But something else happened that day too. We began to proclaim the message of eternal life, the Good News, and women were the first ones to do so.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (Luke 24:9-12 NIV)
It is rather odd that the message seemed like nonsense to the disciples who had spent months and years with Jesus. But this reminds me of another message that has seemed like nonsense to a lot of disciples who have spent months and years with Jesus - the message of equality.
We are told the Bible doesn't support equality, but didn't the Sadducees point out that the Law doesn't mention resurrection? Yet, the resurrection happened, and the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, was found to support eternal life as death was found to be a consequence of sin.
And here we are today looking once again to Genesis. If all humans are created in the Image of God, surely all humans are equal in their humanity and inequality is caused by sin. Genesis 3:16 is a hotly debated verse, because it either affirms the man's rule over the woman, or declares it to be a consequence of sin.
So which one is it?
Since the theological kaleidoscope can only lead us further away from the truth, what should the modern church do with Genesis 3.16? Should the church accept the modern novelty or return to the patristic belief and subject the woman to the man because of Eve's sin? Or should we, perhaps, return to the pre-Christian understanding of the verse and say that the woman turns to the man for help especially as she becomes a mother, the context of the verse in question? It depends partly on our understanding of 1 Timothy 2.11-15. We must somehow explain why the woman's deception is mentioned in the same context as the man's prior creation. If the patristic church was right in saying that the woman's punishment was subjection, why was she subjected to the man who was equally guilty? Or was he? More than one theologian has suggested that Adam was innocent; for example, some have claimed the man took the fruit out of love, others that he wasn't there, or that the woman forgot to ask the man what God had said. Contrary to such speculations, the Bible states clearly that the man was present and that he was equally guilty. From a biblical perspective, it doesn't make much sense for God to reward disobedience, wherefore the patristic belief can be ruled out.
Should we then agree with those in the modern church who say that the woman‟s deception only highlighted the fact that the man was given authority for had the woman let the man lead we would never have left Paradise? This thought begs the question: why did the man not use his authority to stop her? Does a man need to wait for permission from his wife before he can act? If the first man - who was manhood perfected - stood passively by when his wife wreaked havoc in the garden only to turn around and blame her for the whole business when they were caught, we are getting the point that even the most perfect of men has no idea how to use his God-given authority in a constructive way. It is true that people who are not natural-born leaders become either passive or dominating bullies when given a leadership role, which leads us to the conclusion that either Adam was not a natural-born leader, or Adam and Eve were equal partners and acted jointly.
The singularly greatest problem with the modern concept is that the act of creation and the first disobedience are events which remain fixed in the garden; they cannot be duplicated, for women are not created from men (men are born of women), nor are women perpetually deceived by talking serpents (all Christians find themselves deceived once in a while; even Paul himself admitted being deceived by sin.). What we can do is to duplicate just about everything else the Bible says humanity has done ever since sin entered the world. Incidentally, in the pre-Christian Septuagint (250 BCE), Genesis 3.16 portrays the woman as seeking protection and provisions from the physically stronger man especially as she becomes a mother, which gives the man an opportunity to rule over her. Historically most women have married, and become mothers, and the majority of these married women have been ruled by men, wherefore the Septuagint translation of Genesis 3.16 fits what humans actually experience in this world.
(Intelligent Submission & Other Ways of Feminine Wisdom, Ch 5)
Equality sounds like nonsense to those who have their minds trained by this world's limitations. But God's vision of our world is greater than ours. Sin doesn't have to limit us, we can limit the effects of sin with our choices. We can choose to see the bigger picture instead of what fits this world. We can choose to hear the message of equality instead of calling it nonsense. And we can choose to live and proclaim it just as the first disciples chose to live and proclaim the message of the resurrection. This is the power of the new life we all have because of the first resurrection Sunday.
Happy Resurrection Sunday.
He is risen!
He is risen, indeed!