Does God look like a man or a woman? Is God a male chauvinist? Did He make women second-class human beings? Whose idea was sex anyway? This article addresses these questions directly.
According to the theology of many, sex in the Garden is equated with the "fall of man"! Sin in Eden is the indictment of our protoparents for understanding carnal knowledge. Following this theology, woman becomes the bane of man, the cause of his downfall, the thorn in his side. This theory goes on to indicate that Adam was created first with Eve sort of thrown in as an afterthought! With theology like that, no wonder we have the traditional "battle of the sexes"! But is that what the Bible really says and teaches? On the other hand, some of the fem-libists of today would have us believe that God is the Mother of us all. One of the leaders of the movement, when asked how her relationship with God was, quipped: "She and I have a very fine relationship!"
The Likeness of God
The seeking of equality doesn't really require the put-down of one to raise up the other, but rather a balanced understanding of the way things really are. Let's cheat a little, read the Book, and find out the plain truth about women (and men) — in God's eyes. "In the image of God... male and female created he them." So says the record of the book of Genesis (1:27). Therefore "in the image of God" does not demand one sex or the other. Each is equally "in the image of God." To be male doesn't make one more in the likeness of God than to be female — each equally reflects God. Let's reason a little. If male and female are equally "in the image of God," then what is that image? It must be what both male and female share in common. Two arms, two legs, a human body shape, a head with two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth — and, most important of all, a mind! Not just a brain — A MIND! Ten toes and an equal number of fingers just about round out the complement. Color of skin is not a factor, any more than color of eyes, hair or the bottoms of the feet. A different arrangement of hair, length, texture or degree of curl alters not one whit the basic "image." But what about those embarrassing differences? What about sex? Male reproductive organs are outrageously different from female. Women develop, to different degrees, mammary glands on the chest that remain dormant (but obviously there) on the man. Hair grows on most men's faces, while on most women's it does not. Fat, muscle and bone are arranged in slightly differing patterns in the male and female. But do any of these differences make one "in the image of God" and the other not? No! The generally easily recognizable differences between the sexes are physically caused by minute chemical differences. Modern science has helped us understand how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we are, as David noted in awe in Psalm 139:14. There is a great deal of female in every male, and vice versa. Subtle changes in hormone makeup produce overt changes in outward appearance and striking differences in the internal workings of the body. Tiny differences in chemical formulas, preprogrammed at conception when each individual destined to be "in the image of God" begins its existence as a single cell, demand time-released alterations in the bodily construction that ultimately produce the delightful differences that make us man or woman. Neither chemical change makes us more or less "in the image of God"; neither change makes for superior or inferior. All changes only accent the uniqueness of God's image: mankind! All changes only make possible the reproduction of God's image in infinite variety for a possibility of unending generations. All changes provide for absolute compatibility, demand interdependence, produce a strong desire for the opposite sex.
Along Came Eve
God says the difference of sex is "very good." "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good"! (Gen. 1:31.) In the detailed record of what God made on that sixth day of creation, preserved for us in Genesis 2, God explains to Adam: " It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." "Meet" is an old English word meaning "suitable, fit, proper." The whole flavor of the word "meet" is to fit, join, combine; agree, be in union, be together. Only antagonism of spirit and mind cause a "meeting" to have the spark of hostility. God created, out of the ground before Adam, the land animals and the birds — each of which was obviously not "meet" for Adam, and it was still "not good," because Adam was still "alone." This exercise also made it clear for all time that one made in the image of God should not cohabit with one not made in the image of God. Then came Eve! God didn't permit Adam to see Eve being created. He put Adam into a deep sleep, made him unconscious, while He performed a most loving and thoughtful predesigned act of creation. Beginning with a part of Adam himself — flesh, bone and blood — God "built" the first woman. I'm sure you've heard the expression "well-built woman." Well, believe it or not, that is the precise term the Bible uses.
