So then let no one boast in men.
1 Cor. 3:21
One of the reasons I have been writing about the proportional play of the Bible is that I am broken-hearted and furious about the state of the Christian church and its treatment of women and other vulnerable members.
And even that is an understatement of all proportions. Truly, I find it hard to articulate how strongly I feel about this. It’s something I experience body and soul, in my bones, in my gut, in my heart, in my head. I have no choice but to think about it when it’s in my face so frequently.
The neglect, dismissal and abuse of Christian women is something that has followed me my entire life and gradually permeated my academic gaze. What I have found, many times over, both personally and professionally, is this:
Unconsciously or not, many men see women at best as rather incidental and irrelevant, at worst as an actual hindrance to the whole matter of worship. Even to the whole matter of union with Christ.
And that means there is something deeply the matter. As in it raises the very fundamental question of what on earth are we doing with the Bible and Who do we think God is.
In response, I have applied myself to the business of asking God, “What are you saying through Your Word?” I have made myself vulnerable to what He has to say, and I have met God in the text in ways I never could have predicted.
Among the many things I have learned is that women are not incidental. Even more, we are far from incidental. Women play an absolutely necessary role in the telling of God’s story. In fact, in terms of the eschatological ministry of Jesus Christ to the church, the very essence of the Gospel is before our eyes in the presence of women, indeed of any social and economic outcast, the disabled, the sick, any neglected and hurting human being!
There is no mistaking the fact that the Bible contains men, men and even more powerful men. But this proportional play is God’s way of projecting His message of salvation with a massive megaphone:
You died in Adam and cannot save yourselves.
Look to Jesus Christ. He is EVERYTHING.
And just as God uses men to teach us this life-saving lesson, so He often uses women symbolically to direct our eyes to the union that we have now at this moment with Christ and will one day fully know as His Bride! In all, the point is neither men nor women but Jesus Christ, our all in all. No glory to them. All glory to Him!
And how do I know all this? Well, simply look to the words of our Saviour, who speaks about this so strongly and clearly in John 5, to those who persecuted the weak.
36 But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.
37 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.
38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
41 I do not receive glory from men;
42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.
43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.
46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.
47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Do you see how our Saviour rebukes us? We who have our eyes on men and not our Messiah? Do you see what He says about this perverse inversion of the Gospel in our idolatry of privilege, of our own works, of MALE?
So much is at stake in this regard, and this is something I want to shout out loud! Because asking the wrong questions of the Bible, assuming that the Bible is something it is not, has serious consequences. It stands in the way of our duty before God, to glorify and enjoy Him forever. We must get this right. We simply must.
But just as I am freqently filled with disappointment, grief, and rage when the church makes and remakes idols of men, I am filled with absolute confidence and joy in the promises of God, who said to Jacob at Bethel and says to us even now, every day, this day, this very moment,
Behold, I am with you and will keep you where you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.