EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Ezer Rising: the Story of Woman

In the beginning, God created Man, but Man was not all that and even though God created Man with perfection, something was missing–Man wasn’t whole. The Genesis poem says God looked at Adam and said, “It’s not good for Man to be alone.”

So God put Man to sleep and took a rib out of him to form Woman. This rib was to remind Man that Woman was not a separate entity, but an actual part of him. Man recognized this when he saw her and declared, “She is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh!” This caused Man to love and care for Woman’s body and soul as much as his own.

But God didn’t create Woman to be an extension of Man. Woman was designed with a mind of her own to test and strengthen Man through the experiences of life. When God named Woman, She declared her an “Ezer Kenegdo” which means, the “Lifesaver who comes alongside.” God Herself is called Ezer just a few times in scripture and each time, God as Ezer is referenced as coming through to provide help when everything looks hopeless.

Ezer became the crowning act of creation and was given a God-like role to serve and provide hope and love for humankind. Of course, this was not a one-way transaction–Man would be blessed by the experience to love Ezer and she would be blessed by the experience of loving Man. As long as they continued to serve each other, they would enjoy a beautiful symbiotic relationship of equality where neither controlled nor manipulated the other. For a while, this worked and all was well in Paradise.

Then one day Man decided to do his thing while Ezer did hers. Instead of working together, Ezer ended up vulnerable and alone and deceived by a charmer. This resulted in Man choosing to protect self and before they knew it, they discovered they were both naked and ashamed. Instead of Man owning his junk and Ezer owning hers, they blamed each other, the charmer and ultimately God.

God hadn’t changed. She was the same. She called for Man and Woman and found them both hiding in the bushes trying on fig leaves as if God couldn’t see through her own creation. God had created this beautiful unity between two versatile parts who were two, yet one, but now their unity was broken and it grieved Her.

It was time to tell them the truth. Because they had fractured their unity, the struggle was harsh. Man was stronger and he would lord over Ezer. Ezer would now pine for their lost intimacy and use all sorts of manipulation to get Man’s love back. Their own insecurities and shame began to block the connection between them.

Man figured if Ezer could save his life, perhaps he could become immortal if he had more Ezers. Ezer, heartbroken sought ways to manipulate Man to regain her status, but her plans backfired. Man’s love of power grew greater than his love for Ezer and their connection faded.

This broken pattern has been passed down from our first parents to us today. Ezer, once the crowning act of creation and created in the shape of God Herself, was altered by her own scheming and manipulations. Man used his power over Ezer and downgraded her title to “help-mate.” He now expected Ezer to carry his water bucket and quench his thirst–only to thrown Ezer into the ditch whenever he was in a bad mood.

No one has seen God except what humans have seen in the face of the God/Man Jesus. Yet Man is only half of the image of God because Male and Female were both made in God’s image. We have seen the masculine face of God in Jesus, but the feminine face is more obscure. God could have just as easily come to us as a Woman, but perhaps God came as a Man because Man had stolen all the power from Ezer.

In order to meet broken people where they are, God has manifested as a Man to lead because Woman, the Ezer Kenegdo–the one who was meant to be a lifesaver for Man, was now broken down and infertile by Man’s desire to rule over her. So God entered human history as a Man in order to lead both sexes back to health and equality. Thus it would be said, “In Christ, there are no males or females.”

After this happened, Ezer began to get her power back because of the God/Man Jesus.

Ezer, who had slept with men to gain back her love, now found her value restored through Jesus.

Ezer, who had demons in her soul, was now set free by Jesus.

Ezer, who was once forced outside the temple, was now beckoned inside by Jesus.

Ezer, long shut out of educational pursuits and status by Man, was now being restored by sitting at the feet of  Jesus.

Ezer who was once shut out and overwhelmed with grief was healed and restored by Jesus. And so out of gratitude, Ezer spent all she had to show her appreciation by washing the feet of Jesus.

And God, knowing what had been stolen from Ezer by Man’s greed and desire to lord it over Ezer, gave Ezer the greatest tasks of all–to carry the God/Man Jesus in her body, to nurture his human mind and body and to be the first person to announce to the world that the God/Man Jesus had accomplished His mission when He arose from the grave.

Yet even with such proof and the fact that both Man and Ezer were both created in God’s image, Man still assumes God is male and continues to deny Ezer her status. Man continues to use Ezer and exalt himself above her, but Ezer will not be subjected to Man for eternity. Man has taken very little thought of the feminine face of God, but what a surprise he will have when he looks into the eyes of THE EZER–the God whose image Ezer bears.

Meanwhile, Ezer is rising!  Thanks to Man, Ezer had nowhere to go but up. And thanks to Jesus, Ezer is being restored to her original glory.

Have you seen Ezer?

Ezer is rising as the brightest star of kindness and grace shining against the darkest night of oppression and misogyny.

Ezer is rising as a comforter who sponges the fevered brow of society’s many diseases even as she wipes away her own tears.

Ezer is rising as the baker of the Bread and pourer of the Wine–even while she is told to stand at the back of the line.

Ezer is rising even as she continues to endure her shame and pain because Man is often too vile to recognize the image of God within her.

Ezer is rising as she risks her own life to call out truth and demand justice for those who are marginalized.

Ezer is rising as she leads the way in love for all people and points out where human judgments fall far short of God’s grace.

Ezer has been beaten and bruised and give her own crown of thorns, but because of the love of the Jesus, Ezer is carrying the cross too heavy for past centuries, but today she is finding her identity and worth through the face of Jesus. Ezer rises higher than ever because now she knows her joy will come in the morning when the dawn breaks in the garden on that final day.

Ezer is rising. Trained eyes can see her now, but Ezer will finally be seen in all her glory when she is standing next to the God who formed her in Her image.

Until then, Man, who has failed to recognize the feminine face of God, is shocked to hear Ezer God’s voice crying out, “Man, Man, why are you persecuting Me?”

EQUALITY

Daring Greatly–The Courage of the Roosevelts

Jeri grew up with a narcissist mother who put her down and told her she was stupid and ugly. She has now come to a place where her marriage has failed, her family seems to do nothing but criticize her and her health is of some concern. The other day, she explained how the prospect of surviving a lonely existence on her own terrifies her to the point she wonders if the world even needs her. Jeri represents thousands of ACONs who lack confidence from narcissistic parents and are still reeling from the pain of betrayal, but it might surprise her to know she is not alone– she stands beside some great people who have overcome similar abuses and some of them bear the name Roosevelt.

I’ve recently watched the PBS documentary by Ken Burns about the Roosevelts which is now on Netflix. It is titled “The Roosevelts, an Intimate History.” I have often heard people refer to the “good Roosevelt” and the “bad Roosevelt” meaning whichever political party they ascribed to, but I have been greatly inspired by both President Theodore Roosevelt and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as Teddy’s niece and Franklin’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt (who ironically never had to change her name.)

