This article is a second part of a three part response to Biblical Gender Roles article regarding the nature of God, the question of masculinity and femininity, and specific gender roles as established within the context of the Bible. A careful and thoughtful review of the article has required an adequate response to some assertions that may be misleading, irrelevant, and potentially harmful concerning such ideology and perceptive interpretation of scripture.
The first part of this response focused on the context and foundation of the assertion being made, the question that is being addressed and answered, and whether or not the writer has given due diligence in providing an accurate, scriptural response and answer to the question postulated. Along with this, second part of that article briefly introduced some of the main assertions that are cause for questioning and examination and how they falter in meeting true scriptural teaching on the nature of God, masculinity, femininity, and gender roles. The third part explored a more in-depth analysis of the presenting issues derived from the main points of the article itself and how a more appropriate answer is given to the misinformation of the article under review.
In this second part, we will contend that there is a linguistic issue regarding the Hebrew and Greek languages. Namely, that all languages have masculine, feminine, and neutral aspects. This will be a brief examination and exposure to the linguistic style of the Biblical text and how one is able to recognize such stylistic writings and expressions. From here, the third part of this article will focus on understanding the nature of how the Bible has some symbolism toward a divine and sovereign feminine gender role within the Divine Council. This is based on the available scholarship and literature concerning a Divine Consort that is derived from some of the more figurative and symbolic language of the Scriptures. From the attempt will focus on the true nature of the gender roles, as revealed in scriptures, and the importance of a divine marriage through Priestly authority, Temple Symbolism, and Jesus Christ’s wedding parables and teachings. Through this process of examination, the reader is invited to draw their own conclusions by carefully examining the presenting information.
The Nature of Linguistics and Biblical Exegesis
A problem arises when a person fails to commit to proper interpretation of scripture. The common problem with proper scripture interpretation is where Christians, and many others, employ a intuitive or feels-right approach to interpretation (Duvall and Hays, 2008). This occurs in two ways: First, people may see a text as something that may be directly applied and, therefore, make attempt at direct application. If there is no direct application, then a person may take a spiritualizating approach to the meaning of the text. Duvall and Hays refer to this as a possible bordering approach to allegorizing the Biblical Text. Another observed phenomenon is mere ignoring of a particular passage and missing the context altogether.
Duval and Hays observe that those who take an intuitive approach in scripture interpretation blindly wade out into the river, hoping that the water is not deep enough. This is contrasted to those who attempt to spiritualize the text where they attempt to jump the river in one grand leap. And, for those who ignore passages is to remain on the far side of the river.
Therefore, to understand a proper approach to scriptural interpretation is to understand it through the cultural – historical context and the literary context. This also includes understanding the nature of the original language (linguistics).
Since Linguistics is the discipline study of language and languages we take careful note that the Bible was not originally written in modern English. The Bible is translated from several different languages. The two prominent languages being Hebrew and Greek. There are some Aramiac and Chaldean language influences within the Biblical text. All of these have masculine, feminine, and neutral language styles.
David E. S. Stein published an article on the specific linguistic Gender Representation in Biblical Hebrew. And, over at Ancient Hebrew Poetry, an article entitled: Gender Representation in Hebrew, we find this:
(1) If the subject or subjects of a verb are exclusively masculine, the gender of the verb must also be masculine. (2) If the subject or subjects are feminine, the gender of the verb must also be feminine. (3) If the subject or subjects of a verb comprise masculine and feminine of a given species, the gender of the verb will be masculine, unless the verb has an explicit compound subject in which one of these subjects is to be spotlighted, in which case the gender and number of the verb will agree with the subject to be spotlighted, not the gender and number of the compound subject. (4) If the grammatical gender of a noun is feminine, but the social gender of the referent subject is masculine, the gender of the verb will be masculine. (5) I can’t think of any examples offhand of the opposite, in which the gender of the noun is masculine, but the social gender of the referent subject is feminine.
Here, we see some examples of what the writer at Biblical Gender Roles appears to refer to the use of feminine imagery within a social gender role. He mainly refers to particular characteristic traits and not definitive gender-roles as defining whether God is masculine, feminine, neutral, or collectively above social-gender identification.
