Christianity Today has published two essays in which an egalitarian and a complementarian point the finger of critique at their own movements. John Koessler represents the complementarian point of view, and Sarah Sumner represents the egalitarian.
I’m not going to comment on this exchange point-by-point. But I do have a question about one of Koessler’s statements. He writes:
“When God created humankind in his image, he created them to be male and female (Gen. 1:27). It is often said that men and women bear the image of God equally. But it might be more accurate to say that men and women bear God’s image together. Men and women collectively reflect the divine image; one without the other is incomplete.”
I think this is not stated as well as it could be. Wouldn’t it be better to affirm that every human being individually bears the image of God? My bearing of God’s image is not somehow jeopardized or “incomplete” apart from my wife’s (see Gen 5:1-3; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7). Jesus is the paradigmatic divine image-bearer, and his image-bearing was not at all diminished by his being single his whole life (see 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15).
Bruce Ware addressed this issue in the sermon that I noted yesterday. Here’s the relevant section from Ware’s notes:
“While both man and woman are fully the image of God (Gen 1:26-28), yet the woman’s humanity as “image of God” is established as she comes from the man. Adam names her “isha” (woman) because she was “taken out of ish (man)” (Gen 2:23). That is, she has his natureâ€”the nature of a human beingâ€”only as she comes from him. This is Paul’s point in 1 Cor 11:7. Why should a woman have her head covered (a symbol of male authority â€“ see 11:10) but a man not? Answer: man “is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.” Clearly Paul does not mean here that woman is not in the image of God, but rather that her being the image of God only happens as she comes from man, who is created as the image of God. Note: much the same can be said of Seth, Adam’s son, who is born in the likeness and image of Adam (Gen 5:3), who himself is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Here, Gen 5 does not say that Seth is the image of God, but the clear implication is that since he is born in the likeness and image of Adam, who himself is the image of God, Seth too is made in the image of God by coming from Adam.”
Some complementarians might disagree with Ware’s contention that “woman’s humanity as ‘image of God’ is established as she comes from the man.” Ware affirms nevertheless that man and woman each individually bear the image of God.
John Frame addresses this issue in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. He writes:
“Women and men equally image God, even in their sexual differences, even in their differences with regard to authority and submission. The reason is that the image of God embraces everything that is human. Both men and women, therefore, resemble God and are called to represent Him throughout the creation, exercising control, authority, and presence in His name. This doctrine is not at all inconsistent with the subordination of women to men in the home and in the church. All human beings are under authority, both divine and human. Their submission to authority, as well as their authority itself, images God.”
Read the rest of Frame’s article for his entire argument, in which he disagrees with the Barthian notion that “male and female” together comprise the image of God rather than “male and female” individually. He argues that both man and woman individually bear the image of God, and that is the crucial point that I think Koessler has missed.