Thursday, 15 May 2014


"Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead" (Song of Solomon 4:1)

Driving back from a neighbour's house in a misty drizzle, I see a woman by the side of the road. She is holding a huge blue and white umbrella over her frail form, her clothes are shapeless, layered for warmth. A scarf is wrapped around her head, her chin is tilted slightly, showing a bony jawline, a still and unsmiling mouth. There is nothing about her that attracts attention, yet something about her is arresting... She is: a woman.

There was Paradise... Utopian perfection in every sense. Adam has sweet and intimate contact with his Maker. The garden teems with life and explodes in all its newly created glory around them. A picture of untarnished bliss. Yet God looks around and notices that something is amiss. Man is lonely. This just staggers us. Adam has a relationship with God that all of us have only longed for - untouched by sin or shame. Yet something is not good? Let that sink in. What was missing? Woman. Femininity. God himself declares: "It is not good for the human to be alone, I shall make him a "sustainer beside him" (from the original Hebrew "ezer kenegdo"). How the Lord must have delighted when He brought her to Adam, in all her tender perfection and beauty, literally a match made in heaven.

I was given a book by a dear friend and sister on "Unveiling the mystery of a woman's soul" (Captivating - John and Stasi Eldredge). At first I was put off by the title  It did not sound very original, and quite frankly not very "scriptual". More than a little bit sceptical, I started reading. After the first chapter I felt less suspicious and more curious. Six or seven chapters later, I have been challenged, I have cried, I have been inspired. And compelled to share at least one part of it that has been quite a revelation to me. Most of what I write today is in some way inspired by what I have read so far and what I have confirmed for myself from the bible. I will quote a large section from the book, since I don't think I could relate it fully in my own words.

The picture of perfection is first marred when we see Eve being approached by the serpent in the garden, Adam by her side. Then follows that wicked deception, the fall into sin, the shame, the banishment and the consequences. All issues worth exploring, but for now there was this one question that kept on growing in my heart.

Why did the serpent target Eve? The explanation that Eve was the weaker sex, made sense to me to a certain extent, but I have never quite found it completely satisfying. Let me try to share with you what I have learnt and concluded. (This is not cast in stone - and may be flawed in some ways, but it is a start).

"The story of the treatment of woman down through the ages is not a noble history. It has noble moments in it, but taken as a whole, woman have endured what seems to be a special hatred ever since we left Eden. It was common for a Jewish man to add to his morning prayers, Thank you God, for not making me a Gentile, a woman or a slave... A Chinese proverb says that: A woman should be like water, she should take no form and have no voice... An Indian proverb says: "Educating a woman is like watering your neighbour's garden... a waste of time. But the story goes beyond the denial of education and legal rights. Clitoridectomy or circumcision - the horrible practise of female genital mutilation continues today and apart from maiming the young girl for life, she is never able to enjoy sexual pleasure; and that is the point. A sexually aware woman is thought to be dangerous. Femininity must be controlled. Sexual violence against woman is rampant throughout the world. Also against little girls. More than one million girls are sold into the sex trade every year. What is to account for the systemic, often brutal, nearly universal assault on femininity? Where does this come from?

This is a crucial point - "Do not make the mistake to believe that men are the enemy. Certainly man has had a hand in it, and will have (as woman) a day of reckoning before their Maker." But we cannot understand this story, our own story, until we start to see the actual forces behind this and get a understanding of their motives. Where does this hatred for woman come from? Why is it so diabolical?

Eph 6:12 reads: For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against the powers of darkness who rules this world, and against wicket spirits in the heavenly realms" (NLT).

"No explanation for the assault upon Eve and her daughters is sufficient unless it opens our eyes to the Prince of Darkness and his special hatred of femininity. Satan was first named Lucifer, or Son of the Morning. It infers glory, a brightness or radiance unique to him. In the days of his former glory he was appointed guardian angel". In Ezekiel 28:12-14 we read of him: You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings where made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones".

Perfect in beauty
... This was his ruin. He became proud. He craved the worship that was being given to God for himself. He wanted to be the centre of splendour and glory (Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour - Ezek 28:17).

"His heart for revenge is (partly) to assault beauty. He destroys it in the natural world wherever he can. He wreaks destruction on the glory of God on earth like a psychopath committed to destroying great works of art". Why does beauty matter? Because it is powerful. It is dangerous. It speaks. It comforts. Beauty inspires. It invites and most importantly: it is transcendent. Oxford Bishop Richard Harris wrote: "It is the beauty of the created order which gives an answer to our questionings about God". Ecclesiastes 3:11 "He has made everything beautiful in its time" Beauty says, "There is a glory calling to you".

Eve reflected the divine perfection. Hers was no artificial beauty. Face, features and form were the loveliest women have ever had. While the Bible has no description of Eve’s physical appearance, Adam’s first reaction as he saw the lovely figure before him was to give voice to earth’s first poem—

This, then, at last is bone of my bones,
and flesh of my own flesh:
This shall be called Wo-man,
From man she was taken.

What would have been Satan's reaction when he first beheld this woman that God created? He must have seethed with hatred towards what he saw, and he still does. A woman's heart longs to unveil beauty. It is part of her design. Beauty is an essence that is given to every woman at her creation. She also bears the image of God in her mystery. It is not a curse or a complexity which is often perceived as being "too much". Women are not a problem to be solved or avoided, but a wonder to be enjoyed. A woman true to God's heart reflects His glory, the mystery of the Trinity, His beauty. Can we now begin to understand why women are such a threat to the enemy?

But there is another reason: Eve means “life” or “life-giving,” or “mother of all who have life,” and her life is in us all. She was given the ability to conceive life, carry life under her heart as it is formed in that secret place by the Creator.  From her line came the young virgin maiden who carried our Saviour, who redeemed us and will return to slay the beast forever. Mothers nurture, not only physical life but the seed of faith and longing for Christ that is planted in each human soul.

As sustainer and bearer of life beside her husband, she knits and knots the fibres of her family together. With her beloved Saviour as her first love, she has the ability to discern that her husband by her side stands at the head of her house, not as the CEO but as the spiritual head who is called to love and cherish her as Christ loves his bride, the church. Together they stand as an example to the world of Jesus' relationship with his bride, his beloved. A wonderful, mind-boggling responsibility and privilege.

So this we know: Our Creator loves us passionately, Satan hates us passionately. He will continue trying to wound and cripple woman until until she is nothing but a "mosaic of choices for self protection plus her plan to get something of the love she was created for". But this has nothing to do with God. The wounds we receive, come  for a purpose from an enemy who knows all we are meant to be and fears us.

We fear to let go of whatever method for self-protection we have chosen and continue to pursue what makes us feel loved and cherished. But there is an offer worth considering. It's essence is captured in Isaiah 61:1-3 which I encourage you to read; slowly, carefully, out loud to yourself from your own bible.

"You are the glorious Image Bearer of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have been assaulted. You have fallen to your own resources. Your enemy has seized upon your wounds and your sins to pin your heart down. Now the Son of God has come to ransom you, and to heal your broken heart, and to set you free from bondage. He came for the brokenhearted captives".

He wants you to know:

The Lord will save them on that day
as the flock of His people
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown
How attractive and beautiful they will be! (Zech. 9:16-17a)

Strong, tender, gentle warrior - the enemy fears you. Your beauty, your mystery, all the glory of our Lord that you were created to reflect. Let Him help you find the restoration which you long for and which is central to Jesus' mission. Trust Him. Let Him take you by the hand now and lead you through your restoration and release!

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