“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’…And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:26–31
Unfortunately, in an egalitarian age such as ours only complete symmetry between men and women is considered equality. Our cultural ideals set up as the highest good for a woman to be interchangeable with a man, as if the greatest thing for a woman to do is to attain to “manhood.” This is idolatry. This is a dishonoring of our being. Moreover, if we stop and think about it, this is simplistic and narrow. In light of the complexity and intricacies of human life and the world around us, this “ideal” takes away depth, uniqueness, and honor from a woman.
I have a picture of creation in which man was created on two axes simultaneously. On one axis man was created in the image and likeness of God—the Triune God. One another axis man was created as two distinct natures—male and female.
On one axis we see the symmetry between man and woman:
- Created in the image of the Triune God
- Created in the likeness of the Triune God
- Equal in dignity as humankind
- Equal in honor as humankind
- Man qua man is set apart from the animals and given the cultural mandate equally
On the other axis we see an asymmetry built-in (not socially constructed) between man and woman:
- Man created in two distinct natures—male and female
- The man was created before the woman (Genesis 2:7–25)
- Man and woman are fitted for each other and are not interchangeable or expendable
- Women can bear children and men cannot
Interestingly, the asymmetry of God’s decretive will toward the male and female in Genesis develops more after the Fall. Men and women are different in their fallen nature, hence the distinct curses:
- The woman’s curse is relationally bound and tied to her unique ability to bear children (“in pain/toil you shall bring forth children”)
- The man’s curse directly affects his work, the outward aspects of the cultural mandate (“in pain/toil you shall eat of it” i.e. the ground)
Other than in the area of submission and Ephesians 5 discussions, I would like to find a development of the role of the trinity in the creation of man. There are many questions we should be asking and answering: When God says “after our likeness” he is referring to the trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How is man qua man like the triune God? How is man as male like the triune God? How is man as female like the triune God? We can ask these questions and more to better understand how each sex is to image the triune God in this world.
Although when I was younger I had fallen to the idolatry of wanting to become like a man, contentment in my identity in Christ has lead me to contentment in being a woman. I like to encourage us not to fear the areas of asymmetry between men and women. We can glory in it, study it, and use it to better serve the God who built it into the uniqueness and beauty of his creation.
On the other hand, there is an existential state in which man and woman are completely and wholly equal. That is, at some core of our being, there is complete symmetry. Again, it is God who created this symmetry. This also we can glory in, seek to understand, and use to serve him.
When we reason in this way, we can break down those idols, and we see that the highest good/value for woman as woman is not to become as man. The highest good/value for woman is in actuality the same as it is for man: It is to be conformed to the image of Christ; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, with all the uniqueness and beauty she was given at creation. In this ultimate metaphysical sense, she is man’s complete equal.
Question: Does anyone know of a book that relates the trinity to the distinctness of our created nature? (I would appreciate any suggestions in the comment section)