*The following is written by my good friend Jacob Evers. He graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with an MA in Theology and blogs at “A Christian Blog: an anabaptist’s perspective on the world.“
Galatians 3:23-39 states:
“Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”
Jesus, and later Paul, both share an underlying theme. Jesus came to free the oppressed. Jesus came to set the captives free. Jesus himself opened the scroll of Isaiah and proclaimed that he had come to “proclaim release to the captives.” (Mark 4:18) When one group of people oppresses another group of people, this is anti-Jesus.
When Paul in Galatians writes that we are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, it is no coincidence that this lies in the same vein as Jesus. Paul was declaring that at the foot of the cross, when we come to Jesus, ALL are equal. There are no differences, and when it comes to the Church, we should all be viewed as such. To proclaim that one group has more authority over another group, ie Males over Females, takes a huge step back from what Jesus was proclaiming when he opened the scroll of Isaiah. The whole of Scripture points to this fact.
God in the Old Testament was constantly breaking the chains of the oppressed. God used Esther, and Deborah to free Israel and bring His Justice. In the New Testament, Jesus allowed women to sit at his feet and learn, something that was forbidden in a patriarchal society such as 1st Century Palestine.
Or consider Peter quoting Joel Chapter 2 verse 28, “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.”
I believe that what is clear throughout the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments alike, is the fact that women are held in same accord with men. We, as human beings, have been the ones to destroy God’s original intent for gender.
It was in Genesis 3, with the story of the fall that we truly begin to see where this changed. Even still, we see God trying to set us straight. We see God trying to shine through and show us that truly we were meant to be equals, in ALL aspects. It was only after the story of the fall that we see women taking a backseat to men, and funny that we have no true indication of this from God. Sure there are laws, and there are indications that women were inferior, but never once is there a mandate from God that they were. Therefore, we should take these to be human made.
Similarly, when we reach the New Testament, all we see from Jesus is his willingness to take women into his ministry. We see Jesus calling women to follow after him. We see Jesus being the great liberator of women. It can be postulated, that if Jesus is God, and Jesus was nothing but liberating to women, should we not then also believe that God was wanting women to be liberated in the Old Testament as well?
All of that being said, we have to take a new understanding of how we deal with gender in the Bible. God made human beings in the image of God. All of humanity, male and female, were made in the image of God. I don’t think I need to repeat myself, but I will for good measure. All of humanity, both male and female, are image bearers of God. One is not above the other. Even in the order the creation story tells it.
Adam was unable to do life alone, so a PARTNER was made. Partner does not imply one is better than the other. In the rest of the world in every form, partner implies equal. Why have we decided that God meant it to be otherwise? As said, again, God’s original intention was that men and women were to be equal. We as humans have destroyed this understanding. If this is the case can we downplay or make in-equal someone else who was made in the image of God? Unfortunately, I see that many in the ancient world did.
What can we do to change this? What examples of churches have you been too that practice biblical mutuality (egalitarianism) in a refreshing way?
Also participating in Rachel Held Evans’ Week of Mutuality.