Built for a Purpose
When Adam was created, God began with a clump of clay, dirt, earth. And the word in Hebrew used for the verb "formed" is the common' word for the shaping and molding of pottery. But the Hebrew verb used in reference to God's creation of Eve is different. Unfortunately, the translators of the King James Version ignored the difference and used the commonplace and unspecific, as well as unimaginative, word "made" to refer to the Lord God's act of finishing half of His creation of mankind "in his image." God inspired the word "built" — or "builded" as the margin of your Bible may indicate. The same word is used to refer to the building of houses, temples, cities. Surely, from the hand of God Himself, Eve must have been the best — "built" woman! But more important than the interest or humor involved in this word "built" is the overall meaning. You do not "build" by mistake. You conceive, plan, blueprint, calculate and finally produce the finished product of something you build. Things are built for a purpose. Reason and forethought are integral and necessary elements of building. Building doesn't just happen. Woman was the deliberately designed climax of creation, the purposeful finishing touch, the last half, fifty percent of the creation of the "image of God." When Adam was revived and presented with this crowning achievement of God's creation, he was in no way disappointed. "Now this is just right; she is just like me!" Adam happily declared. Who knows — maybe he said, "Wow!" At any rate, what we are told he did say is most important.
Earlier called on to name other creations of God, Adam had an immediate name for what Eve obviously was. Not her given name, Eve, but what KIND of creature she was. Hebrew is simpler than English, and more plainly explains exactly what a woman is: ish is Hebrew for man. Adam said, "Now here is bone exactly like my bone, and flesh exactly like my flesh; because she was built from what was taken from me, I will call her isha: a female man"! (Gen. 2:23, paraphrased.) Adam merely added a single letter to the word which stood for himself to define the quality of difference: sex. And God confirmed Adam's understanding that they were both exactly alike despite the obvious outward differences: "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name ADAM, in the day when they were created" (Gen. 5:1-2). To both God and Adam, it was one creation "in the image of God." Ish. Isha. Male. Female. Both Adam. Both mankind. Both "in the image of God"! "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good"! Still no evil in Eden. Nothing bad yet allowed — and one more good thing happened before any record of evil is entered. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25). Once the physical creation was complete, what more joyous occasion could there be than a wedding? The very first social ceremony of newly created mankind was the one which united them as one flesh. No inequality even considered. No superiority, inferiority alluded to. No hint of second-class creation. And above all, no sin. God "blessed" this union of Ish and Isha, this one creation He called Adam. God discreetly withdrew after the ceremony of wedding (which means joining together) and not only allowed, but encouraged, the consummation of that marriage with a direct command. Before God said that everything He had created was very good, we are told His instruction to that first pair of newlyweds: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth"! Now, you know, and I know, and Adam knew, and Eve knew, and God knew that there is no way you can "multiply" and "be fruitful" without engaging in sexual intercourse. This, God made possible by the very design of His creation. This, God commanded to be performed. This, God blessed — AND THIS WAS "VERY GOOD"! And in addition to that, God knew ahead of time, Adam and Eve quickly found out, and you and I now know, that obedience to this command of God is a great enjoyment!
Subtle Serpent on the Scene
So, the perfect pair, Adam and Eve, were off to a perfect start in wedded bliss, naked, unashamed, blessed by their Creator — all was well.... Until Satan, the Snake, showed up. In about as much time as it takes to tell, he convinced our first parents to partake of the only tree in the Garden that God had commanded them not to touch. That meal changed their attitudes, their outlook, their feelings about the blessings God had showered on them. The blessing and beauty of sex the way God intended — husband and wife, naked and unashamed, bound to each other as one flesh — soured into a feeling of guilt. They hid themselves from God, ashamed. Satan had convinced them that good was evil and evil good, turned their world upside down, made a mockery of what God intended for them. Deceit and lying entered the world. Death followed. Our parents had dishonored their only parent, God, stolen the one thing not belonging to them, lusted, believed Satan's lies, bought human nature wholesale from the manufacturer! (See Ezekiel 28:15 and John 8:44.) The curses reaped caused the inequities between the sexes so prominent since. Life became a burden and a struggle. The beauty and equality of the Garden disappeared. Strife, guilt, shame and pain took over — Satan's way held sway. But it doesn't have to be that way for you and me. James gives the simple formula by which to return to the innocence and open freedom for an unlimited future first offered in Eden. The gift of life is still available; no need to slave for the wages of sin: death. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:7-8). Satan hates sex. He besmirches it with evil of every sort. He makes it seem sinful in every way, perverts it, glorifies its denegation. From one extreme to the other the devil broadcasts his hate: The best state of human beings is celibacy (God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone"); adultery and lusting after your neighbor's wife is encouraged by every artifice (God said, "Husbands, love your wives" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery"); sodomy and bestiality are nurtured as natural (God said, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself there — with"). Satan says, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4) if you taste of these fruits of rebellion against the Creator God. God says in Genesis 2:17: "Thou shalt surely die." Whom do you believe? Adam and Eve believed Satan — and so has each generation since. Except for individuals who answered the call of God and came to understand His gift of truth and freedom, who entered into life from death, who shed their guilt in genuine repentance and a change of heart and spirit. Satan the devil has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). Deceived it in every aspect: religious, moral, governmental, even physically. Concepts and ideas practiced for the centuries since Eden, which put women into the typical stereotypes which so many of them abhor today, are the result of this deception, along with so much else that is wrong with the world. It was not God's intent that such inequality should exist, nor does He consider woman one whit inferior to man.
