By Candice Gage
Earlier this week, Eternity Bible College’s faculty blog featured an article by Preston Sprinkle titled “Divine Estrogen.” Preston explores the contribution of women in the early chapters of Exodus. He begins:
The book of Exodus is filled with outcasts who become conduits of God’s grace and power, when God thunders from heaven to deliver his people from Egypt. If you have never noticed this, it’s probably because you’ve been reading the Old Testament through a thick moral lens—looking for heroes and saints to emulate, instead of a gracious God to thank.
Or it’s because you’re a man.
I’m embarrassed to admit that it was three years after I completed a Ph.D. in Bible that I noticed that God uses a bunch of women to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt. God’s choice of female redeemers is a backhanded slap to the patriarchal, male-centered culture He was working with.
In the ancient world, women were considered inferior to men and were subject to much oppression. Their identity was one of property: they were the daughter of their father or the wife of their husband. “I am a daughter, I am a bride, I am a spouse, I am a housekeeper,” was the mantra sung by women as they slugged along through life with little self-worth. Women existed in order to bear children, keep a good home, and in some cases, brew beer for the local tavern, where the men would guzzle ale, listen to music, and enjoy the company prostitutes. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Women made good prostitutes as well.
But God created people in His image “male and female” (Gen 1). Women reflect God’s image just as much as men, or should I say, men reflect God’s image just as much as women. You cannot see God’s image reflected very clearly in a monastery.
Preston’s entire article is thoughtful and worth reading. He concludes with a confession:
Now, without getting into all the details, I’m complementarian. I believe in male leadership in the home and the local church. However, or perhaps therefore, I believe that we—my circles—often neglect the wisdom, ingenuity, creativity, insight, and theological expertise of our female image bearers. We undervalue, under-use, and sometimes belittle the knowledge and strength and intelligence of our image bearing females. If you too are complimentarian, make sure you don’t confuse one’s role with one’s value as a true reflection of the One who breathed the stars into existence.
As a woman who grew up steeped in the complementarian culture, I can attest to Preston’s concern. Men are not the only ones who, through their emphasis on male headship, devalue the role of women in God’s story. Women’s Bible studies focus much on Eve’s temptation of Adam and Jezebel’s control of Ahab (never mind that God frowned on the first man’s blaming of his wife), concluding that Paul was wise to make sure we keep our mouths shut in the congregation. We spend little time exploring the way women, like God himself, have been man’s ‘ezer (help) in his greatest need. And if we do speak of Rahab, Deborah, Jael, Esther, Mary, and all the rest, we often give their contributions only grudging appreciation.
It’s important to step out of our own preconceived ideas and let the text speak for itself. From the beginning:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, ESV)
And especially under the New Covenant:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28, ESV)
Men and women may have different roles, but both are necessary for rightly bearing the image of God.
Sexual sins have stereotypically been attributed to men, but modern statistics show this is indeed a misconception. ... More>>
How can men in dating relationships begin to prepare now to live in an understanding way with a wife? ... More>>
Fatherhood as the core of the universe. ... More>>
“Intentionally single” is probably not something most singles are trying to be. ... More>>
We live in interesting, strange times, especially in regard to marriage. ... More>>
Boaz foreshadows Jesus Christ, the ultimate kinsman redeemer who will redeem a bride for himself—the church. ... More>>
Looking at any woman, whether it be her eyes, nose, hips or breasts, is not lusting. Lusting after a woman is lusting. Period. ... More>>
When people talk about a “painful” breakup, they’re usually referring to emotional pain. But new research shows a bad breakup can also cause physical pain. ... More>>
Whether it's missing out on a job we wanted or breaking up with someone we really care about, we are repeatedly faced with the fact that there are some things in life we can't control. ... More>>
One of our most precious pursuits, that of a life-long partner for all of life, is tragically being relegated to tweets, texts, and Facebook pokes, to ambiguous flirtation and fooling around. It’s wrong. ... More>>