VITAL SIGNSrnRELIGIONrnThe Goddessrnand the Bridernby Harold O.J. Brownrn’ ‘ A -nd the LORD Ood said, It is notrn^ood that tlic man should bernalone; I will make him an help meet forrnhim. . . . And the LORD God caused arndeep sleep to fall upon Adam” (Genesisrn2:18, 21). hi between the Lord’s observationrnthat it is not good for man to be alonernand the deep sleep that he caused to fallrnupon him, the animals were formed, butrnnot one of tliem was “an help meet forrnman.” God made man and then restedrn(2:2ff): Man must liaxe rested too, as wernknow that he was put to sleep. I’hcn Godrnmade woman, and since then neitherrnGod nor man has rested.rnIn a book written at the end of WorldrnWar II, Victors, Beware!, Salvador dernMadariaga, a former minister in exilernfrom Franco’s Spain, warned that thernpush for equality (or rather, sameness)rnwill not stop until it attempts to creaternequivalency in the one place where naturernitself will not permit it, nameh’, betweenrnthe sexes. De Madariaga comments,rn”Men and women are two equalrnexemplars of human being, withoutrnwhose conjoined action life is neitherrnpossible nor pleasant.” This seems intuitivelyrntrue, but that intuition is increasinglyrnimaceeptable. Discrimination isrnforbidden, and with it ever)’ principle ofrnorder and distinction. The two sexes arernequal in dignity- and worth, equal beforernGod, but they are not equivalent in rolernand function, and the effort to makernthem so is injiuious to the Giiureh, tornGhristian faith, and cen to the doctrinernof Cjod itselfrnThe distribution of rights, responsibilities,rnand roles between the sexes hasrnproved very hard to establish b civil law.rnIf we look only at laws and social conventions,rnwe may misunderstand realit)’. Gieerornreportedly said, “We Romans rulerntiie world, and our wives rule us.”rnWhat the Genesis 2 story tells us, if anrnallegorical interpretation may be permitted,rnis that the Woman made her entrancernwhen the Man was not paying attention.rnPerhaps if he’d had his eyesrnopen from the beginning, he would notrnhave allowed himself to get into the troublernthat followed. He would never havernneeded to utter that most ancient of allrnmale excuses: “The woman whom thourngavest to be with me, she gave me of therntree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12).rnWhat tiiese and similar passages hint isrnthat the relationship between the two sexesrnis too complex to be summed up in arnsingle slogan such as “equality” or “submission.”rnFrom a biblical perspective,rntwo things ought to be evident: first, tiiatrnboth sexes are created in the image ofrnGod (Genesis l:26ff.) and that there is nornsexual priority or preference with respectrnto salvation (Galatians 3:28); second, thatrnin botii the Old and the New Testamentrnthere is a difference of rights, responsibilities,rnand roles behveen the sexes, a differencerntliat in some cases is explicitlyrntermed submission, as in Fphcsiaus 5:22,rndie celebrated instruction to wives to submitrnto riieir husbands. In other words,rndie equality of the sexes in nature andrndignity is not incompatible with a relationshiprnof submission. This is preciselyrnwhat the feminists cannot endure.rnOutside of the Ghristian sphere—andrnto a certain extent even widiin it—therernis a desire to redefine God as goddess, orrnat least to discover a feminine side.rnAmong the neopagaus emerging from arnChristian context, there is talk of a femininernGhrista, of Sophia as a femininerncounterpart to the masculine Jesus, orrneven of an Earth-goddess Gaia. None ofrnthese ideas is compatible with orthodoxrnGhristianitv—Roman C^atholie, EasternrnOrthodox, or Protestant. For them,rnGlirist is the husband, and the Ghurch,rnHis bride; a similar relationship is seenrnbetween God and his people Israel. Butrnone does not need to become a worshipperrnof Gaia to lose important aspects ofrnChristian faith and life. There are feministsrnwitiiin more orthodox Christian circles,rnand to them too the principle of subnussionrnis so odious that they willrnreconceptualize the very nature of Godrnas Trinit}- in order to abolish it.rnTo return to Adam’s sin, there arc severalrnways of interpreting his motivation:rnsome say unbelief, some say pride, somernsay die desire to be autonomous, a lawrnunto himself The idea of human autonomyrnis foreign to the most fundamentalrnthemes of biblical faith, beginning witiirnthe Creation, for if there was a divinernCreation, then there is an order of being,rnand no creature can be autonomous.rnAmong nonbelievers, one way in whichrnthe human desire for autonomy expressesrnitself is the zeal virii which the doctrinernof naturalistic hmnan evolution is proclaimedrnand the feroeitv with whichrnthose who question it are attacked. Thernnonbclieer cannot tolerate the idea ofrnCreation, with its concept of a divinelyrnestablished order, for if man is a createdrnbeing, who owes gratitude and obediencernto the Creator, he cannot be trulyrnautonomous. If he is only the product ofrnnatural forces, then there is no order tornwhich he must conform.rnBelievers, of course, cannot deny Creationrnand die biblical concept that man isrnmade in die image and likeness of diernCreator (Genesis 1:26). If diere is an orderrnor liierarchv within the deity, thenrnthere is nothing surprising about an orderrnwithin humanity. The hostility of Christianrnfeminists to die biblical instructionrndiat the woman shall submit to her husband,rnthe husband being “the head of thernwife, even as C^hrist is the head of thernchurch” (Ephesians 5:23), is so strongrnthat some feminists are not content witiirneliminating subordination in die humanrnfamily but want to eliminate it as a principlernfrom die life of God Himself Forrnprescut-dav feminists, any form of subordinationrnor submission is odious andrnmeans that die subordinate is being treatedrnas inferior to the superior. Wliat tiieiirndo diey make of die passages in Scripturernwhere the Son, though equal in naturernand dignity to the Father, clearly subordinatesrnhis will to die Father’s? They interpretrnthe subordination out of these pa.ssagesrnand out of the understanding of thernTrinity that die’ convey.rnWhere there is subordination, thererncannot be ec|ualit. Therefore, somernfeminists go so far as to redefine the relationshiprnof die Persons in the Trinity inrnorder to reaffimi the contention that subordinationrnb its very nature destroysrnequality. This interpretation runs afoulrnof the traditional understanding of die relationshiprnof the Persons in the Trinity,rnwhere there is both equality of naturernand dignity and an economic or “household”rnsubordination of the Son and thernHoly Spirit to the Father.rn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn