In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-Series: Part 4)

Genesis 3:

Enter:  The Curse

AKA: Patriarchy

We are all pretty familiar with this story.  I feel that the church has emphasized the fall and the curse more that the pure love of God and beauty of creation (but I suppose that is for another time).  Satan enters a serpent.  He tempts Eve.  Eve is deceived.  Adam joins in.  God comes looking for them because He loves them.  He is so sad that they would chose to be apart from His love for them.

Genesis 3

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.[c]

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”

This is the first time we see tension between the genders.  Once God’s perfect world was tainted, only then do we enter a world of inequality.  This is where patriarchy enters the scene.  This is the first mention of gender hierarchy.  LET’S BE VERY CLEAR HERE:  these are the way things WOULD now be, NOT the way they SHOULD be!!  Patriarchy was NOT in God’s original design for His kids!  His original design is gender equality and harmony.  It’s only after sin enters the world do we see the man-made effects of the sin in the form of patriarchy.  We need to stop declaring the curse over ourselves!  The curse was the enemy’s plan, and we need to start living in God’s plan for us. Gender is the only part of the curse that we “keep” and some even declare that it is “God’s system set up on earth.”  None of us go, “Give me some more pain with these contractions!  They are not quite as painful as they should be!”  or “Man, I need this ground to have some more weeds!  Tilling wasn’t quite as hard as it was yesterday!”  We don’t require all Christian men to work the fields, but the church requires all women to be under the rule of men.  We have worked since the fall to make cultivating the earth easier.  We use tractors, tillers, and countless other modern conveniences to ease the pain of tilling the earth.  I mean, not very many men even have the occupation of farmer anymore.  We have invented new ways to birth children.  We now have epidurals and intrathecals.   We have done all of these things to combat or ease the curse, but the idea of patriarchy has been put on a gold placard and considered “the way things are supposed to be”.

To put it in other terms, we don’t say, “Man, I haven’t had enough temptation today.  I’m going to need a little more.”  Or, “The devil hasn’t prowled around me enough today.  I should have some more resistance.”  This just sounds foolish!  Why would we do this very thing with the idea of patriarchy?

People are so quick to say, “Jesus broke the curse when He died on the cross”, but for some reason we are very offended when that touches the idea of patriarchy.  A majority of the church lives in a way as to say, “Jesus broke the curse!  Except the curse of patriarchy.  We will keep that one.”

Jesus in His loving mercy didn’t leave us under the effects of the law.  He didn’t leave us with the way things would be.  Our loving Father, sent His only Son, Jesus, to redeem us from the curse.  HE REDEEMED US FROM THE WAY THINGS WOULD BE AND BROUGHT US INTO THE WAY THINGS SHOULD BE!  Isaiah 61 foretells the New Covenant that was established at the cross!  This New Covenant is the final covenant in which we receive all the benefit!  Galatians 3:16 declares, “13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”[g]14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised[h] Holy Spirit through faith.”  Christ has RESCUED us from the curse!.  Verse 14 shows us that one of the marks of the New Covenant is the Holy Spirit being available and indwelling all believers!  Galatians is such an amazing book.  The theme is sonship and identity in Christ!  Later on,  Galatians 3:28 states, “ 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[o] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is not just a salvational verse, this is a sonship verse, a kingdom verse!

How can we know that we are under the New Covenant and it is in effect today?  Hebrews 8:6 states, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”  Wow!! A better covenant with better promises!! Yes!!  2 Corinthians 3:6 shows us that this New Covenant is CURRENTLY in effect (not something that has to be waited for until after death), “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  He has made US ministers of the New Covenant.  That’s not for another time.  That’s for NOW!

He has redeemed us from the curse!!  It is finished!

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In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-series: Part 3)

All of this talk about Genesis may have you thinking, “But what about the part about Eve being created as a helpmate?”  This was a point of concern for me for a long time.  Was I just created as an accessory?  Was Adam tired of doing the dishes and cooking his own meal, so He asked God to give him a helper?

If you’ve been around Christian circles for any length of time, you are probably aware that the word helpmate, translates to the Hebrew word “ezer.” (Genesis 2:18) (We will see in a bit that “ezer”’s partner, “kenegda”, has been forgotten or deleted in most modern American churches.) What exactly does that word mean?

Ezer is derived from two Hebrew root words. One meant “power” and the other meant “strength”.

Carolyn James, in her book, “The Gospel of Ruth”, enlightened me on the word helpmate.  Before Eve was created the word helper or helpmate is used twice in Genesis 2:18 and 20.  Helper or helpmate is translated into Ezer.  “Ezer is a powerful Hebrew military word that is used to describe God as Israel’s helper.  The Bible’s consistent use of ezer within a military context leads us to believe God created women to be a warrior alongside the man in advancing God’s kingdom on earth.  This is every woman’s calling. Every woman is an ezer from birth until death.  We are warriors for God’s purposes alongside our brothers in Christ.”  Women are fighters.  We are warriors.  This brings so much more meaning to a woman’s life than what time dinner is, and how to make her husband’s socks brighter and whiter.  I challenge you to let these words speak to your heart, and live up to what you were called to, being an ezer warrior!

Ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament, twice in reference to Eve, three times referring to the nations Israel requested help from, and 16 times in reference to God being Israel’s help.

The other word that we cannot leave off of the word ezer, is the word it is partnered with in Genesis 2.  The whole phrase is “ezer kenegda”.  This would be “helper fit/suitable” for him.  Kenegda indicates a power or strength corresponding to man’s.  This means equality. This is not some lesser value, weaker link, lower intelligence kind of thing.  This is someone of the same power, strength, and value as man.

We have had a poor understanding of the word ezer or helpmate.  We have turned this word into something cheap, something insignificant, something subordinate, something that has been undervalued.  Somewhere along the line, we have bought into the idea that a woman’s only value is held in being wife.  We forget that we are a portion of the image of God that the world deserves to see.

How did this happen, you ask?  The word help”mate”, was translated into English from the old English word, help”meet”.  “Meet” was in the Old English to express the concept of “fit to” or “corresponding to”.  We must not be afraid to go back to the original Hebrew for clarity!  Unfortunately, a lot of meaning can be lost through the many translations of the Bible.

Hebrew scholars have said that the most accurate translation of Genesis 2:18 would be, “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.”

This is something to be excited about!

In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-series: Part 2)

We have already seen that God’s original commission and design was for both genders to live harmoniously and equally together in this new world!  Genesis 2 gives us a more in depth look into the creation of humans.

Genesis 2

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made.

Wow!  I absolutely love this.  If you just take a minute to picture this, it is beautiful!  The love and care that the Master Artist took creating man and breathing on him!  Then, He planted a garden for Adam!  So much love was poured out for His beloved creation!

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man[c] to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs[d] and closed up the opening.22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

God created man from the dust of the ground.  At the end of the day, God said it was good.  Adam was created in God’s image.  So, God created Adam as the complete human representation of Himself.  Adam was not lacking in anything!  I believe at this point, Adam was probably even an asexual being, if reproduction were necessary.  Here’s Adam, complete, and made in the image of God.  If God created Adam in His image and lacking nothing, then what did he make Eve out of?  Adam’s rib, you say?  Okay, so a rib was taken out of Adam (during the first supernatural surgical procedure, I might add), and with that He fashioned Eve.  I’m pretty sure we are all on the same page here.  Well, what was Eve’s innards made of?  Not her organs, but her emotions, inherit qualities, and general demeanor?  Did God give her something new?  Did He created these things to put into her?  No! (Remember, Adam was complete, and he was good.)  God, in His infinite and amazing wisdom, extracted the female attributes from Adam and fashioned them into a woman!  Whoa!  Think about that for a minute!  That’s amazing!  Life takes on a whole new meaning at this point.  This is why God says that in marriage the two have become one (Genesis 2:24)!  The one person literally became two people, and now the two people become one complete person! (Remember Genesis 1:27 In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.)

God extracted the feminine qualities OUT of Adam, who before that, being created in the full image of God.  He fashioned an amazingly new bodily vessel out of Adam’s rib, and voilai: Here is woman!!  The image of the nature of God is now housed in two distinct persons.  Marriage brings the unity of these two entities together, once again reuniting, to make a whole!

In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-series: Part 1)

This story changed my world!  Genesis is the beginning of all life.  This story sets the stage for the rest of the Bible, and for all of our interactions with God and with others.  This is where it all begins.

What if I told you that God didn’t create a patriarchal society?  What if I told you that God didn’t give Adam dominion over Eve, or that Eve wasn’t created for a subservient position?  What if I told you that all of this is laid out in Genesis?  Understanding these truths makes all the difference in the world.  This is foundational for Kingdom living.

We are all pretty familiar with the Genesis story of creation and the fall.

Genesis 1

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

What I love about Genesis 1 is that everything spoken to, about and over humans, were spoken to, about and over both Adam and Eve!!  “Let Us make human beingS, in Our image, to be like Us”. BeingS (plural).  “THEY will reign over…”  “In the image of God He created THEM; male AND female He created them.”  “God blessed THEM and said…”

This is the original blessing spoken over ALL mankind.  God included women in this!  This is so beautiful and reveals so much of the nature of God’s love for us!

So, Genesis 1 amazingly depicts the gender equality that God intended.  Adam and Eve are in full harmony with each other.  They are created and commissioned together, not one reigning over the other.  In fact THEY are to reign over all of creation together!  This is the beautiful, most perfect, original design!

