In 2016 our church looked at what it meant to be biblically masculine and feminine in our series Theology of Sex. The following is a summary of the sermon, “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice?” [To listen to the sermon on biblical masculinity, click here. To read the blog post “What is Biblical Masculinity?” click here.]
When it comes to the topic of biblical masculinity and femininity, we see it first mentioned in the opening chapter of the Bible:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Before we move on, one thing to note is that both male and female are equally created in God’s image. There is no superiority/inferiority dichotomy. Both male and female are needed in order for God to accomplish His purposes on the Earth. To press this point further, the author continues in chapter two:
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone;
God’s calling for humanity to image Him by bringing human flourishing to the world. It’s impossible without men and women working together and complementing each other.
Throughout history, humanity developed this idea that women are inferior and should “know their role,” this is the opposite of a Biblical view. As a result, feminism rose up as a reaction against this obviously and painfully broken view because it should be rebelled against and rejected. All too often in this more progressive view, equal means identical; whereas, the Bible would say men and women are equal and different.
When it comes to defining biblical femininity, we absolutely need some common wording and understanding for what it biblically means to be a woman - this is what we are praying for, raising our daughters toward, and discipling our sisters in Christ toward.
3 Ways Women Image God to the World:
1. Empowering Strength
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
The word “helper” is a beautiful word that doesn’t translate very well. The Hebrew word is ezer and comes from two root words. One means “strength.” The other means “to rescue.” Put these two words together and you get a “strong rescuer” or “life-giving strength.” The Bible uses it 21 times, always in the context of rescue or support, 17 out of 21 times it’s talking about God. God calls Himself helper.
To be a helper means that your job in every circumstance is to come alongside people, to support them with strength that they don’t have to ultimately empower them. It means when you see a problem you step into it to help bring about a long term solution. It’s a mindset of, “I’m giving you temporary assistance with the goal of sending you out at the right time.” The goal isn’t long-term dependence.
“The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”
Something interesting happens in this verse. Eve has no children at this part in the story but Adam names her Eve “because she was the mother of all living.” Before she ever gets pregnant, there’s something about a Eve that has mother written on it, it has nothing to do with babies.
C.S. Lewis helps clarifies this when talking about his life after his mom died. He said he never felt a certain kind of security ever again, that he could never really go home again because mom was home.
Women, wherever you are, your presence is meant to make the people around you feel at home. Home, is where you are. Not a place. Not a house. Not a town you’re from. Home is where you are.
It has nothing to do with whether you’re married, have kids, whether you own or rent a place. It’s not about your personality type. This is where the misunderstandings start. There are thousands of different forms this can take. This is about being settled in your spirit - to know that you belong to Jesus. In a world where everyone is jockeying for status and attention, you have a Godward confidence in who you are so that others feel at home with you.
When you feel at home with God and you extend that same offer of refuge to others in need; that’s feminine and beautiful.
Beauty is an attribute of God. Scripture keeps calling us to look at God’s beauty, His radiance and majesty. Psalm 37:4 reads, "Delight yourself in the Lord." It’s here the Psalmist is essentially saying, "God, I want to gaze at you." There is something about God that is beautiful and captivating and entrancing.
Women, God embedded this aspect of Himself in you. Because God created you to be seen and delighted in, the Bible doesn’t crush your beauty but reinforces it in an insightful way. Here’s how Peter puts it:
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NASB)
“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
Adornment is the Greek word kosmos, literally “universe.” God created beauty in everything He made, from the arrangement of the stars down to petals of the flowers, all of it is God showing to the world, “This is who I am. Look at me. Behold my beauty!”
God, through Peter, promotes this pursuit of beauty in women, he calls it to be about your whole person and not just externals. He’s saying, you’re going to have a universe, a cosmos, a world you use to show to the world, “Here’s who I am. Look at me!” The only question is, “What are you showing to the world - your externals or your internals?”
In v. 4 when Peter describes the hidden internal woman with a gentle, quiet spirit, he’s absolutely not talking about a weak, insecure woman who never speaks her mind. He’s talking about a woman whose soul can be at rest in front of God her maker and the people around her. That’s beauty.
And the freedom of the gospel that steps into that space is that God makes you beautiful.
“For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.”
Women, this is what Jesus has done for you. He makes you lovely. He beautifies you with salvation.
You were made to be delighted in, as a whole person, knowing that you are already lovely because you are already loved by Jesus. So show your beauty. Show it in how you give strength to those in need. Show it in how you offer refuge to everyone you meet. Show how loved you are because Jesus has seen and known the worst things about you and how in Him He made you beautiful.