For about hundred years we have had women's emancipation. Yet again and again we read in the press about violence against women, about oppression and a lot more. Some exaggerate in the other direction and consider women more important than anything else.
Yet what does God say? What do we find in the Bible about the special roles of man and woman in general life? Who of the two might possibly be the boss?
In the very beginning of the Bible in the Old Testament in Genesis chapter 1, verses 27 and 28 we read the following:
And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1, 27 – 28)
So God simply created two different humans, a man and a woman, just as in the case of all animals he created a male and a female one. We do not read anything about different tasks of these two different humans, and especially we do not read anything about one being of higher value than the other or one being supreme over the other.
However in the Bible there is another report on how God created the universe because the book of Genesis originally derived from two different scriptures that were later put together to one unit. In Genesis, chapter two we read the following:
And God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2,7)
And God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. (Genesis 2,18)
And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2,21 - 25)
This story is longer, and as it had been a custom in those days, it is full of pictures that explain the happenings. In verse 18 God decided that it is not good that man is alone. Therefore he created somebody to help him, the woman, coming from the same origin as man. The story with the rip simply is to put it clear that both are the same kind of being, different from all animals. So, on the whole the first and the second report on the creation of mankind basically are the same. God created man and woman. Both fit together, help each other, are meant to be a unit. None is better than the other, none is supreme over the other.
In verse 24 it is pointed out that the adult man shall leave his parents in order to find a woman and create a new unit with her, a new family. This is identical with the first report where it says “be fruitful and multiply”.
There is an interesting remark in verse 25: Obviously sexuality had been a normal part of life without shame or special value.
These two first human beings lived in a garden which God had specially provided for them, called the “Garden Eden” or “Paradise”. No pain existed there, no suffering, no hard work, no stress. The human beings were not obliged to work for their livings but they simply ate the fruits of this garden, enjoyed them and relaxed. There was no need of striving for special reputation by fulfilling any particular tasks in work. They were simply there.
However then a serious break occurred. Sin. These two human beings broke the only commandment that God had given them. These people had the free will to decide to do good or evil. They decided to follow the evil instead of following God and the good.
As result of this evil deed God threw them out of paradise and punished them. The woman's punishment was this:
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis 3, 16)
Man's punishment was this:
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3, 17 - 19)
So, as from then on woman suffered heavy pain when giving birth to a child. For sure every mother is able to confirm this. Furthermore we read that woman will have desire for man, and that man shall reign over woman. So equality of man and woman as it had been in paradise ended from then on. Man is clearly put higher than woman. For the woman this is the consequence of sin.
Yet what about man? He, too, received big punishment. Laziness ended. As from then on he had to work hard to earn his daily living. By the way, it is not written there that woman would have to work! Apart from that at the end of his life man – this applies to all human beings, man and woman – has to die.
Now somebody might come up saying: That is unfair, what God is doing. Just because ages ago once a man and a woman had committed a sin, I have to suffer now. I don't see any reason for that. Committing that sin had been their business not mine!
Correct, this is fully accepted as long as you yourself don't commit any sin!! Here, too, I suppose we all agree: We all commit sins, every day. Every day we are doing things that are not within God's will, sometimes in our thinking sometimes in our deeds. So logically none of us has any right of being in paradise, and we need not complain about Adam and Eve, it is our fault just as well.
Yet let's go back to our original question: Who is the boss? In Genesis 3,16 it is very clearly written: Man shall rule over woman. With all our emancipation stuff we cannot change this fact. God clearly distributed the tasks.
However such ruling means a lot more than just owning or even oppressing. It means that a man has to care for is wife, has to care for her living, has to feed her, must not neglect her, and a lot more. Man is responsible for his wife. Is the modern man aware of all this?
Yet let's not remain back there at the beginning of mankind. Will the distribution of the tasks remain like this for all times?
In history there occurred a second very serious break. This happened about 2000 years ago through Jesus. Jesus did not put an end to the specific distribution of tasks for men and women. Jesus did not say, as from then on man and woman should have equal rights again! The question could arise now, whether according to God's will there had even been unequal rights between man and woman. Did God ever proclaim that man and woman would not have equal rights? Didn't God simply give different tasks to man and woman? We have cars in order to drive on the roads, we have ships in order to move on the water. Can we say that the one is more important than the other? Doesn't each of them have it's very special and important task within it's special order?
In the same way it had been God's original plan that man and woman should have their specific tasks each. Together they should form a unit, a team, a family, a nest.
It is man's task to earn for a living and to take care of his family.
It is the woman's task to give birth to children, to breed them, and to take care so that they will become qualified adults.
Once the young men have grown up, they shall leave their parents, get their own wives and thus create new families. We don't read anywhere that the task of the one would be of higher value than that of the other! It is through egoism and selfishness of mankind that special values were added to the various tasks.
If the modern woman would realise how utmost important the task of breeding children is, then she would perhaps think of her original task. The result would be a lot less children with mental diseases, less violence among children, less neglected children, and as a consequence a lot more healthy adults. We don't read anywhere that woman would not have any right to be educated. Education of women is very important for them, and for the benefit of the children.
Yet what changes have derived from Jesus 2000 years ago? Did he change anything with regards to the tasks of men and women? Jesus caused real big changes.
Due to the sin of the first human beings back in paradise, first punishment came, then death followed. These were the logical consequences of justice.
Jesus, however, introduced grace. He said:
“I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, so you are to love one another.” (John 13, 34)
Jesus never said anything about the relationship of man and women towards each other. We may just observe the way he treated women. On the contrary to the Jews of his time Jesus honoured women, talked with them, helped them, healed them, cared for their needs. Jesus showed us through His way of life what it means to love a person, no matter where this person comes from or what sex this person has.
Some time later Paul gave clear instructions on how man and woman should treat each other. On the one hand he refers to the commandments of the Old Testament, on the other hand, however, he clearly points out what has been new since the coming of Jesus.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ also is the head of the church. Christ is indeed the saviour of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loves his own wife loves himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ also the church. (Ephesians 5, 22 - 29)
Please, read this passage very carefully. Yes, it is written “the husband is head of the wife.” But the sentence is not ending here but it continues “...just as Christ also is head of the church.” Does the modern man realise what this means? Christ is our head, definitely yes. However Christ loves us so much that He gave his life for us! Jesus was executed for us! Are the men of our days willing to take over responsibility over their wives? Are they willing to die for their wives? Every man who wants to claim being head over his wife should also be willing to give away his life for his wife. When he loves her that much, then the wife will also we willing to subordinate under her husband, because then he will honour her, and care for her, and will only want the very best for her.
Man and woman are different in their basic abilities. Whoever thinks that a car should be driven on water, will definitely sink, and whoever thinks that a ship should be driven on the land will be wrecked. Yet both, ship and car are important means of transportation, each in it's own way.
We should finally stop putting values on our various kinds of talents, gifts and abilities. It would be a lot better to honour each other the way Jesus showed it to us during his time on earth.