Ezer Kenegdo Still Rising

The situation of women’s rights is coming to a head. It’s time to stand up for women everywhere. As we say goodbye to a president who affirms and supports strong women, we are now going to be under a man who uses women. It appears the crowds for the Women’s March will far out number the inauguration. This is an indicator that men will not always have the last word about women. I am proud for all of my sisters who are marching.

This brings me to spiritual women’s issue at hand. The Seventh-day Adventist General Conference President (the church I grew up in and feel ashamed of since Wilson took over as president) summoned the North American Division to discuss what some believe is the GC President’s way of seeking to punish some for ordaining women.

Punishing people for treating women with equality should never be an issue in God’s church, my friends. Never. I will say it again because it’s true. The subjugation of women, the mistreatments of women, the unfair promotional track for women is sometimes expected in the world, but this should never be the case in a church which claims to represent God’s character.

If you have a disagreement about Women’s Rights, please don’t take it up with me—I’ve heard all the stale arguments against it that don’t hold water. Take it up with Jesus. Fortunately we are under the headship of one man–Jesus. There is ample evidence in the gospels of how Jesus treats women. If our leaders claim to be Christian and do not reflect this mindset, we can be sure they have gone off course.

So women all around our country and world are waiting, praying and marching. There are many Adventist women marching this weekend.  They are doing this on the Sabbath and they are more concerned about the Spirit of the Sabbath than they are about the legal ramifications of breaking a holy day. In the words of Jesus paraphrased by me: “Woman was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for Woman.”

Where do we get such gall? God said let us make humankind our image. Eve was made in the image of God just as much as Adam.  Not only was she made in God’s image, she was made from Adam’s rib which gave her equality as in Adam’s own words flesh of his flesh.

While some say man should have headship over women because he was created first and had more time with God. But God put Adam to sleep while he created Eve, so Eve had her own thing going on with God before she met Adam. This is a reminder to all of us women that we do not need a man to be our priest, we can go directly to our heavenly Father and Jesus.

Woman is meant to be part of Man, but she is the feminine image of God. Many scholars like to remind us that Woman was made as the crowning act of creation. All of creation gets better and better each day. Eve was the climax. And when we say Eve was the climax, we are not putting down men, we are simply stating God’s natural order of creation according the Genesis poem.

What is even more important than the creation order is the name God gave for Eve. Many times the name given to Eve by God Ezer Kenegdo (Gen 2:18) is mis-translated “help mate” as if she was only there to carry his water bucket or cook dinner for him. This false assumption has led to the subjugation and abuse of women for centuries. I have copied someone else’s words because I am not a scholar:

“The original text does not denote a subordinate helper or assistant. It is most often God Himself who is called ēzer (“helper”) (Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26; Ps 33:20; 70:5; 115:9, 10, 11). The phrase ēzerk’negdô in Gen 2 means no less than an equal counterpart, a “partner” (Gen 2:18, 22 NEB) (see Jacques Doukhan, The Genesis Creation Story [Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1978], 46-47). Adam does not name Eve till after the Fall (Gen 3:20).”

There are some who say we should not opt for women to be treated equally but keep this as an administrative issue and allow conferences around the world to continue subjugating women wherever it is a matter of culture, but does this represent the true character of the God we serve? I think not.

Within the churches, across our country and around the world, women as Ezer Kenegdos are still rising. They are rising to take the original place God gave Women and intended for them to have all along. We know we are wrestling in this broken world, but it would be nice if we didn’t have to wrestle within the church.

In the long run, it won’t really matter what either of the current presidents think–no matter how dysfunctional they are–whether leading the country or the church, Jesus will ultimately have the last word. And we can rest assured Jesus is a God who loves women, who always treats them with respect.

4 Replies to “Ezer Kenegdo Still Rising”

  1. Hi Cherilyn,

    I’ve got to admit, I have never been able to understand where the subjugation mindset came from in organised Christianity – of women, of other cultures etc. If the gospels are your starting point for Christianity, then the example of Jesus clearly matters, and he always treated women with respect, and was way ahead of his own culture in doing so, and in dialoguing with them about important matters then commonly considered “too intellectual / spiritual / etc for mere women”. I don’t personally get why the twelve apostles were all men, but then I don’t know if that was correctly reported (questions about that exist) and I certainly never felt that it was because Jesus thought women were in some way inferior.

    I guess part of it may be that Jesus is the most enlightened figure in the whole Bible. Misogynists and racists can unfortunately find plenty of ammunition for their mindsets amongst many passages in the Old Testament (and even in the epistles of the NT), and are generally very good at ignoring what Jesus actually said about things…

    Love & peace to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Andrea,

    Wow! I think you said it well “Misogynists and racists find plenty of ammunition for their mindsets in the Old Testament…”and they do “seem to be good at ignoring what Jesus actually said.”

    I heard a speaker say once that you can prove slavery, polygamy and patriarchy from the Bible if you choose to ignore the life and teachings of Jesus. This is why Jesus said, “I am the TRUTH,” He didn’t just claim to know truth, but he actually came to reveal what the truth looks like in words and actions.

