A Theology of Woman from Genesis 1-2: Reflecting God’s Image, Bringing Companionship, and Helping Her Husband

By | May 2, 2024
This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series A Theology of Woman

This blog series is adapted from Sunday School lessons I wrote several years ago for women and teen girls. The goal was to form a “theology of woman” by looking chronologically at all of the major portions of Scripture regarding women and womanhood. What does the Bible say are the roles, duties, challenges, and opportunities that we have as women?

Many men and women have argued about the equality of and distinctions between genders. Some have oppressed women with the idea that man is superior to woman in every way. On the other extreme are feminists who claim that there are virtually no distinctions between male and female.

12 years ago, when I first wrote these lessons, I read an article in a parenting magazine that reported a mother who wanted her children to have more genderless thinking. She refused to push her children towards gender-specific toys. In a more extreme case, I read about a couple in Canada who were trying to raise a genderless baby. Today, these stories are commonplace and hardly even notable in the world’s eyes—unless of course you are refusing to be “pronoun hospitable.”

The above stories, in reality, illustrate rebellion against God’s created order and the gender-specific roles that He has ordained. The Bible clearly claims that men and women are equal yet distinct at the same time. Men and women share equal worth but maintain distinct roles.

God created men and women with similar obligations.

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 said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Genesis 1:26-29, ESV)

Men and women alike are to imitate God.

Men and women were created equally in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 states that God made mankind in His image; verse 28 follows it up by specifying that both man and woman were made in God’s image. Man and woman were made from the mold of their Maker. They were created to resemble their Creator, unlike any other created being.  Thus, they also share in the same goal—to be like their Creator.

The word image comes from the Hebrew tselem, which means basically “to carve” or “to cut.” The word likeness comes from the Hebrew demuth, which means “to be like.” Both men and women are to reflect our Sculptor, who sculpted us in his likeness.

Men and women alike are to procreate.

In Genesis 1:28, God commands man and woman to be fruitful and multiply. Men and women are responsible to fill the earth with children, who are also made in the image of God. In this “creation” of more image-bearers, we reflect our Creator as well.

Women are especially associated with this command, since they actually physically bear children. Genesis 3:20 states that “the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (emphasis added).

Men and women alike are to dominate.

The word subdue in Genesis 1:28 is the Hebrew kabash, which means “to bring something into bondage, to make it serve you by force, to dominate it.” The word rule comes from the the Hebrew rada, meaning “to govern something, to reign or hold sway over it.”

Mankind is to be diligent in the responsibilities God has given us: domination over creation. We are to be good stewards of the resources and responsibilities God has given us. God gives this command to “them,” both man and woman. As God called all of creation into existence, we who are made in God’s image are to rule over that creation.

God created men and women with certain distinctions.

Just as surely as there are similarities between man and woman, God clearly shows us that there are also distinctions.  These distinctions are God-ordained and intended for our good.

Men and women were created physically distinct.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, ESV)

Quite simply and clearly, God states that he created them as male and female. God ordained that there be physical differences between a male and a female. In a world that too often refuses to recognize gender differences, it is absolutely necessary to recognize that God not only recognizes the differences, but he also created the differences.

The first man and woman were created in a distinct order and method.

Man was created first out of the ground (Gen 2:7). The woman was created after and from the man.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23, ESV)

 The woman was created to be man’s companion and helper.      

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:18-20, ESV)

The woman was created for the purpose of helping man and bringing him companionship. Although women do not have a monopoly in the helping arena, this is a specific role that the woman herself has been called to by God. The woman helps the man. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines help as “to give assistance or support to (someone) to provide (someone) with something that is useful or necessary in achieving an end.”

What were the responsibilities that the woman was created to help her fellow image-bearer accomplish? She was to help him fulfill his/their God-ordained tasks. Be fruitful. Multiply. Fill the earth. Subdue it. Have dominion over creation (cf. Genesis 1:28).

Helping and companionship are a good thing.

After God created Adam and the rest of creation, he saw that “it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).  God, however, saw something that was not good. It was not good that man was alone. As Adam named all the animals that were brought to them, he noticed that the animals were paired up. He also finally realized that there was not a “helper fit for him.” So, God decided to make one.

Helping is within a framework of equality.

The woman was created to be a helper fit for him. Unlike all the animals, the woman was the only one suitable for Adam. She was his equal in essence (i.e., created in God’s image) but not in function/role.

When God brought the woman to the man, the man literally broke out in poetry: At last! Someone like me!

This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

because she was taken out of Man (Genesis 2:23).

Helping is a task that God does as well.

In case anyone feels that being a helper is a miniscule, subservient task, she should be encouraged that God is called a help multiple times in Scripture (cf. Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:26, 29; Psalm 33:20; 70:5; 115: 9-11; 146:5; Hosea 13:9).

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2, ESV)

It should encourage our hearts to see the God of the universe helping us. We imitate God when we help others, specifically our husbands in the context of marriage.

In the history of the world and for many in the present, it has not been and is not easy to be a woman. As we will see in Genesis 3, this dysfunction between the genders is a by-product of sin. Women have often responded either by thinking of themselves as inferior to men or by clawing their way to the top to prove themselves superior.

But from woman’s very creation, she was made—along with man—in God’s image for the purpose of reflecting him. This is a glorious and humbling responsibility! This reflection includes the companionship and help we women give to our husbands, and this too is part of God’s divine plan for women. We help the men in our lives accomplish whatever God has called them to do, as God also helps us accomplish what he has called us to do.

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