Male and Female – In His Image
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On that first morning, sweeter than a tree-ripened peach, more beautiful than a flowering valley, God felt a void. There amidst the verdure, the teeming animal life, the crystal, rushing water, something was missing. That something was us.

Image © Justinen Creative from GoodSalt.com

“And God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” Genesis 1:27.

God wanted more than beauty and perfection, more than artistic satisfaction. He longed for face time with beings He could understand—beings who could understand Him.

He craved us before He made us.

Allow this single fact to sink down into your soul: You were meant to be. Let this truth refute any doubts of your value. Step back from the pressures of family, society and church—pressures that sometimes reduce our value to our appearance, our performance, or our achievements—and let God whisper to you the message of Eden. “I made you in my image. I needed someone like me. You are the outflowing of a beautiful plan, put in place from the beginning of time. I have great dreams for you, but even before you fulfill them, I value you just for being a human, made in my image.”

With that awareness in place, let’s walk through the crowning act of the Genesis story and witness God’s artistry.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” Genesis 2:7.

God bent down to the loose dirt and sculpted a man—that word “formed” is yatsar and refers to squeezing something into shape like a potter. Noble head, broad chest, powerful arms, washboard abs, firm, strong legs and feet, all squared off and angled in that man-way. Then performing something like our CPR, God breathed into the man and his inanimate form hummed into life.

It’s okay to admit he was gorgeous. A hunk.

“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads,” Genesis 2:8-10.

The Bible says God made a garden for Adam, placing him in the midst. The ground pumped out fruit-laden trees, watered by a coursing river branching out into four heads, forming new rivers which swirled by lands enriched with clusters of gold and precious stones. “Dress and keep this garden,” God instructed His new man-child, who must have thrilled with pleasure at the prospect. All was beauty and delight. The cosmic King and his regent prince of earth, walked, talked, and laughed together those first hours in Eden.

And still, something was missing. That something was again, us. But this time I mean us women.

Pause again, please. Of men and women, women are overall more likely to doubt their value. Why? Perhaps it’s the delicacy of our emotions. Then again, perhaps it’s that men tend to acquire more compliments. Regardless, we must realize that God could have stopped the creation process with Adam. After all, Adam was amazing! But He wasn’t amazing enough. To fulfill His plan, to reveal His love, God needed more. He needed the second half of the human race, woman.

“It is not good that man should be alone,” God said, “I will make him a helper comparable to him,” Genesis 2:18.

Designed with unalterable bonding features, we suffer in isolation. And we thrive when in relationship. In particular, married men have better health, fewer addictions, and longer lives. God knew Eve would raise the quality of Adam’s life by leaps and bounds.

What does “helper” mean? The Hebrew word, ezer, evokes images of someone surrounding and protecting another. Ezer lies about as far linguistically from “doormat” as one can get. An ezer is really a kind of hero. God planned to make Adam a heroine-counterpart.

They’d be quite the power couple.

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman,” Genesis 2:21 and 22.

He took a rib; He made a woman. The rib provided the raw materials, and God’s own hand powered and guided the process of “making” the woman. The verb itself, banah, contrasts with Adam’s yatsar. Did you get that? The Bible uses a different verb to describe the creation of Adam and of Eve! Banah alludes to building, as in a house. The word “architecture” applies. God sculpted Adam, but architected Eve. Different formation processes mean different outcomes. God made us differently and we turned out differently. How about that?

The reason for this difference emerges when we sink our hearts into the fact that we were made, male and female, in God’s image, or tselem. Tselem means “represent.” Here’s a paraphrase of Genesis 1:27: “God created people to represent Him; to represent Him God created people; male and female were made.”

Let’s break this down into a simple equation: Male + female = A representation of God. Our differences blend to form a picture of God.

If two things together create a representation, subtracting one results in a misrepresentation. Think of the color purple, comprised of blue and red. Say you’d just been healed of blindness, and for the first time in your life you’d see purple. If I showed you blue, would that be sufficient to represent purple? No. How about red? No. Neither red nor blue would give you an adequate idea of the character of purple.

