Sunday, March 13, 2016

Are Men and Women Equal?

In the Old Testament all the priests were men. There were only kings in Israel. 

When Abraham looked for a wife for his son, Rebecca had to leave her home and her family and come under the authority of Abraham and her husband Isaac.

Ancient Greek men believed women were a curse. A married woman was the personal property of her husband.

A Canadian woman married an Arab man. When she tried to leave her husband, she was not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia because according to their law, she was the personal property  of her husband. 

In Bible days, women were often little better than slaves. A Roman man was the owner of his family and he could divorce his woman and kill his children or slaves.

In the Roman Empire female babies were often simply allowed to die. 

A father would order his wife to abandon her newborn daughter on a hillside. The abandoned babies either died of hunger or cold or they were harvested by pimps and raised to be prostitutes. That was normal for those days and a wife dared not disobey her husband.

In the New Testament Jesus only chose men as his apostles.

How should we understand all this? Is it the will of God that men should always have authority over women?

In Bible times it was mostly so, as it still is in some parts of the world.
The Law of Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife if he just gave her a written letter of divorce. It was unthinkable for a woman to divorce her husband.

When Jesus spoke against easy divorce for men, the Pharisees appealed to the authority of Moses and the Scriptures.They asked Jesus why Moses allowed a man to legally divorce his wife.

For the religious Jews, the Law of Moses was the perfect expression of the Will of God.

Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. Matthew 19:8 (NIV) 

For Jesus, the Law of Moses was holy and true. It was given to Moses by God. But there was a higher law, the perfect plan of God at creation, before Adam and Eve fell into sin.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' 

and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? Matthew 19:4-5 (NIV) 

We are so familiar with these words, that we don’t realise how radical they are.

In Bible days a man married couple would live with their extended family, almost always the husband’s parents, as it still is the case in traditional societies in India, Africa and many other places. 

But Adam, whose only parent was God, prophesied the perfect will of God, that a man would leave his family and be united to his wife. Unheard of! This is not traditional patriarchy at all! 

After the Fall of Adam and Eve, God planned to restore humanity to His original design. This was to take place step by step and we have still not reached the end of the story. 

  • The call of Abraham was one step. 
  • The shaping of the chosen Hebrew people was another and giving of the Law was yet another but the Law of Moses was only one stage in God’s plan, not the blueprint for the final consummation.

What was God’s original design before sin came into the picture?

Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV) 26  Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 

27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

God gave the man and woman authority to rule over the earth. He gave the man no authority over the woman and the woman no authority over the man.

God’s guiding principle from the very beginning was partnership.

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