WOMAN: An Equal “Authority” to Man (A Biblical Case)

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I came to know Jesus as my personal savior when I was 13-years-old, and I fell madly in love with Him! I became a devoted Christian the summer before I went to high school, and then led several of my friends to Christ. In turn, those friends led their friends to Jesus.

So, we went to high school as a “Christian pack,” and we soon became known as “the church girls.” This name was started by our classmates, who were poking fun of us, but the name sort of stuck. Actually, us girls embraced the name. We were “the church girls” and we were darn proud of it.

We girls went to church in a mall. Yes, our church rented out space in an old, out of date, dead mall. It was actually an awesome place to have church – especially when you are a teenager. My dad led worship and our family was super involved in planting this church. I went there all through high school and my girlfriends from school would come with me.

We loved to dance around and sing at church. The more motions to the song, the better! We had a blast. We used to sing at the top of our lungs, while stomping our feet, an old Pentecostal song. Maybe you have heard it,

Well I went to the enemies camp and I took back what He stole from me…Yes I took back what He stole from me…

…He’s under my feet, He’s under my feet, Satan is under my feet!

We “church girls” believed with all our hearts that the enemy had nothing on us, because the Holy Spirit lives in us! We had childlike faith, and simply took the Bible at its word when it says,

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him (Romans 8:9).”

The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Romans Church. He was writing to both women and men. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is indeed dwelling in Christian women and men equally. The Holy Spirit that lives inside man is the same Holy Spirit living inside woman. This is why the Bible says that we are “one in the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:4).

In much of the Christian Church, there has been an enormous attempt to suppress, oppress, and depress woman’s spiritual authority in Jesus Christ.

Cultural gender constructs have made their way into our theology and why wouldn’t they? Cultural gender constructs made their way into the Bible that we base our theology on. Unfortunately, much of the Church has not been interpreting the Bible in the context of Jesus Christ, or reading the Bible as a complete narrative, from beginning to end.

As author Carolyn Custis James puts it, “Patriarchy is not the Bible’s message. Patriarchy is the backdrop to the Bible’s message.”

Before we talk about patriarchy though, let’s talk about when God gave women equal spiritual authority to men on earth. Genesis 1:27-28 says,

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” 

There are two major cases for gender equality in both worth and authority in this Bible passage. Firstly, male and female are equally made in the image of God. “Equal” does not mean “same.” Woman and man are meant to complement each other, but complementarians (those who believe men are to have authority over women) have hijacked this word in the Church, so egalitarians rarely use it.

In other words, man and woman are equally “like God,” but represent different aspects of God.

Our worth & value comes from the biblical fact that we were made in God’s image. Since all humans were made in God’s image, every life is of equal value. But, God did not stop there. God made Eve equal to Adam in authority as well, when God said to both of them to “reign over” the earth. God did not say, “Adam, you are to reign over the earth while Eve’s role is to assist your reign.”

Eve was created to be an ezer (Hebrew word for helper) to Adam, but this word ezer is used throughout the Old Testament to describe God; specifically, how God comes to His people’s aid as a companion and a mighty force. The word, ezer, is not meant to describe a subordinate in authority.

No, God gave both Adam & Eve equal authority prior to the fall of humankind; when things were perfect and exactly as God wanted them to be.

We do not see “men ruling over women” until sin entered the Garden of Eden. Part of Eve’s consequence (curse) for disobeying God was that “her desire would be for her husband (a man) and he (men) would take advantage of this desire and take power over her (women).

Genesis 3:16 is where all this happens,

“To the woman he said,

“I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.”

Sadly, some sexist translations of the Bible say, “you will desire to control your husband.” All we have to do is look at reality to see which translation seems to be truth. No doubt, there are some controlling women out there, but in my experience, girls and women tend to be more submissive and peaceful than controlling. This is because patriarchy has trained women to be submissive.