The Brill Reference Library of Judaism has this publication on the Gender Challenge of Hebrew with a preview of the first few pages of the second chapter: Language and Gender in Classical Hebrew. Malka Muchnik makes this distinction of the creation account and the specific gender roles of male and female within a linguistic context and interpretation.
(1) zaxar uneqeva bara ‘otam – ‘Male and female created He them’ (Genesis 1:27)It is worth looking at the etymology of these words. According to the Ben Yehuda dictionary (1960), zaxar (‘male, masculine’) originated from the name of the male sexual organ and related to ‘stab’ or ‘dam’, while neqeva (‘female, feminine’) is derived from neqev, meaning ‘hole’. Similarly, the well-known biblical dictionaries, Koehler and Baumgartner (1958) and Brown, Driver, and Briggs (1974), state that zaxar is the name of the male organ, whereas neqeva means ‘perforated, holed’. Both dictionaries relate the noun zaxar to the same root as the verb, meaning ‘remember’. It appears that this has generated the interpretation that only male persons are now supposed to receive and transmit the family heritage, so that it is remembered by coming generations.
Based on Muchnik’s observation that the term remembering appears 229 times within the Biblical text (possible reference to the Old Testament Text), that this is more of a second person masculine form.
The above is an example of how important linguistic interpretation of scriptural passages are important. This also shows that the concept of remembering being of heritage shows the initial text that gender-roles are specific divine heritages from God. This does not conclude that God is a divine dyad of masculine and feminine roles. What this shows is that there is a more complex issue surrounding our divine heritage as defined by our gender roles. Meaning, God created male and female for a purpose. A purpose that will be defined in the third part of this response.
The question posited here is this: creation of specific male and female gender roles may very well hint at a more Divine and Godly aspect if male and female gender roles. More specifically, we know that Christ created all things. This includes the human anatomy – male and female. Scripture also reveals that when Christ appears a second time, we (humanity – both male and female) will see Him as we are – resurrected and glorified in image and likeness. Since we will see Christ in his resurrected and glorified body of flesh and bone – because we shall rise up (male and female) in resurrected bodies of flesh and bones – our very nature will be that of Christ’s divine nature. In addition, since we know that Christ is in the express image of God, we shall know that we also shall be in the express image of God, our Heavenly Father. And, if we were created, male and female after the image and likeness of God, does that mean women were created after the image and likeness of a divine Mother?
Divine Symbolism of a Heavenly Mother and the Scriptural Role of Women and Motherhood
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) teach that humanity traces their origin to Heavenly Parents. While revelation and teachings on a divine Heavenly Mother are vague, there are some specific statements and positions the Church has taken over the years:
In 1909, the First Presidency taught that “all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” Susa Young Gates, a prominent leader in the Church, wrote in 1920 that Joseph Smith’s visions and teachings revealed the truth that “the divine Mother, [is] side by side with the divine Father.” And in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” issued in 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared, “Each [person] is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”
In Western Christianity, the idea of a divine Heavenly parenthood, and humanity being spiritual offspring of a divine Heavenly Father and Mother, seems quite foreign. Yet, when we come to approach the scriptures, we find that there are some symbolism that may reveal the doctrinal truth that we not only have a divine Heavenly Father, that there exists a Divine Heavenly Mother as His consort. These symbolisms of Divine Heavenly Parents may help us understand the nature of gender roles as it relates to our human existence and purpose.
The creation of Adam and Eve is the definitive beginning of our understanding. In the second creation account of Genesis 2:4-25; Eve was created as a Helpmeet for Adam. This appears to come about when Adam is naming the animals and all the animals, who were brought to Adam, appear to have mates themselves.
Jeff A. Benner provides this insight – What is a “helpmeet”? – at the Ancient Hebrew Research Center Website:
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (KJV, Genesis 2:18)
While the KJV translates the Hebrew phrase עזר כנגדו (ezer kenegedo) as “help meet for him,” other translations provide additional translations including; “a helper fit for him” (RSV), “a helper as his partner” (NRS), “a helper comparable to him” (NKJ) and “an helper as his counterpart” (YLT). What exactly does this Hebrew phrase mean?