    As for the twelve disciples, I know a guy who had lived in the holy land and loves archeology. He says from his studies with Jewish teachers and other sources while there he learned that during the first century, the tradition was that rabbis had twelve of the same sex who hung out with them day and night. So it would have been inappropriate for Jesus (even though we know he would never harm a woman) to have women sleeping in his space with the other eleven. Then there were a larger mixed group of followers usually about seventy. Some scholars believe there were women disciples in the seventy.

    When Mary was sitting at Jesus’s feet she was doing what rabbis in training did. Martha wanted her to help with the cooking etc. but Jesus said Mary chose the better part and it would not be taken from her.

    There is a wonderful book by Bruce Marchiano called “Jesus the Man Who Loved Women.” It was a blessing to me.

    Many people did not get so confused about the male headship until the seventies. Bill Gothard started a movement and held seminars all over the US atleast and taught people that the man was the head of the home and he would need to lead prayers and worships because he was the priest of the home. This goes against the concept of the priesthood of all believers. And in lowers the value of women. I am glad to know no man stands between me and God.

    Well thanks for stopping by!

    Much peace to you!

    Cherilyn

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  3. Hey! I managed to miss your reply for nearly a month for some reason. Glad that’s been remedied now. Thank you for filling me in on some very interesting ideas here, it’s great to pick up some “alternative hypotheses”. It seems to me that many people, when they find one possible explanation for an observation, stop looking for alternative explanations and just set themselves in stone. Of course, explanations that fit their existing mindset and preferences will be more likely to occur to them in the process (it’s part and parcel of “confirmation bias”) – and some variation of “women are inferior” is often a pet explanation of the people trying to be “religious experts”…

    It’s good that you know where you stand with God. I will tell you something you might find amusing, I certainly do. When I was 14 and totally new to the Bible I was reading the gospels over and over because they are just so fabulous, and because who cares what the others said. 🙂 But then I flipped through some of Paul’s epistles, and there were some really disturbing comments about women in them and I actually went to God and said, “I can’t accept that as just and fair and if that’s how it is, please accept my resignation, I quit.” And kind of expected thunderbolts to come get me or something, you know, sometimes your brainwashing does come through in those situations. Anyway, my resignation wasn’t accepted, haha, and I mean that in a good way, not as in “God is a dictator” – I was getting strong vibes of “It’s fine, that’s just a human being spouting off, your feelings are respected on this matter, you are valued, and that’s not me talking in what you read, that’s a fallible human being.”

    Makes me laugh still, that recollection.

    Thanks for your blog hospitality! Glad to stop by, I find what you write inspirational. Sometimes I try to refrain from commenting because I’m something of an essay writer by nature, probably because I’ve always journalled and enjoy writing and because I like going off on all sorts of tangents and before you know it there’s 2000 – 5000 words. By comparison some of my comments here have been brief. 🙂 Haha… anyway, wouldn’t want to eat up your bandwidth or anything or make your site crash somehow. 😉

    Very best wishes from the Southern Hemisphere, have an excellent week. ❤

    PS: Re the political situation in your country, I really do find the protests and level of public engagement so positive. I kind of think if Clinton had been elected people might have been more inclined to go into torpor as usual, but she too wasn't someone I was comfortable with for many reasons (not that I think she's nearly as bad, but simply not satisfactory), and those neoliberal capitalists aren't good news for the planet or social justice either. I think it's that thing about placing a frog in cold water and bringing it to the boil and lulling it that way, as opposed to dropping it in hot water, causing it to jump mightily for safety, and really pay attention. It's a shame there's a mental toddler in charge of the nukes etc now though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Andrea.

    There is no worries about bandwidth and your comments are very welcome!

    Many of the comments that Paul made in his writings were not to refute treating women well after all he did tell men to love their wives like their own bodies.

    There were reasons for what he said that applied to the local culture at the time that do not apply to us today. The cults at the time had lots of prostitutes and they were a disruption and took off their head coverings to get men’s attention. That and talking over the speaker. When we read what archeologists and experts tell us about the Corinthian people, we can see why Paul said what he did.

    Those few texts (and there are very few texts that talk about women as being quiet and wearing a head covering) should be compared to the rest of the Bible including how Jesus treated women and how Paul told men to treat their wives. Sadly, most fundamentalism comes from people taking a few texts literally without the context of what was meant when it was written. I am from the school of thought that yes, God inspired the Bible, but he did not write the words down himself, but the men writing the Bible who humans inspired by the Holy Spirit who used their own experiences and ideas combine with the inspiration to describe or explain. This is true today. If God uses someone, they don’t sit around spewing scriptural platitudes, but they speak from what they have learned as led by the Spirit. To me, this doesn’t make the Bible less credible, in makes it more credible. God chooses to work through imperfect people. The words themselves are not the inspired part but the people writing the words were inspired. Then of course someone will say but then what is the inspired word of God, yes, the Bible is inspired, but not word by word but idea by idea. Concept by concept that must be sorted out due to the fact we are reading a translation of something from another ancient language. So unless we are reading from the original Hebrew and Greek, we are not getting a plain reading–we are getting the King James (or insert any version here) twisted version of the original text.

    Jesus is the only true WORD of God (John 1). God speaks to us through Jesus today (Heb. 1:1-3). The fundamentalist Christians seem unaware of this and it is their downfall.

    Well thank you for stopping by,

    Peace and freedom!
    Cherilyn

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