The incarnation, that amazing, incredible event in which the eternal God came to this earth as a human being, has its central purpose focused in [1] God’s final self-revelation in the person of Jesus Christ, and [2] the substitutionary death of Christ for the sinner, through which eternal salvation is obtained. In addition to these two primary foci the incarnation is significant and instructive in a wide range of other issues, including the issue under question. It is at these additional significances of the incarnation that we will look at in concepts six to eight of this paper.

CONCEPT SIX: THREE SIGNIFICANT AFFIRMATIONS

© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2015

‘Incarnation’ refers to the event that is recorded in the Gospels: that the Son of God became flesh and dwelt among us. This study is not a study on the incarnation, but a study of the implications of the fact of the incarnation for our perceptions of our identity as men and women.

A. THE FACT OF THE INCARNATION

The incarnation is affirmed in the following passages:

John 1:14
Philippians 2:6-8
Colossians 1:19
Colossians 2:9
1Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 2:14-17

As 1 Timothy 3:16 comments, this is a massive mystery: that God became a man.

Our question here is: what does the incarnation teach us about men and women and their respective being and roles? The answers are important because, as we will see, the Incarnation Factor, affirming the perspective of the Creation Factor, will protect us [1] from rejecting or being ashamed of, our physical gender, and [2] from feeling threatened or uncomfortable with our particular male or female role.

B. AFFIRMATION OF THE HUMAN BODY

B.1 The human body of Jesus Christ was a normal man’s body born from a normal woman’s body

He was conceived in, developed in and born from a normal woman’s body.

He was a ‘son’ of Mary, not an indefinable sexless being [Matthew 1:21-25]

He was circumcised on the eighth day [Luke 2:21]

Herod, seeking to kill Jesus, thought he would make sure by killing all the infant boys in Bethlehem [Matthew 3:16]

In keeping with the requirements for sacrifice [and Christ was to be the ultimate sacrifice] nothing deformed or imperfect could be offered as a sacrifice [Exodus 12:5 etc]

To qualify as our substitute and our high priest Jesus had to be of the same kind as us [Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16].

All of this teaches us that our physical identity – our maleness or our femaleness - are not in themselves sinful, destructive or divisive. In the incarnation of Jesus Christ a real male human body was the dwelling place of God, and became the vehicle of God’s redemption.

B.2 Jesus Christ neither pampered or punished his body
Through the centuries humans have embraced a variety of twisted ideas about the human body, but Jesus Christ, the perfect human, evidenced no such imbalance.

In Christ we find neither a rejection of the body, nor a focus on the body. He, the Holy One, lived comfortably in his human body, leaving us a precedent to follow.

C. AFFIRMATION OF INTERFERENCE IN THE EFFECTS OF THE CURSE

Another significant impact of the incarnation is this: that Jesus Christ in his earthly life deliberately interfered with and intervened in the effects of the curse of Genesis 3, in fact, that is what he came to do. This interference and intervention stands in stark contrast to the attitudes of

Fatalism – which perceives inequality, sickness, accidents, poverty, etc as the ‘will of God’, and does not encourage interference or intervention; and

Karma – the law of cause and effect by which every thought, word and action produces an inevitable outworking in a future life. One’s conduct in a past life has caused the conditions and circumstances of one’s present life. Interference or intervention in this effect will necessitate its outworking all over again in another life, because each person must suffer his own karma.

In the contexts of both of these non-interference mindsets women are considered and treated as less than men.

But Jesus pro-actively confronted and reversed the effects of the curse:

He healed the sick and suffering
He raised the dead
He forgave sin
He broke the power of Satan’s bondage
He liberated people from the heavy burdens of rules and regulations imposed by men
He gave people the gift of eternal life.

[His death and resurrection, by which he undid the ultimate impact of the curse, will feature in the Part 4 of this paper.]

And he tells us ‘follow me’, ‘learn from me’.

What does this mean in the man/woman question? In what way and to what extent does this confrontation and reversal of the Genesis 3 curse by Jesus Christ in his human life authorise us to actively work against and undo the effects of that curse in our perceptions of and attitudes towards the man/woman division that entered the world in Genesis 3? When we study ‘The Redemption Factor’ we will look at the huge significance of the cross for this question, but here we need to consider the following inconsistency:

The physical pain of childbirth is the result of the fall and the judgement of God on fallen women. We, both men and women, do all in our power to relieve women of this effect of the curse and the condemnation.

The burden and pain of man’s physical labour is the result of the fall and the judgement of God on fallen men. We, both men and women, do all in our power to relieve men of this effect of the curse and condemnation.

The burden of subservience of the woman and the man’s burden of ruling is the result of the fall and judgement of God on fallen women and fallen men. Yet we do not do all in our power to undo this effect of the curse and condemnation.  

The curse states: this is how life from Genesis 3 onwards will be.
The incarnation states (among other things): it’s okay, indeed it is right, to do something to relieve the impact and the suffering of the curse. It’s okay to interfere. It’s okay to intervene.

In fact, we are commanded to act with compassion towards each other as we see in the other the suffering caused by our corporate choice in Genesis 3 and by the sum total of our sinful choices ever since [Micah 6:8; Matthew 25:31-46]. We are expected to not leave our neighbour lying on the road in his suffering [Luke 10:25-37]. We are expected not to leave a man or a woman suffering under the curse that locked men into ruling and women into servility. We are expected to interfere and intervene when we see men suffering the curse of having to lead either demanding or cringing and servile fallen women; we are expected to interfere and intervene when we see women suffering discriminatory, debasing domination by fallen men.