Independently Dependent

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After reading this post last week on our role as women, it inspired me to share what I’ve learned through my studies about the roles of men and women under God. This is also a good way to lead into the next couple guest posts on marriage. While I’m not married, I’ve been taking Biblical studies classes and have been learning so many new characteristics about God, myself and His plans for my life! I’d like to share them with you now and over email if you have more questions.

I have always been an independent girl. I am a leader. I am self-assured. I am confident in my abilities. Up until recently, I never thought I would need a husband. This was mostly out of selfish reasons. A marriage consists of sacrifice, submission and being accountable to someone else. I did not think I could do that, depend on another person, and I heard what the world has to say about women submitting to men. Although God does not call everyone to marriage, the majority of people do get married and I want to really look at what my role as a wife will look like in the future.

Through studying scripture, I have learned that mankind consists of two separate sexes each with distinct roles. The roles men and women may not be easy to follow since we are sinful but we are called to help each other to advance God’s kingdom in our specific roles. We are independently dependent on each other.

Genesis really stresses the importance of men and women being created in God’s likeness and image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (1:27 ESV). Both sexes were made equally in God’s image.

The Hebrew root of the Latin phrase for image of God is imago Dei which means image, shadow or likeness of God. So we are a direct image of God. This puts us in a higher order in creation because we were made to be like God with His characteristics within us.

Author Nevada Barr reflected on this, saying, “It was a number of years of crashing and burning before I made the discovery that I was not God. Finally I realized that though I was not God, I was of God.” 
We are a snapshot of God and we are His sons and daughters. Each of us is imprinted with unique godly characteristics and gifts. We need to realize our godlike capacities, not so that we become God, but so that we may better reflect God.

Men and women are made equal in spirituality and importance, but they have different roles in function and relationships. The equality is highlighted in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are all equal in God’s eyes and loved all the same. There is no room for men to overpower women or vice versa, as the world has made it repeatedly clear in history and today. 

The world has pointed fingers at Christianity for making women submit, making them smaller. When really the world degrades women in such a sexual way in today’s world. 
God exalts women, calling us to follow Him through submission. “This voluntary submission of one equal to another is an expression of love for God and a desire to follow His design as revealed in His Word. It is never pictured as demeaning or in any way diminishing the wife’s equality” ( 
God-fearing women will want to submit to men out of reverence for the order of creation and out of love for our brothers in Christ. “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). Therefore, men have direct authority from God and women gain authority from men. 
Ever since I was little I was told I did not need a man and I could do anything I wanted to do myself. It made me into a great dreamer, but it also made me more independent. 
This quote really put into words my thoughts on my generation of women and our view on the need to fill all roles, “We are a generation of young women who were told we could do anything and instead heard that we had to be everything” (Courtney E. Martin). 
Independence is not a bad thing, but it needs to be balanced. Men are that balance for women, and women the helper of man (1 Corinthians 11:9). We complete the roles that the other is not able to fill, so women do not need to be everything and men do not have to do everything. “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). We are dependent on each other in our relationship whether in marriage or the Church. Men and women each have unique, independent, and vital roles that can be used to further the kingdom.

Women are held to a high standard in the Bible and in the Church playing unique roles in the world. Jesus had several women disciples which was radical at the time (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus treated women with respect and trust (John 4:25-6, Matthew 9:20-2). He also defended women (John 8:4-11). Jesus lifted up women who were thought of as slaves in that time, he walked alongside them, and he led them to be virtuous. We have a unique role in the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) because women are able to bear and nurture children and are called to raise godly children (Proverbs 31:27-8). Women are a vital part in church ministry alongside men as it references to in Acts 5:14, “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.”

Men are able to protect and lead their family in a way reflecting Christ. Paul directly addresses this relationship saying, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Ephesians 5:23). That is a hard model to live up to; men are called to love their wife even if that means giving up their life for her. They are to honor and serve their wife in a godly way (1 Peter 3:7). A husband must provide protection, provision and strength to his wife. Men have a distinct role to reflect God’s authority and Christ’s sacrifice.

We are mutually dependent on each other, as a body of Christ, for the building up of the church and the furthering of the Kingdom.

Since we are sinful, these roles can be over stepped and consequences come about because of that. The original sin in the Fall was the result of Eve being too independent and Adam’s lack of leadership, disobeying God. This was the first example of the sin that can happen in a relationship between a man and woman when not dependent on each other.

“God is telling us from the very beginning that the first thing that sin does is to destroy this marital covenant that God established when He first made us. In His own image and likeness He made us to be… Fruitful and multiply… So the Book of Genesis just plays out like a tragic horror story” (Scott Hahn).

I have often looked at the book of Genesis as a tale to tell us how sin came into the world and a lesson on the necessity of obeying God. Hahn brought up how the original sin destroyed the authority in Adam and Eve’s relationship and evolved into this awful horror story of our sin. Sin is ugly. Sin is ever present in the world. Sin is a destroyer of men and women who need to depend on each other for the furthering of the kingdom. The results of the Fall have direct effects on marriage today. In addition to painful childbirth, women have a desire to rule over their husband (Genesis 3:16). This makes sense to my independent tended self. I know that in marriage I will really have to work on not being dominant over my husband.

Knowing that I am equally made in God’s image to be man’s helper, submitting to him will help me to further the Kingdom. I need to independently believe in God as my Husband and Redeemer (Isaiah 54:5). I need to find my worth in Him before looking to any man. I need to remember when I am married one day to depend on man as my protector, leader and provider. I need to remember to submit to His authority and to remind him of his authority from God. Together we’ll need to acknowledge our Spirit-given gifts that we can use in the Church and in the world. We will be able to fulfill the roles that are uniquely ours to complete each other, becoming one in Christ Through these things we will be able to independently depend on each other to furthering the kingdom.