These presidents were fifth cousins and both were supportive of each other. Their family tree though intermingled, was not a very compatible one. Eleanor was the strong link between the two of these men because she was Teddy’s niece and FDR’s wife and both empowered her to live out her own life of service to others.

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Teddy Roosevelt was older and born sickly with such bad asthma that no one expected him to grow up. His younger brother was stronger and more popular than he was and because Teddy was bullied and picked on because of his size, he was afraid to go places without his brother when he was a child. He overcame his illnesses and grew up to become a very strong figure both physically and mentally.

After falling in love with a beautiful woman and marrying her, he lost his wife two days after childbirth as well as his mother to Typhoid fever in the same night. He was left with a baby girl named after his wife, but he never spoke of the loss of his wife again it was such a tragic event for him.

Despite his personal pain, Teddy Roosevelt worked hard against unfair working conditions among the factories and mines to limit the power of big industry over the average worker and in American politics. He was well loved and very popular and did much good for our country. His famous speech “The Man in the Arena,” aptly describes his own journey and has inspired millions to get up and try again.

Teddy’s brother, who had been so physically strong, was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt. He became an alcoholic and ended up in an asylum before he died. After his death, Teddy took Eleanor under his wing as his favorite niece.

Eleanor, who never quite got over losing her father, did not find love in her mother who hated her overbite and called her “granny” because she was so ugly. Eleanor never felt loved by anyone until she met her distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but even before he married her, his mother was over-protective of her son and tried to dissuade him from marrying her. She was never a friend to Eleanor. She considered her grandchildren as if she were the mother and Eleanor was a house-guest. In every pursuit, she seemed to work against Eleanor. After Eleanor bore him five children, she discovered her husband had been cheating on her for years with his secretary. She was devastated, but he agreed to never see her again and they moved on.

Without any power in her family and feeling powerless since her mother in law seemed to be raising her children, Eleanor began to help with those who were struggling during the depression and found her own life work in public service. Later, when her husband contracted polio, she and FDR must have struggled with depression, but they both tried to be positive for the sake of their children.

For two years FDR worked on walking, but he never really walked again. He moved his legs in a very painful manner with braces on his legs to hold him up. In all of his speeches where he looked like he was standing, he was more like propped up and leaning on something. This all happened before he even ran for president. Most people would have given up, but Roosevelt did all he could to be as strong as possible by swimming and strengthening his upper body.

He must’ve done something right because he was our longest serving president and was elected four times, bringing our country through the great depression and WWII. Some criticized his New Deal and later others would criticize the Manhattan Project which was started under his watch, but helped end the war with Japan. Whether we agree with his politics or not, FDR was trying to serve the people in the best way he knew how. He believed Hitler was evil long before he could get us into the war and he did his best to end Hitler’s reign.

Despite all the good Roosevelt did, he was scandalized by relatives and Teddy Roosevelt’s oldest daughter Alice, publicly said she would vote for Hitler over her cousin FDR. FDR said he didn’t care if he ever heard from that evil woman again. This documentary could well be titled, “Roosevelts, a Triumph Over Narcissistic Relatives.”

While FDR worked on his New Deal policies, Eleanor became more and more popular by writing a column every week. The nation respected her opinion and when her husband was criticized, she spoke out to support him. This couple could very easily have given up. FDR had a lifetime struggle with his illness and Eleanor was often dealt blows about her own self-worth, but they were united in service for a love of the American people.

On the day FDR died, he was working on a speech to encourage our country’s involvement in the formation of the United Nations. His last words, written in his own handwriting read:

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow
will be our doubts of today.
Let us move forward with strong and active faith.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

When Eleanor went to bring FDR’s body home after he died, she was devastated to be told he was still entertaining his old flame and one time secretary. She could have given up after he died. She could have floated on a river of tears for her losses of not having a loving and supportive family from her mother and father to her husband and mother in law, it seemed most people betrayed her. The one exception was her uncle Teddy Roosevelt. He was one person who had a great influence on her character and life because of the love he instilled in her for the common person.

After FDR’s death, a reporter approached Eleanor but she told him to go away because it was over. She spoke too soon. She continued to serve people of all backgrounds and nations–even winning over her critics by helping to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the United Nations.

Despite all the narcissistic people who let her down, despite her own fears and doubts about her worth, Eleanor declared she found a way to love by loving other people. Her advice is helpful for those of us who have judgmental and unloving parents and who wonder if we will ever be able to do something of value to contribute in this world. If you are afraid, take hope in her words:

Courage is more exhilarating than fear,
and in the long run, it is easier.
We do not have to become heroes overnight–
just a step at a time, meeting each thing as it comes,
seeing it’s not as dreadful as it seems.
Discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Watching this documentary has greatly encouraged me to try harder to bless others despite my own struggles. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with narcissistic relatives, self-doubts and fear of failure. The truth is each of these courageous people either dealt with narc parents or some sort of health issues and adversity, they also made many mistakes themselves, but they never gave up. As a matter of fact, it seems their trials only made them stronger.

The world breaks everyone
and afterward
many are strong in the broken places.
-Ernest Hemingway

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE, STORY

Why Mary Dyer Deserves Her Own Google Doodle

This is a repost from a blog I wrote three years ago. Recent events show me that Mary’s story will always be relevant until religious freedom is universal. 

Mary Dyer willingly walked to the gallows and was hanged 357 years ago as the first woman martyr on American soil. She had waited her turn at the gallows before. She watched her fellow Quakers die while she stood with a noose around her own neck. The first time, the noose was removed due to a last minute appeal from her son. She’d been warned to leave Massachusetts and never come back, but years later she came back to appeal for religious freedom.

Born in England, Mary Dyer married Puritan William Dyer in 1633. They immigrated to Massachusetts where William became a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Company and held many important positions. They were admitted to the Boston church two years later. Mary was described as “fair” and “comely.”

At this point Mary was not a Quaker, but she was an open supporter of Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson. Hutchinson was the midwife who dared to teach women about God while women sat around waiting for a delivery. Her father had been a minister and she believed that men and women alike could hear from God and teach others. Mary probably met Anne at one of her births.

When Mary went into labor on October 17, 1637, she called for Anne. After hours of pain, Mary gave birth to a stillborn daughter. They knew that such a birth would be fodder for the imagination and superstitions of the Magistrates in Boston. At the advice of a well-educated doctor, they buried the child. The birth remained a secret for months.

When Anne Hutchinson was excommunicated from the church and cast away from society on March 22, 1638, Mary Dyer walked beside her. Someone asked who was that woman supporting Anne Hutchinson? Another replied, “The mother of a monster.” This remark was overhead by Governor Winthrop who immediately had the body exhumed. The baby was falsely described by Winthrop with such horror as to make it appear a curse from God—

“…It had two mouths, and in each of them
a piece of red flesh sticking out;
it had arms and legs as other children;
but, instead of toes, it had on each foot three claws,
like a young fowl, with sharp talons.”