The first word in the phrase, עזר (ezer, Strong’s #5828), is simple and means “helper.” The second word, כנגדו (kenegedo) is a little more complex. The base word is the word נגד (neged, Strong’s #5048), which will be discussed shortly, with the prefix כ (k) meaning “like,” and the suffix ו (o) meaning “of him” of “his.”
The word נגד (neged) comes from the verbal root נגד (N.G.D, Strong’s #5046) meaning “to be face to face.” This verb is always used in the causative form where it would literally be translated as “to make to be face to face,” and is always used to mean “to tell” in the sense of causing another to come face to face in order to tell them something.
The noun form, נגד (neged), is often used for something that is face to face with something else. An example can be found in Genesis 21:16 where Hagar went and sat down “opposite” her son. Even though she and her son are a distance away, they are sitting “face to face.”
Putting all of this together, the phrase עזר כנגדו (ezer kenegedo) literally means “a helper like his opposite.” In my opinion this means that Eve was to be his “other half,” like him, but with the opposite attributes.
The creation of woman was not an after thought. Nor, was the creation of the woman as a worldly creature without bearing the image of God. According to the writer at Biblical Gender Roles, makes this statement:
God did not just flip a coin and put men in charge of women. He put men in charge of women because the male human being “is the image and glory of God”. And because Piper and most Christian teachers refuse to acknowledge this truth that is staring them in the face – they cannot fully understand the purpose in why God placed men over women.
This assertion is further supported by this statement:
The fact is that woman is NOT modeled after God or man while she does share common attributes with man whom she was taken from and therefore God as well because man was made in the image of God.
I used to say in error “Man is the image of God, and woman is the image of man” but I realized that statement is also theologically incorrect. The Bible never states that woman is the image of God nor does it state she is the image of man. She shares a common human nature with man but she is not his image as her nature is still very different.
Woman was given her core human traits like self-awareness, creativity, the ability to feel emotions, the ability to appreciate beauty and the ability to learn to make her a “help meet” (Genesis 2:18) for man. Man was given these same core human traits and then addition traits of increased strength, competitiveness, aggressiveness and many other traits we understand as masculine for a different purpose.
Man was given his masculine human nature to image God and thereby bring him glory. Woman was given her feminine nature not to be God’s image bearer, but instead to be a HELP to his image bearer. This is the truth of the Word of God.
The unfortunate truth is that the writer misunderstands the nature behind the creation of humanity – both male and female – as the image bearers of divine Godliness and the very image and likeness of God. The error here is that of the creation of woman not being modeled after the nature of God.
At the end of Benner’s article, we find this observation:
In Genesis 1:27 we read that Elohiym filled the Adam (a Hebrew word meaning human) with his shadow, meaning he placed a representation of himself in the man. We also read in this verse that Elohiym filled them, male and female, meaning that he placed within each his attributes, his male attributes to the man and his female attributes to the woman. We do not normally think of Elohiym as having male and female attributes, but there are many passages in the Bible reflecting this idea.
If, according to Brenner, that God placed His divine representation of himself in man what then of the creation of woman? What over her divine representation? We know and understand that the masculine – feminine dyad of God is from the Second Century Gnostic teaching of Saint Valentinius. Therefore, Man being God’s image bearer, does that mean the creation of woman is the image bearer of a divine Heavenly Mother? Not only the very attributes of a divine Father and Mother, the characteristic traits of masculinity and femininity whereby we enrich our understanding of the texts meaning: after His Image and Likeness? In otherwords, after the image and likeness of God the Father and our divine Heavenly Mother?
On the Nature of the dyad concept of Elohim, Jeff A. Benners argues against the writer of Biblical Gender Roles concept that God only placed his Masculine attributes into man as man is the image bearer of God. Benners argues that male and female carry the dyad attributes of God himself – both masculine and feminine characteristics, attributes, and qualities:
Notice that in this verse it states that Elohim made humans in his image, but then it defines this image as male and female. From this we can conclude that the attributes of God are both masculine and feminine. We can then surmise that he placed his masculine attributes within the man and his feminine attributes within the woman and when a man and woman come together and become one (See Genesis 2:24), they together become the image of Elohim.
While I agree with Benner regarding the characteristic attributes and how male and female come together to be one complete image of Elohim. I go further and disagree with Benner in that God placed masculine and feminine attributes where male and female are image bearers of divine Heavenly Parents and that when man and woman come together, they become the image of Elohim – Divine Father and Mother.
This is evident in understanding one of the most controversial scriptures of Mormonism. The Book of Abraham contains a unique description and commentary of the nature of man’s creation. It also contains an interesting observation of what Adam stated in relation to the nature of marriage:
Interestingly however, when the book of Abraham describes the creation of man it states that “the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them” (Abr 4:27, emphasis added). If Jesus Christ and the noble and great ones did not assist Heavenly Father in the creation of man, then why does it say “the Gods” rather than simply God? Who was the other God that created us with our Heavenly Father? When we understand the doctrine of Heavenly Parents, the answer is clear. This verse is one of the few scriptural references of our Heavenly Mother and it shows that she, along with our Heavenly Father, is our creator. Our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, “the Gods” as they are called in this verse, joined together to create all of us as spirits, and again to create the physical bodies of Adam and Eve.
This interpretation is confirmed by an official statement by the First Presidency, which states that “all men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity. ‘God created man in His own image.’ This is just as true of the spirit as it is of the body” (The Origin of Man, 1909 republished in February 2002 Ensign). This is also supported by the Family Proclamation, which states that, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, republished in Nov. 2010 Ensign).
Understanding that mankind was created as the literal children of Heavenly Parents helps us understand an important verse in the next chapter of Abraham that also refers to our Heavenly Mother. Like the accounts of creation found in Genesis and Moses, the book of Abraham first gives a general overview of the creative periods followed by a more detailed explanation of these events in the following chapter. It is in this inspired scriptural commentary that we read that “the Gods” (still referring our Heavenly Father and Mother) not only created the bodies of Adam and Eve, but later sealed them in eternal marriage (Abr. 5:7,14; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:71). It was after being sealed to Eve that Adam observed that “a man [shall] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh” (Abr. 5:18).
Leave his father and his mother! How can Adam leave his father and mother unless he has and knows both his father and his mother? It is apparent in the book of Abraham that this is a direct quote from Adam and is therefore a clear reference to our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother who raised Adam as his earthly parents as well as his Heavenly Parents. It was from observing Their perfect marriage relationship that Adam learned that husbands are to cleave to their wives and together they are to be united as one.
I noted earlier that we understand Christ created all things. This is consistent with new revelation and scripture. What is interesting to note here is that when it came to the creation of humanity in God’s image – we have a new perception that when God said “Let us” this may very well be referenced in the divine creation of man and woman after the image of God the Father and God the Mother, and the specific commands of the male and female gender roles. One of which coincides with the marital relationship – having dominion, and bearing offspring.
Again, this idea is foreign to modern Christian thinking. However, as we explore the understanding and nature of human gender roles, the creation of humanity, and what the scriptural truths are concerning men and women – we gain a deeper sense of understanding God’s divine nature.
This understanding brings to mind that all of humanity are the image bearers of Adam. the Apostle Paul hints at this in what some reformed Christians teach as the Federal headship of Adam and Christ. This is based off the rendering of the Epistle to the Romans and is contained in the latter part of the fifth chapter:
Simply put, federalism has to do with representation, with one person acting on behalf of another. God has appointed two representatives in history: Adam and Christ. Adam did not represent the race well; he disobeyed God. As a result, all of his descendants are born with an inclination to sin, and they all share in his guilt and suffer the same penalty he received—death. This is what Paul means when he says in verse 12 that “all sinned.” In today’s verses, Paul seeks to support this argument.
This teaching is usually combined with the doctrines of predestination and divine election. While this writer does not subscribe to the concept of predestination and election; there is some truth to the doctrine of federal headship.