In the same way, neither male nor female alone give an adequate idea of the character of God. The electricity, the synergy, the mystical (and sometimes mystifying!) blending of the genders in marriage and in the church reveals God’s character of love.

Richard Davidson points out that in the original language, the creation of man at the beginning of the passage, and the creation of woman at the end, have the same number of words. Through this, he says, “The narrator underscores their equal importance.”[i]

Woman and man. Equal importance. I like the sound of that, how about you? Do most women want to be more important than men? I don’t. But less important? I don’t want that either.

Sinless and unselfish, Adam and Eve needed no hierarchy. Their relationship was one of utter horizontality. Author Ellen White comments: “She was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him.”[ii] Peter Lombard echoes: “Eve was not taken from the feet of Adam to be his slave, nor from his head to be his ruler, but from his side to be his beloved partner.”[iii]

True, Adam served as head of the human race, even in that unfallen state. Being the firstborn of all creation, he stood as humanity’s representative. Yet his headship didn’t equate to being the “boss” of Eve. Because they had no taint of selfishness, Adam and Eve moved together like a well-choreographed dance. No missteps, no tension. Just fluid, flawless love.

“. . .and He brought her to the man,” Genesis 2:22.

But even as equals, individuality needed protection. The Bible clearly says that God “brought” the woman to Adam. In this simple statement we see a fact implied: Eve connected to God before connecting to Adam. She enjoyed her vertical relationship before attempting a horizontal relationship. This speaks loudly to our need to put God first. Women so often get lost in their relationships, especially their marriages. We so often sacrifice that which should never be sacrificed—our integrity and God-given selfhood—to hang onto a relationship. Yet individuality and intimacy form a tension that must be balanced, lest both be lost. When we lose individuality, we lose intimacy, because a healthy bond requires two mature individuals. The secret of preserving individuality lies in staying connected to God, the Creator of our individuality. God knew this, so He set aside face time with Eve. And He wants that same face time with you, for He claims the first and best of your affections.

Imagine her. Beautiful beyond words, shapely, blushed, and bathed in light, shining hair framing a feminine face, Eve turns her newly created eyes to her Maker and adores Him. Then after untold hours, He whispers, “There’s someone I want you to meet . . .”

So for the first time, the two halves of a whole join together. Breath catching in their throats, hearts fluttering, they inspect each other’s different-but-similar bodies. Eyes, nose, mouth, arms, legs . . . but what’s this? You’re soft here and I’m firm. You’re round where I’m straight. Awe and comfort mingle. They fit each other in more ways than they know.

And God rejoices. His plan bursts to life, like springtime.


[i] Women in Ministry, p. 261

[ii] Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46

[iii] See Jewett, Paul. Man as Male and female. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 120.

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Male and Female – In His Image — 30 Comments

  1. I loved the part that God and Eve had a relationship before He brought her to Adam! so much heartache would be spared if we women understood that. Having being divorced I realized I put all my hopes into that one person when my main relationship should've been with God.

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    • LJ, Invariably when I present this material, women jump on that point like a piece of chocolate cake. Women have a tendency to lose their individuality to their men. Scripture and EGW teach vigorously against this.

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      • Is there a like button here, because this is an incredible insight that I had never seen till I read this! I'm definitely going to share this with my wife, she will love it! Really enjoyed reading your article.

        God bless and Happy Sabbath,

        Brandon Cain

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  2. Thank you Jennifer for the beautiful article. I stand in awe knowing what is been revealed to us of His true nature is just a glimpse of His love for us. As we continue in our relationship with Him, He will manifest enough of His love that will eclipse any doubts or negatives of Him. Thank you for sharing and God bless you with more inspirational thoughts.

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  3. Hi Jen,

    Such a great post. Loved all of it and the expressions you use to help us understand these concepts. Thanks so much and I am so glad you are writing for SSNET. I like to read these posts.
    Jane

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  4. Hey Jen,

    I realized you wouldn't know who I was because I don't list my last name. I wrote the most recent reply to you. I look forward to your posts. Jane Sirignano

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    • Hi Jane! Thanks for your comments. I'm thrilled to be posting on SSnet. It seems if we'd use Genesis 1-3 as an interpretive key for the rest of the Bible we'd be able to sort through all the confusing, conflicting ideas about gender roles. Sometimes SDAs look more like either hard-core feminists or, on the other extreme, hard-core patriarchy advocates than Bible students. The Scriptures and EGW are both more moderate on these issues that our polarities have become.