Now it was Mary’s turn to be cast out from society, but her husband was well respected and they found refuge in Rhode Island. Then they went back to England on a political mission with Roger Williams. While living in England for five years, Mary began to follow George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. His teaching of the “Inner light” was similar to beliefs she learned from Anne Hutchinson. Mary returned to New England preaching the gospel wherever she went. These two women are considered by some to be the first feminists and women preachers of the New World.

The Puritans of Boston–despite fleeing their own religious persecution, had no tolerance for Quakers. In the five years since Mary left, things had only gotten worse in the New World. While other Quakers had been preaching and starting congregations all over the territory, laws had been enacted against–

“the cursed sect of heretics … commonly called Quakers”
which permitted banishing, whipping,
and using corporal punishment
(cutting off ears, boring holes in tongues).”

Upon her return, Mary, who was unaware of these new laws was immediately captured at the ship and thrown in jail. Her Quaker papers were stolen and burned. She was put into a dark cell with the window blocked to keep the light out. Because of her husband’s prestige she was set free on the condition that she never talk to anyone about her beliefs and leave Massachusetts at once. Mary went back to Rhode Island and preached everywhere she went.

Other Quakers found refuge in Sandwich, MA where freedom was granted to all religious beliefs. These men started a Quaker congregation that has met continuously to this day. Eventually spies reported these men and one of them had his right ear cut off. The struggle for religious freedom had immigrated to the New World along with the people.

Mary had been up for martyrdom before and despite the fact that she had been warned to stay away, she refused because she firmly believed that everyone should have the freedom to worship as they choose. She came back to appeal to the governor for freedom and chose to make her life an example. After she was hanged, her dress blew gently in the breeze.

“She hangs there as a flag for others to take example by,”
remarked an unsympathetic bystander.
That was indeed Mary Dyer’s intention –
to be an example, a “witness” in the Quaker sense,
for freedom of conscience.”

©Lars Justinen/Licensed from GoodSalt.com

“In 1959 by authority of the Massachusetts General Court,
which had condemned her nearly 300 years before,
a bronze statue was erected in her memory
on the grounds of the State House in Boston.
A statue of her friend, Anne Hutchinson,
stands in front at the other wing.”

Mary Dyer found a cause bigger than the New World. Although she endured the loss of privacy and dignity throughout her persecution, she went to the gallows with a gentle smile on her face saying—

“My Life not availeth me in comparison to the liberty of the truth.”

So whether Google ever makes a doodle to celebrate the spirit and life of Mary Dyer, or not, I offer her up as an example of faith and freedom of conscience to men and women everywhere. Mary could have walked away, She had many opportunities to avoid such a death, but she chose to take a stand for freedom of conscience.

Mary, like Jesus, chose to lay down her own life for a greater cause–

No one can take my life from me.
I sacrifice it voluntarily.
For I have the authority to lay it down
when I want to and also to take it up again.
For this is what my Father has commanded.
– John 10:18

Mary Barrett Dyer– Notable Women 

Early Quaker History

Mary Dyer Blog

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

God Calls Women

When God created Adam in all his perfection,
God declared that Adam alone was not good
And so God created a woman.

Photo by Andressa Voltolini on Unsplash
Photo by Andressa Voltolini on Unsplash

God created both men and women in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but there is something unique about women. When God created Eve, God called her an “ezer kenegdo” which has been translated to mean many things including help mate–as though all a woman was created to do is carry a man’s water bucket.

According to Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, this term “ezer kenegdo” can also be translated “sustainer beside him” and is only used in twenty other places in the Old Testament (examples include Deut. 33:26, 29, Psalm 121:1-2, Psalm 20:1-2, Psalm 33:20 and Psalm 115:9-11). Every other time the Bible uses this term it refers to God Himself as a Lifesaver, so when woman was created in the image of God, she was created to be a lifesaver.

God’s enemy would squelch this lifesaver image of God inside a woman and has tried to limit her role to whatever selfish, sinful man throws at her. As you think of the Bible stories below consider how each woman had her part to play as an ezer kenegdo.

When God wanted someone to carry and nurture the human race—God called a woman (Genesis 3:20).

When God wanted someone to protect and watch over baby Moses—God called a young woman (Exodus 2).

When God wanted to preserve and train His future leader Moses—God called a pagan woman (Exodus 2:10).

When God wanted someone to lead others with timbrels and dancing to celebrate the victory at the Red Sea—God called a woman (Exodus 15:20).

When God wanted to show He can use anyone–even prostitutes—God called a woman (Joshua 2).

When God wanted to reveal His true prophet to the leper Naaman—God called a young woman (2 Kings 5:1-19).

When God wanted to protect and nurture the seed of God and the hope of the world—God called a woman (Luke 1:29-38).

When God wanted to remove the custom of stoning to reveal that His grace is greater than our sin—God called a woman (John 8:1-12).

When God wanted to break the tradition where only men could sit at a Rabbi’s feet—God called a woman (Luke 10:39).

When God needed people to support Jesus financially—God called many women (Luke 8:1-3).

When God wanted an evangelist to reveal the Messiah at Jacob’s Well—God called a woman (John 4:28).

When God wanted to anoint Jesus for the incredible work He was about to do—God called a woman (Luke 7:38).

When God wanted to announce Christ’s resurrection to the world—God called a woman (John 20).

God has not changed. His character is the same through all times, traditions and places—God still calls women today.

Do you see this woman? I came into your house.
You did not give me any water for my feet,
but she wet my feet with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but this woman,
from the time I entered,

has not stopped kissing my feet. 
You did not put oil on my head, 
but she has poured perfume on my feet…
Jesus said to the woman, 
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
-Luke 7:44-50

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Male Headship vs. The Headship of Jesus

If any man on this earth desires
to claim true Christian headship,

this is what it looks like.

male headship. patriarchy, ezer, ezer rising, women's equality, littleredsurvivor.com
Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Where equality exists, both men, and women should aim for the goal of serving like Christ.

For those who grew up with the false doctrine of male headship, I have good news for you,

For those who grew up with fathers who were more concerned with being in charge as the head of the home,

For those who grew up with fathers who hit them and controlled them because he was bigger or held all of the power,

For those who grew up with fathers who were more concerned with their own needs than their child’s,

For those who grew up with Fathers who judged you and condemned you when you didn’t follow his religious or political choices,

For those who were belittled and abused under the title of headship,

I offer you the headship of Jesus.

The Headship of Jesus Says:

If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens,
come to me and I will give you rest.
Take the yoke I give you.
Put it on your shoulders and learn from me.
I am gentle and humble,
and you will find rest.
– Matthew 11:28-29

This doesn’t sound at all like the male headship we have seen in most humans.

1. As the Head, Jesus Always Provides 
He allows the rain and sun fall on the just and unjust. No matter who you are or what you have done, He will not withhold the blessings of sunshine and rain on you. And He has told us to not worry about tomorrow because He has already planned all of our days and it is taken care of. But because He knows we will have doubts, He says we can ask Him for help.