Adam does stand at the forefront of human history. First, Adam and Eve are the image bearers of divinity (as we established). Second, through Adam and Eve, we now possess the capacity and knowledge of Good and Evil. And, yes, we also possess a mortal body like that of Adam and Eve and are subject to all ailments, to include physical and spiritual disease and death. Likewise, Christ is the firstborn and only begotten of God. He also is the preeminent first born of the Resurrection of humanity and we shall bear the same image and likeness of his resurrection. When we stand before God, we will also see our Heavenly Parents as we are – resurrected and glorified bodies of flesh and bones.
Adam and Eve stand as representatives of divine heavenly parents. We are their offspring after their own image and likeness as they are after the image and likeness of divinity.
Tree of Life, Virgin symbolism, and further symbolism of Divine Motherhood
The Book of Mormon Central focuses an article on the vision of Lehi and Nephi’s interpretive summary. In this article – What does the Virgin Mary have to do with the Tree of Life? – the BMC staff observes:
In 1998, Daniel C. Peterson noted a fundamental connection between the tree and virgin. The adjectives describing the virgin (“most beautiful,” “exceedingly fair,” “white”) compared to those describing the tree (“exceeding all beauty,” and “exceed[ing] the whiteness of the driven snow”), are synonyms (1 Nephi 11:8).
Just as the tree bore fruit, the virgin bore a child (1 Nephi 11:7, 20). “Clearly,” Peterson noted, “the glimpse given to Nephi of the virgin mother with her child is the answer to his question about the meaning of the tree. Indeed, it is evident that, in some sense, the virgin is the tree.”
As Peterson goes on to explain, scholars have recently come to accept that in ancient Israelite religion, there was a belief in a divine mother goddess named Asherah, who was represented by the tree of life. The symbolism is widespread throughout the ancient Near East, and can be seen in association with different goddesses by various cultures.
In 2011, Egyptologist John S. Thompson went on to explore additional connections between different Egyptian goddesses and sacred trees. Thompson notes that while most ancient Near Eastern cultures sexualized the tree goddess, the Egyptians emphasized the motherly role, often depicting tree goddesses nursing a child. The Israelite Asherah was likewise more focused on the nursing mother and less sexualized—she was the “mother of the gods” and also regarded as the mother of the Davidic kings.
In the essay by Lowell K. Handy – The Appearance of Pantheon in Judah – and published in the collective work edited by Diana Vikander Edelman – The Triumph of Elohim: From Yahwisms to Judaisms we read the following:
A series of works have recently appeared that conclude that there was, at least, a goddess in the cults of Israel and Judah in the heydays of their independence, and it has long been maintained that several gods were both recognized and worshiped in Judah at least at various times in the nation’s religious history.
In the footnote, we read the following commentary:
The first modern popularization of the notion of a goddess in the official cult of Judah or Israel, despite its now being clearly dated by more recent scholarship and archaeological discoveries, can be traced to the work of R. Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (New York: Avon Books, 1978).
This refers to the Hebrew word Shekinah and how it means “dwelling”:
Shekinah is the English name of God in its feminine, motherly manifestation. The original word means the dwelling or settling, and denotes the dwelling or settling of the Divine Presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem. It is closely related to the word: “mish-kan,” the Tabernacle.
This increases our understanding as we see that the Old Testament refers to the LORD (YHWH) and the ELOHIM (Most HIGH) and their relationship together. Many times, there is the scriptures where it speaks of YHWH and then the Most High God collectively. This includes the reality that the Biblical text still contains some reference to multiple deities that were not foreign to the divine worship and adoration of Ancient Israel. The very idea of there being a divine heavenly council is evident in various Jewish and Christian scholarship understanding of the Biblical Text. This includes the understanding that there is a divine Goddess consort. For more information on the nature and teaching of a divine Heavenly Mother, her role, and understanding a more concise teaching, please read A Mother There by David L. Paulsen.
