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A girl with stories

Imago Dei and Gender Roles March 21, 2013

Filed under: Gender,Marriage — Amanda Lynn @ 9:37 pm

Imago Dei: Image of God

You and I both were created in God’s image.

So what does this mean?

It means that God chose us, humanity, to carry the attributes of His character that no other creation gets to carry.

We have a soul, an eternal purpose.

We have a free will.

We are relational beings.

We give and receive love.

We search for adventure.

We appreciate beauty.

The list goes on and on with all sorts of amazing and wonderful things.

If you’re like me, then you may have grown up in church culture where gender roles, as far as service outlets go, can leave women a little confined.

Guys, you go on and reach for the stars!

Ladies, feel free to teach our children to your hearts’ content and manage the fellowship dinners…but that’s all we’ve got for you.

And I’ll tell you what this isn’t, it’s not at all a knock on either of these ministries. They are both vital roles and I praise God for the women in my life who were faithful to teach me about the Bible week after week.  But what if you’re a young lady in the church who is not gifted in teaching children or if food service isn’t your fit? What do you do then?

Jesus challenged gender prejudice at its core when He directed so much of His ministry toward women.  In a Middle Eastern culture that considered women mere property, He healed women, defended women and listened to women. He chose to come into a sinful world through a woman. He talked about women as the heroins of his stories…{Luke 15, Luke 21 & one of my favorites Luke 18}. And Jesus trusted the women he knew to be the first to see/hear about his resurrection {John 20}.

Sometimes I wonder what Jesus would say about the traditional gender roles in church culture today.

I’m not big on defining a list of approved activities for girls because…https://mandolin10.wordpress.com/?s=the+f+word

So after praying and studying through this, I’d like to look at a few lies that I’ve wrestled with.

Lie #1.  A woman’s ultimate role in life is to serve a husband.

First of all, I want you ladies to know that I am not turning a blind eye to those wounds made by men who were not following Jesus’ example when I say that there is nothing Biblical in saying, “Who needs men? Let’s be independent women.

(Obviously,  Destiny’s Child is to blame http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lPQZni7I18)  🙂

But really, we NEED each other. We’re created in the image of a communal God. He has full fellowship within the Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit exit in the mystery of the trinity in perfect unity. And that means we, as the only aspect of His creation bearing His image, need each other. If it wasn’t suitable for man to be alone, then it stands to reason that it wasn’t suitable for our girl Eve to be alone either.

That said, it’s sad that some Christian men still view women from a selfish perspective.  This view is often promoted by reading about Eve’s creation in Genesis 2:18-25, where it says that Adam received a “helper.”   The Hebrew word used here usually is translated “companion,” denoting intimacy and partnership and is the same word used for the Holy Spirit. Not lesser, but different.

Lottie Moon, who has come to personify what it means to deny self and follow Christ, spent most of her life and eventually gave her life, as a missionary in China. Now, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has raised a total of $1.5 billion for missions since 1888…Yet she never married.  Did the fact that she did not have a husband make her less “complete” or less “effective”?
Following Jesus means taking the road that he leads us down, whether that be one of marriage or of singleness. Marital status is not a qualifier for ministry. The hundreds and hundreds of young ladies making their way around the globe to bring the name of Jesus to the nations will testify to that.  The highest calling for all of us as believers–married or unmarried–is to develop a relationship with Jesus.  Any other earthly relationship is secondary, and Jesus Himself warned us not to let the people we love become idols.

Lie #2.  Women are to obediently submit in ALL situations.

We use Scripture to justify this: “Wives…submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord” {Eph. 5:22}.

As a single lady, I consulted with some married folks whom I love for this one.

The first couple has been married for 28 years. The second couple has been married for 53 years.

Both couples love Jesus and know him as Savior.

They were asked how Ephesians 5:22 has influenced the longevity of their marriages.

The answer I got was a little laughter from both couples. “Honey,” said the 71 year old women, “he knows better than to tell me when to submit.”

Her husband followed suit laughing and said, “That’s right. We’ve found that chapter 4 of Ephesians into verse 21 of 5 has been more what we needed to hear…do you know it?”

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Eph 4:31- 5:2 & 20-21

“Submitting to one another” was what they found helpful.

I’d never really examined those verses in light of marriage.