2. As the Head, Jesus Takes Full Responsibility
For everything that goes wrong. He sent Adam and Eve from the garden to protect them from becoming immortal sinners. He is saving paradise for all who will allow Him to heal us. But even greater, He came and lived among us sharing our pain, took all the responsibility for our messy lives and made up the difference by dying for us.

3. As the Head, Jesus Puts Others Before Himself
Jesus made himself lower than the angels and died the death of a criminal. He does the work of a servant and washes everyone’s feet—not just the feet of Peter and John, but He even washes the feet of his enemies—consider Judas who had already planned to betray him.

4. As the Head, Jesus is Always Honest
This Head never lies or tricks you to manipulate you into doing something for him. Jesus not only calls Himself the Truth, but He always tells the truth and stands on the side of the truth.

5. As the Head, Jesus is Always Inclusive
This Head always welcomes us to eat with Him and He doesn’t wait for us to come to Him, He’s already knocking on our doors. No matter who you are and where you have been or what you have done, if you ask Him for help, He will never shun you or ignore you.

6. As the Head, Jesus Grants Freedom to All
This Head gave us our freedom and allows us to choose if we want to remain in relationship with Him. He even gives us a holiday each week through the Sabbath so we can have free time with Him and each other—and He doesn’t control how we spend that time. God doesn’t stop people from doing bad things. The principle of his government is freedom for all.

7. As the Head, Jesus Empowers 
Jesus treats women as well as he treats men. He has as much love for women as men. And that goes for the color of skin or any position in life. Jesus loves all of us equally and bestows His gifts on all.

For those who claim that men should always own the headship of the home, this is the headship of Jesus:

The headship of Jesus is patient,
The headship of Jesus is kind,
The headship of Jesus isn’t jealous,
The headship of Jesus doesn’t brag,
The headship of Jesus isn’t arrogant,
The headship of Jesus isn’t rude,
The headship of Jesus doesn’t seek its own advantage,
The headship of Jesus isn’t irritable,
The headship of Jesus doesn’t keep a record of complaints,
The headship of Jesus isn’t happy with injustice,
The headship of Jesus is happy with the truth.
The headship of Jesus puts up with all things,
The headship of Jesus trusts in all things,
The headship of Jesus hopes for all things,
The headship of Jesus endures all things.

The headship of Jesus never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Male Headship 1–How it Feeds Narcissism

Male Headship 2 – What is Male Headship?

Male Headship 3–Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male Headship 4–A Young Girl’s Perspective

Male Headship 5–Adam’s Denial

Male Headship 6–The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus

 

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Male Headship and the Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Have you ever made a mistake,
that no one wants to forget it?

The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer
Photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash

For thousands of years, people have been saying, “If only Mother Eve had not tasted that fruit, we would all be sitting in paradise right now.”

Eve not only has the reputation for being the first to sin, but she has passed her shame down to her daughters. The false belief of male headship perpetuates the myth that Eve is the cause of all the suffering in this world and because of this, all women are inferior to men.

Throughout creation, God kept making things more and more complete. Humanity was the last and crowning act of creation. God pronounced everything good—until he came to Adam. This is the one thing that God says is NOT good—Adam should not be alone. So God created Eve from Adam’s rib. Some think this means Eve was an extension of Adam—that Eve was only created as an afterthought to be Adam’s helper.

But God didn’t create Eve to be a subservient, sexy slave for Adam because God is LOVE and the Godhead lives out eternity with equality and other-centered love toward each other. Humanity could not be in God’s image unless we were created equal with the freedom to serve each other as God does.

For those sticking rigidly to the King James Version of the Bible, something important gets lost in translation. Eve is more than a “helpmate.” She is actually an Ezer Kenegdo in the original Hebrew. The words Ezer Kenegdo are hard to translate according to Hebrew scholar Robert Alter. Ezer is also used as a name for God and it is only used a few times in the Bible, but it’s used when God comes through as a lifesaver. So a translation of Ezer Kenegdo could be calling Eve “the lifesaver who comes alongside.”

The scriptures say male and female were made in God’s image. By creating Eve from Adam’s rib, God was making them one. It wasn’t until both male and female were created that God’s image could be reflected in the human race. It might surprise some people that God has a feminine side, but this confusion is a symptom of the fall. We can find the feminine face of God in several verses throughout scripture. Eve’s femininity reflects God as much as Adam’s masculinity.

There is equality when two people stand side by side. They are two parts of a whole intended to become one. Adam said, “She is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” At this point, Adam knew Eve was a part of him. We don’t say to our legs they are worth more than our hands because every part of our body is equal and important. This proves that Eve was not created to follow behind Adam with a water bucket, but she was designed with equal intelligence and reflects the feminine face of God.

Adam and Eve together had a part in the fall. Eve was deceived, but Adam sinned knowingly. Together they have unlocked the Pandora’s box of misery unleashing the enemy’s power. The world was now unsafe and no one could be trusted. The human race would now live in fear and other-centered love would be replaced by a survival of the fittest mentality.

God explained to Adam and Eve what was happening, His words were not as much a curse as some believe, but to reveal the damage already begun. God doesn’t need to curse Adam and Eve for any of these things to happen, because the curse was started before God even spoke. Sin makes us do crazy things. Adam and Eve have already discovered they were naked. They have already started blaming each other. They were already hiding in the bushes feeling vulnerable and scared. Their choice to separate from God and do their own thing has created this new reality.

The natural result of their sin is that Adam will now vie for control and win—because he is stronger and larger. And Eve’s heart will cry out for her husband because she is tender-hearted and relationship oriented. Adam will now work harder in less fertile soil and Eve will suffer to bring new lives into this now pain-filled world. God was merely describing the trials to come.

God sent Adam and Eve away from Eden—not as a punishment, but to protect them from themselves because immortal sinners would be a horror too great to bear. If only they could go back and ignore the snake, different choices could have provided another outcome, but unlike a broken vase that can be glued back together, there was no way to fix broken humanity except through the Deliverer to come.

The only one who could save them was the one originally maligned by the snake. Jesus came to set things right, but before that happened, the sin experiment would claim many lives and the perfect union God intended between two equals will be under attack for thousands of years.

Because of their selfishness, God knew they would fight so He placed Adam in charge of the family because two sinful people vying for control would create constant chaos. If you don’t believe this, just listen to a few divorce stories.

It was not God’s ideal for the husband to rule over his wife. If Adam truly followed the servant pattern of the Godhead who created Him, he would set his wife free to be whoever God created her to be.

Jesus Came to Restore Eve’s Rightful Place

After thousands of years, humanity endorsed male headship as if it was God’s original plan, but Jesus came to restore what was broken in the fall. Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work of causing division between Adam and Eve and God and all of humanity.

