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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Jul30WedJuly 30, 2014
People who don’t like NASCAR usually don’t understand why I do. It’s just forty-three guys going round and round all day right? What’s interesting about that? That’s because they don’t grasp the context. My first career was as an auto-mechanic. I see racing in context. I comprehend the engineering: that minute changes in spring rates, camber angles, toe in, even one pound of air pressure in the tires make the difference between victory and hitting the wall; that tenths of a second saved by the choreography of the pit crew can mean you’re in the chase or out; that it’s the wisdom of the crew chief as much as the skill of the driver to push the car all the way out to its limits and hold it there for 500 miles to win. Throw in the big money, the competition, the speed and the fact that if they make a mistake somebody dies, and it’s pretty interesting. I like NASCAR because I understand it in context.
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Reading 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 is like that. People read verse three, which says, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” and think: Oh, that’s just good ole male chauvinism poking its head up in religion. Nothing interesting about that. Nothing I need to know.
But that’s because we don’t understand it in context, we don’t see the picture in the larger frame.
I want to put the issue of men and women in ministry in context with the rest of what the Bible has to say about some of the leading ladies of scripture. We begin with:
EVE – THE MOTHER OF ALL THE LIVING
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. 28) God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1:26-28 NIV. Emphasis added.)
Eve is a key figure and we will have more to say about her later, but for now notice three things:
1. Eve is made in the image of God – She has equal dignity with Adam, equal worth before God, equal status as the divine image bearer. Moses wrote Genesis. He could have worded it differently. He could have mentioned women later, in a lesser status. He didn’t. Eve is mentioned from the beginning.
2. Eve is female, distinct from Adam who is male – I know that sounds irrelevant, but it isn’t, not in our age. God chose for his image to be displayed through two distinct genders, male and female, working together. God intends his likeness to be known in maleness and femaleness, working cooperatively to bring the earth to fullness.
3. Eve and Adam are Co-Workers, Collaborators – They are both meant to bring their particular gifts and strengths to bear in the development of the planet. One of them is not more important than the other in this task. One of them is not more gifted than the other. Both are charged with “filling the earth and subduing it.” They are to do it together. They are to be the perfect working partnership, complimenting each other’s strengths for the glory of God.
One feminist of the 1970’s famously quipped: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” But from the Biblical point of view, from God’s point of view, men and women were designed from the start to be complimentary.
OBSERVATIONS FROM EVE’S STORY
We are, even at the molecular level, gendered beings, sexual beings. Maleness is fundamental to what a man is. Femaleness is fundamental to what a woman is. We cannot escape it. We cannot undo it, even if we take hormones or get an operation.
Young man, you are not a mistake. You are not a joke. You are not a woman. You were never meant to be. God has a design for you. He knows what you need in order to be complete, whole, strong and good. He knows how to help you feel the feelings of love as well as how to develop the strengths you will need to succeed in His world. God knows what a man is and he is willing to show you how to be one.
Young woman, you are not a mistake. You are not powerless. And you are not a man. God has a design for you. He knows what you need in order to be complete, secure, and beautiful and fulfilled. He knows how to help you find the love that you desire as well as how to develop the gifts that he has given you to succeed in this world. God knows what a woman is and he is willing to show you how to be one.
The world is greatly confused right now over what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. That confusion has spilled over into the church. Understanding Eve’s place in God’s creation is the first step to reorienting ourselves to a Biblical view of men and women in ministry.
Next week we’ll look at the greatest leading lady in the Bible, Deborah, to see what her story teaches us on this topic.