This is not a topic I would normally address, but I feel God has put something on my heart to share, so let me start by saying what this post is not about. This is not about:
- Equal pay. Everyone should be paid for their work, regardless of their gender.
- Equal rights. Everyone should have equal rights.
- Women being in authority in government or in the workplace. The best people to be in any position are people who are intelligent and know what they are doing, regardless of gender.
- Domestic abuse. If you are in an abusive situation, get help, and get out of it.
- Gender identity. That's a whole different topic.
- Having a career (or who makes the most money). We are not called to have careers, we are called to seek first the kingdom of God. The only power we are called to have is power in the Holy Spirit. That doesn't mean we (men/women) won't have jobs or careers or power in this world but it's not what we seek first.
Rather, this post is anchored in the scriptural context of men and women, and spiritual relationships between men and women, particularly in marriage. As with all my posts, it is not about doctrine. It is my thoughts at this point in time when I think about gender.
The core, or foundation, revolves around Adam and Eve. To whatever degree we believe that Adam and Eve are real we believe Jesus is real. To whatever degree we believe that Adam and Eve are a myth we will treat Jesus as a myth.
1 Corinthians 15
21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
If Jesus is the last Adam does that mean there are no men after Jesus? And if Adam is the first man and Jesus is the second man does that mean there were no men born between them? It is important to understand Adam and Eve in the context of being our champions. They were the best of us. What they did, and who they were, affects us all.
Eve's qualities included listening to new ideas and meditating on them. Those are good qualities. But she allowed herself to be deceived. God told her and Adam not to eat the fruit of a particular tree. The serpent played on her understanding of the word "die" to get her to consider eating the fruit. She didn't check with Adam or God but instead followed her own thoughts. In doing so, she was the first sinner. She ate the fruit and then gave it to Adam. Now Adam has some choices, and this is where I'm going to start talking about the authority that men have. Adam could have said no to eating the fruit. He could have covered Eve's sin and cast out the serpent (they both had rule over all creatures). He could have created a safe place for Eve to learn how to consider and meditate on new ideas using God's wisdom. At the very least he could have asked God what to do. He did none of those things but instead followed Eve in her sin. And because of his sin, we all die.
They were the best of us. We do the same things. But, in Jesus, we can do things differently.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Numbers, chapter 30, contains "the regulations the Lord gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living at home." Essentially it says that the husband or father has the authority to confirm or nullify any vow, promise, or obligation the wife or daughter makes. This chapter is very comforting to me. Jesus is my authority. I can say something negative about myself and he can just say "I don't agree" and the negative statement doesn't stand. I can sin and he can say "that's forgiven" and that sin is not held against me (though there may be natural consequences). If I make a promise or vow to another person then I am obligated as a representative of Jesus to fulfill it. My words should have meaning on their own (my yes should be yes and my no should be no). Jesus can hold me to my words, and he commands me to be faithful in my words. But he can also release me from them. And as I submit to the Father and to Jesus we work together through the Holy Spirit so I can be holy and blameless, so I can be effective in my gifts, so I can be anointed to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
We all work out our salvation with the Father and with Jesus, independently of each other as well as together within the body of Christ. Wives have this relationship independently of their husbands. They do not go through them to get to Jesus. But husbands, as men, have a spiritual authority that enables them to create a safe place for wives to fulfill their ministry, to explore new ways to minister, to speak, to heal, to deliver. This is the reason for submission; not to cater to a husband's whims but to be free in a spiritually safe place. This is my goal as a father and as a husband. I want my wife and daughter to shine, to be amazing. I want them to be anointed to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. If they mess up I want to dismiss it. As much as possible, I don't want them to feel the effects of sin or mistakes (which is how I believe Jesus feels towards us all). I want them to be free to explore, learn, and speak. And I have the authority to create this environment and to be a covering for them.
This is what we strive for; we are not all there. Historically, men have made submission more about their whims being catered to than about giving themselves up for their wives as Jesus gave himself up for the church. Jesus' life is the pattern for how we should be servants to our wives. We have the authority to serve and to empower. Instead, we often think that the hard work we do to pay the bills is our service and that wives should then cater to our whims. That's a prison, and who wants to live in a prison? If a husband is a warden then expect a jail-break.
Gender is important on earth. There is no gender, as we know it, in heaven and no male or female in Christ Jesus. But God created us male and female and has placed a specific authority in men. We (men) can abandon this authority be refusing to serve and die to self, and wives can reject this authority by not submitting within it. But then we have problems; then we are back to what Adam and Eve did. And, as I said. in Jesus we can do things differently.