Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Slay the Dragon Not the Woman

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

I was going to try to avoid the verses in the new testament that have caused so much division in the church between men and woman. These verses have been re-hashed so many times you almost don't want to hear of them again! But because of what we have been discussing I find it necessary to visit a few of them. Many women have been deeply hurt by the way these verses have been taught. Which is a big indicator to me that they are not being taught correctly because God is not in the business of hurting people. I am hoping that you maybe see them in a different light putting them in context as to what type of women Paul was speaking to.

The words of Paul to women seem very harsh at times. But we have to remember that many of the people he was writing had never heard the gospel. The most common explanation is that the majority of the female coverts of the new testament church were prostitutes. It is true that prostitution was rampant throughout the Roman empire; both street and temple. They were always scantily clad, loaded with make-up, jewelry and spoke brazenly. Like most sexuality during that time there was an attitude of "anything goes". Sexuality was not an intimate male/female thing it was a ritualistic/hedonistic thing{as we have discussed in the other posts}. Infidelity, adultery, drugs and alcohol fueled the fire!

Now I want you to use your imagination and pretend you are a priestess of Artemis in Ephesus. You have sworn your virginity to her either from a young age or you have become a "virgin" because of your disdain for men. In fact some of your ritual sacrifices involve the blood cut from a man's neck. You have no children, you take no orders from men, you only spent time with other women of the same belief. You are a huntress like Artemis only answerable to yourself and willing to sacrifice whatever she asks. You believe that woman are spiritually superior. The only religion you know is that of Artemis/Diana and the corresponding Greco-Roman mythology in which the woman goddess Gaia created the earth and all the other principle deities. This is a very different woman than say the prostitute of Aphrodite.

So Paul had to give new understanding of the role of woman in this new religion. Sometimes he was speaking to a slave woman in rags and brokenness, sometimes a prostitute with lewd sexuality, sometimes a rich woman laden with gold jewelry and snobbery, sometimes a priestess who believed goddess created the universe. He had to bring all these women to the same level in Christ. If you read all the epistles it seems like Paul was contradicting himself on the roles of women; which tells me that he was speaking to specific situations within these baby churches. Let's look at some verses.

"For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived fell into transgression." 1Timothy 2:14

"Therefore just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:12

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
1 Timothy 2:12

"Greet Andronicus{man} and Junias{woman} who have been in prison with me and are outstanding among the apostles{teachers}..." Romans 16:7

"In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God."
1 Corinthians 11:11

Can you see how he was saying different things to different people? To a woman who had been a slave her whole life she needed to be encouraged that she was allowed to pray and prophecy. On the other hand an ex-priestess in the town of Ephesus{to whom the Timothy letters are written} would need to be tempered a bit. She was needing to learn restraint in her new role.

Women who were rich needed to tone down their apparel as to not make the slave in rags feel inferior. In general men and women needed to revisit their Godly call to rule together without authority over one another. But instead to use the perception in the Spirit that a woman has and the sober evaluation that a man has to judge together what is the best and highest for one another. With that combination great and wondrous things happened!

Priscilla and Aquila were a perfect example of this. I love that in Greek Priscilla's name means "ancient" almost as if God is saying "this is the kind of woman I intended from the ancient times, from the time in Eden before things changed". Just as meaningful her husband Aquilas name means "eagle" which makes me think of the verse in Revelation...

"When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time...out of the serpent's reach." Revelation 12:13-14

This really gives a beautiful illustration of the role of the woman in the old testament. That while the enemy used the goddess fertility cults to weave his barrenness and lack of intimacy the woman of God were protected in the desert. I know at times it seems that the woman of the Israelites were so often quarantined for their "womanly functions" but it was for their protection from the enemy. The women of the old testament had to bring to pass the seed that would redeem the relationship between the sexes and between man and God. Jesus was the only one that could bring things back to how they were in the garden{man and woman with rule together}. So really you could say that the spiritual warfare of the Israelite woman was to be fruitful physically; that is to bear Godly seed. While the men fought physically.

With the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus that spiritual battle was won. So the new call of women was to not only be physically fruitful but spiritually as well. To battle the barrenness of souls that was caused by the lack of the Spirit in man. So in the new testament women were flocking to this "good news" that they could retain their womanhood and motherhood but also be mighty spiritual women of God that could act in power. That kind of power had only been available to pagan priestesses. But Paul was inspiring in the woman of the Greco-Roman world that they could have access to both in Christ. That is why through the epistles he encourages both marriage, sexuality and motherhood along with prophesying and being a apostle of Christ! That was unheard of up until then.

You had women/wives/mothers who could now move in the Spirit, and ex-priestesses who could become wives/mothers{along with using their sensitivity to the spirit realm for God and warfare}. You had prostitutes who found their identity in Christ and the equality that that brought them. They no longer had to devalue themselves for attention and love. I think as a whole it gave women in general a sense of self. That they were special and had wonderful things to offer apart from men but could also accomplish even more for the kingdom by working along side them as God intended.

As we all know this was a recipe for great things! Great moves of the Spirit, healing, new converts, releasing people from demons, so on and so on. This is part of what lead to the fall of the pagan Greco-Roman pantheon and the eventual declaration of a Christian Roman Empire by Constantine in about 325AD. I found a fantastic quote from an non-christian interview about the decline of the oracles at Delphi; as to why they faded out. You can read the entire interview here.

"So Delphi began to take a back seat. And in the time of the Roman Empire, although Emperors like Hadrian poured millions into the Delphic Oracle, and refurbishing its sanctuary, in that time the Pythia made a statement that was to cost Delphi very dear, when the Emperor Diocletian asked why the Oracular responses were weak, and the Oracle of Apollo replied that the Christians were interfering with the flow of divine power." John Hale

The very early church was at the very least a rebirth for woman and the roles that God intended them to have. I believe it was a time of great healing for woman. I believe it was a time of great spiritual freedom for women. To know that they didn't have to choose between being a wife/mom or being a woman of God. What great spiritual warriors the ex-priestesses must have made. To use their knowledge of the schemes of the enemy to now fight against him. To minister to the moms who may have sacrificed their children in abortion to the goddess that they had previously served. Or how about the ex-prostitutes teaching women{and men} Godly sexuality and intimacy. To see the numerous options in the church; to be teachers, apostles, missionaries. All the while keeping the God given femininity including marriage and motherhood. The woman of God had beaten the fertility goddess at her own game! Really to be quite honest if these opportunities weren't available in the "new religion" of Christianity there would have been no reason for the women of the Greco-Roman world to leave their lives of pagan priesthood, prostitution and high society. But that was what was different about this "new religion", although the enemy was not happy that his hold on women had been broken...

"Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring..." Revelation 12:17

Unfortunately part of this war came from within the church. The freedom of the Christian woman was short lived. The bondage of lifetime virginity, repression of the feminine, lack of the Spirit, and silence in the church began to rear its ugly head. The enemy took full opportunity to create a new goddess and new followers were not hard to come by. Only this time they wouldn't be called a priestess, they would be called a witches. And so the hunt was on...

1 comment:

  1. This is undoubtably part of the "mystery hidden for ages, to be revealed in the end times"

    This strikes at the core root of most of society's problems


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