I couldn’t see it for a long time. The truth lay tucked away, behind the multitude of lies erected long ago for man’s own sense of control. Sunday after Sunday, I’d sit in church deeply entrenched in patriarchy, never really knowing the difference between that and the will of God.
Growing up, I thought that the only place I could glorify Abba was in my marriage or in my mothering. I was taught that my singleness was something to be cured, my body was something to be ashamed of, and my voice was something I wasn’t allowed to use. While the boys got to talk about ministry and real-life struggles, we got to talk about…the boys. It was like everything, the Bible studies, the conversations, the over-the-top purity conferences were all aimed at preparing me to be a wife. You gather a lot more than information when all you’re learning about is how to be a good wife. You start internalizing messages that say all you can be is a wife.
You gather a lot more than information when all you’re learning about is how to be a good wife. You start internalizing messages that say all you can be is a wife.
It takes time, some life experience, and sometimes a full-on social revolution, but we move toward a more three-dimensional view of Woman. For so long, all we ever got were stories of women in waiting and women in rearing. But as the stories of women in the workplace and at universities begin to flood the blogosphere and the television networks, I start to see them in living color. They are incredible, reflecting images of Abba in all his glorious wonder.
Yet, for all this rumbling and righteous disrupting of the social order, the American Church still can’t shake this narrative that women are either wives in waiting or mothers in rearing. And it’s not that these places are denigrating or that women aren’t living up to their full potential when they find themselves here, it’s just that there is more to a woman than her marital status or her ability to birth another image-bearer into this world. The two of these places in tandem couldn’t paint a full picture of Woman, so why are they the only places the Church goes to when she opens her mouth to speak to the daughters of high heaven?
For too long, the Church has been casting a fragmented and incomplete vision of who and what a woman is, and I think it’s high time we start pulling her back into focus the way Abba always intended.
The two of these places in tandem couldn’t paint a full picture of woman, so why are they the only places the Church goes to when she opens her mouth to speak to the daughters of high heaven?
Take Eve, for example. We meet her in the creation story as the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle of universal proportions. She is the only suitable solution to the first problem we see God encounter: Adam is alone, and that’s not good. She is born out of wisdom and provision, and when God breathes life into her, he makes her remarkable. She is the incarnation of those things the Father has with the Godhead: fellowship, community, intimacy. She is what he calls, “Ezer Kinegdo,” Adam’s helper. But the word has stronger implications than simply “helper.” In fact, the only other time the word is used in the Bible is in reference to God, himself. It means “life saver.” Thus, Eve isn’t just Adam’s helper; she’s his knight in shining armor.
I wonder how long we’re going to keep telling stories of Eve while leaving out that little detail. I wonder how long we’re going to ignore the social implications of Jesus’ encounters with women and say that feminism is a lie from the pit of hell. I wonder how long we’re going to laugh along when Presidents mock a global chorus of women who have been abused, violated, and victims of injustice while we claim to follow the living God who created women to rule and to reflect.
In fact, the only other time the word is used in the Bible is in reference to God, himself. It means “life saver.” Thus, Eve isn’t just Adam’s helper; she’s his knight in shining armor.
We let the stories of women lay flat, and my guess is that’s because we’ve preached patriarchy over gospel for centuries too long. We keep women as two-dimensional anecdotes between the bindings of our Bibles and never ask ourselves how much fuller we can see Christ if only we’d give women the space to be fully human.
We need more stories of women in every place. We need to see them as wives and mothers, yes, but we also need to see them as friends and bosses and Ezer Kinegdos. There is more to us than our love story, and there is more to us than our lack of one. We are complex, we are jagged, and we are soft places to land. We make differences in this world, and we experience real hurt. We are strategizers and organizers, problem-solvers and trouble-makers, storytellers and culture-shapers. We are a legacy of God’s provision and we have a place in Abba’s story.
We let the stories of women lay flat, and my guess is that’s because we’ve preached patriarchy over gospel for centuries too long.
Women register on every spectrum and in every category on the scale of life. We are prisms of Abba’s endless glory, and whether we are students, or sisters, or CEOs, or nobody’s wife, we remain: refracting, reflecting and bearing the image of the Almighty. Women, in every place and in every time declare the glory of God just by breathing. Imagine the glory to behold if we’d encourage and ensure that women flourish.
With love and no man,
That amazing photo of me and my sisters is by the talented, Philip Tran.