Divine Motherhood and A Woman’s specific gender role
When one views the Mormon teaching on motherhood and the specific gender role of women, one finds specific characteristic traits and attributes that define the calling of motherhood. Yet, LDS teaching on the divine calling of motherhood is not unique. Rachel Jankovich at Desiring God writes the following article: Motherhood is a Calling. She makes this initial observation:
Motherhood is not a hobby; it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.
Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another — and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.
This divine calling is taught as a partnership with God:
Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “Motherhood is the noblest and greatest of all callings.”While not all women have the opportunity to be a mother, God does entrust all women with the divine responsibility of mothering, nurturing, and guiding his children. You are not alone in this divine role. You are partnered with Him, our all-knowing and loving Heavenly Father.
President Thomas S. Monson has said, “May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”
Because of this eternal partnership, you are able to rely on Him when the challenges and joys of motherhood come your way. In one of his addresses, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared the humble words of a mother who completely understood her role and partnership with God. She told him, “Through the thick and the thin of this and through the occasional tears of it all I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that my motherhood is an eternal partnership with Him.”
This begs the question: How is motherhood a partnership with God as it relates to the nature of creation, love, sacrifice, service, and all true feminine attributes? Again, we see motherhood as an eternal and divine symbolism of an Eternal and Divine Heavenly Mother. Since Adam is the head of all of humanity, and through Adam, we bear the image and likeness of mortality and divinity; so also Eve stands at the head of all. This goes back to our initial duality of human nature. Adam created after the image of God, the Father. Eve, the Mother of all living beings created after the image and likeness of a divine Heavenly Mother. Together, they come into a unified representation of the Divine nature of Father and Motherhood through the marriage ceremony.
Adam and Eve, Symbolism of the divine and the Covenant Marriage of Heavenly Parents
Our modern translation of the Biblical text does not refer to Adam and Eve as being married. However, the implication is there. Roseann Benson makes this observation in her article – The Marriage of Adam and Eve: Ritual and Literary Elements:
Marriage between man and woman lies at the heart of Judeo-Christian family tradition, the roots of which are found in the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve. Ritual elements in the marriage of Adam and Eve point to its covenant nature. The following legendary depiction of the first marriage provides a starting point in discussing Adam and Eve’s marriage by illustrating several key elements.
Benson, further, expounds on the nature of how this covenant marriage operated in relation to the marriage of Adam and Eve:
In Genesis 2, the origin of man and woman’s kinship is declared as the physical body of Eve is created from the side of Adam (see Genesis 2:21–22). Although many commentators view the rib story as figurative, this imagery, whether read as literal or figurative, indicates that Adam and Eve had a very close relationship. Adam recognizes Eve as being like him in more than just a “general” sense. Unlike other creations of the animal kingdom that have arms and legs but also fur, scales, or some other sort of covering, woman has man’s same type of flesh and bones. Adam identifies this similarity when he said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Adam underscores their close origin by announcing, “She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). God’s creation of woman “out of man” emphasizes the couple’s similarity to each other and their uniqueness from his previous creations. Adam therefore rightly concludes that Eve had a closer relationship to him than did any other creation. Sealing their kinship, God places them both in the Garden of Eden as companions: God “gavest [her] to be with [him]” and, in the words of Adam, “commandest that she should remain with [him]” (Genesis 3:12; Moses 4:18).
The Hebrew verb נתן (nathan), “to give,” has the meaning of giving either chattel (property or slave) or a maiden. For example, in the following passage, Saul gives his oldest daughter Merab to Adriel “to wife,” indicating that the Hebrew verb nathan is often synonymous with marriage (see 1 Samuel 18:19). Thus the phrases “gave her to be with him” and “commanded that she should remain with him” indicate that God is marrying Adam to Eve and stipulating that their relationship is binding.
God’s command “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” and the narrator’s reference to “the man and his wife” (Genesis 2:24–25) further define Adam and Eve’s relationship. Jesus, in responding to questions from the Pharisees regarding divorce, reiterates this phrase and adds, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). When the Pharisees continue to press, Jesus teaches that God intended for this relationship to be binding; however, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8). Echoing the teachings of Jesus against divorce, the Apostle Paul states that the Lord commanded, “Let not the wife depart from her husband. . . . And let not the husband put away his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10–11). Throughout this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul establishes “a steady theme of loyalty to a married partner once that relationship is made.” The definition of the relationship between husband and wife is intended to be permanent.
