(I urge you to spend significant time on this one… better to have your Bible handy as you read this blog post!)
In the beginning
In Genesis 1 and 2, we read that as GOD created, He said, “it is good”. But when He saw that Adam was alone, it was “not good”. So he created Eve. Together they would subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26) Eve would be Adam’s helper, comparable to him…
“The LORD said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
…but then came the Fall and all that changed. Eve’s position has been misunderstood across all history, throughout the earth, ever since. Women have endured great misery, often times considered no more than chattel. Both men and women have suffered as a result, for when the role of women is misdirected, all lose.
When Jesus came to rescue us from our sin, included in that was a rescue from the denigration of women. Over and again, he ministered to women, surprising his disciples and enemies alike. John 4 is just one example where we read as he minsters to a woman at a well, and releases her to evangelise to her entire town.
In our marriage, I have sought to be a help to my husband. Likewise, he has helped me. Our mutual support has not been as might be expected from a traditional interpretation of “helpmeet”, however. If a wife as helpmeet is meant to take instruction or guidance in order to do tasks my husband wants done, then I am not a good helpmeet. But if a helpmeet is to encourage her spouse to walk in his calling and to walk as Jesus would in faith, love, and peace, then I have walked according to my wifely purpose, aligned with my gifts and calling from GOD.
I am a Watchman by calling, and I have been used by GOD to support my husband, pointing and confirming decisions which are worthy of GOD’s calling on him as a teacher of the Word, and to guard against those which are not. I have encouraged him to act or respond in love, rather than anger, frustration or fear. In other words, I have been used to help him to walk in the character of Christ. Lest I should misrepresent our relationship, he has done the same for me, and I owe much of my maturity and wisdom from being married to him. Iron does indeed sharpen iron (Proverbs 7:17) and God makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). Such has been the case in our marriage.
Sometimes I have been a connection or link between my husband and those who have provided him teaching opportunities. GOD has connected me to people in ministry who would find his teaching a support to their ministry and who have endorsed him in his own.
In these two general ways, I have been a useful helpmeet to my husband, so that he may fulfil his calling. I have also had opportunities to explore my own calling as a Watchman, which my husband has endorsed. The combined overall result as we exercise our callings has been to offer support to the community of Believers, and work towards the building of GOD’s Kingdom.
I have, however, encountered some blockages and some setbacks, some (though not all) of which have been because I’m a woman. Some leaders believe women are not to lead men, siting scriptures in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11. But there are other scriptures that contradict any interpretation that women are not to speak or to lead, for example in Acts 18 and Galatians 3. But most important, when we look at all of Jesus’ interaction with women while on earth, he respected them, raised them up, and gave them responsibilities where none was customary. So, for arguments’ sake, I’d say that any scripture that suggests women are not meant to lead is more than outweighed by scripture which endorses the capabilities and gifting of women, including women as leaders.
In the Garden of Eden
In Kenneth Hagin’s booklet, “The Origin and Operation of Demons” (Faith Library Publications, Rhema Bible Church, Kenneth Hagin Ministries Inc., Tulsa Oklahoma, 1978, p8) Hagin suggests that long before the creation of man, Satan was in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, it is true to say he fell to earth long before the earth’s creation, before time (Isaiah 14:7).
When Adam and Eve were in the garden, so too was Satan. Perhaps he was watching enviously as Adam and Eve worked harmoniously, together. Then, he tricked Eve, Adam disobeyed God, and the rest is history.
Why this matters
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”” (Genesis 1:28)
It is profoundly important to understand that Eve’s original calling to subdue the earth has been limited, confined and distorted since the Fall; this has been Satan’s intention.
There was a consequence to the Fall, which GOD outlines in Genesis 3:14-20. Just as the relationship between all humanity and GOD was damaged as a consequence of sin, so too was the relationship between man and woman. But these relationships should have been restored through salvation.
Since salvation restores relationship with GOD though Jesus, then logically, the curse of man and woman is also overcome through that salvation. However instead, many times it is (mis)understood that women are to submit to husbands but not men to their wives. The conclusion is therefore, that women are subordinate to men. While this is too HOT and complex a topic to explore in depth in a blog post, I’d like to point out my thesis, which is that women are meant to “subdue the earth”, just as are men, and so they are equal partners, just as they are equally saved and restored to the Father through Jesus the Son. Eve’s calling was to subdue the earth, alongside Adam, before the Fall. So restored to GOD, we are meant to work together. Spouses are subordinate to one another in all things — for example in the marriage relationship:
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and “the husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4)
GOD’s intention for man and woman
Helper was never intended to mean subordinate. Both Adam and Eve were to work in harmony. While Satan provoked the fall of mankind, he has also contorted the consequence of events in the Garden in society since. The moment when Eve was tempted and deceived by Satan has been misapplied by those in authority to explain why a woman cannot be relied upon to speak, to lead or to minister to others in her own right even today. This is tragic and has fed right into the will of the enemy. Imagine what could be achieved for the Kingdom of GOD, for example, if women and men worked in harmony, and each had the opportunity to fulfil their Call? Even though the Fall triggered the problems between men and women, Salvation should restore the original relationship and design for women’s true purpose and authority equal to that of men.
What does salvation imply?
Jesus’ salvation brings us all to equality, and we no longer need to bear the burdens of sin. Instead we are offered the life that was originally planned: walking in the liberty and unity that relationship with the Father brings. But are we — both male and female — living in freedom, or under punishment and condemnation? That is not GOD’s will but something Satan has perpetuated.
Paul states in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:28-29)
GOD’s intention is that Jesus saves us and restores our relationship with GOD as it was planned from the beginning…. to pre-Fall status. We see in how Jesus related to and respected women, a model for Christian family and society, which unfortunately has not always been manifested as it should.
Are women equal in Jesus’ eyes?
If you look at the actions of Jesus, he surprised many in how he related to women. I’ve already mentioned John 4 and the woman at the well. Jesus overarched tradition by talking to her alone, and not only did he talk to her, but he was the catalyst for her evangelistic outreach to her whole community.
And what of the woman caught in adultery? (John 8) Jesus released her, entrusting her to “sin no more”.
We know of the woman who anointed Jesus and washed his feet with her hair (John 12). And Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet, “studying” rather than working in the kitchen with Martha (Luke 10).
Jesus showed respect to women and also released them into ministry. Mary Magdalene was first to see him and she was the one to report his resurrection to the men (John 20). The list of Jesus’ encounters with women demonstrates his respect, appreciation and value towards them.
Today, women are meant to be released into ministry, not hindered, and not contained only to help men. Eve was such a woman. She was called to subdue the earth. Sadly, she failed to detect Satan’s manipulation and she shared the forbidden fruit with Adam. For that the couple fell from GOD’s grace. But Jesus brings us back, both male and female, into GOD’s grace and forgiveness, when we repent.
Hallelujah, Jesus saves and restores us to the Father and sets us free to fulfil who we are and who we were created to be.
I pray that all people will experience the liberty of Christ Messiah and the wholeness of the Calling for which they have been saved.