Tonight hundreds of women will gather at Soul City Church in a Sacred Space known as EDEN.
The vision that God has given my wife Jeanne for women to live into the fulness of who they are created by God to BE and Gifted by God to DO in this world is INSPIRING.
It’s a vision established and orchestrated by God in that First Garden so long ago.
…and yet somehow, surprisingly…this vision has been confused, convoluted, and even contradicted in our current culture wars.
There is a seed planted in the garden that was all but uprooted once sin entered in (Genesis 3).
But there…planted deep in the soil of creation…is the Seed Of Equality. A reflection of the relationship shared between the Trinity that we are created from. It’s a way of relating to each other that God both designed and intended. In the Garden, the quality of community shared between Adam and Eve was rooted in Equality.
In the Genesis 1 account of Creation, Moses gives us a broad overview. When it comes to our origin story, Genesis 1 simply offers,
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Notice how Moses makes no special effort to highlight or underscore any form of hierarchy between Adam and Eve in Genesis 1.
He does however make a point that there IS a hierarchy between humans and the Earth.
The command in Genesis 1:27 is to “Subdue” the Earth. The Hebrew word for “subdue” is KAVASH which means – To bring under control. Humans are to take care of the Earth to not let it grow out of control.
So we can see a clear hierarchy between humans and this planet.
Moses then goes on to highlight another hierarchy – the hierarchy between humans and animals.
Adam and Eve are commanded to “Rule Over” fish and birds and all other animals. The Hebrew word here is RADAH. It’s meaning is most closely associated with the idea of ruling by going down, wandering about, being among.
All of the leadership that Adam and Eve are instructed to do is Loving Leadership.
But pay special attention to the fact that so far, God has instructed “THEM” to KAVASH and RADAH…TOGETHER.
God commanded Adam AND Eve to rule over this world and all that He has created within it…together.
The command is mutual and the work is to be shared equally.
This Partnership Participation is patterned after the example of the Trinity.
This is the picture we are given in Genesis 1 – The Trinity lovingly ruling over humanity and all of creation. Humans lovingly ruling over the Earth and all the Animals within it…but no mention of us ruling over each other.
There is no hierarchy mentioned between or among humans. There is no “greater than” and “less than” between men and women.
There is only Equality in person, place, and purpose!
Because equality is an ideal both modeled and molded by the Trinity.
This ideal of Partnership Participation is how Jeanne and I have structured our marriage.
It’s built on the idea that we are equally created and called to serve the other and to lovingly lead our children..and our endlessly energetic puppy, Moses.
In our marriage, we strive to play to our Strengths rather than played out Stereotypes.
This is not always easy and is often far from perfect (see – “So whose responsibility is it to do our taxes?!?” or “Why am I always the one cleaning up after the dog?!?”).
While this kind of partnership does require a good bit of grit and grace we have found it to be infinitely more enjoyable and transformational. It is our best attempt based on our core convictions to model our marriage on what we believe to be God’s Divine Design in the Garden.
“ORDER”…”HELPER”…AND WHY WORDS MATTER
The Creation / Garden account in Genesis 2, fills in a few blanks left for us by Genesis 1.
After Moses gives a greater account of the creation of Adam and God putting him to work in the Garden, Moses draws our attention to God’s acknowledgement of humanity’s need for community. Genesis 2:18 says,
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
And so God sets about creating Eve.
Now, it would be easy to assume here that we have our first introduction to HIERARCHY in the story based on a couple of things:
1) First is the idea of ORDER.
The thinking commonly held around the correlation between Order and Hierarchy is that – God made Adam before Eve therefore he has a sort of “Seniority” over Eve.
It’s a popular opinion held by many. And it might make some sense…if Order and Hierarchy had anything to do with the other.
BUT…if Order determined Authority than we humans would have to be ruled by Dogs, and Cats…and Planet Of The Apes would actually be a Documentary.
Play this notion out further and we end up living in a world where our Canine and Feline Overlords would themselves be ruled by Falcons, Pigeons, and tuxedo clad Penguins.
And by that same line of thinking – our Supreme Leader Falcons, Pigeons, and Penguins would themselves be ruled by the likes of Sharks, Trout, and benevolent Manatees.
So Order can’t determine Authority.
2) Then there’s the word “HELPER”.
God said in Genesis 2:18 that he would make Adam a suitable “helper”. So…doesn’t the word “helper” at least hint at hierarchy?
I grew up around the Bible and had always thought and been taught that Eve was created by God to be a support to Adam. To “help” him accomplish all the work that God had for him. Kind of like a Teacher’s Aid or a Super-Hero Sidekick. They’re an important character, just not as important as the main character. Maybe you’ve heard or assumed this too.
But that is not actually what the word “helper” means in Genesis 2. The original Hebrew word for “helper” is EZER.
According to R. David Freedman, the word EZER is a combination of two roots, meaning:
– “to Rescue / to Save”
The word EZER appears 21 times throughout the Old Testament:
– 2 x in reference to Eve
– 3 x times in reference to a military context
– 16 times in reference…to God
God is our rescuer…our strength…the one who saves. Not our sidekick or assistant…but the God who Saves. He is our EZER!
This is how God introduces us to Eve. She is a partner to Adam who rescues and saves him from his aloneness and helps him accomplish and enjoy all that God had given them to do.
She is his equal. And together, they are invited to enjoy the beauty of community in the context of equality.
Despite 1000’s and 1000’s of years of cultural context and confusion, God does not waste or mince words when it comes to our first introduction to human community. Equality was always a part of the equation, because equality is essential to biblical community.
Biblical Equality is not the absence of distinction, but rather the celebration of it. The Father is distinct from the Son, but celebrates the Son. The Son is distinct from the Spirit, but celebrates the Spirit. The Man is distinct from the Woman, but celebrates the Woman. The Woman is distinct from the Man, but celebrates him. It is what we are created from and what we are created us for.
EAST OF EDEN
It is important to pay attention the Effortless Equality shared in the Garden to get a sense of just how far we have fallen. Once sin enter into the Garden and into our story in Genesis 3 it immediately set out to divide and destroy all that God built and blessed.
The Old Testament is overrun with the weeds of sin and inequality. Man against Woman. Brother against Brother. Tribe against Tribe. Nation against Nation. And on and on it goes.
We’ve all experienced it.
– Anytime we pit and position ourselves over someone else, we take a bite of that bitter fruit.
– Anytime you make broad generalizations or sweeping stereotypes of one gender or another or of whole cultures or people groups…you take a bite.
– Anytime I demand my way or exercise my power to secure position, I take a bite.
It is a part of the fallout of the fall…but it’s not the end of the story!
Jesus came into this world overturn the tables of power and prejudice. To break the curse of sin and to once and for all redeem and restore Biblical Equality to Everyday Community. When you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you are called to create redemptive relationships with others. Where we restore what was lost in the Garden. Where we cultivate God Ordained Equality in the context of God Honoring Community.
Through Jesus, WE get to be the New Seeds of Equality!
He is planting you deep into the dry dirt of our current culture to bear new fruit. Fruit that this world desperately desires and deserves. Fruit that finds it’s roots in a Garden long ago…and is waiting to grow once more in and through you.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
- What’s been your understanding of Biblical Equality?
- How have you personally seen or experienced the presence and pain of Inequality?
- What would it look like to begin to sow seeds of Equality in YOUR Relational World today?