Can you imagine how God must’ve felt? He has created human beings in His image to model other-centered love to the children of the human race, but half of his image has been marginalized. At the very center of His plan, all Adams and all Eves have been torn apart and no longer serve and love as one.

Generation after generation, have grown up in confusion and lacking love because they have witnessed their parents’ divisive, manipulating and controlling behavior. Jesus came to restore God’s image in Adam’s sons and Eve’s daughters. To do this, women were strategically placed throughout the gospel story to show us God values women as much as men. With every interaction, Jesus removes the shame of Eve/Ezer.

For starters, God gives an unwed pregnant Ezer the honor of announcing the coming of the Messiah.

When a sinful Ezer is brought before Him caught in adultery, Jesus reminds every Ezer since the dawn of time that He did not come to condemn anyone.

Even a bleeding Ezer is not turned away from touching Him because Jesus has come to heal every modern Eve of her wounds.

Where Ezer is confined to the outer courts of the temple, Jesus cleanses the temple and invites her inside.

When Ezer shut is out of the religious customs, Jesus encourages her to sit at His feet like a disciple.

To the outcast Samaritan Ezer, Jesus goes out of His way to find her and meet her where she is to reassure her of His love. It is this reassurance and love that melts her shame and allows her to become the first missionary.

When an Ezer’s worship of Him seems too intimate for others, Jesus commends her for anointing His feet and head with oil.

For thousands of years, Eve/Ezer has been called the problem and her daughters have worn her shame, but Eve is not the only one responsible. Adam is responsible for his part. The devil is responsible for the deception of Eve. And ultimately God took responsibility for creating all of this mess when Jesus came to set it right.

The original crime happened in a garden. A woman was deceived. But thousands of years later in another garden, Eve is exonerated through her daughter Mary. Mary as the second Eve deeply grieves her fall. She knows her own brokenness and has lived to regret it. She has been shunned and ridiculed. Her status as Ezer and a daughter of God has been in question—until the Deliverer show up.

Just when Mary Magdalene’s life seems to be coming back together, Jesus was murdered. This second Eve cries alone in a garden because it seems every Adam has forsaken her. She mistakes Him for the gardener, but then isn’t this poetic justice since He’s the original gardener of this world? When Jesus tenderly calls out her name, this Eve/Ezer realizes hope is not lost.

Throughout His life on earth, Jesus has been running a pass around the religious leaders by empowering women on the side. Jesus came to take away Eve’s shame and Adam’s superiority and in case you think this is too feminist—take note: Jesus IS a feminist. He is the original Creator and Author of all that is feminine. It is only when humanity catches on to this and every Ezer is offered her rightful place as an equal, that the human race will finally be restored back to God’s image.

On resurrection day, as a part of his victory, Jesus exonerated Eve and set her back in her proper place with equality next to Adam. Instead of asking Peter or Andrew or John, Jesus gave Mary the most important message of all. The message that He is alive and risen is given for Mary to preach. As an Ezer, the daughter of Eve, designed in the image  of God, Mary claims Eve’s rightful inheritance. And it’s just as true for every modern Eve/Ezer today.

*Verses with God as Ezer: Duet. 33;26,29; Psalm 121:1,2; Psalm 20:1,2; Psalm 33:20; Psalm 115:9-11

Male Headship 1–How it Feeds Narcissism

Male Headship 2 – What is Male Headship?

Male Headship 3–Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male Headship 4–A Young Girl’s Perspective

Male Headship 5–Adam’s Denial

Male Headship 6–The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus

 

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Male Headship and Adam’s Denial

The saying, “It’s a man’s world” is a sad reality.
When one half of the human race is treated as less than
and not worthy due to a missing chromosome,

it gives an arbitrary picture of God. 

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Here are a few of the fallacies fundamentalist Christians and proponents of the false doctrine of male headship claim to support male superiority–

  1. Women are Biologically Inferior to Men

Proponents of male headship say because Adam was created first, he is superior and God intended for him to rule over Eve. If we followed this idea through to its natural conclusion, we might imagine monkeys have headship over all humans because they were created first. Let’s not make the Bible says things it doesn’t say.

Because Eve was created from Adam’s rib, some claim women were meant to be an extension of Adam, but these theories leave out the fact that the Godhead said,

“Let us make humankind in our image.”

This includes Eve as well as Adam. It makes much more sense to reason that Eve reflects the feminine side of God, while Adam reflects the masculine. All of creation was good according to God–except for one thing–it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone.

Did God design Eve to be some bimbo brain to carry Adam’s water bucket? I think NOT. Consider the wise women of the Bible who saved many lives. There is Abigail whose husband was foolish. Deborah who was a judge and leader. Esther who took the risk of sacrificing her life to save her people.

The New Testament is full of stories about women and Jesus–some supported Him with their own money, while Mary sat at his feet and a Samaritan woman carried the gospel to her entire town. It’s obvious Jesus treated women (and all people) with equality. Surely he intends for us to follow his example.

  1. Women Need to Submit to Men for Their Own Good

At the heart of all misogyny, patriarchy and false male headship is Adam’s denial of his own sin while blaming Eve. Proponents of male headship claim it was a woman who was deceived first, so it’s essential for a woman’s salvation to allow a man to be her priest. This is supposed to protect her from being deceived like her great-grandmother Eve.

This idea seems to leave out the fact that Adam knowingly sinned. Eve’s deception is no worse than Adam’s willing sin. “All have sinned and come short of God’s glory.” God’s glory is His character, and no one misrepresents God’s character more than men who abuse their privilege as the head of the home.

  1. Patriarchy is a Biblical Institution

Yes, but so is slavery and polygamy. God was working with people wherever they were at throughout the Bible. There is no peace in the home where one partner gives up individuality to meet the other’s needs. To sacrifice our selfish desires is one thing, but to sacrifice who God created us to be is a crime—not only against self but against our Creator.

There is nothing wrong with a man being the head of the home if—and only if he treats her like he himself would like to be treated. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in most male headship homes. For many women and children who live in homes filled with domestic violence, male headship equals all kinds of slavery and abuse.

  1. The Bible Must be Taken Literally

Proponents of male headship insist on taking the Bible literally—especially the words of Paul. Other verses are often ignored in favor of certain choice verses that sound like Paul is a misogynist. They cite Paul’s words that the wife is to obey her husband. They use this to command respect and duty from their wife and children, but Paul also tells us that the husband is to love his wife like Christ loves the church–if only more Christian marriages could reflect this as a reality.

When people choose to take a fundamentalist approach, they ignore the over-arching principles in scripture and the culture of the day. The Bible says “in the last days, knowledge will be increased.” God has allowed knowledge to increase so we can understand the Bible better. We have archeological evidence to help us understand the cultures of the Bible era. If we ignore such evidence, we fail to use the tools God has provided. Ignoring the evidence leaves room for misinterpretation.

