Created in God’s image, humans are the same. However, in their physical condition, humans adjust to what identifies with either masculinity or femininity. Adjusting to one’s physical outlook shows a failure to identify with one’s spiritual reality. The confusion is basically on the assumption that Adam represents the reality of what was created in God’s image.
There is a seemingly endless drive towards women emancipation, in Zimbabwe. But few have sought to understand reasons for discrimination against women. They blame culture, as causing women suppression. But culture is galvanized by what I consider to be a Scriptural misunderstanding in Genesis.
“So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:20-23 NIV).
This Scripture reveals an interesting development. There was only one human, existing at the Garden of Eden. The reality of God’s image is physically manifested in Adam (Genesis 1:26-27). All of us were represented in Adam. Whatever God intended to achieve with humanity, was represented in Adam.
There was no suitable helper, among other species, for Adam, at that time. An interesting perspective is that Adam represented all of us, in our physical existence. His failures were our failures and his successes were our successes. It is incorrect to assume that one would be better than Adam, as represented in Adam’s blunders or successes.
For Adam’s helper, God had to perform some operation on him, producing a woman. In other words, it is wrong to suggest that a woman is different, and therefore a stranger to Adam. This was confirmed by Adam, himself: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:20-23 NIV).
There is no difference between husband and wife. The question of who is superior, or who is inferior does not arise, except that the two, became one. The Scripture confirms this: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Geneses 2:24 NIV).
This describes what marriage entails. In our mathematical calculations, we assume that husband and wife are two personalities. Discordant marital relationships are based on this misunderstanding. But, an obvious question arises; how possible can two personalities, with different backgrounds, become one, in marriage?
The answer is in understanding the principles of communication. For two to become one, some communication procedure, enables understanding, to determine the suitability for each other. Marriage is not a casual matter.
There has to be proper communication between those desiring marriage. Problems arise where deception is involved, after unpreparedly entering into such a landmark relationship. Sadly, this comprises what is characterized in divorce cases, currently being adopted as normal.
Proper communication focuses on the aspect of two people becoming one flesh. This is more than a romantic fantasy. The two become one, where one’s goals become fused into another’s. Discordant marriages portray the opposite. They catastrophically cause distress, leading to diminished relationships, affecting the lives of all those involved.
We have to first look at why a suitable helper could not be found among the species, co-existing with Adam. A pet dog can, actually, be helpful in many ways, as a companion? A man is capable of taming and training animals according to his requirements.
But there is no reasoning with those animals, hence, such species cannot be classified as suitable for being helpers. A suitable helper is suitable because it implies one who one can reason with, in making decisions. In a good marriage, a husband comes with an idea, intending to implement it, for the benefit of the family.
However, after consulting his wife, the idea could change, somehow, to incorporate the views of his spouse. This, therefore, comprises the suitability, envisaged at formulating the idea of acquiring a helper. Naturally, this pits communication as most important in marriage.
When two people become one, they would have highly appreciated the principle of communication, as to understand one another’s aspirations. As a helper, the woman understands the reason for supporting the dreams of her husband.
Suppose the husband wants to be a professional footballer. Through effective communication, the wife understands fully, the dreams and goals, necessary for succeeding in that activity. The wife, therefore, becomes her number one supporter. The condition of oneness does not preclude the decision to support the wife’s goals, though.
The decision concluded by the couple is unanimously adopted, based on the couple’s progressive agreement. There is nothing stopping couples to place men in positions of being helpers to wives. The husband’s profession may not cater for the greatest good for the majority. The wife could be a professional tennis player, with the potential to bring more income to the family, for instance.
The couple may have to take that to mean swapping roles. The husband, becoming a helper to the wife. In a proper marriage, communication would always be the hallmark of understanding. Concerning married couples, there is no one who should come with dos and don’ts.
Marriage is a voluntary institution, involving those getting into it, out of their volition. Couples may come to an agreement not to have children. They could also agree on who takes the role of cooking and cleaning the dishes. The two are one; so that roles are a result of good communication.
I cannot envisage any relationship that surpasses a marital relationship. The couple becomes one, even though perceived as two. Oppression against women stems from assuming that two people involved in a marriage are separate beings. If assumed to be the case, that marriage would have not been properly instituted.
