“So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.”
My soul groans with sadness when I look at how the Bible has been used to establish and maintain gender inequality. I am now a 50-year old former hippy who enjoyed rebelling against anything that I perceived as cramping my style. I followed the lead of many Godless people who called for gender equality through democratic means. I married for the first time in 1981 and had a respectful marriage that possessed a distorted and detached view of God. We ran our marriage as a democracy. We were equal in everything. We almost never clashed, because I was living under the delusion that clashes between spouses could be controlled through self-will. My god was food and a love of self-control. The cost of living without God was high. I was 75 pounds overweight and incapable of telling my wife how I really felt about anything. When she died after 15-years of marriage, I was just as immature as the day we met.
During those years, I would scoff at marriages where the husband ruled with an iron fist and the wife did whatever he commanded. I scoffed even more vehemently when the reason given for such a relationship was attributed to the Bible.
Since that time, God has led me out of my preoccupation with myself into a relationship with Him. He has done the same for my present wife as well. As we have grown in our relationships with God, and have repented for our many sins, the nature of our relationship has matured in many wonderful ways. As we have invited the healing presence of Christ Jesus into our personal pain and emotional dysfunction, He has brought us truth, which has set us free from countless lies that we believed. We are moving closer and closer to Christ filled living. The disagreements and arguments and stress in our marriage have continued to diminish as our devotion to God has strengthened. God is continuing to deal with our unsavory qualities, convicting us of our sinful attitudes and selfish ways; and every time he does so, we find ourselves having a closer and stronger marriage. We are discovering how to submit to one another as we learn to submit to the will of God. I really can’t do much more than smile when I think about true gender equality. It comes through a relationship with Jesus. It is not attained through willfulness or legal means. It will not be attained through education, or holding up the false ideal of androgyny. As is so beautifully expressed in Article 6 of the Mennonite Confession of Faith:
“As creatures made in the divine image, we have been blessed with the abilities to respond faithfully to God, to live in harmony with other human beings, and to engage in meaningful work and rest. Because both Adam and Eve were equally and wonderfully made in the divine image, God’s will from the beginning has been for women and men to live in loving and mutually helpful relationships with each other.”
This is a joyous picture! Before Adam and Eve sinned, they lived in an ideal relationship with God and their marriage was without shame. After they fell, they lived in their sin with great difficulty. Jesus makes it possible for contemporary husbands and wives to reclaim what was lost when Adam and Eve fell. Surrendering self-will to Jesus and living as humble servants helps us recover what was lost in the Garden. This is joyous! Absolute surrender to Jesus as Lord Places us in the position where we can look upon all brothers and sisters in Christ and experience a new reality. This is a reality of equality where “…the image of God in all its fullness has been revealed and restored in Jesus Christ, in whom we find our true humanity.” This is a joyous reality where we can celebrate the different gifts that God has given each of us and truly accept the fact that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)
Lord Jesus, I know I am not fully healed. I realize that my willfulness still trips me up in my marriage and in my relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that you will continue to lead me toward the perfection that you intended for me. I pray for courage to destroy the idols that are still in my life, and to follow You, listen to Your Holy Spirit, and to be submitted to the will of our Father in Heaven. Amen.