A popular children’s rhyme says boys are made of “snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.” The poet and historian Robert Southey expresses a much higher opinion of girls: “sugar and spice and everything nice; that’s what little girls are made of.”
In truth, none of us are animals or angels (i.e., boys don’t have tails and girls don’t always act nice). God made us humans, and little has gone well in human relationships since our first ancestors disobeyed God. Scripture and history testify that we no longer live in Paradise (Romans 3:23). Conflicts are rife in our homes and communities. We have only to watch the news to see global violence and poverty affecting vulnerable people, usually women and children.
Evangelical feminists look to God’s word to make sense of what has gone wrong in human relationships affecting the world. Although the Bible does not explicitly refer to “feminism,” it speaks to justice issues that have bearing on present-day feminist concerns: What is true of God’s design and purposes for humans? How does sin play into human brokenness and wrong ways of treating others? What hope is there for change, healing and restoration? What is necessary, practically, as Christians pursue gender reconciliation?
To start, Christian feminists look to foundational truths about creation, the fall and redemption.
1. God designs females and males with equal dignity.
“Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26).
Male and female equally reflect God as unique persons; neither is superior. When we treat others with dignity, we value God’s image in them.
You and I have dignity because we bear God’s image as humans (Genesis 5:1-2). Male and female equally reflect God as unique persons; neither is superior. When we treat others with dignity, we value God’s image in them. Mistreating others is mishandling God’s masterpieces.
2. God assigns important work to all humans.
In one breath, God expresses mutual purposes for male and female: “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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
Although different physiologically, God intends male and female to complete each other in a unity; children are the fruit of a couple’s union. Scripture also points at important work of single people and those who do not have children (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). Jesus never married, after all.
Clearly, God’s assignments include a range of possibilities. The Hebrew words for subdue and have dominion point at taking care of, serving, guarding, watching over, preserving and caring for others and the world. When we honor each other’s unique callings, we build God’s realm.
3. God intends male and female to contribute their unique strengths to benefit each other and the world.
God orchestrated a parade of animals to show the first man he could not possibly do all the work alone (Genesis 2:19-20). He was half a community without someone to help.
In Created in God’s Image, Old Testament scholar Anthony Hoekema explains that the man couldn’t reflect the plurality of God alone. The description of the woman as “a help” is the same word used to describe God and military protectors and allies (19 out of 21 times in the Old Testament). God only declared humanity “very good” after completing the masterpiece. We do well to honor the strength of women working alongside men.
4. Humans are sinful, and Christians are called to fight injustices.
“Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: Rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression” (Isaiah 59:12,13).
The Old Testament traces what happens as a result of humans abandoning God’s purposes. To this day . . . Continue reading at RELEVANT . . .
Copyright © 2015, Amy R. Buckley.