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  5. Jennifer, I see most of the replys to your post are from women. However, as a man, married for more that 30 years, I like the way you described how male & female make up God, like the color purple. Your description gives me an even better appreciation of the role of women in life. Thanks, Bro. Hamp.

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  6. It's amazing how God created us. It's making even more sense that in heaven we will never get enough of our Creator. This is such a blessing.

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  7. Great article, I like the emphasis on the Bible and EG 's writings. For us as members of this great congregation, let's emphasis on converted hearts, humble, full of wisdom etc. for both men and women in order for us to avoid the pains some of our members experience in their marriages.

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  8. Jen, I have not read an article or anything else in my life time to represent my Father, my God as you describe Him. I prayed so hard to God to give me one of His son. Yes, I know we all are His son's and daughter's, however, I made it known to Him that one of His son's that truly knows Him and had a relationship with Him. This article made me cry for better times in my life. God have touched you Jen an a special way to talk to me as a bride to be. I will never let any man come between me and my God. Also, I will cherish my husband to be but my Father will always be first. Thank you for such powerful insight of whom I belong to first and for most. All I can say is WOW~~~~ Your truly a woman of God.

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  9. What struck me was not only Eve's knowing God before Adam, but the statement "vertical before horizontal". If more of us established a relationship of friendship instead lust, a lot of problems would be avoided.

    Thank you, Jen for a very meaningful article.

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  10. Josephine Napoleon and others I praise God my article was able to scratch where you really itch. It came from the Holy Spirit's working on my heart, pressing me to answer questions about womankind and why we struggle the way we do. I'm trying to get all this in a book, so if you could contact Pacific Press and tell them you want to see it in a sharing book, that may help. Thanks again and let's keep digging in God's word.

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  11. Thank you very much for that beautiful and inspiring article...it's good to be reminded who is in control of our lives because too often we forget that's it is not about our husbands or wives. Thank you for reminding me.

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  12. Hi, Jennifer. We have had an interesting discussion about the image of God around these parts lately. Perhaps a new concept or perhaps not, but the proposal has been advanced that the image of God is not just a couple but a family. As the Godhead consists of Father, Spirit and Son, so mankind recreates that structure in father, mother and child. Some supporting concepts might be 1)Enoch was unable to be translated until he experienced the fullness of God's image by having a child, and 2)mankind was apparently created with the ability to reproduce.(Genesis 1:28) It was only pain of childbirth that came after the fall. (Genesis 3:16) While artists' renditions of the Garden of Eden show Adam and Eve, it appears God intended children to be a part of the picture as well.

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  13. Stephen Terry I just did a series on marriage and included a study on the Trinity--the original family. I brought out how in God's plan all dyadic relationships eventually become a triad. A relationship of two can potentially become selfish, but once there are three, one never knows if the love given will be given back or shared with another. So three is the testing grounds for agape. Even a mother's dyad with child must eventually open to include the child's friends and partner. God is always stretching us. Thanks for your comments. I'm essentially tracking with you I think.

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  14. Jennifer, there is a serious misrepresentation of the word of God made by your statement and I quote. "Pause again please. Of ....... Regardless, we must realise that God could have stopped the creation process with Adam. After all, Adam was amazing! BUT HE WASN'T AMAZING ENOUGH. To fulfil His plan to reveal His love, GOD NEEDED MORE. HE NEEDED THE SECOND HALF OF HUMAN RACE, WOMAN."

