Women in the Image of God–Embracing our Identity

As I prepared to teach at our church’s women’s retreat last week, I spent a lot of time journaling and talking with spiritual mentors and friends about this topic. Teaching always works in me the greatest education.  Thus, I have a plethora of notes, thoughts and experiences to share on this issue that God has really brought to the forefront of my thinking lately, and I wanted to share some of those thoughts here. So over the next few weeks I’ll be posting short essays as well as some bulleted points and verses about God’s perfect, personal design in creating us in His image. I will also share some biblical stories as examples of God’s relational design in each one of us.

Is God’s Image Reflected in our Gender Differences?

It’s a question worthy of some thought, simply because God’s Word clearly states, “In His image he created them, male and female, he created them…” This verse pointedly identifies both genders as being made in his image.  Furthermore, it is deserving of study because of how significant our differences are and how often these differences have been used to alienate, rather than unite.

While it has long been suggested that we bear his image by having a mind, emotions, and a will, or that we are three parts in having a body, soul and spirit, neither of these explanations satisfy the question of why gender distinction.

Was God merely providing a method of procreation for the human race? All the animals are equally divided into male and female with sometimes significant and instinctive role differences. The Empire penguins of Antarctica for example, have very singular and purposeful roles as mother and father. It takes a harmonious dance of tag-teaming for them to procreate, and then provide for their baby’s survival. God’s design in the animal world is astounding and awe-inspiring. If he was that creative in his plans for the animal kingdom, how much more beauty went into the pinnacle of his creation–those made in His image? No, gender roles for the purpose of pro-creation, while beautiful, still seems to fall short of explaining His image in us.

God said, (referring to Adam after he had named all the animals and found none that was a suitable companion)  “I will make a helper suitable for him.” He did not say, “I’ll provide a female so that they can bear children.” God’s intent was not limited to pro-creation, but reached to the heart of Adam as a relational being.    One of the most basic qualities of God’s perfect nature is that he is relational. We see him as tri-une (Three in one) relating to each part of himself in a beautiful dance of harmony even during the process of creation.  Throughout the history of man we equally see this relational aspect of God, both personally (individually) and also corporately. If God himself chose to make mankind in his image, then certainly relationship was part of the equation.

This I think is significant in answering our question: why gender? How is the image of God reflected different in man and woman?  Remember purpose statement God made before creating woman: ” Let’s make a helper suitable to him (Adam).”  In other words, God created the woman to be in relationship with the man. This suggests that as far as the relational quality of His image is reflected in humans it will be different in men than in women. Women are a compliment. Dare I say Adam was one-dimensional before God provided the reflection of the counterpart of His very nature’s relational qualities in Eve?

Adam, upon seeing the incredible gift of Eve, was smitten. (Don’t let anyone tell you Love at first sight is just a fairy tale! It’s right here in the Bible! 🙂  He says, “WOW! This is amazing! I’m so smitten by this woooo….man taken right out of man.” And God confirmed that his intended design was for man and woman to be joined together in “ONE FLESH.”–complimentary parts in one.
Thus it seems clear that the core of our design is a relational quality that draws us to one another and to God.

 


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