Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.” (The Complete Jewish Bible”). The verse reads pretty much the same in whichever version you choose. In chapter 3 woman is created from the rib of man……and in many wedding ceremonies one is likely to hear that womI am woman…..
an was not created from the head of man to be superior to him, nor from his feet to be beneath him; woman was created from the rib to walk beside him.
Enter the serpent and the story takes a dark turn. The serpent, so the story goes, tempts the woman to eat of the tree of good and evil. Woman tells the man to eat of the fruit as well. Paradise turns into hell on earth, and man blames the woman when God shows up asking what those He created in His image had done. Punishments are handed out and the rest is history. Man will toil by the sweat of his brow and will “rule” over his wife; the woman will bear children in pain for the remainder of humankind’s existence.
For thousands of years history has shown that women have been considered lesser than men in nearly every society in the world. And so it was when Yeshua (Jesus) began His ministry on the earth. Historical and Biblical evidence agree that Yeshua treating women with respect was a point of controversy. Apparently, that didn’t bother Yeshua since He had many women followers, and after Yeshua’s death and resurrection, many women became important in the formation of the new “religion”. In short, Yeshua elevated the status of women. Some historical accounts reveal that Mary Magdalene was a close confidant of Yeshua to the degree that His disciples complained. So when did that change?
I don’t mean to rag on the “church” – okay maybe I do, but in any case, let’s face it, the early church leaders were all men; consequently, orthodoxy, as we know it today, was a creation of men. I’m not a “man hater” – really I’m not! I have a husband, male children, male family and friends, and I love them. But, the reality still exists that in our society, and in others around the world, as well as in the church, women still struggle for equality. We struggle to be taken seriously, we have had to fight for the “right” to be considered as good as any man, and that is wrong. I lived through the days of “Women’s Lib”, and in 2016 we are still struggling for legitimacy. We, as a society, applaud any woman who has fought her way to the top; and unfortunately those same women are scrutinized and criticised far more harshly than any man in the same position. Our female presidential candidate touts equal pay for men and women. Seriously?? Are we STILL talking about that? Women have been chipping away at the “glass ceiling” for years. Really?
So what does this have to do with the “church”? In my humble opinion, the pervasive mindset established by the early church leaders continues to be the undercurrent for society at large, regardless of how far many stray from church life. Women are considered lesser in society, in the workplace, and in the church.
Many churches still subscribe to, and wholeheartedly teach, that the woman is to be submissive to the husband; and trust me whatever the “interpretation” of submissive may be, submission has been misused and abused in church doctrine and teaching. Many churches do not allow women to be in positions of authority, don’t allow them to lead or even teach. Often women are relegated to leading children’s church, manage the nursery, take part in the music ministry but not lead it, and organize women’s bible studies or fellowship gatherings. There is nothing wrong with any of these positions, I have done several over the years; but mention putting a woman in a position of authority and the battle begins. Yes, there are churches out there who have women pastors, but not many. There are women teachers and leaders who have made it to the top, but again, not many, and often their leading is in the arena of being a Christ-like wife, mother and homemaker. Why are there so few tackling the bigger issues, leading the major churches?
In Genesis humankind was created to be opposite sides of the same human coin; equal in every way. Enter the serpent. Ahhhh…..and here is where I differ from the traditional church teaching. Historically speaking, what we know as the Bible was originally oral history handed down from one generation to the next. At some point it was recorded, and man massaged and inserted his own interpretations and ideas along the way. The message has remained the same; God carefully watches over His Word, however man has greatly influenced what we know as the “Bible” today; the ancillary stuff that churches fight over all the time – dancing, alcohol, smoking, tattoos, tongues, baptism sprinkle vs immersion, women in positions of authority, etc. The history of orthodoxy proves it. Men decided what recorded teachings would be included in the “Bible”, how the “church” was to be organized, the spin that would be put on scriptures to keep the masses in line, and so on. Historical documents that conflicted with these early leaders ideas were conveniently left out. Not out of evil intention necessarily; born rather from the human fallible desire to control.
I am bothered by all of this. Why? Because women have valuable contributions to make in all aspects of society and in the church. Yeshua saw women as valuable. He spoke to them with respect when the culture of the day did not allow it. He healed women, He touched them, He had compassion for them.
In Yeshua’s eyes I have value. You have value. He died for the sins of all humankind and therefore we are all equal in the eyes of God. Take a good look at the church you attend if you choose to attend a church. Rise up and affect change if needed, and should the message fall on deaf ears….leave. You are worth more to God than all the gold and silver in the world. I am woman….hear me roar!