There are differences, to be sure. Thank God that there are differences! But it is an all-too-common case of bad judgment to automatically decide that if something is different from something else it must be either superior or inferior. Sadly, that is just the human practice (inspired and goaded by that old Serpent) in so many areas. Race, nationality and sex are prime misjudgments. The races (or, more accurately, the colors) mankind is by variety divided into are carefully classified (depending on the race or color) as to inferiority or superiority. The same with nationalities. In each of the former categories there is room for many strata. With sex there are only two (we will not, at this time, discuss the opinion of some that there are three). Hence, one must be inferior, and the other superior. Simple — AND WRONG — reasoning. Each living human being is different from every other. Differences do not make for an inferior or superior individual; they only make for a different individual. Women can have babies; men can't. That's a difference. Men generally have a stronger musculature than women — that's a difference. Neither attribute changes either from being a human being made in the image of God: That's equality! If differences make for strengths, they should be amplified; if they make for weaknesses, they should be controlled. Trying to prove equality by playing the other fellow's game is not wise or logical, does not make sense — and proves nothing. It is not necessary for women to become better (or as good as) men truck drivers, ditch diggers and warriors for them to prove their equality. It is not necessary (nor possible) for men to bear children and give suck to them to prove equality with women.
Many will argue with one of the main precepts this nation of the United States is founded upon: " All men are born equal." They point out the differences of wealth, social status, physical or mental strengths, and they argue inequality. This is the old apples-and-oranges trick: disallowed. Where, then, does the equality lie? In human potential. Every member of the human race, male and female alike, was created by God to become His son or daughter — a member of His own family. "Ye shall be my sons and daughters," says God (II Cor. 6:18). We are all "heirs together of the grace of life" (I Pet. 3:7). Each of us has a mind, the spirit in man(kind), to which God joins His own Holy Spirit and enables us all to call Him Father (Rom. 8:15-16). Each of us can partake of His divine nature (II Pet. 1:4). Each life is judged by the same God, granted the same forgiveness by the same God, has the same blood of the same Christ applied, is welcomed into the same family. Each is given the same law of love to govern life, the same spiritual rules and regulations. Lust, envy, malice and hate do not recognize any difference of sex. Love, patience, mercy and joy do not recognize any difference of sex. Character is a quality of Spirit equally available to either sex. Competition, strife and openness to Satan's deception know no sexual bounds. Life, love and the peace of God are equally available to everyone. Equality is nothing you have to prove: You were created that way. It is God's will to grant eternal equality in His Kingdom to men and women alike — it makes no difference to God whether you are male or female; why should it make a difference to you? But there are differences. How can you make the best of unique qualities granted by a just God for the purpose of gaining equality with God? What are the biblical examples of the women of God? And how can you apply them to make you a better human being, closer to the image God intended? There are many examples in the Bible, and some surprising detail plainly given. These will be discussed in next month's issue of The Plain Truth.