Here, not only are we defining the nature of Adam and Eve’s specific gender roles as it relates to their own creation; we are defining their covenantal roles as husband and wife. Again, this appears to be the very reflection of God’s divine providence in creating humanity. Meaning, there is a definitive and eternal purpose in the creation of humanity. The very heart of what the writer at Biblical Gender Roles attempts to address. Not only are we defining their covenant as husband and wife, the Biblical text further defines their gender roles as it applies to covenants as Father and Mother in nature to their own offspring.
David Kyle Foster, at Focus on the Family, observes the following in an article – The Divine Order of Marriage:
And so we see from Genesis 1 and 2 that God created woman from the side of man so that the man would not be alone. From the teaching of the New Testament, saints have since discovered that He also created the Church from the side of the second Adam—Christ—for the same reason—for intimate fellowship.Back in the Genesis account, we note that the newly created Eve was Adam — his very flesh and bone, and for that reason, the Bible says, Adam called her woman, and, for that reason a man is to leave mother and father and be united to his wife to become one flesh (v24).
For what reason is man to marry a wife? Because woman was originally a constituent part of man, she must return to become one with him again, so that the full expression and design of God’s image in human beings can be revealed.This is evident with modern day revelation of the sacredness of marriage:
Marriage is sacred and was ordained of God from before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ affirmed the divine origins of marriage: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (see Matthew 19:4-5)
Not only do we understand the richness of our divine heritage, the marriage of Adam and Eve is symbolism of the eternal purpose of marriage as it relates to a divine Heavenly Parenting. Through Adam, we have the priestly authority and fatherhood of God. Through Eve, we have the divine attributes of Motherhood. Together, Adam and Eve became the representatives of Heavenly Parents. And, this is evident in the unifying of man and woman in their specific gender roles as Husband and Wife.
Today, Latter-day Saints attend temples for sacred and divine ordinances as it relates to the plan of salvation, eternal and celestial marriage, and associated with divine covenants. While modern Christians may scoff at such practices and rituals – there is no other sacred symbolism of such rituals as that contained in the New Testament and the parables centering around Marriage.
The most prominent is that of the parable of the virgins and the Ancient Jewish Wedding Ceremony. From the Bible Study Tools, we read the following introductory observation:
Although various sources describing the practice of Jewish marriage at the time of Christ differ in the details, there is general agreement concerning its major elements. Unlike Western marriage practices, the Jewish marriage has a greater degree of formalism involving numerous steps:
Jewish marriage included a number of steps: first, betrothal (which involved the prospective groom’s traveling from his father’s house to the home of the prospective bride, paying the purchase price, and thus establishing the marriage covenant); second, the groom’s returning to his father’s house (which meant remaining separate from his bride for 12 months, during which time he prepared the living accommodations for his wife in his father’s house); third, the groom’s coming for his bride at a time not known exactly to her; fourth, his return with her to the groom’s father’s house to consummate the marriage and to celebrate the wedding feast for the next seven days (during which the bride remained closeted in her bridal chamber).
When a person carefully studies the nature of the New Testament, one will come away from the deep enriching symbolism of Christ being the Bridegroom, the Church His Bride, and the culmination of the Wedding Ceremony (or Exaltation). This central theme appears to be conflated with various Christian doctrines and teachings. Despite this, many scholars of the New Testament, and many commentaries, reflect the nature of such a powerful analogy.
