How Can Woman Be Made in the Image of a Male God?

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.

We don’t think so. As a matter of fact, we regard this as an extremely important issue. Indeed, your question takes us all the way back to the creation narrative: in the very first chapter of Genesis we are told that “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27; emphasis added). The implication is clear: the distinction between the sexes is not only basic to human nature, it’s also uniquely reflective of the divine. In some way we cannot fully grasp, it presents us with a visible picture of the unseen triune Creator. It’s basic to the meaning of the Image of God in man.

It’s crucial to add here that, 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. In other words, it wouldn’t be quite right to assert that you or I or Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, as individuals, are adequate to the task of giving the world a balanced, well-rounded, full-orbed picture of His nature and glory. Instead, each one of us is a piece in a huge mosaic, and the mosaic as a whole includes both masculine and feminine features.

Once we grasp this concept, we can begin to understand (among other things) why marriage is such an important biblical image of the believer’s relationship with God. This is true not only in the New Testament, where Paul says plainly that the “mystery” of marriage provides us with a picture of Christ’s union with the church (Ephesians 5:32), and where John compares the New Jerusalem to “a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2), but also throughout the Old Testament, where the language employed to describe God’s passionate love for His people is often not merely marital but even explicitly sexual in nature (see, for example, Ezekiel Chapter 16; Hosea Chapters 1-3; Isaiah 57:8-9; and, of course, Song of Solomon in its entirety).

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. As we’ve already attempted to explain, human beings reflect the Trinity in many ways, but there is no single human individual who is an exact image of God. Humans eat and drink, but this doesn’t imply that God has to ingest food and water in order to sustain His life. The same principle applies to many aspects of our specifically human maleness and femaleness. Men and women may be different in many important ways, but they are both created in the Image of God.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss your concerns at greater length with a member of our team, call our staff of pastoral counselors. They’d love to talk with you over the phone.


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