Let’s be honest: the feminist movement has left us in a bit of a conundrum. What started out as a claim to equality has evolved in sameness – where women don’t really have any distinction at all. Women are no longer defined by clothes, by motherhood, by domestic abilities, or even birth & DNA. Since culture’s definition keeps changing, we’re looking to God’s Word to discover what exactly it means to be a woman.
Genesis 1-2 teaches that woman was created in the image of God for the purpose of ruling. Just as the persons of the Triune God are equal & rule as one, so the man & woman were created equal to rule as one flesh. Woman’s only distinction is that she is uniquely designed to become one flesh with man in away that reflects God’s triune image. In the same way, man’s only distinction is that he can become one flesh with woman. However, sin soon enters the world and changes the woman’s status. Adam assumes the ruling responsibility & names the woman “Eve” – designating her in charge of child-bearing. The united image of God in them is now broken and replaced with an image of dominance.
But God promises hope! He promises an eventual Savior who will conquer sin and bring freedom. This Messiah will pave the way for God’s Spirit to come live in people. The Spirit will heal people’s brokenness, restore God’s image in them, & empower them to once again rule as God intended. At first, few people seem to have access to God’s Spirit. Deborah is one of the lucky few. As a married woman, God empowers Deborah to lead His people in every way possible: she leads spiritually as a prophetess, she leads politically as their judge, & she even leads their military! A handful of other women become respected as prophetic leaders, but mostly women are just dominated.Then the Son of God changes history. He becomes the human Jesus Christ. He dies innocently, paying the penalty for our sin. Jesus’ payment and victory over death paves the way for the unleashing of God’s Spirit. Days later on Pentecost, Peter declares that God has poured out His Spirit equally on men & women (Acts 2:17-18). Indeed, the result is amazing! While Deborah was the rare exception in the Old Testament, now many women begin leading. Lydia starts a house-church, Priscilla co-pastors with her husband, and Phoebe is a minister sent to the Roman church. Stephen’s daughters & many more women become prophets who are entrusted to speak the very words of God. Even more impressive is Junia, who holds the church’s highest rank of “apostle” and is complimented for being “outstanding” at it! Paul makes the bold declaration that Christ has torn down racial & gender barriers, “there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”(Galatians 3:26-29).
Now some will say, wait a minute. What about 1 Corinthians 11:3 that says, “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
Well, that original Greek word for ‘head’ is kephalé. It means “source of”. In English, we have only a few examples when the word ‘head’ means ‘source of’. For example, the head of a river is the river’s source, its origin point. The head of a fountain is the source that the fountain flows out of. You see, this verse in not about dominance. This verse is about origins, saying that Christ is the source of man (The Word was present at creation speaking things into existence); man is the source of woman (Eve came out of Adam); & God is the source of Christ (God overshadowed Mary when the Son was incarnated). All those confusing texts like 1 Corinthians 11 & 1 Corinthians 14 & 1 Timothy 2:11-15 actually uphold the equal status of women when you look at them in the original Greek language. Breaking down those verses could be a whole other blog series, but for now let’s return to our biblical definition of a woman.
In this broken world, a woman is someone who struggles with an unhealthy desire toward man, struggles with being dominated by man, but through the power of God can overcome this struggle. She can reclaim her place as an equal & fruitful ruler, made in the image of God, with the potential to be made one flesh with man.
I have seen that transformation in my own life. I’m extending this series for one more post, so I can share my own story of unhealthy desires, overcoming dominance & stepping up into my God-given identity as a woman.
What kind of havoc has relational brokenness caused in your life?
What does the hope that Christ brings mean to your understanding of relationships?