Man and woman are the image and glory of God. He formed them with purpose. Those who teach male authority and the subordination of women expound on how the hierarchy in marriage reflects the Godhead, and how the creation order holds a deeper meaning found in Christ and the church. I’d like to follow suit. The creation order has depth and profundity. But when you remove hierarchy from the creation order, a different emphasis emerges.
Eve is born from Adam’s flesh, and the church is raised from Christ’s. Man is asked to leave his kin to join his wife, and Christ does. Unity is commanded in marriage, it is also the goal of Jesus’ life and death. Christ does not leave us in the position he found us, in slavery to death. He elevates us to new life and co-rule.
(Please read about the specifics of the creation order to understand the characters and plot of Adam and Eve’s story, here.)
Adam said to Eve, “Finally! My flesh and bone.” She was in him, from him and for him. She solved all his problems and brought him delight. He gloried in her. She was the center of his affection and desire. Their hearts beat shared blood. Eve viewed Adam not only as her lover, but her father. He was the source of her life. She lived because he did. This profound connection was unlike anything found in all God’s creation. This was life-birthing love.
It ended in tragedy.
Eve was the only person to receive life through Adam. For Adam voided his life through rebellious treachery. He died. Instead of becoming the father of the living, he fathered the dead.
And so life must come from a different, yet familiar way. It is through spiritual stuff, a heavenly flesh and blood, that Jesus offers us His life. As Eve of old, we may be formed spiritually through Jesus and become his delight, his own body, his love.
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. John 6:56-57
Adam gave his body so Eve might live. So too Jesus; that we might have life. He offers us his own flesh and blood; his own special body. This is soul-birthing, life-giving love.
And one day we shall recognize, as we do not now, that Christ is our very “other self,” as Adam did of Eve; “for we are members of His body,” and “joined to the Lord,” we are “one spirit,” also. (Katharine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, paragraph 51.)
A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
First man is charged by the Word of God to leave his kin and to hold fast to his wife. Away from home, from his family, from his father, man unifies with his wife.
It is a simple picture. Christ left heaven to gain a wife. He forsook all to join his bride.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
God, who is completely other, used this phrase to describe Himself. One. Unified.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One.
Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name… so they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:11,20-23)
Jesus left the father to be united with us, but not in the state he found us. He elevates us. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ we have been brought to fullness. (Col 2:9) Through his death and resurrection, he forms new creatures just like himself, his spiritual flesh and bone! (Ephesians 5:26) Why? For the same reason man leaves his father and joins his wife. To become one flesh.
As he is, we become in him. Completely one.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26
In the beginning, man and woman are created to rule God’s creation. They share authority. They are unified in purpose, to bring glory to God. There is no need for hierarchy because they are one.
And Jesus mirrors that initial command. His purpose is from everlasting. He did not leave his throne on high to rule us here on earth. Although he was tempted to establish an earthly kingdom full of human subjects, he did not yield. (Matthew 4:8) He put those tempting principalities and powers under his feet. (Col 2:10) Not his bride. His bride he sets beside him to reign with him. He does not lord his authority, he freely shares it. After all, we are one.
…they will reign upon the earth. Rev 5:10
‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne… Rev 3:21
…and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:5
But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come…Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One… Daniel 7:18, 27
…those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17
If we endure, we will also reign with Him. 2 Tim 2:12
He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS. Rev 2:26
…and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you. Luke 22:29
…heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ… Romans 8:17
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
This series of posts explored whether the authority of man over woman is established in the creation order. It isn’t written in the Genesis text. Much assumption is required to maintain that belief. In focusing on hierarchy, the plain teaching of the creation order is often overlooked. God created man and woman (marriage) to bring unity which reflects who He is.
If you’ve stuck with me this long, can I challenge you? How can we shift the emphasis of our teaching on marriage to solid ground and off the wobbly legs of our hierarchical assumptions? How can we point a husband off his own “responsibilities” to focus on the person who is his wife ? How can he glory in his wife? What brings unity? What does one-ship look like? How do you know if you’ve achieved it? What does authority look like in Jesus’ kingdom, and how can two unified people share it with grace and cooperation? How can each spouse better SERVE the other? These are worthy questions that will build unified marriages that properly reflect Christ and His church.