The Image of God in Woman
Tuesday of Pentecost 10
26 July 2016
We often only know what things are in relation. I am father in relation to my children. I am pastor in relation to the children of my parish. That means that I could be "father" in two different ways, because of the different relationships implied by those different ways of relating. Child psychologists tell us that infants begin to have a view of themselves only over against the other people in their lives, beginning with mother and father and then siblings. They learn who they are when they realize they are not mother or any of the others around them.
In some cases, our relationships are quite radically different from each other, although they involve the same two people. For example, I can be a friend to a supervisor at work, and yet that supervisor may also have to reprimand me if I fail to do my job. He has to take off his "friend hat" and put on his "boss hat" to fulfill his duty.
One of the sets of relationships that brings us the most trouble, and maybe always will, is the relationship between men and women, especially husband and wife. Modern people are deeply disturbed by the male headship language used by the Bible generally and by St. Paul in particular. Paul is thought to be a "woman hater" because he relates husband and wife in a head and body relationship; husband head, wife body. The pattern is set by Christ and His bride the church (Eph 5:22-33).
Man and woman are related to each other in this way by God's ordering of creation. But in relation to God they are not. Before God they are equally responsible humans that stand before God for judgment and the vindication of divine righteousness, which is given to both of them equally in Christ. But as they relate to each other they are head and body. This is why Augustine of Hippo argued that woman has the full image of God in the same way that man does. So when Scripture points out that men and women find themselves under differing levels of order to others, it does not call into question their equal standing in the presence of God.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"'A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man' (1Co 11:7). What shall we say to this? If the woman fills up the image of the Trinity after the measure of her own person, why is the man still called that image after she has been taken out of his side? Or if even one person of a human being out of three can be called the image of God, as each person also is God in the supreme Trinity itself, why is the woman also not the image of God? For she is instructed for this very reason to cover her head, which the man is forbidden to do because he is the image of God (1Co 11:7, 5).
"But we must notice how that which the apostle says, that not the woman but the man is the image of God, is not contrary to that which is written in Genesis, 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them' (Gn 1:27). For this text says that human nature itself, which is complete [only] in both sexes, was made in the image of God; and it does not separate the woman from the image of God which it signifies. For after saying that God made man in the image of God, 'He created him,' it says, 'male and female:' or at any rate, punctuating the words otherwise, 'male and female He created them.'
"How then did the apostle tell us that the man is the image of God, and therefore he is forbidden to cover his head; but that the woman is not so, and therefore is commanded to cover hers? Unless, truly,...that the woman together with her own husband is the image of God, so that the whole substance may be one image; but when she is referred separately to her quality of being help-meet, which regards the woman herself alone, then she is not the image of God. But as regards the man alone, he is the image of God as fully and completely as when the woman too is joined with him in one."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 12.7
Genesis 2:18-25

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the LORD God 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. 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." Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)
O Lord, help me to show honor, respect and obedience in relation to those whom You have placed over me, that I might show due honor to You. Amen.
For Barbara Dubé, that God the Lord would watch over and guard her, granting to her strength of spirit and healing in body
For the family of Rev. Dr. Ralph A. Bohlmann, President Emeritus of the LCMS, who passed into the visible presence of Christ, that they would mourn as those who have hope in the resurrection and the life of the world to come
For President Ken Hennings of the Texas district, LCMS, that he would be devoted to the faith once delivered to the saints
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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