Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Inbox: Taking the Curse Away from Women

A commenter who uses the name Unknown takes issue with this two-year old post on the subject of the equality of the sexes in the New Creation.

This is a blog about growing in the Christian faith. IC reminded me last week that since December 2013, the CU staff has published well over 700 posts on various subjects or passages. Since there is no statute of limitations on comments here, we often have reactions submitted to older posts. One caution about that: there is no guarantee that something I wrote two years ago was expressed precisely the way I would express it today. While my convictions about the fundamental doctrines of scripture have remained consistent over the years, study and discussion with fellow believers often lead me to work through the occasional untested assumption and fine-tune my thoughts. When that happens, I’ll usually post something new about the subject or passage to clarify my current thinking.

That’s as it should be, I hope. The day we stop growing in understanding is a sad day indeed.

Doubling Down

That said, this is not one of those instances where more precision is required. Rereading my post now, I’m still right where I was in my thinking when I wrote it back in January 2014. But perhaps I can clarify a few things.

Unknown says:
“Funny that Jesus’ blood was good enough to abolish all sins and curses for that matter, but according to many was not ‘good enough’ to take this curse away from women! But that it’s what so many think, but the[y] err.”
Hmm. I wonder if this doesn’t reflect a basic misunderstanding about the work of Christ, specifically what it means for us in the present day.

As established in a previous post on the subject, the headship and authority of Christian husbands in the home is not entirely a result of the curse of Genesis 3. Certain New Testament rationales for headship predate the fall of mankind, others follow from it. Headship does not, in and of itself, imply inequality. God-given authority might well have been a feature of human civilization apart from any curse.

But since Unknown takes for granted that a husband’s authority in the home is nothing more than an artefact of the curse, and one believers really ought to abandon, let’s talk about the curse a little.

The Blood and the Curse

Our friend seems to assume that the moment Jesus rose from the dead, all the practical consequences of the Fall were intended to disappear (or at least cease to be relevant within the Body of Christ). The implication is that the only reason Christian women find themselves obliged to submit to men in homes and churches today is because men have yet to grasp that what Unknown refers to as “this curse” has been lifted. Thus they continue to subjugate their wives and fellow believers to ensure they derive maximum benefit from it.

And yet if we look around us, it is evident that creation continues to groan “in the pains of childbirth”. The whole world waits to “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God”, which, Paul says, is conditional on the redemption of our bodies.

Looking down at my own increasingly lumpy frame lurching through its sixth decade, and around me at friends and family in similar decline, I can confirm this “redemption of the body” thing is very much a future event.

Signed, Sealed … Soon to be Delivered

The death of Christ (or “Jesus’ blood”, as Unknown says) set in place the preconditions for the restoration of all things in a future day. The transaction upon which the redemption of my body depends has already taken placeNothing else is required except the return of the Redeemer to introduce me to my resurrection body. The deal is signed and sealed. Still, the visible, physical benefits of this redemption have yet to reach me: Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? This redemption is certain but it is also future.

It’s a glorious thought, as Paul puts it:
“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
The restoration of creation that accompanies the realization of this hope is a multi-stage event, not an instant reversal of the consequences of original sin reflected in present conditions. At present, the effects of sin in this world are still very visible, even in churches and Christian homes.

Waiting for the Redemption of the Body

Unknown’s question assumes believing women are among the last to receive the practical benefits of the death of Christ, presumably in the form of equal authority in home and church. But the restoration of all things will not be complete until the end of the millennial reign of Christ, after which, in the New Jerusalem, “no longer will there be anything accursed”. It is telling that this is one of the final statements in the very last chapter of the last book of scripture.

Judicially, the curse has been dealt with once and for all at the cross. But practically speaking, the fallout from the Garden is still very much with us.

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