A major worldwide issue today is gender justice—ending inequalities between men and women in the family, workplace and larger community. Christian approaches to this critical problem can help to reveal the character of the gospel to the rest of the world.
Female subjugation is a worldwide tragedy. More women, aged 15-44, die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Millions of women and girls suffer sex slavery. A woman dies in childbirth every minute. Women suffer from illiteracy, medical discrimination and many other things more than men. Sons are valued more than daughters. In India and elsewhere, this is a millennia-old calamity.
This calamity results from the fall. To understand what true gender justice is, we must return to what God originally intended when He created the first man and woman. We find that in Genesis 2:18. Many English translations say something like this: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Historically, even in the church, we have considered the woman as an assistant to the man, a “helpmeet.” But the original Hebrew, ezer, does not allow this weak interpretation. This word, rich in meaning, actually means more like “comrade,” or “ally,” a “mirror image” or “complement,” one who supplies something the man lacks and can never do alone.
In the Old Testament, ezer is used of God 16 of the 21 times it appears, as helper to His people. It is used twice of Eve. In other words, just as God supplied vital help to His chosen people, the woman also performs a vital, God-ordained role without which something important never gets done. The woman performs an essential, equal, but different, role in partnership with the man.
In this plan, the man is the “head” of the woman (like the head of one’s body). “Headship” does not mean “hierarchy,” any more than God the Father is superior to the Son in His essence. Even in the church, this basic truth is imperfectly understood.
From these biblical principles, male domination subverts God’s original plan and prevents a man from being a man. Male domination is part of the curse that befalls humanity after the fall (Genesis 3:16). Feminism also subverts God’s original plan because it reacts or rebels naturally against male domination, but fails to recover God’s intended role for women as ezer.
We are all fallen beings and none of us, even as Christians, ever perfectly follows God’s original plan in our marriages and other relationships with the opposite sex. We have lost who we truly are.
However, we who have entered Christ’s kingdom by His grace have His Holy Spirit through Whom we may recover what we lost through the fall. When we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit in our marriages, in our church fellowships and in the marketplace, we begin to recover those truths Adam and Eve knew before they lost fellowship with God.
When we do this, many outside the Kingdom will begin to grasp the practical implications of the gospel and want it for themselves. Pray that as men and women of His Kingdom, we will learn these lessons well for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom. India needs this. So do we all.