Editor’s Note: The Bible is full of difficult stories: stories of violence, pain, abandonment, and injustice. Many of those stories are stories of women who bear the brunt of that pain. It often seems that God only loves and avenges men. Is this really true? Does God care more about men than women? Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez respond to this questions in Episode 27 of the Core Christianity Radio Show.
Image of God=Male+Female
Well, it isn't the case that God loves women less than men, especially when you compare with pagan views of women; the Bible's totally different in this regard. First, look at the fact that in creation, God said: “it is not good for the man to be alone.” Women didn't have that position in the ancient world outside of Israel. Women were like property in the ancient world, but not in the Bible. Here in Genesis 1, Adam is considered incomplete without Eve. No other creature could suffice until God created Eve—not from Adam’s feet, mind you, but from his side. The story emphasizes the point in Genesis 1:26-27, “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 everything else on Earth. God created man in his own image, “in the image of God he created them, male and female, he created them.” Notice here, man made in the image of God equals male and female.
Then in the very next verse, “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.’” Eve was given that rule right along with Adam. She was an equal human being.
She's equally created in the image of God, and even in the account of the Fall in Genesis 3, her role is pretty important. She's right in the middle of all the action. In fact, she's not the first person responsible for succumbing to temptation. We read in Genesis 3:6, “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her” [emphasis added]. We often skip over that, but it's significant: Adam was with her the whole time she was being tempted by Satan, and he didn't make a sound.
After the fall, God promises that the Messiah will come from the seed of the woman. The Bible shows, again and again, God cares for women. Even Hagar: he lifted her up and cared for her, even when he sent her out of the family of Abraham with Ishmael in Genesis 21. He promised her that her son would be the father of a large nation.
Examples of God’s Love for Women
God continually shows his intention and his love for women in many of the stories. Tamar in Genesis 38; Rahab—look at her great role. In fact, she is even mentioned in the lineage of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel. Deborah, she was a judge. Naomi and Ruth and the whole relationship between them. Strong women, strong in faith, strong in character.
Most of all, God loved them, and God used them mightily in the story of redemption. Hannah figures prominently in that story. Read 1 Samuel 1:1-21. That will really melt your heart as you think about how God loves women and cares for them in their plight. Abigail, Esther; the very fact that the church is the bride of Christ.
Jesus Loved Women
Look at the role that Martha and Mary have in Jesus’ ministry (John 11). The fact that Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman (John 4:10-30). She's not only a Samaritan, but she's a woman. A rabbi never talked to a woman. Women were never disciples of rabbis ever, and yet Jesus brings women into the circle of his disciples and makes them, in fact, the first witnesses of his resurrection.
A lot of people don't know this, but in the Old Testament, there's a whole motif of a man of marriageable age meeting a woman of marriageable age at a well. That's where you would go to find your wife. In the context there in John's Gospel, prior to that meeting with the Samaritan woman, John the Baptist had just been talking in John 4 about the Christ coming, and he has a bride; then you have Jesus meeting this woman at a well. He's pursuing his bride. He's looking for her. We not only see that God loves women but that God loves her in particular. I think that that's one of the things that we often struggle with as believers. Not just that God is love, but that God loves me.
We see in the gospels, as we see God, we see Jesus loving particular women, not on the basis of how perfect they are. Think about the woman at the well: she's been with all these other people. She's had a difficult life, and yet he goes to her, and he wants to bring her into his family. He wants to make her a part of his bride: the bride of Christ. God’s love isn't just general and out there. It's for you. It's for particular people.
And that's one of the reasons the Lord instituted the Lord's Supper. We hear the gospel preached and that's for all of us. That is “come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden; I will give you rest.” “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” But I can still wonder: yeah, but is that for me? And then I come to the Lord's table and Jesus says to me through the lips of a minister in the words of institution: “This is my body broken for you. This is my blood, shed for you.” When she comes to the Lord's Supper, let her realize Jesus Himself is giving himself, handing himself over, delivering himself to her as her greatest gift.
Adapted from an answer given in Episode 27 of Core Christianity.
Recommended Further Reading
Is It Okay For a Woman to Write Theology and Be Read by Men?