They were giddy like two little kids who just got a puppy.

Except their giddiness was about the weekend at the Marcella Summit.

Even though they had been Christians for decades they “had never heard this before!”

What hadn’t they heard?
About the Blessed Alliance.
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Carolyn Custis James spoke from Genesis 1 & 2, the blessed alliance. She described the garden story as having two load bearing walls:

Mankind & God and Man & Woman

It was not good that man was alone.
Ezer is a word most often used to describe God as warrior or protector.

They would need each other, not only to fully represent their God (Godhead is fundamentally relational) and to carry out the job of God’s kingdom on earth, but also to stand in a line of defense against Satan, who was also present in the garden. Evil was there ready to take them out.

In Genesis 3, Satan took out both load bearing walls in one big swipe.

And the problem is, as Carolyn states, we are missing a chapter between Genesis 2 and 3. A chapter that tells us what this blessed alliance looks like prior to the fall. Everything from chapter 3 on is a broken picture.

Except God does give us glimpses of his intentions in Scripture. Stories like Esther & Mordecai and Boaz & Ruth, if interpreted properly (meaning they are not fairy tale stories of guy saving damsel in distress), give us a glimpse of the blessed alliance in God’s kingdom – a kingdom that looks nothing like this world.

The view Carolyn set before us was a bigger view of man and woman than most of us had been living. My friends were giddy because they realized God’s vision is huge and that they had been living in such a smaller vision.

IMG_1086And they were giddy because Dr. Philip Payne walked them through the sticky passages on men and women in the New Testament. Dr. Payne is a brilliant man but what was winsome was his humility and his ever new excitement for God’s Word. One of the shocking things he said was that there are no masculine pronouns in the original manuscripts of 1 Timothy 3 (which deal with the issue of eldership). Then he went on to explain 1 Timothy 2:11-15:

Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.

Dr. Payne went on to explain the context of 1Timothy was women were prone to false teaching. He pointed out that the only command in 1 Tim. 2 was for women to learn. The culture did not allow women to learn theology, etc., but Paul commanded they learn. And the expectation of a student was that once they had learned, they would teach. The word authority was unique (it’s an unusual word selection), and it meant women were “assuming” authority (taking it without it being given). A teacher had to be a learner first, equipped in teaching, and then the church needed to sanction their gifting, that they were able to teach. Women didn’t wait for learning nor for someone to identify them as teachers, they assumed the authority. There’s more, but since it took Dr. Payne forty years to write his book on the subject, I think I’ll leave it at that.

peanuts_happy_danceThis was all new to my friends. Not for me. Yet, I too felt giddy.

For different reasons.

IMG_1083I couldn’t have asked to have more capable thought leaders dialogue with us about such sensitive, emotionally packed passages. They carried themselves with such humility – it was winsome. The offline conversations were as valuable as the lectures, and the campfires were icing on the cake.IMG_1149

But it was that one moment that captured the essence of the whole weekend – it was the moment, on Saturday evening, when Dr. Payne jumped to his feet in a standing ovation for Carolyn’s message. His actions didn’t simply say, “I’m good with women on the team,” or “Wow, what an amazing message” – it was more of a celebration, a cheering on that declared, “You are doing great work for Jesus, my sister, and I am celebrating you tonight.” It was a moment of the blessed alliance on display in a broken world.

The Spirit of Christ was powerfully present, and nothing is more winsome.