Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Women, Men & Biblical Equality - a Response

I received a most-gracious response from my worthy "opponent" (opponent only in perspective -- not in reality). While he affirms our mutual respect, he stands his ground.

Additionally, I received an email from another gentleman ... someone who read the interchange, and shared his own comments -- they're worthy of consideration, and so I'll post them at the end of this message. Isn't it glorious to live in such an age, that we can inter-connect in this way, and all benefit...? LOVE it!

First, the response from my male/female-hierarchical-minded friend:


Your input is excellent, and you have a unique way of presenting your views. Thanks. I agree with a lot, perhaps more than a lot, of what you wrote.

Yes, I agree, God did not issue a command to Eve about leadership. He issued a fact. And that fact has borne itself out throughout the history of God's people. Take Sarah, for example. She called Abraham "lord." And if God intended that the leadership role change under the grace era to place women on the same leadership level as the man, as it was centuries prior, Paul would surely have instructed Timothy and Titus to choose both male and female shepherds to lead His people. And I think he would also have changed his wording in Ephesians 5:22.

Yes, I understand that culture and traditions have much to do with how we apply the scriptures. But understand again that in all cultures prior to the grace era, and we're talking about thousands of years, the male was the foremost leader—in the home and elsewhere. Was this God's doing? Certainly.

The husband and wife should mutually love, respect, and honor one another. However, where two or more people are involved in a common cause, leadership is essential, whether formal or informal. So in this vein, leadership cannot be equally mutual. The male has been given this role.

I highly appreciate your comments. I will evaluate any reply you wish to make—in a spirit of love and respect. God bless you.—XXXXXX.

I SO appreciate his heart-attitude! How refreshing is that?!?

One one hand, he's affirming my observations -- on the other hand, he stands his ground -- he desires to affirm and maintain relationship - beautiful! His plumb line seems to be the traditional understanding of Scripture -- my plumb line is "how does this line up with the God I've come to know and experience." I no longer assume that Scripture is inerrant (for it never claims to be), but that it's an unfolding understanding of who God is, and who we are, in Him.

I do see a practical need for leadership within the egoic system of this world. As long as we continue to see ourselves as separate and therefore competitive, leadership and structure prevents utter metldown. However, given what God has done (in both His Story, and in the demonstration of history), I'm seeing that we no longer have a "need" for human leadership, in the Kingdom. There is no male or female, no Greek or Jew ... all are equal, all are One. We are each and all led by the Spirit within, whether we yet *know* it or not. The Kingdom is not about accomplishment, but about awakening. We believe before we can see. Once we know Whose and Who we ARE, the need for leadership falls away, as moot. Inter-relatedness and unity trump all manner of systemic organization. Unfortunately, our illusion of separation so permeates our thinking, we've super-imposed that upon our view of the Kingdom ... and so we imagine that God has inspired our egoic tendencies ... rather than realizing that our egoic thinking is the very thing that must fall away and die, so that the Mind of Christ can emerge.

I no longer believe that male-domination was God-inspired ... but that it's a result of the egoic thinking and misogynistic scape-goating that occured once man "fell" into dualistic thinking ("it's the fault of that woman You gave me!"). Separation again. Rather than seeing ourselves as One, men and women have been under the delusional thinking that we're separate and competitive. And so man seeks to dominate, and woman seeks to usurp. What we miss is that God created them as ONE, and took her out of him (she was in there already, created in him on the 6th day & removed on the 8th day -- and ever since man has come forth out of woman -- bringing the relationship full-circle). This full-circle is symbolic of how we are made in the image of the Male/Female God. It's only together that we best and fully function as One (& this is the beauty and power of the act of sexual intercourse ... we again join as one, demonstrating unity -- hence, why sex is so easily corrupted and tainted, rather than fully enjoyed and celebrated, when that power is misunderstood and abused).

We also miss that God told them both, with no hint of any hierarchy, that they were to have dominion (stewardship) over all of creation - together. We further miss that "helpmeet" is the same word used to describe God, who is our *helper*, and the Holy Spirit, who is our *helper*. It's far from a subservient, secondary calling.

Regarding the wording of Ephesians 5:22 -- I find it ironic that the biblical translators were the ones who indeed *changed* the wording, adding "hupotasso/submit" into the text...! Can we not see the agenda at work here, altering the text to support the traditions of man? It's not about being placed on the same "leadership level" (an utterly moot concept!), but about recognizing what God intended in the first place -- the mutuality-celebrated-within-diversity demonstrated in how One lives face-to-face, in order to experience community...! Love kept within stagnates, while love given and received is dynamic.

It's both hard and painful to shed our old, familiar paradigms. Male-dominance has had a stronghold on this planet for millennia ... and the catastrophic results are obvious. Men have been responsible for 90-some-% of all the violence on the planet, including crime, rape and war. Would God, knowing this penchant, really say, "I know - I'll put man in charge!"...? I no longer believe that that was God's purpose. Neither am I advocating for women to be "in charge" ... I'm advocating for mutual respect, mutual submission, mutual honoring of all other humans on the planet ... finally awakening to the truth that we're all One, and that there is enough of everything to go around (including water, food, land, resources, opportunity, love, and access to God). What sort of world would we experience if we all believed that...? What sort of world can *I* experience if *I* believe that NOW...? It's my choice to discover that.

(I will share the other gentleman's response in a following comment)

Shalom, Dena

1 comment:

dena said...

Here's what the other gentleman said:

"Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you" (Gen. 3:16, NIV).

* * *

Some interpreters have understood this to mean that women, who earlier in the verse were doomed to suffer pain in childbirth, will nevertheless be sexually attracted to their men who, in turn, will have their way with the women. That explanation is unlikely, however, for at least two reasons. First, it suggests that humans lacked sexual attraction before the Fall, although God made them male and female and told them to multiply. Second, the Hebrew word translated "desire" refers to a desire to control or to dominate. It is the same word found in Genesis 4:7, where God tells Cain that "sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

In this fallen world, woman desires to dominate over man and man dominates over woman. This struggle is often referred to as "the battle of the sexes" and it is a sign of human fallenness. God originally made woman as a strong helper (ezer) corresponding to man (Gen. 2:18). Sin estranged man and woman from each other and both of them from God. Instead of completing each other as God intended, in their fallenness they compete for power and control. The New English Translation (NET Bible) expresses this clearly by saying: "You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you." This struggle does not represent God's creation purpose. It reflects the effect of sin and the curse.

Jesus Christ overcame sin and redeemed humankind from the curse that sin had brought. In the context of this verse, Jesus reconciled man and woman to each other and both of them to God. Because of Jesus, the sexes need no longer compete for mastery. Instead, they both may "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5:21). Paul describes this mutual deference in Ephesians 5:22-33, and he says far more to men about this than he does to women. As the NET Bible so aptly states in a footnote: "Sin produces a conflict or power struggle between the man and the woman, but in Christ man and woman call a truce and live harmoniously."