Recently I read Skye Jethani’s book, With. It’s not a book about the roles of men and women. It’s about learning to be with God as opposed to living for, under, over or without God. However, my mind is stuck on something Jethani said about men and women … something I’ve rarely heard any conservative evangelical say.
Eden was designed to be an collaborative environment where Creator and creatures workedtogether for a common goal. Eden is best understood as a base camp from which the man and woman were to extend God’s garden to encompass the entire earth. They were intended to partner with God as his representatives and agents on the earth. The man and woman were instructed to “rule” over the earth on God’s behalf and cultivate the order, beauty, and abundance of Eden in every corner of creation. This is the basis for the first command in the Bible: “fill the earth and subdue it.” God’s original intent for humanity to live and rule with him on the earth is also on display in the closing chapters of the Bible. The revelation given to the apostle John shows history’s culmination:
In both the garden and end time we find man and woman reigning. Not reproducing by the way. That is talked of in Genesis 2: 28 where God said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over…” but it’s not restated in Revelation. So here’s my thing, the one thing that stays from beginning to end is reigning with God. Both man and woman…WITH God REIGNING.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their good.”
As in the garden in Genesis, the emphasis of John’s revelation is on God and humanity will dwell together in relational unity. This is why God created us, and it is the end to which all of history is marching. Just as man and woman were intended to rule with God over his creation, that same purpose is reaffirmed in the book of Revelation:
By your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth… They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Jethani, 15)
So how did we get to a place where we teach women they are the reproducers? I don’t hear us saying the role of men is to reproduce. To father children. To care for them. Even though the text indicates both male and female are to reproduce. And we know it takes both to make it happen! But we don’t say the role of man is to reproduce. We assign him the reign role…ruler…leader. But the text indicates both male and female are reigning with God. Yet when we talk to women we tell them their main role is to mother, care for the home…they mother, rarely, if ever, do I hear us teach women to reign, rule, lead. However, Genesis states both man and woman reproduce and rule. And in the end…we, man and woman, reign with God. So it seems to me we are suppose to be reigning with God since the beginning all the way into eternity. So if that’s true, and I believe it is, then why aren’t we spending more time, money and energy teaching women about their role as ruler?