In his dissertation – Exegetical Analysis of the Parable of Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) – Gary H. Everett remarks:
The setting of the Parable of the Ten Virgins falls within the context of a traditional ancient Jewish wedding ceremony, which John MacArthur describes as “the most celebrated social event” in such cultures, involving the entire community. Only a limited knowledge of ancient oriental weddings exists through ancient writings, and such customs are believed to have varied from one geographical location to the next. Jeremias believes this passage is an accurate description of a traditional wedding of its day. Leon Morris gives a simple … description of an ancient Jewish wedding as best as can be sketched with existing scholarship. The ancient Jewish wedding was preceded by a lengthy period of betrothal, as seen in the narrative material of Joseph and Mary. This betrothal was binding and only dissolved by divorce proceedings. The wedding ceremony itself was preceded by a processional, where the bridegroom comes to take his bride, and together they make their way to the wedding feast. A description of an ancient Jewish processional can be found in 1 Maccabees 9:37-39, in which the bride, accompanied by a great processional, went out to meet the bridegroom and his friends at a prearranged location. … The wedding party made its way to the house of the bridegroom’s father or to a designated location where the wedding and the marriage feast were to take place.
While this is important to understand, the other aspect of the wedding ceremony is the nature of how the Bridegroom and Bride are referred to:
On their wedding day they are called the King and Queen. On this day, tradition says that they stand without spot or blemish as they are united. For two years or more (for us, 2000 years approximately since our Bridegroom went back to His Father’s house) the servant, represented for us by the Ruach ha Kodesh, works to prepare the Bride to perfection for her marriage to the perfect Bridegroom, Yahushua. From I Corinthians 1:4-9: “I thank Elohim always concerning you… that you are not lacking in any gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Master Yahushua Messiah…” I Thessalonians 5:23: “And the Elohim of peace Himself set you completely apart, and your entire spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Master Yahushua Messiah”. From Ephesians 5:25-27: “…Messiah also did love the assembly and gave Himself for it…in order to present it to Himself a splendid assembly, not having spot or wrinkle,…but that it might be set-apart and blameless”. The Bride has purified herself, and made herself set-apart unto Him alone!!
Furthermore, we also come to understand that the Husband and Wife abide forever:
After the marriage the Bride goes to live with her Bridegroom as the Queen of the Almighty Elohim and King of Israel. She remains with Him, by His side, for eternity. When Father comes, and brings His city down (Revelation 20-22), the Bride is found still with her Husband (Revelation 22:3-5).
The New Testament is clear that the Church (Bride) will forever abide with the Bridegroom (Christ). In this symbolism, we have the nature of a Celestial Marriage reflected between the relationship of the Church and Christ. This is based on a covenant made through Christ. And, what we draw from this is that Christ and the Church reflect the nature of Eternal Marriage as incorporated between the Husband and Wife. The Husband a King and Priest, the Wife as a Queen and Priestess after the order of the Divine Heavenly Council. Christ himself being the High Priest (after the symbolism of the High Priest of the Temple).
Therefore, the eternal and scriptural revelation of gender roles is specific to the nature and purpose of marriage between Husband and Wife.
This is because:
- Husband and Wife possess divine knowledge of Good and Evil (Behold the Man has become like one of us to know good and Evil Genesis 3:5)
- Husband and Wife are to maintain dominion – under divine priesthood authority (which is through the Man as God’s bearer of Priesthood dominance and Image Bearer).
- Husband and Wife are to participate in the creation of children (Go therefore and multiply and replenish the earth).
- Husband and Wife are created with divine meaning and purpose in their respective gender roles that are not only of a Divine nature and heritage – they become one in reflection of the image and likeness of Heavenly Parents within the divine concept of marriage.
This is consistent with a more appropriate understanding of scripture. It also provides a more sound and revelation with regard to the specific purpose of gender roles. Something other than that which Biblical Gender Roles defined in their article. Again, the attempt here is to provide the information and allow the reader to draw their own conclusion through proper research and mindful attention to specific scholarship and interpretation.
Whether one accepts the position of this writer, the reality is that what Biblical Gender Roles attempts to argue is a poor attempt in: (1) Defining Masculine and Feminine Gender Roles as it relates to the Nature of God the Father; (2) Grossly undermining the sacred gender role of women and their divine heritage and creation; (3) Misapplying the masculine and feminine attributes to a dyadic-concept of God; and (4) Failure to attend to and answer the posited question as to the nature of God, masculinity, femininity and the purpose of our human existence. This latter will be treated in the final part of the response to Why God’s Identification as Male Is the Key to Understanding Life’s Meaning