  1. Prominent Pastors and Evangelists Support Male Headship, so it Must be OK

Even worse than misusing Paul’s words, is the lie that God created Eve to be less than Adam. This rumor is spread by well-meaning and kind looking preachers who have all sorts of amazing facts on the subject but lack the true Spirit of Jesus. If you are in disagreement with this, I have a blog about the Headship of Jesus and how He treated women to end this series.

The Pharisees were great religious leaders in Jesus’s day. They preached about and kept all of the Ten Commandments. They tithed every shekel. They kept the Sabbath like experts and taught everyone else to do the same. From all outward appearances they lacked nothing, but they also made sure Jesus was dead so they could rush home in time to observe the Sabbath. These were the leaders of the church, and many people followed them like sheep without thinking for themselves until they too joined in hurting Jesus.

When modern Eves feel disheartened by misogyny and false accusations, they are in good company because Adam not only blamed Eve, but he blamed God too. In Adam’s version, he was an innocent victim. He points to Eve for causing him to sin; them points to God for giving him the gift of Eve. Many modern Adams have blamed the companion God provided for him while ignoring his own sins. His own neglect and selfishness have contributed to destroying the love they once shared, but he feels better blaming Eve.

Whatever we do to another person—it’s the same as doing it to Jesus. Jesus always stands with the marginalized. Jesus stands with women whether they have been beaten and abused or ignored and shunned. If men insist on subjugating women, they are actually subjugating Jesus Himself because Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done it to Me.”

So many churches claim to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, but if they can’t treat women with equality like Jesus did, they are failing to accurately represent God’s character. The only way to represent Jesus is to treat all people–including women with equality and ordain them as they do men. Half of a cake is half of a cake. Equality is equality, there is no other way to slice it.

Male Headship 1–How it Feeds Narcissism

Male Headship 2 – What is Male Headship?

Male Headship 3–Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male Headship 4–A Young Girl’s Perspective

Male Headship 5–Adam’s Denial

Male Headship 6–The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus

 

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Male Headship From a Young Girl’s Perspective

The first time my mom took me school shopping,
she suggested I have a fashion show for Daddy.
I twirled around in my new plaid dress
until my eye caught the 
look
of disappointment on my father’s face

When I turned to look at him,
his eyes fell to the floor and he asked, 
“Why are you dressing her in men’s clothes?”

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Photo by ANDRIK LANGFIELD PETRIDES on Unsplash

She said they weren’t men’s clothes–they were plaid dresses which was what all the little girls were wearing. Daddy asked her to take the clothes back. Mom said it wouldn’t matter because it was the only style in the stores at the time. As they continued to argue about my new clothes, I lowered my head and slunk back to my room. There was no use in trying on another dress, everything we bought—including my lunchbox was plaid.

This was my first experience with male headship. No one called it that, but I began to pick up these messages after this encounter.

1. It’s Wrong to Dress Like a Man 
As I grew older I was told that long hair was given to a woman for a covering and it was wrong to cut it. I was not allowed to wear jeans because they were men’s clothing and it would be a dishonor to God for me to dress like a man. I once started to hand my little brother a purple towel, but I was told not to give him purple. This confused me.

While I was not to dress like a boy, I was also not encouraged to wear many girly things because they fit into the category of vanity. All nail polish, makeup, and jewelry were forbidden. I was once threatened with belting for wearing tinted chapstick. I was told it was inappropriate to show any skin at all or swim with boys and I was taught that what I wore might cause some boy to sin, so I had to be modest at all times.

2. Men Are Superior 
In my family of origin, it was a man’s world. Women were given a supporting role. Men got to make the rules and decide what you wear and if they didn’t like it, they could make you take it back.

The issue of my Dad being in charge went beyond clothing. It covered just about any part of my life. It meant that food must be ready the minute my dad came in the door. That if he was in a bad mood, I had to tiptoe on eggshells and do whatever he wanted or I would be belted. Sometimes it seems I was belted just because he was in a bad mood. When I was small, my mom used to say she hated it when my dad punished me in anger, but she didn’t stand up for me because they were a team and they had a pact to remain in agreement even when they weren’t.

When it came to music, I could only listen to music my father approved or if he was in a good mood. I have been belted several times in my life for listening to music. I’m not talking about rowdy music, I’m talking Amy Grant and John Denver. Meanwhile, my dad like the song “You picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille.” If that was not patriarchal I am not sure what is and I sided with Lucille. If all a man wants you for is to cook and have babies then it hardly seemed fair. perhaps I felt this way because I was the oldest and had enough of changing my siblings’ dirty diapers and fixing their bottles. Of course, if a woman wants to do these things by choice, then that’s a different story. The idea is for every woman to be able to make her own choices just like every man does.

In order to keep control of me, my parents decided to keep me out of school to protect me from getting contaminated by the world. Basically, I stayed home and worked as their slave for most of my teen years. From an early age, I was expected to bake six loaves of bread every week, do a large portion of the housework, cook large meals for a family of six and babysit my siblings. But they never bought me one book to help me get my GED.

3. Women Are Not as Spiritual as Men
My mom never did anything to lead our family in prayer or worship. She actually never did anything my dad didn’t want her to do. She deferred to him in everything except cooking and cleaning. In that realm, she was in charge, but she still had to have supper ready when he was ready to eat.  Everything in our home rotated around my father’s moods. We were not a quivering family, but my parents’ had specific expectations for women and they did not include me learning to be independent.

The weird thing was that my father once told me that he felt bad because his mother never learned to drive and said he wanted me to learn to drive and have a way to make a living, but somewhere between his ideals and reality he didn’t teach me to drive. Another time he told me if my husband ever asked me what I wanted to do, I should have an opinion and not act passively. I got the idea from both of my parents that my opinion mattered—but only as long as it agreed with theirs.

It’s the saddest mystery in my life that my father actually tried to encourage me to be a strong woman, but then told me not to be like other strong women we met. When a woman showed leadership, my parents said she wore the pants in the family. If a woman didn’t have children, she was called selfish. If the pastor’s wife worked for a living, she was called worldly and material minded. The women we met were none of these things, but to a young girl, this made an impression that I had no right to do anything but be a housewife and child bearer.

Nowhere was this idea of men in charge more obvious than when it came to what we believed about God. My mom taught me to trust God and obey and I will always have a special place in my heart for her loving ways of teaching me about Jesus as a small child, but as I got older, my dad was the only one in charge of worship and then only if he was in the mood.

My maternal grandmother was a Bible worker who brought nearly a hundred people into the church in her lifetime, but my father never agreed with her about God. If Grandma began to teach me something she was reading about, it almost always guaranteed that my dad would end up in an argument with her. When we drove away, he would say she never went to theology school and didn’t know what she was talking about. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I discovered my grandmother had a much better picture of God than I had grown up with. She was powerless to speak to me much about it during my childhood, but she still tried to give me the crumbs under the table.

