This is the second installment of a multi-part series of messages on Monday morning re-examining the Scriptures and seeing how God places great value on each and every woman. If we are ever going to move beyond treating women as second class human beings, we have to begin by restoring God's emphasis on the sacred value of each woman. This means a fundamental change in our perspectives on women, vocabularies about women, and our treatment of women for those of us who claim to be Jesus' disciples today. Read last week's message: Of Sacred Value.
The woman was made of a rib of the side of Adam. Not made out of his head to rule over him nor his feet to be trampled by him. But out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected and near to his heart to be loved of him.
(Quote widely attributed to Matthew Henry, a famous Bible commentator.)
All of us like compliments, especially if those compliments are well deserved. A sincere compliment gives us confidence and motivates us to try harder. A genuine compliment lets us know that we are on target with what we are doing. A specific compliment helps us realize that we have brought someone else delight in what we did for them. We like compliments.
While we all like a compliment, most all of us need a complement.* I'm not talking about nice things said about us or something we've done. Instead, I'm talking about a co-worker, a team member, and especially a spouse who is more than just a partner. A partner walks alongside us and joins in our work, our victories, our sorrows, and our dreams. However, a partner who is our complement is all of these things and more. Our complement is the missing piece in our puzzle of two pieces, our missing skillset in a task we must complete, our counterbalance in our dreaming, and the person who fills in the gaps in our soul as we journey through life. Our complement makes us better than we can be on our own. Together, we make each other better and we fill in the missing pieces in each other's lives.
God declared this truth about the first human:
It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner (Genesis 2:18 The Voice).Adam needed a complement. Despite the beauty of creation and having an important job to do, the man's life was incomplete and noticeably lacking. So God made Eve as Adam's complement. She was not only created in the image of God like Adam (Genesis 1:26-27), and created of the same material as Adam (Genesis 2:21-23), but she was also created to be a complement to Adam (Genesis 2:18) — "a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner," a "helper" who was "suitable" (Genesis 2:18 NIV), and "just right" for him (Genesis 2:18 NLT). While Matthew Henry's quote doesn't come from Scripture, it beautiful reflects the intent of Genesis 2!
The beauty of the Holy Spirit's account of the creation of woman is breathtaking. This account is foundational for how we should view a woman biblically. She is part of the fabric of God's great creative intention — what the Father wanted before sin and the Fall had ripped apart what God had carefully designed and pitted man and woman in a dance of grace marred by deception, sin, blame, hiding, and regret. We are directed to go back to this creative intention by Jesus. Before Jesus would answer a question about divorce, he first pointed to the Father's creative intention as the goal, not some lowered estimate because of sin:
"Haven't you read... that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.'" Matthew 19:4-5).
As a new creation in Christ, we are not to look on any person from a "worldly point of view" because we are new creations in Christ and the righteousness of God's creative intent should shine through in us (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). This theme of being re-created in Christ is important to Paul (Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10) and finds definition in his phrase that describes what being in Christ Jesus means for every baptized believer: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
As we will see in a few weeks, this restoring of the Creator's intent is a major theme of God's new covenant people formed by Christ, born on the day of Pentecost, celebrated in declaration at baptism, and very much aligned to the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "...your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10).
For today, let's hang on to these basic truths:
Each person is precious and sacred to God because both male and female are created in the Father's image.
Both male and female are made of the same "stuff" and it is shared "stuff" — one is not more important than the other!The beauty the Holy Spirit's account of the creation of woman is breathtaking.Each is made specifically by the Creator's design to perform his or her complementary role for the other — they both need the other to be all they were created to be.
The Fall brought deception, sin, blame, hiding, and regret into relationships between a man and a woman. However, our re-creation in Christ Jesus has called us back to God's creative intent for both man and woman — to value each other as the different, beautiful, meaningful, and necessary complement to his or her life.
Adam's words of rejoicing, along with the commentary of Genesis, say the truth most beautifully of all:
"At last, a suitable companion, a perfect partner. Bone from my bones. Flesh from my flesh. I will call this one 'woman' as an eternal reminder that she was taken out of man."
Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh. In those days the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:23-25 The Voice).
* Notice this homonym version of complement doesn't have the letter "i" in it. Merriam-Webster online defines complement this way:
something that completes something else or makes it better