    To say representation of God wasn't complete without woman- is unscriptural. See 1 Cor. 11 : 3 Then 1 Cor. 11 : 7 "For a man .....forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8/. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9/. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." This passage highlights Gen. 2 where God specifically gave us a picture and understanding that Adam was made in the image of God, through his bone taken out of Adam as Adam said "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" V 24/. " .... they shall be one flesh" We have to be very careful how we paint the image of God because there are churches today who pray to Father/Mother God. God's gender is clearly male I say this not from my own view but from scripture. Please note (didn't God for know that Adam would need a partner? Gen. 2 : 18 God had this passage written for our instruction and understanding that we would not have wrong understanding of God's gender and character.) Yet in spite all the evidence we choose to see God our own way.

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    • Stefan, I'm also interested in your reading of Genesis.

      And then I also wonder whether you take context of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 11 literally, such as 1 Cor. 11:5-6, where he says that a woman who prays or prophesies should have her head covered because even nature tells us this. (1 Cor 11:13-16)

      And while in this chapter, he writes of women praying and prophesying in church, yet in 1 Cor 14:34-35, he writes that women are not to be permitted to speak in church!

      As Peter said, Paul truly wrote some things hard to understand, which some distort. (2 Peter 3:16)

      Most Bible students I know interpret Paul's writings in a way that does not make him contradict himself or the Genesis account.

      How do you read?

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  15. By now you should be getitng that ALL BELIEVERS are called to prophecy! And yet there are differences for the function/use of prophecy. What is the difference between a prophet, the function of prophecy, and the office of the Prophet? Why is it important that an emerging prophet remain in relationship/submission to an Apostle and a prophetic community? The difference between a prophet and the function of prophecy to me is intertwined. A prophet is someone who the Apostle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14:3, as one “,… who (prophesies) speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” A Prophet is one who gives and receives, a specific word of knowledge, or a word of revelation and, or has the discernment of spirits.In 1 Corinthians 13:2, the scripture encourages us to let “God’s Love” in us, be the basic foundation for using these gifts: ” 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” It further instructs us, yet once again to remember God’s Golden Rule to let love, love, love, be the reason we utilize this gift, but only in such a way that we honor our brothers and sisters in Christ, lifting them up with our words. Verses 8-13 are just as important in this instruction: “ 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. The office of the Prophet is someone who has been called out specifically like Paul, although he was an Apostle, as well. I agree with Gail, that “One called to the Office of Prophet has a greater measure and function of authority.” That is why it is important, that an emerging prophet remain in relationship/submission to an Apostle and a prophetic community, because they have the God given authority to lead whole congregations and the leadership of those churches to unity and empowerment, or to lead them tragically astray. As, I have learned, prophecy is not an airing of our own opinions, but in having the mindset of God. This requires a close relationship with the Lord, being a student of the scriptures and having open ears to hear the Lord’s instructions, as we develop in our calling.

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  16. When I wrote my first response I have not then, read your blog. I have responded to the section presented to some one. My concern is that by not studying creation in light given in Genesis 2 we will have wrong understanding of scripture. Quoted Genesis 1: 27 (male and female in the image of God) and on that statement hangs the whole presentation. Coming from Roman Catholic background I was taught to search scriptures and like Berean endeavoured to see if those things are so. My mentor said prove all teachings by the mouth of two or three witnesses. I agree Genesis 1:27 saying that humanity was made in the image of God, but How? Why? Who?; just a general statement. if we didn't have any other statements to the fact we could except the generalisation. But Genesis 1:26 says "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." almost the same as 27. To obtain the answer we must go to the section that gives us an account of God's creation. Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8/. And the LORD God planted a garden eastwards of Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." EGW in Redemption or Temptation of Christ p7. "Adam was crowned king in Eden. To him was given dominion over every living thing that God have created. The LORD blessed Adam and Eve with intelligence such as He has not given to any other creature. He made man rightful sovereign over all the works of His hands. Man made in the divine image, could contemplate and appreciate the glorious works of God in nature." Similar statements can be found in Confrontation 10.4; 16.1 Here Adam is addressed by (Satan) as monarch of this world. The Faith I Live By p 29.7 all support the fact that Adam was the son of God and made in the image of God and was given authority on earth.

