On August 26. in the year 1920, the American constitution was ratified and it was confirmed that women had won the right to vote in the United States of America. It hasn’t even been one hundred years. Maybe that’s why there is so much confusion over the word feminist. All I know is the case for feminism has been there since creation, but many Christians have just chosen to ignore it.
Throughout history women have been treated like second class citizens. In most societies, women were the property of men to the point they had no right to land or money even when they inherited it. They had no right to their own bodies or how many children they were expected to have. But it hasn’t always been this way.
During WWII, women began to work for the department of defense because there were not enough workers. They needed all able hands on deck because most of the men had gone off to fight in the war. There was first a song, then a propaganda campaign of posters alluring women to the workforce with pictures of Rosie the Riveter and slogans like “We can do it,”
Because of crisis, women with a “can do attitude” were necessary and celebrated–even if they did make less than men to do the same job. This changed after the war, when the men came home and wanted their jobs back. They wished to put all the Rosies back into the box of homemaker so they could meet the men’s needs and raise their families. This created an awkward situation for women who had begun to realize they were just as valuable as men.
Today, whenever a woman says she is a feminist, some people assume it means she favors women above men, but this isn’t always the case. To stand for equality is simply a call for equal treatment–not a degrading of one gender above another. It might surprise some people to realize there are many men who are feminists too–men love their wives and daughters and realize how difficult it is to be a woman in this world so they wish to make the world a safer place. Most feminists are not man-haters, they simply believe women are equal to men and should not be penalized for their gender. And whether you agree or not, I’m here to tell you God is a feminist too.
God created Adam and Eve with equality. Eve was not created as an extension of Adan’s arm or as a separate class of creation–Eve and Adam are both human, both created in God’s image. Seven words by the Godhead–“Let us create humankind in our image,” are the key to God’s feminism because it reveals God is feminine as much as She is masculine. Don’t blame me—blame whoever wrote Genesis. And what is even more amazing is the author of Genesis wrote in a patriarchal age where such a notation is significant. So most Bible scholars agree that in the image of God, both male and female were created. If you agree, do you believe the Godhead prefers their masculine side more than their feminine side? I don’t this is possible because God cannot deny who he/she is (2 Tim. 2:15).
Some say because Adam was created first and he’s stronger, so he must be more important than Eve. If we use that logic then Gorillas were created before Adam and they are stronger so God must have intended Adam to be less than an ape. There is another way to view these events–each wave of creation expounds on the event before it. So if we realized animals are more than the plants and humans more than animals, then Eve being created after Adam surely is not less than him. Does this make Eve superior to Adam though–I think not, because God created both male and female in his image.
That word translated help mate is actually Ezer and outside of God calling Eve an Ezer, the only other times this word appears in scripture is when it refers to God as a lifesaver. This means Eve was created with equality and as essential to Adam as God. God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone–not because God wanted Adam to have a slave to wash his clothes, but so Adam could learn to love someone who was not like himself–someone who also reflected the image of God in ways he could not. Someone, who as an equal, could bring laughter and love and intellectual conversation to enhance Adam’s life. Someone who would have Adam’s back and be his lifesaver.
Within the Christian community, there has been a long tradition of women who stay home to clean house, cook food, sew clothing, raise children and in general, act as the domestic servant. There is nothing wrong with this if a woman feels called to do these things, but some Christians assume this is all God intended when he created Eve to be the “helpmate.”
Even women themselves contribute to the lesser treatment of women. The same women who needlepoint passages from Proverbs 31, seem to miss the other verses where this woman buys land and plants a vineyard and sells her wares in the market. She is wise business woman as much as she runs her home. When we ignore parts of the Bible and take texts out of context, we get a misconstrued picture of God and of ourselves too.
When Adam declared that Eve is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” he was not claiming Eve as a possession, he was saying Eve is not only made from my rib–but a very vital part of me. Too bad we can’t hit pause right there—and continue on with this mindset before sin entered the picture, then there would be no need for feminism today. We’d all be living the way we were designed to be–man and woman living and working together with equality.
No one was the boss at this point because both wanted the best for the other and they loved each other as they loved their own bodies. They were both naked and unashamed. Some people think nakedness is only about not wearing clothes, but clothing wasn’t even invented yet. This nakedness was a pureness of heart because they had no shame, because neither had anything to hide from the other and neither wanted to have power over the other. One person or nation exerting power over others is the result of every war and every divorce since the fall.
If only things could have stayed the way God intended, but sin entered the picture and with sin came selfishness, shame, deception and the desire to control others. Many people say God cursed Eve and being subservient is forever the punishment she must bear for tasting the fruit. It’s silly to think this way because Adam sinned too. And while God had words for both of them, what happened was not God arbitrarily putting a curse on them–but the natural results of sin which is a broken relationship with God and each other. God never changed, but they had changed. Remember God came to meet Adam and Eve in the garden like he had always done, but they were hiding. Shame still makes us hide today.
At creation, God put Adam and Eve BOTH in charge of the earth to care for it and everything in it, but because of sin–which is a broken relationship with God and each other, the equality God intended for us to have was broken. Adam was stronger so this gave him more physical power, while Eve, knowing her beauty charmed Adam, sought ways to use it to her advantage for manipulating him.