4. Women Don’t Need to Get an Education

The place my father’s control affected my life the most after his spiritual control was my education. My going to school was never a priority for my dad. I was jerked in and out of schools with every move until the day he decided giving me an education was too much work. Then we had no schooling at all. During my teen years, I was told to tell people at our church I was being homeschooled, but they never bought the books. If I asked for books and complained about not keeping up with kids my age, I was called spoiled and selfish.

When I finally went to college, I had few career choices that seemed acceptable to my family. My interests included psychology which was considered evil, becoming a pastor which was out because my father had tried to talk me out of attending the Christian University I chose because they had a woman preacher. And there was no way I could consider anything in the medical field because I had never had science since the sixth grade. It seems that from my father’s perspective, my obvious career choices we just as inappropriate as those plaid dresses he wanted my mother to take back. Because I was so unprepared, college turned out to be a very confusing and depressing time in my life.

If I gave the impression my father didn’t love me, that’s not true, but there was this dichotomy between his words and his behavior. My mother contributed to my role expectations too because she told me in third grade that my mind (like hers) was not made for math. This sort of justification for sexism really confuses a young girl and makes her wonder if she can be good at anything besides cooking and cleaning.

This blog has explained the subtly of male headship to a child. Others have had a much more brutal treatment, but I certainly needed to reframe these events in my life to gain a better perspective. I don’t believe that what I experienced is the norm. Many children who grow up with male headship struggle in different ways. If you are one of those, please feel free to share your experience with me, I would love to hear your story.

Did you grow up with different rules and expectations for girls and boys?
How is it affecting your life today?

 

Male Headship 1–How it Feeds Narcissism

Male Headship 2 – What is Male Headship?

Male Headship 3–Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male Headship 4–A Young Girl’s Perspective

Male Headship 5–Adam’s Denial

Male Headship 6–The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus

 

 

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male headship, polygamy, and slavery
have something in common–
they have Biblical models and they empower
one man to use his power over others.

male headship, patriarchy, feminism, women's equality, women's rights, ezer, ezer rising, ezer kenegdo, littleredsurvivor.com
Photo by David Thomaz on Unsplash

One of the biggest arguments fundamentalist Christians use to support the false doctrine of male headship is the example of the patriarchs in the Bible, but they also practiced polygamy and slavery too.

The Bible calls Abraham a friend of God, yet he practiced all three, so does God condone these practices? It’s important to remember the Bible is not a code book, but a casebook of stories. These stories all have beginnings and endings. Many times they start without God and reveal God’s leading humans to a better and more compassionate way to live. If Abraham’s fathers worshiped false gods (Joshua 24:2), then surely Abraham had a lot to learn. God was calling Abraham out of a culture that was abusive to women and children. Child sacrifice and selling wives were common in that day. God led Abraham by asking him to separate from his family and move out in faith. Even after he moved far away, Abraham’s life was a journey with God leading and teaching him lessons throughout his lifetime.

Some people say God never changes and what God allows in one period is okay in another. While God’s character of love never changes, it doesn’t take much reading of the Bible to notice God’s methods of dealing with the human race have changed over and over. The big picture shows us how God stoops down to earth so he can meet people wherever they are in their journeys. Never was this made more clear than when God became human and lived among us in the form of Jesus.

Jesus is our example of how to treat others. Abraham might have fathered a nation but he was merely another human on this planet. Jesus stood up in church one day to make his mission known; he came to set ALL captives free and that includes removing the curses of polygamy, slavery, and patriarchy.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom
for the prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free.
-Luke 4:18

Despite the words and life example of Jesus, some fundamentalist Christians continue to endorse the false doctrine of male headship by claiming Paul endorsed it. At first glance, it seems this could be true–but only if we single out certain texts without reading them in context. Paul was writing to people in societies where male headship and feminine cults were the norm, but if we read through all of his writings, we discover he was trying to set people free from any mindset where someone uses power over another. This is why he wrote:

There is neither Jew nor Greek;
there is neither slave nor free;
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
-Galatians 3:28

Paul contributed to the understanding that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. No hierarchies there–especially since Jesus gave up everything to become the lowest of the low and the servant of all. Male headship is the opposite of what Jesus did because it puts one person above another. Yet some people still claim Jesus is subservient to the Father. They say this because they are not reading the entire Bible.

While Jesus did submit to the Father, the Father also GLORIFIED Jesus. The Spirit LED Jesus into the wilderness, but Jesus SENDS the Spirit to us today. Jesus says, “The Spirit will only tell you what I tell the Spirit to tell you.” Why would Jesus need to say this? Because he wanted us to know The Spirit will never contradict His teachings. The members of the Godhead serve each other with other-centered love, always putting each other first.

The Trinity is our example for marriage, the church and in all relationships. The scripture says male and female were both created in God’s image. By designing Eve from Adam’s rib, God was making them one. It wasn’t until Adam had someone to love, that he even could bear God’s image because he bears only one part of God’s image and the Godhead lives in other-centered love. Eve is the other half of God’s image in the human race and she and Adam both provide someone for the other to love. Without love, there is no image of God, because God is love.

As for the Father being the head, Paul used such an illustration as an example of the church submitting to Jesus because while Jesus was living here on earth He submitted to the Father in all things. But this is only one half of the equation because Jesus Himself said:

“The Father and I are one.”

“If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

When Jesus prayed in John 17, He prayed that His followers might be one like He and the Father are one.

Even the Hebrew Shema states, “The Lord Our God is One.”

I am not a theologian, but I will use the words of one to say it better than I can:

“I prefer to argue that we have misunderstood what the Bible means when it says that the husband is head as Christ is head (Eph 5:23). From my study, the head-body relationship in the Bible does not indicate unilateral authority. Rather it indicates mutual submission and shared authority.

“God is the head of Christ who is the head of the husband who is the head of his wife (1 Cor 11:3). What does this mean? I think it means that God is embodied in Christ; Christ is embodied in the church; and the husband is embodied in the wife–as his own body (Eph 5:29-30). Jesus as the embodiment of God says all power is given to me in heaven and earth (Mt 28:18). Therefore the Father has no authority that is not shared by the Son. So it should be with the family. The husband has no authority that is not shared by his wife.”

“The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3). On the one hand, in chronological order, “man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man” (11:8-9). On the other hand, in Christological order, “Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God” (11:11-12).
-Martin Hanna

We see how after sin entered this world, God gave Adam responsibility for the family because two sinful people vying for control could create constant fighting and chaos. If you don’t believe this, just listen to a few divorce stories. But this was never God’s original plan. Jesus came to teach us God’s ideal of loving each other with equality and other-centered love just like the members of the Godhead treat each other.

Paul agrees with this by teaching wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives like they love their own bodies. The Spirit of the Godhead teaches that we are both to submit to each other and to love each other as we love ourselves. Any form of using power over each other goes directly against the golden rule to do unto others as we would want to be treated and destroys love.