    After naming all the subjects of the kingdom Adam noticed all creation had partners after their image, yet he stood alone Genesis 2: 18 "And God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." To say that God just woke up to the man's need would be simplistic. God does things in order so we will have a clear picture what took place at creation. So Adam was put to sleep. Genesis 2: 22 "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23/. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh; she shall be called a Woman, because she was taken out of a Man." It is here that Eve with Adam becomes 'image of God' also help meet for him and the other part of himself. The Faith I Live By p251.3 "God himself gave Adam a companion. He provided 'an help meet for Him' ... a helper corresponding to him... One who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from the rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of a man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self, showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation."

    Genesis 3:1-6 records the fall of humanity. Eve was deceived by the serpent and became an agent of Satan to ensnare Adam. Out of his love for Eve Adam joined Eve. Letter 22 Feb. 13, 1900 "The instant MAN accepted the temptations of Satan, and did the very things God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying, 'Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in the man's place. He shall have another chance." Genesis 3:7

    Sin causes the garment of righteousness to disappear, to compensate they make a apron of fig leaves (human answer to the problem). God's answer is in 21/. coats of skins first sacrifice for sin pointing to the lamb of God. With sin came surrender of equality 16/. "Unto the woman He (God) said I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." I know that some men have abused their authority in this regard, that is why I am simply stating the fact. But I must stress this command is given by God Himself. Why? Adam was not deceived but Eve was. Why am I so particular? because genderless view gives wrong understanding of creation account creating a problems in the church.

    My final evidence is Christ, if the (male- female) represents God then it wouldn't matter if Jesus was begotten daughter of God, but the bible is clear in the words of Jesus John 14: 8 ".....shew us the Father.... 9/. ..... he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;..." 1 Cor. 10:9 "Neither was the man created for a woman; but woman for the man." because of 13/.- 15 it said Paul is too hard to understand, but note he was taught by Gamaliel and produced an answer hinging on Genesis 3: 16.

    I would like to conclude with Psalm 8: 4 "What is a man, that thou art mindful of him? And son of a man that thou visitest him? 5/. For thou hast made him a little lower then the angels, and thou hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6/. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet;" PP p45 "Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance and character. Christ alone is the express image (Heb. 1: 3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions under control of reason. He was holy and happy bearing the image of God and in perfect obedience to His will." Again Patriarchs and Prophets p46 "Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be social being. Without companionship the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved."
    So genesis 1:27 without taking into account other scriptures we will be lead to the wrong conclusions.
    God Bless.
    Stefan

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  17. From reading these statements, I have become quite scared of the beliefs and conclusions many of you are drawing from little passages you read in the bible.. I was born and raised and christian however no longer practicing, and for me its clear that women are no equal to man. It's like getting a cat to do a dogs job. Take a step back and look from a logical sense.. God creates man in his own image.. does he not? then he creates a woman to be the mans "help".. Let's say you have a business... you're dying.., you want to choose someone who is most like you but since they're new to the big business world you hire them a partner.. You choose someone who can help, advance them, bring out the best in them.. But not someone who has equal rights as them.. Because that would cause disruption and utter chaos and therefore the downtide of your business.. Logical no?

    Eve was told of the sorrow and pain that must henceforth be her portion. And the Lord said, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." In the Creation God had made her the equal of Adam. Had they remained obedient to God— in harmony with His great law of love —they would ever have been in harmony with each other; but sin had brought discord, and now their union could be maintained and harmony preserved only by submission on the part of the one or the other. Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband. Had the principles joined in the law of God been cherished by the fallen race, this sentence, though growing out of the results of sin, would have proved a blessing to them; but man's abuse of the supremacy thus given him has too often rendered the lot of woman very bitter and made her life a burden. ( Patriarchs and Prophets , pp. 58, 59,)

    I dunno the "he shall rule over thee" seemed pretty clear cut to me.

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  18. It may help to think of equality in two ways: equality of value and equality of authority. Children are of equal value to parents, but not equal authority. God made man and woman of equal value and equal authority, but because of sin woman was submitted to man. She still had equal value, but no longer equal authority. Even then, God would like man and woman to be restored to their equal authority through servant leadership. I can give you proof for this if you like.

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  19. [Please use first and last name when commenting. Thank you.]

    Thank you so much for this post. For it helped me to understand some things better :). Again thank you.

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