Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Concerning Women in Christian Ministry - II


In the beginning, God created humanity to be His regents in this world. We were designed to represent God to all of Creation – to fill the earth and to subdue it, to have dominion.

In context of our argument for the full inclusion of women into the highest levels of church leadership, Genesis 1 must bear pride of place as the starting point for an understanding of mutuality and equality. This section of the paper examines the beginning of our Bible to see what God’s original design was for humanity.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

GENESIS 1.26-27

“Adam” is a generic Hebrew noun that means “human beings.” In Genesis 1 we read about God creating [human beings] first before differentiating them into male and female. That is an important theological note, and one often overlooked, for it speaks to the fact that men and women – though different – are equal in their position and authority before God.




/ \

Male + Female

Let me reiterate:

the woman and the man are both blessed by God equally

Later on, sin takes its course and demeans and despises women but God does not. The original intention of our good Creator was for men and women to rule the earth in mutuality. In fact, in the creation narrative there is not even a hint of status or role differentiation between male and female.

The differentiations we see and feel in the world today exist because of sin. Adam and Eve rebelled against God and through their disobedience sin entered the world. God’s response to this Original Sin was heartbreakingly bad news:

[after the Fall God spoke to the woman and said]:

I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.


The Fall distorted mutuality by turning women against men and men against women; oneness became otherness and rivalry for power. Yet these words are not ironclad rule for the rest of history.

Sadly, some think that Genesis 3 is a prescription for a healthy relationship between a man and a woman; but this is not meant to be a prescription but a prediction. Fallen women yearn to dominate the man, and fallen men yearn to dominate women. The desire to dominate is a broken desire – a distortion of God’s original intent for men and women together to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1.28).


once distorted,

becomes domination;

just as mutuality,

once distorted,

becomes mercenary.

What is of vital importance to note, however, is that man’s dominion over woman is part of the curse of sin after the Fall and does not represent God’s original intention for male-female relationships. The curse betrays the fact that the submission of the woman to the man is not voluntary but forced. Since no one insists that all parts of the curse are binding in perpetuity, it is purely arbitrary to focus upon one part of the curse and universalize it as an eternally established decree governing male-female relationships forever.

On the contrary, the Good News of the Scripture is that the Fall eventually gives way to new creation; the fallen can be reborn and re-created. Sadly, the church has far too often perpetuated the Fall as a permanent condition. Perpetuating the Fall entails failing to restore creation conditions when it comes to male-female relationships. Both Jesus and Paul consistently taught and lead in such a way as to move from creation (oneness) through sin (fragmentation) into new creation (oneness once again).

God is One

(Deuteronomy 6.4)

God creates One Humanity

(Genesis 1.26)

One Humanity

becomes Male and Female,

who are One with God

(Genesis 1.27)

Sin separates Humanity

from itself

and from God

(Genesis 3)

Fragmentation defines Human existence

(Romans 3.23)

Jesus, the One,

(John 10.30)

comes to restore Oneness with God

and with Others

and with Ourselves

as True Humans once again

(John 17.20-23)

Since Jesus is One,

and God is One,

we are One once again

when we become One with Jesus

(Galatians 3.28)

Both Jesus and Paul see in Genesis 1 + 2 God’s original intention for humanity. Christ’s redemptive work brings this original intention back into play. Christian men and women are to live a life that moves beyond the Fall, beyond the battle of wills and domination. This is, undoubtedly, what Paul meant when he referred to the new creation:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!


May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.


Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


Paul’s point in these passages is that the implications of the Fall are undone for those who are in Christ. This draws us directly back to Genesis 3.16 to see that the otherness struggle between the sexes for control has been ended because we are now in the new creation.

We are being restored to the equality and mutuality of Genesis 1 + 2. If new creation does anything, it unleashes the power to under the Fall.

This cannot be overemphasized:

the Story of the Bible is the Story of New Creation.

Life in Christ creates mutuality, unity, and Oneness. If there is any place in the world where this mutuality should be restored, it is the church. Ironically, church is often the least redemptive place in the week.

That needs to change.

Instead of limiting women from the highest positions in church office on the basis of 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2, we should recognize that God’s original intention was for men and women to live and lead together as supported by:

Genesis 1 + 2,

John 10,

John 17,

Galatians 3,

2 Corinthians 5,

Galatians 6,

Ephesians 2,

and the promises of God to renew creation in:

Isaiah 65 + 66,

Ezekiel 40-48,

1 Corinthians 15,

Romans 8,

and Revelation 21 + 22.

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