One of our foundational beliefs is in the partnership between a man and woman in their relationship with the Creator and in exercising dominion and stewardship over the created world surrounding them. As mentioned elsewhere on our site and in other blogs, Back to Eden Group is founded on the concept of the environment of the garden of Eden. Whether you believe this is a literal story, metaphor, fable or myth, it doesn’t matter. You can gain so much by entering into this story in your imagination and reflecting on the truth within it. Truth really will set you free.
The story of Adam and Eve is found in Genesis chapter 1 thru 3. Before the original couple disobeyed God and broke their relationship with him, the following was true of their relationship.
- While Adam was created first, Eve was taken out of his side and was presented to him as his partner. They were very much co-rulers or partners in the joint venture.
- When God first observed Adam alone, he said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone which was the inspiration for the creation of Eve. A man and woman working together are much more powerful and complete than either of them working alone.
- All of the instructions given to “man” by God were given to “them” together. God said “Let them rule…”
- Right after the statement about God creating man in his image, the statement is made ‘male and female he created them”. God’s image was not complete without both a male and female being. This also says something interesting about God in that he has male and female attributes even though he is referred to with male pronouns (a topic for another day).
In summary, a man and woman, working together in partnership with neither superior to the other is the full, unspoiled image of their Creator.
Following on from this, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God their relationship was broken and sin (imperfection) entered the human race. From then on, their relationship with each other and creation was also affected. For example:
- They hid from their Creator. This is always a sign that something is wrong in the very core of our being.
- Eve’s desire was now directed toward her husband and he would now “rule over her”. This was not the original design of partnership.
- Adam’s work would become much harder and he would have to exert much more effort than previously to get things done.
What does this mean for our discussion on man/woman relationships? Whenever you see a man ruling over a woman you are not looking at the Creator’s ideal for a man/woman or husband/wife relationship. Remember, the original ideal was a partnership and the concept of the man ruling over the woman came in because of a broken relationship with the Creator. Put another way, when a man and woman are in right relationship with their Creator then they will operate in a partnership mentality not in one over the other mode.
This foundational concept adds new perspective to our observation of Jesus of Nazareth (remember we are Jesus followers at Back to Eden Group) and how he carried himself toward and treated women during his time on earth. Remember that 2,000 years ago women were still very much considered the property of their fathers (before marriage) and their husbands (after marriage). They were definitely second class citizens. In this environment, Jesus was a radical and reversed centuries of entrenched rulership by men over women that could be traced right back to Adam and Eve. Some examples that were unheard of in his day:
- He had women in his close entourage. (e.g. his mother Mary, Joanna, Mary Magdelene)
- He spoke directly to women frequently and had no issue with them touching him, pouring perfume on him or washing his feet with their tears.
- He defended the woman caught in adultery (the famous “He has has no sin cast the first stone” story).
- He had a cordial conversation with a Samaritan woman who had come to a well at mid-day. She was an immoral woman (demonstrated by coming to the well when nobody else would be there and also eventually revealed in their conversation).
All of these things were revolutionary for his time and set the course for the day we now live in where we see much more equality for women. While it took many centuries, this is much closer to the Creator’s purposes for a healthy man/woman relationship.
Unfortunately, institutional religion has continued to propagate the woman under the man worldview and is one of our primary warning signs that we are dealing with religious, controlling, man-centred thinking rather than true spiritual, freedom and Creator-centred thinking. Watch for this tell tale sign as you observe other groups, institutions and relationships.
At Back to Eden Group, one of our core values is that your life will “get better” when you encounter us. One of those areas will be in the man/woman relationships in your family, group or organization. We always see increased freedom in this area and a rebalancing of man/woman relationships wherever we go. Of course, this often comes with friction as old ways of thinking and doing things are threatened.
May you experience true partnership between men, women and their Creator in all you do.