What comes next? Genesis 2

Biblical Egalitarian ≠ Femi-nazi

I’ve come to the realization that many times when I talk about biblical gender equality, often time people hear, “yadda yadda yadda….FEMI-NAZI!”  I have also realized that many of my conversations with people on this topic have been in reaction to what someone has been saying.  I’d like to tell you a little bit about what biblical gender equality means, and maybe even a little of what it doesn’t mean. 
Central Beliefs:

 

1.       I believe the Bible is the Holy Spirit-inspired, written word of God! 
2.       I believe in the EQUALITY of all people REGARDLESS of color, age, sex, social status or economic status
3.       I believe that men and women are BOTH created in God’s image, and therefore have EQUAL value and FULL access to the Father, through Jesus.
4.       I believe the CURSE in Genesis 3 was a statement of the way things WOULD be after the fall, not the way they SHOULD be.
5.       I believe that God’s ORIGINAL design was gender EQUALITY, and patriarchy only entered the world AS A RESULT of sin.  (Since Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we are no longer defined by the curse.)
6.       I believe the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to WHOMEVER He chooses, REGARDLESS of gender. (If the Holy Spirit endows a persons with a particular gift, who are we as people, to deny a person to operate in their gifts?)
7.       I believe that women REPRESENT and REVEAL the feminine attributes of the Father to the church and the world, therefore women need to step into their callings to show the world their unique expression of God’s love.
8.       I believe that men and women need to work TOGETHER, not one ahead of the other.
9.       I believe that men and women are RADICALLY called to mutual submission.
10.   I believe the ABSOLUTE HIGHEST calling of a woman is to FOLLOW JESUS!
11.   I do NOT believe that all women are called to lead, just as I do not believe that all men are called to lead.
12.   I do NOT believe in androgyny, rather that each gender operate out of the strengths inherit in their nature.
13.   I DO NOT believe that it is the FAULT of all men that we are in this situation.  I believe it is the RESPONSIBILITY of men AND women to rectify the situation.
These are a few of the things that I believe.  Hopefully, this has painted a bit of a different picture in your head of what biblical equality entails.  If the picture that came up in your head was an angry woman out in the streets burning her bra, while her motherless family lay around mourning her loss, I hope I have been able to replace that with a very different portrait.

I had a hard time getting started with this blog post, and as I’m finishing it I keep coming up with things to add to this list.  So please accept this humble list with grace!  I will begin to expand on each point in upcoming blogs, but I wanted to give you a foundational example of what a biblical egalitarian looks like.  I understand that these beliefs are very polarizing.  Please understand that if you don’t agree with me, I still like you (and I’m not offended)!  As long as we can all interact with each other with respect and love, it opens the door for healthy dialogue and growth!  In the future, I will attempt to explain to you why these beliefs are so important for the church and the world!
*To promote healthy discussion, comments are open to everyone.  Spam will be automatically deleted.  Any comments deemed abusive, mean-spirited, rude, or as a personal attack will be deleted by the administrator.  Thanks in advance for being respectful and honoring to everyone!*

What if we acted like our friends were asking for a tampon?

So, it finally happened the other day.  The day every woman dreads from the time they start their period.  They day that you would start your period and have no supplies available.  I’d been prepared for the last 15 or so years, so I guess that’s not too bad.  It happened at church.  I was just going to run out real quick and grab some stuff at the store down the street, but I decided to ask the one lady I ran into, before I headed out.  She didn’t have anything, but certainly wasn’t going to leave me without finding something for me.  She ran around, until she found a kind soul that had the supplies needed to rescue me.
 
That’s how these things are with girls.  It doesn’t matter where you are or who it is, when a women is in this type of crisis, someone always comes to the rescue.  You can be in the bathroom and a stranger could ask.  You could be at church or a social function, and if a need presents itself, someone always steps up to help.  Your worst enemy could be in need of a tampon, and for a split second, your heart would melt, and you would offer her what you had.
Tampons…the thing that unites women.  For so long, we have invested so much time in being in competition with one another.  For so long, we have been on different sides of the fence of important issues.  For so long, we have found reasons to not trust one another, not lean on one another, and not confide in one another.
 What if we could change this?  What if we just pretended she was asking for a tampon?  What if we just supported her when she needed support?  What if we honored each other, not only for who we are, but what each of us has accomplished?  Could we really support each other if we find ourselves on different sides of the fence of life decisions?  I think so, because we are still standing on the same field of life.  Instead of criticizing each other’s parenting skills, judging each other’s occupation choices, or sizing yourself up to the Jones’, what if we looked at other women, the way they were truly meant to be seen?  What if we were able to say, “You may not have the same personality that I do.  You may not have chosen the same path for your life.  You may not have the same morals as I.  You may not hold the same political opinions that I do.  You may not have the same marital status that I do.  But YOU are a beautiful woman, created by God!  You have so many good things about you!  You and I face the same problems (even though we may deal with them differently), but we will struggle together.  You may have times where you are misunderstood by your parents, husband, or boyfriend, but I, as a fellow woman, will take the time to understand you.  I will take the time to care.”

There are so many different things that unite men.  They have combat, fraternities, churches, and countless other “things”.  I have been so inspired to see the men in my life form “brotherhoods” with their closest friends.  Ladies, I think we are missing this very thing!  I think we need to take an example from these men on how to do life with others!  How can we start? It’s the little things. Pretend she is asking you for a tampon.