This past year, with the hugely promoted transition of Bruce Jenner to Kaitlynn Jenner, I have been pondering, “Just what does it mean to be a woman?” Is it really just about a feeling, a glamorous makeover & big, fake breasts? I know that’s a crass over-simplification, but seriously, how do we define what a woman is today?
Culture’s definition keeps changing. The ancient Roman culture defined women as man’s property. Sadly, that’s still the definition in some places today. In the 1950s, our culture defined a woman by her domestic abilities. Later generations threw out those traditional gender roles, and defined women by their power –that they could do anything equally as well as men. Now, it seems our culture defines a woman just be her inner desire & her external appearance – which can easily change. And since we’re not all wives & mothers, how do we define what a woman is?
It’s times like these, that I choose to trust in the enduring truth of God’s Word. The Creator of women knows what a woman truly is! Now, to cover all of what God’s Word teaches about women in one blog is pretty much impossible…so I’m going to break this down into 4 blog posts. I’ll focus on Genesis, because all good theology starts in Genesis. It’s in Genesis we learn how God originally created things to be, before sin messed everything up.
Genesis 1:26-28 records why God creates man & woman…
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness,
Let’s pause right here & realize this is a reference to the Triune God. Genesis 1 records that God is present, the Spirit is present hovering over the waters, and John 1 records that the Son (also called The Word) is present in speaking things into existence. All three persons of the Godhead are present, and yet they are a unified one –they have only 1 image.“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Note that women are not included in the list of things to be ruled over! If God was only talking about making males in His image, he would’ve defaulted females in the list of created beings to rule over. But He doesn’t! Instead he says let us make aw-dawm’ (that’s the Hebrew word for mankind, humanity, all people) in our image so that they can rule over the animals & the rest of creation. Therefore, both men & women are created in the image of God for the purpose of ruling. This is our first clue to what it means to be a woman.
Now if you really want to debate whether God is referring to all humanity or just males, you just have to look at the very next verse. God goes above & beyond to clarify he’s talking about all humanity, men & women. Verse 27 “So God created mankind (aw-dawm’) in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
It goes on “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number (clearly he’s talking to Adam & Eve cause Adam can’t multiply by himself!); fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
So God first declares why he’s making humanity, then he makes humanity in his image, and then he commands the man & woman to fulfill their purpose: to rule. He also gives them another command: to multiply. So our biblical definition of a woman is expanded a bit here: Women are created in the image of God for the purpose of ruling, and multiplying. Of course, that definition also applies to men. In the next blog, we’ll dig a bit further to see how women are created different from men. But for now, it’s pretty cool to know women were created in the image of God to rule.
Do you tend to accept your responsibility to rule/lead or do you duck it? If so, why?