to expect, even demand that women are here for their use and pleasure. It is this kind of thinking that has led to centuries of abuse, sexual trafficking and bondage. My wife, my daughter, and my mother are not objects.

Original sin

The Southern Baptist Church has said that one reason for the secondary role of women is that Eve is responsible for bringing sin into the world, thus God passed judgment that women would be “ruled over” by her husband, and by extension all men. The question here is was this passage prescriptive or predictive? Was God stating that this is how it will be and should be  or predicting how it would be? Since the rest of the passage is prophetic regarding what was to be, it only makes sense that the line “ruled over” be taken in the same way. History has been a long fulfillment of that prediction.

Yes Eve was deceived, but Adam’s sin was blatant. After Eve sinned Adam had the choice of choosing to follow God or join Eve, Adam consciously rejected God in favor of Eve, a far more serious wrong that is seldom acknowledged. It is far more convent to blame woman for the evils of the world and thus justify dominance and mistreatment.

Purity Laws

Randy Alcorn writes, “Purity is always smart, impurity is always stupid.” He is right, purity is a good thing, purity laws however are a bad thing. This is a classic example of people, men in this case, taking the good of God and his instructions but turning them into something ugly. Purity is good, it is commonly promoted in Scripture, it should be a characteristic of the follower of Christ’s life. Yet when it is legislated into our society by laws or culture it becomes grotesque.

A pure man and a pure woman coming together in marriage is a wonderful picture of the relationship between God and people; a worthy objective. Again the Evil One has influenced the world to make this evil and ugly.

Even though purity concerns both male and female, women have been held to a higher standard than men ever have. Men have passed laws based on sexual behavior that tend to forgive the mans actions while punishing even killing women. Even our culture in subtle ways promotes the idea that if a woman is not “pure” she is second class, looked down on; they are ostracized. (Check out “The Purity Myth” by Jessica Valenti) Barbie is not real, and I doubt she is pure.

When men view women as being there for a man’s use, blamed for sin and thus all the evils in the world, and held to a fanciful ideal of purity the result is the disparity and ill-treatment women have suffered with for centuries. it is time we actually read the Bible we Christians claim to follow. Read the whole thing, not just a few select passages that support our preconceived ideas. Get the whole central message – we live in a messed up world, full of evil, God however is in the process of reconciling all of this, the pinnacle of this was sending Jesus, one day all will be made right.

We need to remember that the Bible is not a rule book, never was intended as that, it is an inspired record of how God has dealt with people through history, and from that we learn the heart of God. It is the messages of love, compassion, forgiveness and inclusion that should ring true. Our lives should demonstrate to the world that there is a God who brings hope, who welcomes and has made provision for all.

To change society, the most powerful tool, more than laws and protests, is living each day demonstrating that we reach out to all people, that men and woman are co-images of God, and should be honored as such.

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