Empowering Women Part 4 | God’s Design for Women and the Elimination of Hierarchy

What was God’s original plan for male and female?

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill 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 moves on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26–28, ESV)

Before sin, before the Fall of mankind, God expressed his vision for the human race. Though we understand from Genesis 2 that in the narrative, Adam came first and then Eve was formed from Adam, it is important to see that this passage in Genesis 1 is fully inclusive of both male and female. The “them” in this passage includes both male and female. This is explicit when God states “male and female he created them.” This statement defines the “them” of “let them have dominion.” This “them” is the subject of the command “be fruitful and multiply”.

God’s design in Creation was for both male and female together to give expression to his own image and likeness in the earth. They are to express this in two ways: 1) Dominion and 2) Multiplication.

Multiplication in this context, of course, refers to having babies. Remember that at that time, prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve would have been able to pass on the very nature of God through procreation. Dominion was a delegated authority from God to both Adam and Eve together with no hint of hierarchy. It was a partnership.

Much was lost when Adam and Eve chose sin. The image of God was diminished in their lives. They became disconnected from God’s life as their source, thus losing their capacity to pass on God’s life to their own children. Their dominion over the earth was in large part lost and then usurped by the serpent, later referred to as “the god of this world”.  The idea of hierarchy between male and female was introduced. This was part of sin’s curse.

Jesus came back to redeem mankind from sin and the curse.

God became a man. Jesus is now Lord of heaven and earth. Dominion has been restored. The kingdom of God is at hand. Because God’s purpose has always been that this dominion would be fully expressed through male and female, God has given Jesus a bride, the Church. We have been exalted to God’s right hand in Christ in heavenly places. Not only has dominion been restored, but our commission to multiply and fill the earth has also been restored to us. But now it is the new birth, rather than natural birth, which passes on God’s life from generation to generation. The Great Commission re-launches us into our original calling to fill the earth with God’s life and glory.

Through Jesus’ redemptive work, the life, image, dominion and commission to multiply have all been restored. The curse has been broken. Traditions however, have limited our application of Christ’s redemptive work in the lives of women. We typically affirm they can receive new life, that they can experience transformation into Christ’s image, and that they can participate in the Great Commission. But “dominion”? Authority? No. We have traditionally insisted on maintaining the hierarchical structure introduced in Genesis 3. We have insisted on hanging onto this aspect of the curse of sin.

Yet this is not God’s intention. It is in-congruent with his original design. The curse is broken.

“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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:28–29, ESV)

Hierarchy has been erased. Jews have no higher status than Greeks. Free have no higher position than slaves. Men have no higher position than women. We are together heirs. We are together heirs of the promise that God would bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. We are together heirs of the promise that God would restore in the earth what was lost due to sin.

As long as we maintain hierarchy between male and female within the Church, we will limit this inheritance.


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