Since joining the Redbud Writer's Guild, I have found a tribe of women seeking to expand the feminine voice in our spheres of influence. Suzanne Burden is one of those women and the co-author of the newly released, "Reclaiming Eve." As I seek to design and shape my pre-teen daughter's "becoming" years, I enjoyed reading and learning from these women. It is with great pleasure that I share this Q&A with you today.
What has the story of Eve been and why does she need reclaiming?
There are two stories of Eve. One says she is man’s inferior assistant, easily deceived and dangerous. The other says she is primarily made in God’s own image, a strong power designed to partner with men to work in God’s Kingdom on earth. Unfortunately, the world and the Church have often parked their theology and practice with the first story. As a result, we have often taught and modeled that there is something lacking in women even since the early years of formal Christendom in the Roman Empire. This is deeply tragic, and it is why we must reclaim Eve.
After taking a closer look at the Creation account, we realized there was no truth in the claim that Eve was somehow subservient or less than Adam. For centuries, men taught that women could not think rationally but men can. This is absolutely untrue. In Genesis 1 and 2, God paints a stunningly beautiful portrait of male and female, made in his image, to love, serve and empower one another to reflect him on this earth. Sin and the fall were not the final word. The redemption of Jesus Christ restores the team God designed in the beginning.
Genesis says God created Eve to be a helper for Adam. What did you find when you looked into the meaning of “helper”?
I am sad that the English word “helper” is so inadequate to describe the Hebrew word God used when he introduced Eve. He called her an ezer. For centuries we’ve diminished Eve and painted her as inferior to Adam. But the word ezer calls our bluff. Tucked right into the Creation story, we see a word for God used 16 times in the Old Testament to describe how he comes through for his people in times of desperate need! God is our agent of rescue, a strong helper. And, according to God, so is Eve.
When we looked a little more deeply into what Old Testament experts have discovered, we were blown away, surprised and relieved. The word ezer connotes strength and power, so it would also be accurate to call Eve a “strong power.”
In chapter four, coauthor Carla Sunberg writes about the world being filled with wounded women. Do you believe the cause of gender-based violence (including the high incidence of abuse happening toward girls and women in the US) is related to what we believe about the role of women in the Church and home? And if so, how?
There is a global epidemic of mistreatment and violence against women, and it is happening in our homes, our backyards, even in our churches. Some of these women are sitting next to you in church—even closer. Maybe YOU are a victim of violence.
Christian leaders are called to speak out publicly, defending women and calling men to account for their brutalization. And although women are so often the ones experiencing the mistreatment, I believe they are also part of the solution. Get women involved by using their voice or exercising leadership at home, work and Church, and you will see justice rise up. Even better, get men and women engaged in this mission together, and the power unleashed will be amazing. As God’s imagebearers, we are his representatives for justice and righteousness.
What are some things women can do if they feel certain doors are closed to them?
It is essential that we find a way not to be discouraged in who God has called us to be. Please receive this encouragement: You are a female imagebearer of the living God. It pleased God to create you this way on purpose, and you play a valuable part in building His Kingdom on this earth.
For some of us, this may mean prayerfully seek out a church where we can fully use our voices and our gifts. For others, it’s finding a network of relationships where we are valued and appreciated, even if we are limited within our church context. But always we pray that our heavenly Father would give light to our path, that he would help us to process emotions of discouragement and find healing, and that when he calls us to step out and step up, we would do so with a mix of humility and boldness.
What is your greatest hope for every woman who reads this book?
To be set free. To know she was created on purpose to be a strong power and imagebearer in God’s Kingdom. Women are essential to God’s plan, and he delights in seeing us flourish.
“A woman’s biblical identity is broad enough to apply to the mother of five who homeschools her children, to the 15-year-old worshipping the Lord in the church praise band, the professional working woman, the full-time single missionary, and any woman who feels limited by her health or social status . . . what the real Eve of Eden teaches us is this: In God’s Kingdom, every woman—no matter her circumstance—can be reclaimed.” — Reclaiming Eve