I am married. Of course, you might know this already from reading my profile. What might be more news to you is that I find it hard to remember my quality of life prior to marriage. Twenty-four years of my life went by before I was married and yet the part of life which I recall most easily is married life. Why? Because my wife is quality. Our life together is great – even when it’s stressful or strained. I think very highly of my wife and the immediacy and goodness of our life tends to outweigh the memories of life before marriage.
Of course, with three small children I might just be suffering from sleep deprivation…
What does the church think of women? What is, to use the title from an Alicia Keys song, “A Woman’s Worth?”
Modern culture struggles to define the value of women because of competing pressures:
- Sexual liberation reduces a woman’s value by allowing her only the choice of her sexuality.
- “Independent Women” struggle to add value to their lives apart from money and employment/social status.
- The pressure from some parts of Islam is to decrease the value of women in relation to men through polygamy and diminished property rights.
- Some Christian thought is to make women into independent units who possess functional equivalence with men.
Into all of this confusion and pressure, how does God speak? What should the church be saying? How can we build genuinely Christian Families if we do not have a good grasp on why women are valuable, what women are meant to be doing and how God intended for men and women to fit and work together?
Women are first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 1:26-28:
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. ””
There are a few things to point out from these verses. First, both male and female were created in the image of God. Neither of them, at the point of creation, was lesser or greater than the other. Second, both male and female were given the same twin mandate to be fruitful and to subdue the earth. This was intended to be a shared task.
In these few verses you can already begin to see a woman’s worth. She is created in the image of God. She is of inestimable value.
She is priceless.
You can also see a woman’s purpose: she participates, with other people, in God’s mandate to mankind to multiply and to rule.
When the Bible next mentions women, Eve was created from Adam’s side. She was created as a Helper for Adam. Of course, this word helper has some unhelpful connotations today. People today think of the helper as the junior partner. This is not what was intended.
Instead, Eve was meant to work alongside Adam to be with him in fulfilling all God required of them. Because of their common Creator, creation and purpose, men and women are intended to come together in the partnership of marriage and be inseparable.
What difference does all of this make? Leave the Garden of Eden for a moment and come to today. What do God and Christianity say about a woman’s worth?
- Genuine Christianity gives women value. Proverbs 31:10 says “A noble wife is worth far more than rubies.” Jesus allowed and encouraged women to follow Him. His first post-Resurrection appearance was to women. Why is His attitude so important? First, He is the Author and Perfecter of the Christian faith. If He cherished the role and value of women then Christians must do the same. Second, Jesus was very counter-cultural in His views. Women, at the time, were not viewed as the equals of men. Jesus elevated the role and value of women.
- Christianity gives women purpose. A biblical view of motherhood reveals the high value of a mother. There is this great picture of children as arrows in their parents’ quiver. Parents – especially mothers – have a crucial role to play in shaping the impact their children will have on the future. On the Cross, in the middle of saving the world, Jesus remembered His mother. However, women are not just mothers. They have the mandate to subdue the earth. So Christianity can say confidently to women, “Come on and rule the world. This is what you were created for.”
- Christianity gives women destiny. According to Jesus’ parable of the talents, we all keep watch for the return of Christ. At his return women will give an account of their rule on Earth. They could be receiving rewards from God for their work here and now. They could be joining God to rule with Him forever. That’s a destiny!
A solid Christian family will have a genuinely biblical view of women. Much, much more deserves to be said about this subject. Yes, the world and all of our relationships are distorted by sin. Yes, equality of value does not mean equivalence of function. These things could, and should, be explored more fully.
Still, we can welcome, encourage and cherish women as invaluable parts of God’s creation.