In Focus on the Family’s article How Can Woman Be Made in the Image of a Male God? the following question is posed:
How is it possible for both men and women to be made in the Divine Image when the Bible speaks of God primarily in masculine terms? I’m wondering if all the talk I’ve been hearing about the biblical basis for equality between the sexes is just an attempt on the part of liberal theologians to “feminize” God.
Focus on the Family answers this question thus,
according to the language of Scripture, it takes both man and woman – or, to put it another way, mankind as a whole – to reflect God’s Image in a complete way.
How does this not make God out to be a bifurcated man/woman, masculine/feminine God? The writers at the same time attempt to reassure us that God is not bifurcated,
Although it’s true that God has revealed Himself in the Bible as a Father who has many masculine traits, this isn’t quite the same thing as saying that He is a “male” God in the style of Zeus, Apollo, or Hermes. If you have trouble grasping this, remember that while the Lord is a personal God, He is neither human nor sexual in nature. There’s an important sense in which “masculine” is not necessarily the same thing as “male” – at least not when we’re talking about God.
Those sentences reflect the writing of someone who has not fully thought this through. We are told that God is a “masculine person” but that “women bear his image” and He is “not human” (what about Jesus!?). The statement is so conflicting and confusing that it leaves the reader hopelessly forced to assume ambiguous, abstract meanings to the words, FATHER, MASCULINE, FEMININE, MAN, WOMAN, etc. There’s also the reality of the image of Jesus being the image of God which is completely left out of their discussion (Col 1:15).
Here, and in most other complementarian resources, we are told to assume that MAN/WOMAN reflect the the IMAGE of God while at the same time told to believe he is a FATHER and not a MOTHER. This is the doctrine we are taught: God’s image is both masculine and feminine. There is absolutely no sense in this. But we’ve lived a long time under a fear of straying from such a doctrine so as not to reap the repercussions of getting our heads cut off. It became taboo to even question this. And so truth becomes squandered by our submission to fear.
The idea that “everyone is made in his image” is old…
In the Epistle of Barnabas (not authentically written by the Apostle Barnabas) written in around 100 A.D. we read this:
There is yet this also, my brethren; if the Lord endured to suffer
for our souls, though He was Lord of the whole world, unto whom God
said from the foundation of the world, Let us make man after our
image and likeness, how then did He endure to suffer at the hand
Blindness came over the Church as soon as the Apostles left the building. It was never said anywhere, by Jesus, nor by the Apostles in the New Testament that everyone was made in God’s image. They spoke the opposite: that one must be made into the image of God (Rom. 8:29).
The New Creation Concept
Men and women are first animals, male and female. One must be born from above through Heaven after God’s kind (2 Pet. 1:4). Peter says they are a chosen kind or race. The race of heaven. This essentially means no one was made in God image until Christ made it possible. Christ is the first to be made in God’s image.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Col. 1:15 ESV
This means that the new woman in Christ is not made from that old Adam. In Christ she is free from that pile of dirt. That corrupted, wretched, passive, ugly man. In Christ there is no carnal adam and eve anymore. No more “male and female” animals scurrying around on all fours living by instinct. These ones are upright. They have wisdom. The old has passed, the new has come. That is the ultimate liberation of women, is it not?
But wait, there is yet another catch! Why did Paul say all that he did in 1 Corinthians 11 and give us all these instructions based on the male-female distinction, if women in the Lord are now free? Paul explains just four chapters later:
The first man was from the earth, a man of dirt; the second man is from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47)
Because she is now saved by the second man. A second man.
Later in Genesis 5:3 we read that Adam “fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” The Church has made a complete wreck of gender over the last 60 years by confounding the concrete ideas of image, likeness, and kind. In fact, the Church preached “gender-fluidity” in God long before it became a national idol as it is today. Whoops.
It is here that we embark on the doctrine of sonship where we see that men come face to face as in a mirror (2 Cor. 3:18 NASB, 1 Cor. 13:12) with the image of the second man, Jesus, and see what they are to become. Paul uses this unique word, mirror, in these two scriptures very specifically. In reference to this word, mirror, Ellicott’s Commentary says,
The word is not a common word, and St. Paul obviously had some special reason for choosing it, instead of the more familiar words, “seeing,” “beholding,” “gazing stedfastly;” and it is accordingly important to ascertain its meaning. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, 2 Cor. 3)
It’s important to understand why Paul chose the word “mirror” because when a woman looks at the face of Jesus she does not see a mirror image of herself. A saved man does. Jesus is the firstborn among many brothers, the sons of God (Matt 5:9, Rom. 8:19, Gal. 3:26, Phil. 2:9). He is not a woman.
And what image is the new woman made in as a daughter of God? If there is a second man is there not also a second woman? There is a proverb,
Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ (Ezekiel 16:44)
Here’s what it comes down to: daughters take after the form of their mother, and sons take after the form of their father. The proverb, “Like father, like son” is still as true today as it ever was. Jesus invokes this concept in depth in John 5:19-23. Read this verse without the capital letters applied:
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of himself, unless it is something he sees the father doing; for whatever the father does, these things the son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)
There are two fathers seeking out sons. One is the Father of Lights. The other is the Father of Lies. Jesus has a long conversation about these two fathers in John 8. The Father of Lies finds many, many males ripe for the picking and then turns them into sons of disobedience or worse.
Jesus also has something to say to women as daughters. Listen to this very closely:
But turning to them [women] Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23:28)
The term “daughters of Jerusalem” is a term found throughout the Old Testament and is allegorical of women believers. I didn’t come up with that interpretation. Jesus did. Later Paul gives us insight into allegorical Jerusalem:
But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (Galatians 4:26)
Like mother, like daughter.
Peter continues the proverbial truth as it relates to Sarah, the wife of Abraham,
as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you [women] are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:6)
Consider that Abraham and Sarah are allegorical of the believing—the new man and the new woman.
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)
This concept of image was defined for us in Genesis 5:3
When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3)
Notice, so far, how all of this theology follows very logical, simple to understand lines of reasoning. None of it conflicts or contradicts. None of this leaves you with subjective, abstract mush that ties your brain into a knot. It’s not confusing.
You may be wondering by this point how we are to explain Genesis 1 which (you thought) was unequivocally clear in the male and female both being made in God’s image. Well, looks look again, shall we? This time, lets really look.
Genesis 1:27 does not say the woman (or even man) is created in the image of God. Instead it says this,
So God created Adam in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
If you weren’t paying attention (most of us weren’t), you wouldn’t have noticed that it says very directly “him” which is the pronoun in the accusative singular. Not plural. Adam means two things the man Adam, and mankind. In this passage is referring prophetically to our Savior Adam, the Adam who is coming. (Rom. 5:14 YLT)
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. (1 Corinthians 11:7)
This refers to those in the Lord and is of those exclusively in the Lord. No man or woman is the glory of anything outside of Christ but themselves. What woman wouldn’t want to enjoin herself to one who is the “image and glory of God?” Be careful that you aren’t unequally yoked with the faithless…