It seems a simple question with a simple answer provided by an old story in the book of Genesis. But the question is loaded and the answer more so depending on what you think about woman or why she was created. What we know is this: Man (Adam) was lonely (Gen 2:18) and no beast would alleviate this loneliness (Gen 2:19); God intervened. After causing the man to fall in to a deep (death-like) sleep, He created woman from one of the man’s ribs (Gen 2:21-22). What we can also say is that somehow this last creation of all creation alleviated this loneliness (Gen 2:23).
What we also know is that the state Adam was in was lonely; he wasn’t hungry needing someone to make him a meal (Eden was plentiful); he wasn’t frustrated by the want for someone to clean up his clothes (he was naked); he wasn’t given over to the excessive burning of libidinous desire; he wasn’t power hungry looking for someone to rule.
He was just lonely.
And God created woman to alleviate that loneliness.
But the question remains: why?
What is it about her that alleviates that loneliness merely with her presence? What is it about her that forces him to exclaim, euphorically, “This! This at last!!”? What is it about her that will cause him to leave his father and his mother and adhere to her?
* * * *
But something bad happened. The cataclysmic event of the fall (Gen 3) turned everything upside down and inside out. What was harmonious was wrenched into cacophony: work turned into toil, hierarchy replaced equality, communion gave way to alienation, and death had the final word over life.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, the gift (the woman, the Ezer, the helper) became the burden to the man.
* * * *
But that’s not the end of the story, is it? There’s more. God doesn’t stop acting for humanity at the end of Genesis 3. All through out the Old Testament God intervenes on behalf of his people: throughout the books of the law, the prophets, and the wisdom literature, he intervenes. It doesn’t even end at the end of the Old Testament.
The intervention of all interventions on behalf of man occurs in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ—the Son of God who is God. And this intervention is much like the very first intervention back in Gen 2. For humanity, this time, was not merely lonely, but alienated from God and, thus, dead in their sin. And while we were dead in our sins, Christ intervened by dying for us and bringing us into life (Eph 2:5) by unifying us with God by his love and grace. And in this intervention, harmony wins over cacophony: work is reborn out of toil, equality surfaces over hierarchy, alienation is banished by communion, and death is sentenced to utter darkness and life wins.
* * * *
This is all true.
But there’s more.
This intervention by Christ also affects, deeply, men and women and how they relate to each other. And over the centuries since Christ’s intervention on our behalf both the Church and society have had to wrestle with the why of woman’s creation. In the new age of burgeoning freedom initiated by the event of the Cross, how did this freedom apply to women? Or did it?
History demonstrates that understanding freedom for all of humanity has been a difficult and terrifying task at best. And while we would love to look back upon history from our modern society with all it has to offer and say, “glad that’s over with!” We’re far from understanding what freedom actually looks like for all of humanity. We’re still fighting sexism (among other things, not least of which is Racism). And the church, the bastion of freedom, the one place that holds in its tight grip the message of total and utter freedom found in faith in Jesus Christ is repeatedly dropping the ball in proclaiming this full freedom to all its members.
Throughout the church there is a very lively pre-determined ethic of womanhood; it is clear that there are certain characteristics that comprise what a Christian woman is: she is a stay-at-home-wife/mom, she does the cooking/cleaning, her primary concern is her husband and home, and she volunteers. Anything that strays from this “norm” is “masculine,” selfish, inconsiderate, misguided (meaning, not guided by the Holy Spirit through prayer), and insensible to the point of being a “bad” Christian.
Women are free, but free to be workers at home and bearing children. So are women free or are they not? Fear still reigns that if woman were to be given total freedom that she’d up and reject man and children. And in response to this fear, laws grow stricter, dresses get longer, and isolation and resentment rear their head.
* * * *
Again, we’re left asking: why was woman created? How does the Gospel — the doctrine of the justification of sinners — radically affect woman and womanhood? What does freedom look like for her? And how is this freedom for woman good news for man?
This is Ezer Uncaged. These are the discussions we will have together with you via podcasts (primarily) and blog posts (secondarily). And, when all is said and done, at the end of the day it’s the Gospel we desire to proclaim to you to bring you real, true, and ever-lasting freedom.