By Femi Aribisala
According to Jesus, Peter is Jesus’ “mother” and John is his “sister.” Even more remarkably, Peter and John are Jesus’ “brother and sister and mother” simultaneously.
In the beginning, man and woman were created equal. Moses says: “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:1-2).
This shows in the beginning, Adam was not the name of singular man: Adam was the name of plural man and woman. This plural Adam was a hermaphrodite; “he” was a man and a woman in one body.
This precludes any notion of male superiority on grounds that man was created before woman. Both man and woman were created at the same time. Later, God removed Eve from Adam: “Jehovah God made the rib (which he had taken from the man) into a woman.” (Genesis 2:22).
Therefore, initially, Adam was not male but generically human. Adam was male and female. Jesus says: “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’” (Mark 10:6). After Eve was pulled out of Adam, Adam became what we now call a man. Unlike the first and last Adams conceptualised by Paul (1 Corinthians 15:45); the first Adam of Genesis was male and female combined. The second Adam was singularly male.
Some insist woman is inferior in status to man because she is described in creation as the helper of man: “Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18).
However, the Hebrew word rendered as ‘helper’ in the English bible is “ezer.” This does not denote inferiority at all because it is the same word used to describe God who, as the helper of man, is certainly not inferior to man. Indeed, the name Ebenezer means “thus far has God helped us.”
Moses named his son Eliezer because: “The God of my father, my help, delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.” (Exodus 18:4). The psalmist counsels: “O Israel, trust in Jehovah; he is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in Jehovah; he is their help and their shield. You who fear Jehovah, trust in Jehovah; he is their help and their shield.” (Psalm 115:9-11).
A popular Christian praise song says: “Our help is in the name of the Lord (2ce). For the Lord our God is mighty; our help, our help; our help is in the name of the Lord. When troubles seem to surround us; our help is in the name of the Lord. When our enemies try to confound us; our help is in the name of the Lord. God is good don’t forget; that he’s never failed us yet: Our help, our help; our help is in the name of the Lord.”
Fall of the woman
Therefore, woman cannot be said to be subservient to man because she is described in creation as man’s helper. As helper, she remains equal to man. However, woman became subservient to man because Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. As a result, God passed judgment on Eve, which included subservience to Adam: “Your desire shall be toward your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16).
This subservience is replete in Old Testament scriptures where the daughter is declared unequal to the son, and the woman unequal to the man. Therefore, it was customary for Jewish men to declare chauvinistically: “Blessed be the Lord God, the King of the world, who has not made me a woman.” On their part, Jewish women declared: “Blessed be the Lord our God, the King of the world, who has made me as he pleased.”
Nullification of the sexes
Under the Law of Moses, women were not admitted to sacred Jewish rites and ceremonies. Only men could be involved in civil and religious matters. No woman could participate in the civil government or in the priesthood. Neither could a woman be king or priest.
However, all these restrictions are taken away in Christ, who redeemed woman to the original state of equality with man. Accordingly, the redeemed, which comprises men and women, sing a new song to Jesus, saying: “You made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign over the earth.” (Revelation 5:10).
Jesus nullifies all sexual distinctions. When informed his mother and brothers are looking for him, Jesus asks: “Who is my mother? And who are my brothers? And he stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said, Behold, my mother and my brothers! For whoever shall do the will of my Father in Heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50).
Jesus does not say “whoever does the will of my father is either my brother or my sister or my mother.” He points to his disciples who were all men and says “they are my mother and sister.” This means according to Jesus, Peter is Jesus’ “mother” and John is his “sister.” Even more remarkably, Peter and John are Jesus’ “brother and sister and mother” simultaneously.
This shows the kingdom of God does not recognise the sexes. God is not a respecter of persons. Neither is he a respecter of the sexes. Jesus says: “The sons of this world marry and are given in marriage, but they who shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.” (Luke 20:34-35).
Christians are heirs of Abraham and are therefore included in God’s covenant blessings with Abraham. For this reason, “Abraham’s Blessings Are Mine” is a popular Christian song. However, women were ineligible for inclusion in these blessings. To be a part of the Abrahamic covenant, you have to be circumcised. Since women are not, they were automatically excluded.
This exclusion is cancelled by the redemption of Jesus Christ. By giving the Holy Spirit to “all flesh,” Jesus annulled distinctions between men and women. Therefore, Paul observes that: “It doesn’t matter if you are circumcised or not. All that matters is that you are a new person.” (Galatians 6:15).
This opens to women the door shut by physical circumcision: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29).
Under Jesus’ New Covenant: “As many as were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ. There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29).
When some men objected to Jesus’ healing of a crippled woman on the Sabbath, he proclaimed her as also heir of Abraham and, therefore, entitled to God’s blessing: “This woman belongs to the family of Abraham, but Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years. Isn’t it right to set her free on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:16).