One would have engaged in marriage, with an ulterior motive, rather than being driven by principles. One could marry another, for reasons of fame and wealth. Or that a man marries a woman because she looks beautiful. Couples engaging in such marriages should expect problems along the way.
In this life, a famous person could, overnight, turn out to be very infamous. As long as attracted by that man’s fame, there would be nothing else holding that marriage. Similarly, beauty and charm cannot sustain a man’s commitment to such a marriage.
She may have had beautiful eyes that drew the man towards her. But, due to some accident, she turns blind. Or it could be any other form of physical disability. The glue holding that relationship dissolves. A properly constituted marriage does not consider physical elements.
It is a spiritual relationship, which cannot separate the two beings. Physical disabilities affecting spouses, serve to, even, strengthen their relationships. Failings in that marriage could, simply, be a result of poor communication. Cases of cheating or infidelity can often be traced to poor communication, at the beginning of a relationship.
Marriage is not sustained by infatuation. Before discussing sexual matters, those engaging in proper marriage, ought to fully understand that such communication should be based on constructive matters.
Who is the person, with whom you are engaging in marriage? What are his/her interests? What are his/her dreams? What makes him/her attractive to you? What are his/her goals in life, as compared with your own goals?
What matters of principle do you agree, or not agree on? In other words, the consideration of marriage comes after fully understanding the other person and disclosing your personal disposition. Those coming into the marriage, driven by infatuation are living in a dreamland.
They are not serious on matters of marriage. The upshot of it is that marriage is a serious relationship consideration before one commits him/herself to it. The two become one. So that the spouse’s problems become the other spouse’s problems, and vice versa.
A man and a woman were both created in God’s image, and none is superior or inferior to the other. The ideal man is not identified by gender. With this understanding, it is impossible to suppress women. Education on these realities could go a long way, in eradicating marital problems. To the Sadducees Jesus taught the following:
“You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29-32 NIV).
The Sadducees did not understand the differences between what was created in God’s image and the Adamic genealogy. The principle of oneness, in marriage, is taken from the reality of God’s image. Without the spiritual reality of oneness, it is impossible for any marriage to be sustainable.
At the level of understanding the characteristics of humanity, there can never be any consideration of separation. Those suppressing their wives, need this understanding, as a matter of urgency. Husband and wife are one and the same thing. It may be necessary to imagine switching roles, for purposes of understanding. A husband is not superior to his wife, nor is a wife superior.
However, on becoming a Christian, one is no longer under the marital dictates. This could be the reason why the apostle Paul recommended celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:1 & 7). Paul was faced with the challenge of people who could not differentiate between the previous life and the new. The new way of life invalidates the person’s goals and aspirations.
Some pastors recommend marrying those of similar doctrinal beliefs. There is no truth in that, as was never directly recommended by the author of Christianity. Belonging to the same church does not necessarily bind one to the principles of marital commitments.
Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27 NIV).
Jesus was not married and there is no record of his disciples travelling with their spouses. Christian calling cannot be regarded in the manner that is observed in denominational setups. Christians are directly answerable to God and are not considered on a gender basis.
“So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29 NIV).
The people referred to, in the above Scripture, are equal, in rank, although holding different roles, according to 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. But they take instructions directly from God. They are God’s Children, just as Jesus was God’s Son. If Jesus did not take instructions from anyone, they also do not take instructions from anyone, except directly from God.
The question of what happens to Christians, having been engaged in marriage, is adequately answered in Luke 14:25-27. The beauty of it is that God’s children are generally peaceable. The apostle Peter indicated that it is possible to influence an unbelieving spouse into the ministry.
“Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes.” (1 Peter 3:1-3).
God’s children are not of this world and are not identified by gender. Therefore, it is unnecessary, to assume that Peter is referring to wives, as expected to be of nobler character than husbands. Peter was addressing an issue involving common understanding, as understood within such traditions.
Otherwise, the consideration of gender is invalidated, in Christianity. A Christian is not identified by gender and also takes instructions directly from God. A true Christian invalidates all forms of traditions as practised in this world. The fact that this is unpopular, does not make it untrue.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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