I don’t really know why I’m writing this but I guess it was because people had always questioned whether Christianity was moving with the times and social changes. In particular, the increase in recognition for women in churches and other christian associations. But the thing is, Christianity does not change. Its principles, rules and ideas do not change with society.
Yes, they are a religion for humanity; a religion subject to human interpretation and intellectual exploration, but these interpretations are always based around the principles already set in the bible.
So no, Christianity does not mould its principles according to social change. If it were, it is not a real, true religion. It is simply a doctrine created by mankind for our own needs.
In particular, I want to talk about gender roles.
I remember very clearly that during my stay in Beijing during my teenage years, a very traditional Chinese women taught Chinese to me and my brother. And one day, I was doing my work, and she suddenly said to me,
‘You are very hardworking. But your brother is smarter than you.’
Obviously, she barely knew us, and to be honest, my grades for Chinese were substantially higher than my brother’s. Yet, in light of this evidence, she believed that my success hinged on time, determination and work, while my brother’s was based on his sheer intelligence because he was a boy.
Her words made me think about how there was a clear preference for boys than girls in China. In fact, I read a book about how families would kill off their daughters because firstly, they were a burden to the family with all the dowries and money needed to support someone ‘useless’; and secondly, they were just not sons. This was not exclusive to the East, but also in the rest of the world.
SIDE NOTE: This is the book, if any of you are interested. I cried. Seriously.
So all these things got me thinking. Did and does God favour men over women? I mean God created Adam first before Eve, right? Doesn’t that mean that from the start, men were superior? Also, Eve was made from Adam’s rib.
To all these things, I will explain this in two categories: the Old Testament and the New Testament. In both these covenants, we see that God is still the same, unchanging in his love and equality.
With regards to the question about how God made Adam first, the logical answer is that one of them had to come first!!! If not Adam, then Eve. If not Eve, then Adam.
Furthermore, my favourite Ravi Zacharias gives us insight into God’s creation process:
“But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”
Before God started creating Eve, He ’caused the man to fall into a deep sleep’. Why? He could have let Adam watch as Eve was created from his own rib. After all, they were to be united as one, so why not see your soulmate come into being?
Ravi Zacharias says that the key is to looking back at God’s creation of man:
‘The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’
Just imagine, Adam was made of the earth. Mere carbon elements such that when put together would form a structure, but with no feelings, awareness, mind nor soul. But God breathed into him. To this pile of sand, God formed Adam, a man with a soul, a heart and a life. And when Adam opened his eyes, the very first thing he saw, was his own maker. God established a relationship with Adam through one of the most intimate and personal gestures. Can you imagine, if the very first thing you ever saw, were the very eyes of your Maker? How would you feel? Would there be a surge of wonder, that such a great and magnificent being could choose to give God-breathed life into a pile of earth? Yet through all these, you have instantly established an unbreakable link with God, your Maker. You are a part of Him, and you want to be with Him and know Him better.
In the same way, why did God put Adam into a deep sleep? Because He wanted Eve to have the very same experience! When Eve opened her eyes, the very first person she saw was not Adam, but God!
Therefore, the identity of women is not based on the men in her lives. In God’s eyes, our standing is not to be compared to those of men. We were created with a different body, wired with a different brain and moulded with a different heart, but we have the exact relationship with God. God does not discriminate against women. He created equality – just as there is a triune God.
Many other examples are seen in the Old Testament, on how God raised women to be His warriors: Ruth, Deborah the judge and even Rahab the prostitute. God loved them all the same!
These few verses have always challenged me, but when I did some research, I realised that the contextual background was important in realising the essence of Paul’s message.
‘Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.’
1 Corinthians 14:34-35
What we must take note of, is that women were not the only group of people Paul was asking to be quiet. He told them to those speaking in tongues, and placed restrictions and rules on how the Church in Corinth should run as a whole.
In fact, the women could also pray and prophesy. Spiritual gifts were accorded to both men and women by God.
‘Paul addresses the problem by saying, “If they want to inquire about something…” This implies that the problem in Corinth concerning the asking of questions with a desire to learn something. Blomberg suggests, “Perhaps the largely uneducated women of that day were interrupting proceedings with irrelevant questions that would be better dealt with in their homes.” Belleville says, “Their fault was not in the asking per se but in the inappropriate setting for their questions.”’
Furthermore, to me, the submission of wives to husbands, is a matter of building each other up in marriage. Through their assigned roles in the family, husband and wife should learn to grow together towards their love for Christ.
‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’
Galations 3:28 ESV