Man took control of governing the earth, while woman suffered in childbirth and was often tied up with child rearing because in this portion of his realm, man has often forgotten his duty. Trust between God and each other was broken and the battle between the sexes began to corrupt the human race. It remains this way today except for among those who allow the principle of the golden rule to change these patterns. True feminism is treating others as we would like to be treated regardless of gender. This is was God’s original dream for humanity.
So if God is also feminine, why do all the biblical pronouns refer to God as a “He?” The Bible was written by patriarchal men who lived in a patriarchal society. In order to survive in this sin damaged world of disease and famine and pestilence, required strength and masculinity and so man became king and woman became the servant. They saw women as weak and not able to lift the logs and wage the wars so they naturally assumed if God was so powerful, why would God be feminine?
This changed of course when Jesus came—not as a woman, but as a man who manifested as meek and mild and a servant to all. God didn’t come as these patriarchal men assumed he would and because of their preconceptions, they missed him. Meanwhile Jesus wept over them and said he would like to draw them under his wings like a mother hen. They rejected the feminine side of God, so God manifested as man and did his best to reach them where they were.
Women, created in God’s very imagine, have been attacked on all sides for simply trying to be who God calls them to be. Today, when we hear the word feminist many things come to mind and some of them are quite unpleasant. This not due to women who work being mean or heartless as some stereotypes have painted them, it simply means women have discovered God gave them brains and abilities to serve the world too. Women who ask for equality have been labeled as baby-haters because supposedly they can’t be mothers and have a career—although that’s been proven to be a myth.
Women who ask for equal pay for doing the same work as their male counterparts have been accused of being evil witches sucking the values out of society. Women who wanted to work alongside men have been called man-eaters because supposedly they were piranhas out to steal men’s jobs and devour what men had coming. And phrases like “she’s so bossy” and “she wears the pants in the family” slander women who have natural God-given leadership skills. Surely the heart of God—the God who created these women in her image weeps to see what man has done with his binary thinking.
One of the most confusing and bizarre attacks on women is in Christian churches where women are put down for wanting to be pastors. There are all levels of crazy on this topic. One point of view is to argue that Paul didn’t want women to speak in church at all. then a step up is where women are allowed to preach, but not be pastors because that would go against Paul’s words that a women should not be the head of a man. This group of people seem to feel comfortable ignoring the first concern where Paul said he didn’t want any women to speak in church at all, but how can they ignore one verse and uphold the other legalistically? This is what happens when we ignore the context of the original time and place.
Some of the lamest arguments come from those who say women can be pastors, but not ordained. Why would God call women and then not want to have them prayed over so they can better do His/Her work? It seems these people have lost the meaning of ordination and now see it as merely a form of power over bequeathed only to men. But if God is both masculine and feminine to makes such an arbitrary rule would be denying God’s own self. The real question for the church leaders, is not are women allowed to speak for God, because God Herself has shown it to be important, but why do we insist that some of God’s humans made in God’s image are less than others?
The denomination I was raised in has been abusive to women. Yes, I still call myself an Adventist, but these days I am ashamed to admit it, because of the way the General Conference President Ted Wilson, continues to mistreat women. He’s ignored women on the platform who were going to be commissioned which has already long been voted in by the denomination. He has worked against ordaining women and is now seeking to punish those who do ordain them. Who can say whether God has called a woman or a man to serve Him unless we see the fruits of that work? But we certainly see good fruit from ordained women pastors in China where the long arm of the General Conference President has no reach due to the international laws. Is this what it takes for God to be able to call who She wants? A state church far away where the men who sit in their marble buildings stinking in their piety, have no say?
The Merikay Silver case in the seventies, wasted lots of time and money because one young wife discovered the men were getting paid more to do the same work. When she complained, she was expected to shut up and put up. She was judged and slandered by many in the church and who can blame her for leaving it long ago for a more peaceful Quaker-like existence? But history reveals she was right and despite Ted Wilson’s Father, then President Neal Wilson’s attempts to silence Merikay and those who supported her, the church lost the case and had to start paying women equal to men. It was victory for women in the church and I believe a victory for God Herself. The worker is worthy of their hire whether they are male or female and now the battle rages on with Wilson’s son trying to punish unions for ordaining women.
What will become of this church? Why should we be fighting anyone who wants to spread the gospel? It’s really become a sad history and brings up the question I’ve had for several years now–with all the millions of Adventists around the world, why would God choose two men from the same family to lead the church? Is this chauvinistic family the only people God can find to lead? I sure hope not. I hope someone up high in the powers that be, will finally have a fair mind and chose to do justly, love mercy and walk with God.
Feminism is merely the practice of viewing and treated women with equality–the same equality that the Godhead have with each other and designed human beings to have with each other. Feminism is not placing women above men–but bringing them up to the same level to the position Eve was given by God before the fall. Inequality of the sexes came about by the devil deceiving Eve and tempting Adam into sin, but let us always keep in mind that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.*
*1 John 3:8