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Thursday, March 8, 2012

the true beauty of women...

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Today is International Women’s Day! I’m so glad, thanks I’m sure in part to the www, that America is finally acknowledging this day a little more. (although we still have a long way to go) As a proud feminist (before ant Christians get into a tizzy about that word…there are several different kinds of feminists…and I am not remotely ashamed to stand for equal rights for my gender), I believe we should have a day in which we are honored and remembered…considering all the nonsense we put up with on a daily basis.

Since almost the beginning…women have been oppressed...labeled more easily deceived…been silenced...been exploited...declared less than.

Why? The Garden. It aaaalllllll goes back to the garden. Sadly, that most beautiful yet heartbreaking story has been twisted, from our Sunday School flannel graphs all the way to the pulpit, to put the blame where it did not belong. Eve has been the false bearer of the entire blame for too many generations. Yet, have you noticed no where in the Bible does Eve ever get blamed? Have you noticed that it was, in fact, Adam who gets blamed? (Job 31:33, Hosea 6:7, Rom 5:14) AND…if you go back and read the story without your pre-conceived traditional glasses on…you’ll see why.  

Now the subject of The Fall is big…GIANT…EnOrMoUs. And I just can't fully go into it here. Although I can at a later date…or I can point you in the direction of a GREAT teaching on it…(info in the comment section)

But this is what I will say, for the context of this day…

When Eve and the Serpent were having their infamous convo…most of our lovely little flannel graph’s show Adam to be no where in sight. We allude that after she takes a bite of ‘the apple’…she runs off and finds him and manipulates him into eating it too. Nope. Read it again…(Gen 3:6) Adam was there, right. there. beside her. In fact, the Hebrew literally says he was there, “at her elbow”. He heard the whole thing. He participated in the whole thing. He never stepped out and stopped her from being deceived.
(*note- things were already breaking down long before this point. This just happened to be the final straw. And I’m not saying it was ONLY Adam’s fault either. Don't swing the other way. There was equal blame for The Fall.)

So here’s where the story gets really interesting…God comes back to confront them…and asks Adam, “Dude, what the heck?” (Jenn's paraphrased version) And what does Adam do? He freaks out…and has the audacity to turn and blame God for the whole thing. Bad call, Adam. Bad call.
Gen 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 

Obviously that wasn’t the wisest move. 

BUT...when God asks Eve...it goes like this... Gen 3:13 And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Eve's words are simple but powerful: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." And the way this is worded in the Hebrew, she is speaking in a very repentant way. 

Now remember, (despite the flannel graphs) the people involved here were God, Adam, Eve,…and the Serpent. So even though the root of all this is right in front of them, Adam chose to blame God for his sin. But Eve? She owns up. BUT most importantly…and here’s the key in all of this…SHE EXPOSES THE ENEMY. She put the blame where the blame lied. She went to the root of the problem and pointed it out for all to see.

And that’s when the most beautiful thing happened. By doing this, Eve opened the door for redemption…and God created the path…
Gen 3:15   And I will put enmity 
                 Between you and the woman, 
                 And between your seed and her seed; 
                 He shall bruise you on the head, 
                 And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 

The door was opened, and down that precious path, a Messiah would come, thousands of years later…who was destined to be born of a women, according to God’s promise, yet not of a man, through who iniquity (sin) would be passed down. And His life, death, and glorious resurrection would bring Salvation…and take us back to the intimacy of relationship with our Creator and the gift of a New Birth that restores what was lost in the Garden.

I flippin love that.

But...because of this exposure, the enemy obviously became angry. It was a woman who exposed him. It was a promise of purpose that it would be the woman who would crush his head. And a war was waged.

Do you see? It was established in our foundation as women, that part of our forever purpose is to expose the enemy...and to point to the direction of redemption and salvation. And from that moment in the garden…the enemy has been on overdrive to shut us up. We are oppressed in almost every country in the world. (interesting that the oppression is strongest in the region where the Garden once was) We are 2nd class citizens in every major religion. Our own God-breathed scriptures have been twisted and taken far out of context to try to silence us in our very own places of worship. Even the traditional story of Eve has been twisted and mixed and mingled with the Greek myth of Pandora...a story of a woman who was made responsible for allowing evil to be released into the world, all because she made a poor choice. 

The Enemy wants us silent. But we will not be silent. Despite the oppression, we will rise up and take our places in this world. We will grab hold of our purposes and callings. We will stand as one mighty army. We will continue down with the same path that was opened with Eve. We will not be silent...we will pray, declare, sing, and publish the Good News that is within us. We will live out the prophetic words of Psalm 68. Psalm 68:11 The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.

~
My office in my home is filled with WWII posters of women joining the fight. And it’s soon to be filled wall to wall with world changing women, past and present, who are rising up and making a difference. The ones who have gone before us…facing unspeakable odds to bring freedom and equality. Ones who have loved the unlovable, ones who have brought comfort, ones who stood for justice, ones who have fought for change. I love seeing this constant reminder of the army of which I am proud to be a part. 

So celebrate today. Celebrate the women around you. Pause and reflect on the true beauty of our gender. Honor the world changers among us. Love on those who have made a difference in your own life. And ask God to show you your place in this beautiful army of warriors.  

*****
I loved this article I saw earlier on some ways to celebrate... (and if it's too late today...you can start planning for next year!) International Women’s Day: 10 ways to celebrate