I’ve been a tad obsessed with gender conversations and a Christian worldview over the past year. This has started for a variety of reasons and continued because a lot what I keep reading online (even from Christians that I respect and mostly agree with) was not meshing with what I was finding in the Bible.
I think we should tell God’s story. I think we should live God’s story. Do I have the corner on truth on this topic? Absolutely not. Am I going to God’s Word asking to know His heart? Absolutely. I hope this is something I grow in for the rest of my life.
However, I kept bumping up against this theme of women being subordinate (actual word a prominent theologian repeatedly uses about women) or secondary or servants. Or a theme of hierarchal marriages where the woman is beneath or under or less than her husband. (I’m just going to skip the theological issues with that umbrella model.) Or a theme of women only being equipped for a very tiny portion of life. I couldn’t figure out where this came from. Now I know where it comes from (we’ve discussed it on multiple podcast episodes) but I also realized that part of the story is actually missing.
Are we misrepresenting what the Hebrew phrase helper suitable or fit means? Yes, totally. Are we taking the conversation about the man being the head (and the wife is the body, fyi), changing that to “headship,” and making up definitions for that? Yup. Happens a lot.
But a few parts of the story are also being overlooked. If you start with the normal conservative story, women and their “role” happen in Genesis 2. It’s some variation of Woman was created to help man with his mission. Some people have corrected it to Woman was created to help man with God’s mission.
I actually think both of those are wrong. In the very first chapter of the Genesis God makes man and women in His image. Both of them together created by God in His image. Woman is made in the image of God. That’s Genesis 1:27. In the very next verse God commissions them to a work. It says “God blessed THEM. And God said to THEM, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Emphasis mine.)
This work, which The Bible Project calls “The Human Project” is our work as women as well. Both genders were tasked to this work. There’s no “man does the work and woman’s there to serve or assist.” There’s not a list of acceptable male work and then the few things women are allowed to do. This is our project, our world, our work. We were all created to work. One day when God renews all of creation and we are inhabiting the new heaven and earth we will be doing the same thing (Revelation 22:5). It’s part of the way and part of the reason God made us all.
This is also demonstrated in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It is a call to all believers to spread the Gospel to those who don’t know Jesus and teach believers how to be disciples. This work is entrusted to women as well as men (Matthew 28:5-10). Women are also entrusted with God’s ministry (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
I read a comment by a woman who said that her husband had a calling from God (which is probably true) and that she helped him by sewing on his buttons and serving him tea. And it made me so sad. Not because there is anything wrong with sewing on your husband’s buttons or serving him tea. I’ve done both of those for my husband (he’s also done both for me). It made me sad because it is such a small view of womanhood and manhood.
This evolves into a long conversation at this point, ranging to everything from what “submit” means and who it’s for to how much the genders overlap without being interchangeable. I’ve written almost 700 words and not touched the top layer of this topic. (You can find more about all of that on the podcast).
All I’ve said here is “This is our mission, our world, our work. Men’s and women’s. Our faith, our God, our ministry.”
But let’s start there, yes?