Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wifely Submission, part II: Before the Fall

Once I began to re-examine everything I thought I knew about wifely submission, I went all the way back to the creation account in Genesis.  It was puzzling to find some things that were seemingly ignored, and other things that I thought were there required a broad ability to read into things, to say the least.

First of all, Genesis 1:27 proclaims that both men and women are created in God's image.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  Women are created in the image of God.  Not men are created in the image of God and women are an afterthought.  God is not a man.  Sure, we use masculine pronouns to refer to Him and His physical body was male, but He is Spirit.  The Bible uses unmistakeably feminine imagery to describe God in several places--talking about the God who danced in the act of giving birth to us, giving images of us nursing at God's breast.  In fact, the name El Shaddai can be a reference to God's breast nurturing us. 

(The song is not totally relevant, but I love it, so I am including it anyway. Bonus :)

I had been taught that the very order of creation demonstrated the hierarchical nature of God's design:  Man was created first, then woman.  Of course, if you are determined to find significance there, animals were created before man, and I have never heard anyone claim that the Bible teaches that people were under the authority of animals.

But what about the fact that woman was made as a "helper"?  We tend to think of a helper as a subordinate.  Surely that means that woman is meant to be under the authority of man, right?  Except that the Bible frequently uses the same word to describe God.  He is our help, our strength, our power.  Nowhere is it ever implied that God is under our authority!

The Hebrew phrase that is used to describe Eve is 'ezer kenegdo'.  Far from being a term of inferiority or even subordination, this is a phrase that emphasizes equality of position.  The 'ezer' part is that of strength, help and power.  'Kenegdo' refers to being face to face.  It can even mean opposition!  Looking at this from Hebrew makes it clear that man and woman are a team.  Woman is a source of strength and help, and if necessary, can be help that opposes--one who helps stand in the way and opposes a wrong direction.  I love Crystal Lutton's descriptions, "a valiant ally", one who is "face to face with a shared vision."

It is clear that before sin entered into the picture, God's design was for man and woman to complete each other, to rule together.  Both were created in His image, and there is no hierarchy between them.  Then what happened?  The Fall.  That messed up everything, including God's design for relationships.  But His desire, design and purpose, don't seem to include a hierarchy in marriage.  Did that ever change?

To be continued

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Read the whole series :)

8 comments:

Amy Willa said...

I'm really loving this! Can't wait for more! :) "Valiant ally" . . . I like that description!

Leslie said...

LOVE IT!

Emily said...

Linked over here from Leslie's fb page. Totally interesting in following you on this! This is a topic my husband and I spend time talking about while engaged and something I've spend much time studying as well throughout my marriage. On a side note, which kind of applies to your topic, I just listened to a podcast today by Dr. RC Sproul, on Christian marriage. One thing I love about him is that he, like I noticed you've done in this series, is really gets to the meat of Scripture...not only looking at the words we read, but taking into context the time they were written, the original words used, etc...
Anyway, if you are interested, the link is http://www.ligonier.org/rym/.
Looking forward to your next post!

Carrie said...

Looking forward to the next one...

Renee said...

Hi, I found you over at gentlechristianmothers :)
Nice to meet you...
Blessings Renee(RenJac)

Jacob15 said...

:) Hi, I am Jacob
RenJac's son :) momma found you at gentlechristianmothers

Muddled Muse said...

God is an entity of three persons contained in one spirit. Each person of the trinity has a separate role and an equal position.

Think about what it means to be created in the image of God - it's not just our ability to reason and create - it's our ability to form relationships with others - including marriage which if it reflects God's image, will contain two partners with separate roles and equal positions. It's not a simple hierarchy - it's an exchange of partnership.

dulce de leche said...

Thank you all so much! <3 Welcome to all of our new friends--I really appreciate your comments! Emily, I will check out that link. :) Muddled Muse--you summed up beautifully exactly what I believe the Bible teaches. Thank you! <3