|Tertullian, 160-220 AD|
In this study, I talk a lot about Adam and Eve, and how their sin and rebellion led to our sin and rebellion. How things are broken, and how ever since that time, God has been reaching out to set our relationships right again. Our relationship with him, and our relationship with others.
I explained how in the Old Testament times, God set up a sacrificial system--people would bring animal sacrifices to atone for their sinfulness before a holy God, with the help of priests. But that all changed, I said, when Jesus came and became the sacrifice. Now the Bible says we can all be priests, we can all approach God directly (see 1 Peter 2:9).
At that moment, a young woman looked up and blurted out: "Women, too?"
Yes! I said, more loudly than was necessary, as my heart plummeted to the ground.
An author I respect, Sarah Sumner, wrote: "Church tradition says that women are by nature lower than men. Indeed, most of the church fathers promoted this traditional belief." And then she proceeds to back it up.
Tertullian, the man who coined the word "Trinity" in the history of Christianity and defended the doctrine of original sin, said this to women:
And do you not know that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death—even the Son of God had to die.Unfortunately, many other church fathers perpetuated the same nonsense. Augustine did not believe women were made in the image of God, but they could reflect his image...if they married. Thomas Aquinas said that women are dominated by sexual appetite and men are ruled by reason. And so it goes.
So, is it any wonder, centuries later, that a young woman sits down and says "Women, too?" when taught that we can approach God directly? Is it any wonder that she does not, at face value, accept what God has said in Genesis 1:27, that both men AND women are made in the very image of God? Is it any wonder that she, too, believes Eve singlehandedly ushered sin into the world? (Where, exactly, was Adam in all of this?)
Is it any wonder that she sees the female image-bearer of God as subpar, as dangerous, as someone who holds an inferior brain and a much inferior heart? It's no mystery why she believes these things, as they have insidiously trickled down through our churches, through the very people who confess to following and obeying Christ.
It's no mystery. But it is a shame. And it's high time to set the record straight. God's intention, when creating male and female as equals who would be his representatives on earth, was that all humans might share full access to him, a full relationship with him. We screwed that up, through sin, but Jesus offers a way to make it right again. He loves us, pursues us, and empowers us to service in his Kingdom--whether we are an Adam or an Eve. Blessedly, there is no double standard with God. Ladies, we have a full access pass.
(Quotes from Sumner, Sarah (2003). Men and Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership (pp. 40-41). Intervarsity Press. Kindle Edition.)
Self-test: do you somehow feel that women are inferior to men in the Christian faith--even if you know the Bible says differently? In your opinion, what should the church do to help women see themselves as God sees them?