International Women’s Day

March 8, 2009

bible / church / culture

So less than an hour ago, International Women’s Day ended, which is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women. A couple of months ago, Julie Clawson proposed a synchroblog/synchrosermon to honor women in scripture who’s stories are typically not told in the church. You can click to see all of the posts in the synchroblog.

Since I decided I would try to write a post for this event, I’ve been a bit unsure of myself. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t sound like a random white guy, running his mouth about how we need to listen to women. I’ve been in situations where guys do this, sometimes when women are present, and I try to be aware of it and instead find out why the women present are silent, and what I can do to allow them to speak instead of having to listen to me.

So it’s with all that in mind that I’ve been reading other posts in this synchroblog, and trying to think of something that I can contribute.

When I was in college, I took a class on the Pentateuch. In it, we used this book. The class started out as a beautiful expression and discussion of narrative theology, and the artistic, theological nature (regardless of historical or scientific concerns) of the creation story in Genesis. At the time, I was dating my wife, and I was confident that I would marry her.

In light of all this, I want to look at Genesis 2, and try to allow the story of Eve to speak in ways that it typically doesn’t. Normally, the church uses Adam and Eve together to argue for a historical account against evolution (which is not a facet of this genre of literature, nor of the ancient Hebrew mindset), or it uses Eve herself as an example of how women should not live. Eve’s story is generally not heard.

Eve is introduced like this:

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18

In the Hebrew text, the word that is here translated as “helper” is ezer, which does not have the meaning that we attach to it. We, in interpreting the Old Testament, have generally used this word as a justification for male dominance. In actuality, this word is, in its other uses in Genesis and various other Old Testament texts, applied to God. It is applied to the stronger person in the relationship.

Let that sink in for a minute, and I think Eve’s story says something entirely different than we usually allow it to say, and that reaches into the ways communities of faith function, the ways that marriages function, and any number of other things.