The couple who has been married for 28 years are my parents and I’ve heard them argue, but I’ve never once heard my dad say, “I am the head of this house! What I say goes.”   Rather, I see my mom trusting and following his lead because she already respects him. Dad always says that “it’s the man who has to tell you all about his position of power the most who is the least secure in it.”

Lie #3.  A woman is not able to uncover spiritual truth without a man

This idea may have come from an interpretation of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “the head of woman is man”.  People have used these words to support the idea that women cannot approach God’s truth directly without a male authority figure in their lives.

I have had the privilege of sitting under and currently am under, the teaching of some very godly, very gifted men who love the Lord, His word and His Church. And I LOVE that husbands are to love their wives by guiding them to Jesus.

However, we as women, have no reason to sit idly by and let the men handle the study of God’s word.

We are co-heirs and would be doing a great disservice to the men in our lives by waiting on them to spoon feed us some edifying truth.

We have just as much a responsibility to pray for him and to encourage him in the truth as he does to us. We are called to serve one another and thank God we are under the same grace. Your brother in Christ didn’t receive a fuller measure of faith than you did upon salvation. Boys don’t get an extra measure faith or forgiveness. Of course not!

Since there is “no male or female” in Christ {Gal. 3:28}, women can pray, worship, study the Bible or minister without a man present.  How silly to think that a man, because of his gender, could add credibility to prayer or Spirit-empowered ministry! Believing this would be trusting in the flesh. Although, I will take every opportunity to have my guy friends pray for our meal and I’ll jump at the chance to collaborate with brothers in Christ on a ministry project…together as co-heirs, fellow adopted sons and daughters.

Enough with the lies.

How about some truths now, yeah?

1. The Bible is all about some women in leadership roles.

Paul was thankful for the women who served with him as co-laborers—women like Phoebe {Rom. 16:1-2}, Junia {Rom. 16:7} and Priscilla, who helped to lay the foundations in the early church {1 Cor. 16:19}.  In Phil. 4:2-3, Paul expresses unity with two women leaders, Euodia and Syntyche. And he refers to other women who led in churches, such as Chloe {1 Cor. 1:11} and Nympha {Col. 4:15}, and he doesn’t try to silence or restrict them. Also, why is it that the book of the Bible famous for its wisdom urges men to find a wife of godly character? Why is that important if that women is to have no influence or leadership in the home? Hmmm….

So if this is all true, what do we do with  1 Tim. 2:12. The obvious question is: Why did Paul tell Timothy to clamp down on the women in Ephesus when he allowed Priscilla to teach? The most sensible interpretation is that the Ephesian women were teaching heresy. Women who were subversive to the ways of Jesus were to be quiet, but Paul encouraged faithful women. (Side note, this verse is so ingrained in me that I still get nervous when a female member of the congregation gives a hearty, out loud “Amen!” during a sermon. She’s not being quiet!)

2. Women’s gifts and perspectives are needed.

God created both male and female in His image, and His nature is revealed through both genders {Gen. 1:26-28}. This is why the biblical definition of a family is a father and a mother. If a child needs both parents to learn the ways of God {Prov. 1:8-9}, then surely we need instruction from both men and women as a church.

3. We can’t address women’s problems without empowering women to address them.

Take a look at the world today and you will see millions of girls and women suffering because of sex trafficking, forced child marriage, domestic violence, eating disorders, and denial of education. What might happen if we opened the door wider to encourage women in their spiritual gifts? Do women hold a key to solving these problems? No, but the Spirit of God working in and through our Imago Dei attributes sure does have a lot to offer. I believe we could see social change on an unimaginable scale if we debunk the gender limitations in ministry.


4. Influential women don’t hinder men, they help them.

God made women with specific giftings that are not found in men while some of our gifts are just like the ones He gave our guy friends. He gave men and women discernment, relational insight, a propensity to love deeply and appreciate beauty, gifts of mercy and compassion, and leadership abilities. Strong men are not intimidated by gifted women. And strong, gifted women who love Jesus would never try to compete with men or undermine men. Instead, we honor our Father by honoring each other.

We are all called to be co-heirs in God’s kingdom.

Let’s embrace biblical gender roles and value each other as image bearers and in doing so, we usher in the Kingdom.

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