EQUAL BUT DIFFERENT
“Who am I?” I, woman am created equal with men but in marriage I have a different role from my husband which is submission. I made this statement at a woman’s retreat earlier this year and I was amazed at some of the responses it aroused. One woman said I was bringing women liberation into the church and so people had to be very careful. Another said, wives were servants to their husbands and I add that if the wife is the servant then the husband is the master. Yet another said I had read too many books and that the reading of too many books brings about this sort of confusion. Some of them blatantly refused to accept that a wife was equal with her husband, saying, at best before marriage we are equal but after marriage we descended a notch or two down the hierarchy ladder, now becoming “a little lower” than husbands. A friend was really astonished that some women could still opine that women were not equal to men. Throughout the ages, civilizations, governments and nations have relegated women to second class citizens but for women to sing the same tune is quite amazing.
A woman actually quoted George Orwell’s, “Animal Farm”, saying that all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” This quote actually doesn’t make sense as to be equal means to be exactly the same, you cannot be more or less so. It is either you are equal or not equal. In Animal Farm, it symbolized the fact that the ideals of social justice and equally which was the raison d’etre of the animal’s revolution on the farm would never come to fruition and speaks of disillusionment. Perhaps she was echoing the disappointment with the church (note the small “c” ) which should be as iconoclastic as its Head. Maybe it was her way of saying that ideally we are equal but in reality it is a different ball game.
Even as I write this my heart still bleeds, that in the 21st Century Church, some women still do not realize that they are equal to men. I hope your responses will not be as bad as the Jews in John 5: 18, who were so furious with Christ because He said He was equal with God. We must not allow our experience to invalidate the word of God. I am not saying we should deny the inequality society so often boxes us in but I just want to raise the standard of the word of God. Men were designed to be masculine and women were designed to be feminine: the gender differences were designed by God but in terms of intrinsic value and worth women and men are equal before Him. That’s why I said we should actually “sankofa” today.
SANKOFA is a Ghanaian word meaning you must return to the past in order to move forward; go back and get it. “It is often associated with the proverb, it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”For us in this post it is to go back to Creation as Designer’s women so as to be able to move forward in victory. A lot of times we are so concerned with our different roles as wives, daughters, mothers, business women and so on that we have entirely lost ourselves. I remember carrying out a career assessment for a woman in her forties and she broke down in tears when we went through her personality, skills, interests and values. She said, “I had forgotten who I was, and all these things about me”. Genesis I :26- 28, say, Let us make man in our image according to our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air…so God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them, then God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it…” In Genesis 2:18,God made the first woman ( Eve) as a helper comparable to Adam. The word “comparable” connotes partnership and intimacy both not being achievable without equality. I Pet 3:7 describes husbands and wives as beings heirs together of the grace of life and husbands are to give the wives respect or live with them with knowledge and understanding depending on the translation. Now this weakness is without physical weakness not mental or spiritual weakness as we all can testify. I like the way NLT interprets this verse as follows:, “in the same way, you husbands must give honour to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.”