Slavery, polygamy and male headship have never reflected the Godhead intentions for any human life whether in a marriage or not. If a religion teaches this, it’s only because they are using the example of Abraham over Jesus and taking human cultural traditions over God’s law of other-centered love.

Male Headship 1–How it Feeds Narcissism

Male Headship 2 – What is Male Headship?

Male Headship 3–Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male Headship 4–A Young Girl’s Perspective

Male Headship 5–Adam’s Denial

Male Headship 6–The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus

* For greater understanding of why true Christianity doesn’t use power over, compare The Steps of Jesus vs. The Steps of Satan.

For more information on Male Headship within the denomination I grew up in read: Andrews University on the Unique Headship of Christ Statement

A Short History of the Headship Doctrine in the Seventh Day Adventist Church by Gary Chudleigh

EQUALITY, RELIGIOUS ABUSE

What is Male Headship?

When I asked women to share what
their definition of male headship is,
this was one of the best:

“Male headship is patriarchy in a marriage or a society.
It’s the idea that males should be given
some ultimate advantage, priority,
or responsibility in decision-making and leadership.”

male headship, patriarchy, feminism, women's equality, women's rights, ezer, ezer rising, ezer kenegdo, littleredsurvivor.com
Photo by Anne Edgar on Unsplash

There are many variations of male headship which might look different across many cultures, but male headship usually boils down to the practice and belief that a man is superior to a woman. Not all men who practice male headship are cruel, some lead their wives and daughters lovingly and with great affection, but the underlying lie is still there that the wife is inferior and is not capable of making her own choices. She supposedly needs a man to tell her how to act and what to think and ultimately needs his guidance about how to listen to and what to believe about God.

Because male privilege places all the power in a relationship with the man, it leaves the women subjugated to the man’s will and denies her voice. The result is that many male headship cultures treat women as property much like a cow or horse. Even in the United States, a woman had no rights a century ago and women were still fighting for the right to vote.

Male headship in practice can leave a woman vulnerable and with no recourse when a man is cruel. In Christian circles, some like to say women are “different but equal,” and some men who believe in headship are very kind to their women. If this were always true if every husband treated his wife as Christ loved the church and treasured her body as his own, then perhaps there would be no reason to write this, but this is not the reality for most who practice the false doctrine of male headship.

For an example of male headship within distorted Christianity check out, “The Witness Wore Red.” book review and Things I Found in Common with Polygamist’s Daughter. A Fundamental Latter Day Saints might seem like an extreme example, but many Christians who practice male headship are only a stone’s throw from similarly abusing women.

I firmly support all people to live out their religious convictions, but I could never place myself under a man for him to use his power over me. That’s why it puzzles me to hear so many male headship Christians who are firmly against Islam. While they preach against Islam and share horror stories about Islam, they fail to recognize that male headship taken to its natural conclusion looks a lot like Islam. When male headship is allowed to flourish, women continually lose one right after another until they fade into the background and become invisible.

One woman described it like this:

“Given ultimate power in a relationship makes it too tempting for a man to interject selfishness and get his way–often at her expense. Under extreme male headship “women can’t drive, can’t travel without a male escort, can’t shop in male only stores (anywhere that isn’t grocery or women’s clothing) can’t go to museums (except on women and children days) can’t swim unless there are women only days at the pool, is subject to genital mutilation (to make sure sex is so painful that she will never have sex with anyone but her husband–who will have to cut her open the first time) will be killed for being raped, because SHE “SHAMED” the family. Must cover her face at all times (even in her own home) if a man who isn’t her husband, brother, or son (brother-in-laws don’t count) is present–the list continues to infinity.” -Kathy

Another wrote:

“Male headship is that just by being born a male they are in charge of all who are born female. It is saying that females are born second-class citizens. It says that females start out under the rule of their fathers and are then passed on to be under the rule of their husband and if they are widows, they are under the rule of elders. Ultimately, the husband is the priest of the household he stands between God and the wife.” -K.S.

Some Christian proponents of male headship often use an umbrella as an illustration that the man is superior to his wife and children. Regardless of the many ways “Good Christian men” might use their privilege, it seems placing a man between a woman and God is the most significant lie of all. There is no justification for cruelty. We can often see the violent and base behavior for what it is, but packaging God in such a way as to make Him seem more accessible and more in favor of men, robs women of their direct access to God and their God-given right to act freely on their conscience.

Taken from the FaceBook Page Ezer Rising

How does male headship look in a traditional Christian environment? It looks like a father telling his daughter how to vote or what to say in court. It looks like a father treating his wife as if her rights and opinions don’t exist. It looks like a father refusing his daughter an education. It looks like shunning a woman at church who’s been given a gift from the Holy Spirit. It looks like starting a witch hunt to criticize and condemn a woman for leading.

A few years ago, some friends of mine went to a marriage seminar weekend by the Raineys who are leaders in the male headship movement. They came home to inform the rest of our study group that men are the leaders in the home and the church and women are merely here to assist them. I was a co-leader of that team along with a man, so I just rolled my eyes–until I realized they were serious.

At the time, my pastor had asked me to serve communion with the men, and one day he had asked if I would consider becoming an elder. Because I knew there were some in our church who adamantly were opposed to women leaders–including my friends, I felt it would only cause trouble, so I said no. I didn’t say no because I felt inadequate. I said no because I didn’t want to fight with people.

Since then I’ve noticed many elders who take zero interest in my life or the lives of others. They wear the badge as a sign of authority and honor without serving as Jesus did. I knew I had the gift of encouragement and teaching, but I still said no and I think it was a mistake, but I couldn’t see it at the time because I had been raised in a male headship home. Part of the problem was I perceived to be an elder meant to put myself on a pedestal because that is what the elders I knew were doing. Today I realize God’s true church is not built from the top down, but the bottom up.

When the husband of this couple heard that I had turned my pastor down, he came to tell me he was proud of me for saying no–that I was “too sweet of a person” to be standing up for women’s leadership in the church. I wish I’d asked what he meant, but I’d been conditioned by my father to let men lead, and I’d been taught by my mother not to make waves, so I shrunk back from following God’s lead because I was listening to the opinions of other people who taught men were supposedly superior to me and had a more direct line to God. Today I know that isn’t so.

This incident happened more than a decade ago. After studying the life of Jesus these last ten years, I realized God not only calls women, but the Bible reveals how women were strategically placed in the gospel story to empower all Ezers (God’s original name for Eve) to reclaim their rightful place as Adam’s equal. But before we get into Eve’s restoration, let’s talk about where the false doctrine of male headship came from.

Do you see Male Headship as described above,
or do you have a different way of looking at it?

Male Headship 1–How it Feeds Narcissism

Male Headship 2 – What is Male Headship?

Male Headship 3–Where Did Male Headship Come From?

Male Headship 4–A Young Girl’s Perspective

Male Headship 5–Adam’s Denial

Male Headship 6–The Exoneration of Eve/Ezer

Male Headship 7—The Headship of Jesus