Jeff at Losing My Religion has posted several blog entries on "healing" the harm done to women by the church. I have noted where I think that Christian men have failed women and it has nothing to do with them not being allowed to be elders (see: Apologies to our sisters ). I took some umbrage at his latest post, The Two-Fold Image of God , where he argues that Genesis 1: 27 is not how we should view men and women today, that the gender roles we see in Scripture are the result of the fall but that those roles have been "redeemed" and that the "oppression" of women is a misinterpretation of Scripture. The result of this is that we need "healing" which equates to allowing women to serve in ways that are clearly forbidden by Scripture.
Here is the problem. Men and women are both created in the image of God. No one is arguing that. But man was created first from the dust of the ground and woman was created from man. This same relationship, as I pointed out in a comment, is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul references the creation order:
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (1Co 11:7-9)
Paul is not telling us that this relationship is undone by the cross. In fact Paul goes out of his way on a number of occasions, including and especially in 1 Cor 11: 2-15 to reiterate and reinforce that men and women are equally saved, equally image-bearers but have different and complementary roles in the church. Does that mean men are superior and women inferior? Of course not! Does that mean that men are more image-bearers than women? Of course not! Does it mean that God willfully and intentionally created man first and then woman and did so for a reason? Absolutely! This is important: Equality and role distinction are not mutually exclusive! You can be different/complementary and not be inferior/superior! Men and women can and are called differently, gifted differently and that is not only OK, it is glorious and the divine design of the Father. To question that is to question Him, to say to Him that you don't care for the way He designed the world. Ephesians 5: 22-32 spells out in plain language the roles of the genders and guess what? They have a hierarchy and they are different. Man is not complete without woman and woman is not complete without man. We are created to be gloriously different and dependent and complementary of one another. I thank God that He made my wife different than me! Where I am weak, she is strong. Where she is weak, I pray that I am strong. We are different but designed to complement one another, not by uniformity but indeed through our differences!
I understand that the world doesn't like this. I understand that we are tempted to question what God's Word says when we find it is not to our liking. I would however raise a serious admonition to be careful when we tinker with the Word of God to salve our sinful pride and to appease the world. The issue of gender is not a fringe teaching or a vague one. It is obvious and clear and frequently mentioned. I would encourage you to read this sermon by Ligon Duncan, Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: The Big Picture, who has a slightly different (and dare I say a more thorough and Scripturally sound) take on Genesis 1:27 and then visit Jeff's post and share some thoughts.