This post picks up a continuing thread from “Why the Heart of Every Man Should Be Breaking,” which I posted several months ago.
Last week, my blogger friend Sarah published three posts in a series called “Jesus Breakin’ the Rules“, quoting extensively from Walter Wink’s book, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millenium. I haven’t read the book, but the quotes Sarah took from it had to do with what Wink calls the “Domination System” of women, and how virtually every record of Jesus’ interaction with women flew in the face of this system. You might not agree with every (or any) of Wink’s specific interpretations (I agreed with about 90% of it), but his take should get you thinking, at least.
But mainly, these posts got me thinking about this “Domination System” in general, and where it actually came from.
If you know me from my writing, you know I tend to dig and go back as far as I can go, to see why something is true, or where a certain thing began. I like to go back to the roots of stuff. So when I read the words “Domination System”, I began searching backward within the body of Scripture in my memory banks, to see if I could find a clue as to where that system began, and how it took shape.
It didn’t take too long. I found that clue in one line of Scripture back in Genesis 3, when God was dealing with Adam and Eve after they had sinned. He said this to the serpent:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman…” (Gen. 3:15)
The verse goes on to predict that the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent–which I believe prophesies of Christ. But it is specifically this enmity between the woman and the serpent (Satan) that strikes me.
Now, for some of my more intellectual-type readers, this might sound like an over-spiritualization…but I figure, it’s my blog, so deal with it. 🙂 But I think when God handed down this judgment on Satan the serpent, from that moment on, Satan has borne a grudge against the female of our species. Even though he initiated the temptation to begin with, unrepentance requires someone else to blame–and I think Satan blames the woman. And ever since, he has had a special agenda to silence her, push her down, and oppress her. To essentially punish her for the judgment he received from his own actions.
Call it speculation, or call it brilliant insight. I know some might call it heresy. For the record, I prefer option 2. 🙂
If you look at world history from this perspective, it’s easy to see the patterns of oppression from culture to culture–from weakening the woman’s credibility, to lowering her social standing, to atrocities like female circumcision and selective infanticide (killing the baby if she was female). Even in cultures that initially gave honor to the woman, like the ancient Hebrew culture…over time, that honor would erode, until by the time of Christ, in many ways the Jews had adopted the same male-dominant attitudes of the cultures that surrounded them. Although many of these things seem unrelated from culture to culture, at their root there is a common thread: a hatred of the woman. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s obvious; but almost always it is there.
I believe this is the mark of the age-old grudge.
When you look at Scripture from this perspective, it challenges a lot of assumptions we’ve had in our interpretations. For one thing…in this context, it’s easy to see how Jesus’ treatment of women was in clear contrast not only with the cultural norms, but with the whole Satanic agenda. He freed a “daughter of Abraham” whom “Satan had bound.” He gave honor and forgiveness to a prostitute who scandalously entered His host’s house uninvited. He initiated a conversation in a public place with a Samaritan woman of ill repute. He was a rascal, that Jesus. Everything He did toward women was a violation of the Grudge.
And He was our example, because He was the model of the true heart of God.
For another thing…this perspective challenges how we’ve traditionally interpreted the Bible with regard to male-female relationships in the church. I already know from prior conversations on this blog that this is a hot button with some (especially guys)…but without devaluing the Scripture itself (what it says), the truth is we are always making judgment calls on what the Scripture means. If we look honestly at the long-term fruit of our theology in this area, the presumed subservience of the woman to the man, the restrictions on her ability to lead or to speak publicly, her “place” in the church–what does this line of thinking reflect? I mean, honestly?
Does it reflect the heart of God, as displayed by Christ? Or does it reflect the Grudge?
I personally believe one of the most diabolical ploys of Satan has been to subtly affect our interpretation of the Scriptures toward his agenda, so that well-meaning Christ-followers over the years have unwittingly played into his Grudge…all the while believing they were reflecting the heart of God!
Finally…I think this perspective challenges us men, particularly believers, brothers in Christ, to shake off their passivity when it comes to the restoration of our sisters. Like Jesus did, we need to live our lives as a dramatic, purposeful revolution against the Grudge of Satan, honoring and lifting up our sisters by whatever means we have. Jesus ruined everything for Satan, but the Grudge remains. Certainly Satan is an enemy to us all. But I believe that especially in Christ, we have it within us to defend our sisters against the special hatred he carries toward the female of our species.
The question before us is: will we rise to the challenge?