Dorothy Littell Greco has spent the past thirty-three years following Jesus. In addition to trying to become more like the One she loves, Dorothy works as a photographer, writer, and pastor. She and her husband have three sons, and as of August 2014, one daughter-in-law. You can find more of Dorothy’s work on her website or by following her on twitter (@dorothygreco) or on facebook.
If ezer, the Hebrew word used to describe Eve, literally means strong rescuer, being a mother and being an ezer have often felt mutually exclusive. Changing diapers, settling sibling arguments, teaching my sons to read are all important but definitely not on par with the adventures of Joan of Arc or Tolkien’s Éowyn. One could argue that the activities which have dominated my days have actually disqualified me for the job description laid out in Genesis. Or have they?
Carolyn Custis James writes in Ruth, “The Bible’s consistent usage of ezer within a military content has led to the conclusion that God created the woman to be a warrior alongside the man in advancing God’s kingdom throughout the earth.” I’ve never fired a gun or drawn a sword but I assure you, I mother like a warrior.
Our eldest son recently got married at the tender age of twenty. The wedding itself was a glorious celebration of God’s faithfulness and provision. My son’s bride is every bit his match. She is smart, passionate, devoted to God, and fiercely loves our son. At the reception, Anthony stood up and gave the following testimony:
“A lot of who I am today is not just because of homeschooling but because of the attention and love that I got on a daily basis. The ways that I can get along with others, the ways that I can perform well academically, the ways that I can love and respect Kate, most of them stem from [my mom’s] parenting and leadership.”
(In case you were wondering, yes, I was crying.)
Anthony is a substantial young man. He is disciplined and missional. He cares about weighty issues such as racism, sexism, and poverty. He hopes to leverage any of his privilege to bring God’s kingdom to the earth. If I take Anthony at his word, I had a hand in this.
This was no accident. My husband and I have made some radical parenting choices, including ten years of homeschooling. Our goal was quite simple: teach our kids to love to learn and incarnate Christianity in our home. How we learned and the level of care, compassion, and love we demonstrated toward one another was significantly more important that what we learned.
We made this choice in part because we had seen one too many Christian families who appeared shiny and perfect on Sunday morning but whose lives failed to reflect Jesus Monday through Saturday. We believed for more. We believed for a faith that would transform us, that would free us from our besetting sins, and allow us to actually become more like Christ.
With this in mind, the boys’ schooling was not confined to grammar, history, and math. Theology, the works and words of Jesus, how our faith might impact larger social issues were all fair game. One of the specific topics I sensed God wanted me to explore with my three sons was the disparity between how the world valued women and how God valued women. We read and repeatedly returned to the creation story:
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
If men and women were both created in the image of God, then as Reclaiming Eve states, “both men and women have the capacity to reflect God equally.” Despite the patriarchy, the concubines, the generations of misogyny that are portrayed in the Bible—all of which are impossible to skip over—I always assumed that if our goal is to be reconcilers and to bring God’s kingdom to earth, part of my job description is to help us get back to the garden. In this specific case, to teach my sons how to treat women as co-heirs and then expect them to live out that reality.
I remember one particular morning at the local playground. Before he understood how to embody leadership, Anthony was quite bossy. The six-year-old girl he was trying to coerce into playing the game his way was having none of it. She said no emphatically and Anthony did not back down. I pulled him aside and with way too much heat said, “When a girl says no, you stop what you are doing. Immediately. Do you understand?” I was not simply protecting that befuddled girl with the ponytails at the playground. I was looking ahead and contending for his future wife.
In all of this intentional parenting, it never occurred to me that I was “disrupting the created order” by teaching my sons how to honor women. (This charge was leveled at me during a radio interview last year.) I thought I was helping to restore the created order and bring God’s kingdom to earth in the process.
Custis James writes in When Life and Beliefs Collide, “God’s calling for women applies to all of us from the cradle to the grave, whether we are single or married, divorced or widowed, childless or moms, infirm or able bodied. . . . The strong helper isn’t a role a woman puts on like a white veil as she heads down the aisle to the altar. It is a lifetime calling for all of us.”
Rather than disqualify me from fulfilling my role as an ezer, mothering provided me with a sacred opportunity to step into this god-given role—and work toward reclaiming Eve in the process. As my son would attest, this has been a win-win for all of us.
 “Ezer is a Hebrew, military word most often used in the Bible to describe God as Israel’s helper.” (Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth, p. 211)