Male and Female Complementarity…?


From Afrikaans apartheid (1929 in a South African socio-political context), literally “separateness“, “apartness“, from Dutch apart (“‘separate’”)

Has the headline or title of an article or essay ever caught your attention, sparked your curiosity, drawn you in, and then smacked you upside the head?  That happened to me the other day.  I was cruising the Good Ship Google regarding “Image of God” and “male and female.”  One of the hits returned was an essay by Bruce Ware entitled Male and Female Complementarity and the Image of God.

“Cool!” I thought, interest peaked, and dove right in.  I’m not going to reproduce the full article here.  It is lengthy and ponderous, but you can dive in and check out the full context for yourself at the link provided.  Here’s a sampling of some of the remarks that caught my eye:

–  “Male and female, while fully equal as the image of God, are nonetheless distinct in the manner of their possession of the image of God. The female’s becoming the image of God through the male indicates a God-intended sense of her reliance upon him, as particularly manifest in the home and community of faith.”

– Some might reason that since Gen. 1:26-27 and 5:1-2 speak of both male and female created fully in the image of God, any male/female differences one might point to cannot bear any relationship to the united sense in which they possess, equally and fully, the image of God. That they both are the image of God equally and fully manifests not their differences but their commonality and equality. Yes, male and female are different, but they are not different, some might argue, in any sense as being the images of God; we have to look elsewhere to locate the basis for their differences.

– I will here propose that it may be best to understand the original creation of male and female as one in which the male was made image of God first, in an unmediated fashion, as God formed him from the dust of the ground, while the female was made image of God second, in a mediated fashion, as God chose, not more earth, but the very rib of Adam by which he would create the woman fully and equally the image of God. So, while both are fully image of God, and both are equally the image of God, it may be the case that both are not constituted as the image of God in the identical way.

– Scripture gives some clues that there is a God-intended temporal priority [16] bestowed upon the man as the original image of God, through whom the woman, as image of God formed from the male, comes to be.

– …since the woman was taken out of the man, 1) she is fully and equally human since she has come from his bones and his flesh, and 2) her very human nature is constituted, not in parallel fashion to his with both formed from the same earth, but as derived from his own nature so showing a God-chosen dependence upon him for her origination.

–          As God has so chosen to create man as male and female, by God’s design her identity as female is inextricably tied to and rooted in the prior identity of the male.”

– “As God has so chosen to create man as male and female, by God’s design her identity as female is inextricably tied to and rooted in the prior identity of the male”

– … it is evident that Paul is thinking specifically about the woman’s origination vis-à-vis the man’s, and he reflects here on the importance of the man’s prior creation, out of whose being, and for whose purpose, the woman’s life now comes.

–          … because man was created by God in his image first, man alone was created in a direct and unmediated fashion as the image of God, manifesting, then, the glory of God. But in regard to the woman, taken as she was from or out of man and made for the purpose of being a helper suitable to him, her created glory is a reflection of the man’s

Citing I Corinthians 11: “… what Paul does not also here explicitly say but does seem to imply is this: in being created as the glory of the man, the woman likewise, in being formed through the man, is thereby created in the image and glory of God. At least this much is clear: as God chose to create her, the woman was not formed to be the human that she is apart from the man but only through the man.”

– In the very formation of the woman, it was to be clear that her life, her constitution, her nature, was rooted in and derived from the life, constitution, and nature of the man.

This is just a sampling.  Read the full article for yourself – preferably near a full bottle of Tylenol – and draw your own conclusions.   Your thoughts?

We’re just getting warmed up.  See you next time for part 2.


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