Patriarchy says, if girls and women will learn to stay quiet and submissive to man’s authority (aka: need for power), they will be rewarded with the love of a man. All women have to do is hand over their authority. It’s a sly system, isn’t it? But this is not true love.

True godly love is called “agape love” and it’s unconditional. It’s the type of love that Christ displayed when He died on the cross to redeem all of creation from the consequences (curses) of sin (the fall of humankind). Christ became the curse for us, and nailed all curses to the cross (Galatians 3:13).

When Jesus rose from the dead after three days, He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).”  Jesus also says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father (John 14:12). Jesus said that He had to go, so that the Holy Spirit could come and reside in all Christ-followers (John 16:7).

Jesus has redeemed us from every curse, but it’s up to us to walk out redemption.

Women, we were given equal authority at creation, prior the the fall. Satan stole “woman’s authority” when He talked Eve into disobeying God in the Garden. Jesus Christ went to the grave and took back everything that the enemy stole from us.

We are free to say “no” to patriarchy and “yes” to redemption. Women, do not allow Satan to take what belongs to you again and again! Jesus paid a high price for us women to be equals in both worth and authority, as we were created by God to be in the first place.

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9 Comments

  • Yes, yes…a very excellent post. Ladies read this before you marry and stick to it.

    Say no to patriarchy BEFORE you marry, and to be sure, make certain that you and the man share many friends, in order to be certain that he is not lying to you about his views on patriarchy…this is one case where arranged type marriages come in handy…where the man and woman have a history that is thoroughly known to both…be very careful ladies…marriage needs to be entered into selfishly, in a way. If you met as strangers, you are at a disadvantage… It is very hard to analyze when you think you are in love. Heed any warnings, especially from his ex-girlfriends! Unless your parents are notably psychotic, listen to their analysis carefully and learn what you can from their instincts. Listen to your friends…especially if they are warning you and there is any inkling that they are right… and if you sense any instability before the marriage…cancel…you will never regret cancelling, but too many regret not cancelling when the questions were there. The time to THINK is BEFORE the marriage! There are other men out there, and a life of subjugation is not worth the trade in just to be married. It may be your last chance to be selfish…use it for all it’s worth ☺

    Best wishes to all you singles out there! This is great advice from Jory…take it to the bank!

  • Whenever one strives to assert their authority (male or female) they have clearly missed the point of the Lordship of Jesus!

  • As a woman, I understand where you’re coming from, but as a Christian, there’s no way to just gloss over God’s plan for (loving, respectful) male headship. The Bible speaks on many things, but is also silent on many things, and it’s the same with Jesus’ teachings, so we can’t just assume something that isn’t there. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say women have to be nothing but homemakers (though it is a vital and powerful position in society), and Jesus, as the very Word of God made flesh, made it quite clear that women are equally worthy of respect, shooting down the harshly sexist man-made customs of the day.

    However, though we are now under grace and were never bound by the laws that were meant for the Levitical priesthood, Jesus still fully supported and taught the scriptures of the Old Testament and God’s laws for *all* humanity contained therein, which are echoed in the New Testament. Yes, we are all “one in Christ Jesus”, and the God’s plan for male headship is not in contradiction with this. I believe part of what Christianity teaches is to see the world, not in stark categories of women oppressed by men, but of the weak oppressed by the strong. I hope you would agree that the Bible itself is not responsible for institutional sexism and violence against women, people are. I would argue that ultimately, only Christianity can restore both the oppressed and the oppressor to full personhood (in Christ). May God be with you!

    • I don’t know if you ever read or even heard of the book “The Shack” by Wm Paul Young. He has a video on youtube.com called Men and Women (Emmanuel Enid) and I recommend that you listen to it because he points out some interesting facts that he himself discovered after searching the history of bible interpretations over a 25 year period of time. The word “desire” that we all have been taught was changed at a certain time in history. The first 10-11 minutes of the video he talks about a comment written on the book The Shack. But, keep listening and he gets into the history of certain words and paradigms of the Genesis story.

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