Last week we wrestled with culture’s changing definition of womanhood, and asked, “Just what does it mean to be a woman?” We looked at Genesis 1 and discovered that woman is created in the image of God to rule. Of course, so is man. So this week we’re looking at Genesis chapter 2 to see how the genders are distinctly different. In Genesis 2, we’re given more detail about the creation of humanity. For example, we find out that God creates the male first. What can we deduce from this?
Some people say since man was created first, he is superior to woman. Well, the monkey was created before the man, so does that mean monkeys are superior to men? Some say since woman was made out of man, man is superior since he was the original substance. Well, man was made out of dust, so does that mean dust is superior to man? The logic here doesn’t hold up.
The only thing we can deduce from male being created first is what God deduced: “It is not good!” So far, God had declared everything he’s made good. But then God makes man & declares it is “not good.” Why? Because man’s alone. Why is it not good that the man’s alone? Because he’s supposed to be made in the image of the triune God! And he can’t reflect the image of the triune God when he’s alone. So God makes a helper for him, so he won’t be alone & he can be in the image of the triune God. “That is why a man leaves his father & mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24This whole idea of marriage – of a man & woman becoming one flesh together – is meant to be a reflective image of how the triune God exists. Distinct persons who are so united in love that they are a unified one.
Man cannot achieve this unity that reflects God’s image by himself, nor with another man. Woman cannot achieve this unity that reflects God’s image by herself, nor with another woman. Only a man and woman together can achieve a spiritual, supernaturally-made union that reflects the image of the triune God.
So now we have the complete original definition of a woman: Woman, & only woman has the potential to become one flesh with man so together they may reflect God’s image & rule and be fruitful. By the way, the definition for man is very similar: Man, & only man has the potential to become one flesh with woman so together they may reflect God’s image & rule and be fruitful.
Note that everything in the creation account points to woman’s equality with man. Let’s start with verse 18, “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper (ezer) suitable for him.” The Hebrew word for helper here is ezer. Ezer occurs 21 times in Scripture & always denotes a strong, necessary & usually rescuing sort of help. Ezer often refers to God as our helper. For example, Psalm 33:20 says “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help (ezer) and our shield.” Now because God is called our helper, does that mean God is somehow subordinate? No, of course not! Obviously, help can come from a superior being (God), an equal being (spouse) or a lower being (animal). Since Eve is created from Adam’s side, this signifies that she is an equal helper.
Adam instantly recognizes the woman’s equality, & he says, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Literally, he is looking at her & saying ‘she is made of the same stuff as me!’ “She shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Gen. 2:23) The Hebrew word for man in this verse is “ish” & the word for woman is “ishshah,” which literally means “man-ess” or “from man”. It is the most equal sounding thing that the man can call her & still distinguish between the two of them.
So there is absolutely nothing in the whole creation account to suggest that women is inferior or subordinate to the men. Everything points to their equality, and how they need one another to achieve the kind of one-flesh God image they are created for.
Of course, shortly after this sin enters the world & everything gets messed up. In the next blog, we’ll discuss how sin impacted the woman’s ability to lead, and how we deal with it today.
Note that in God’s original design, there are no limitations, defined roles, or distinctions on how the man must rule versus how the woman must rule.
What sort of limitations and defined roles have you assigned to a woman’s ability to rule/lead?
What sort of limitations and defined roles have you assigned to a man’s ability to rule/lead?