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In the Image of God

Genesis 1:27: In the image of God created he him. 

Adam was created first and was the only human being besides Yeshua to have been created in God’s image. All others bear God’s image, but are created in Adam’s. Moses made no mistakes in his choice of words. He did not write, “In the image of God created he them,” but he wrote, “In the image of God created he him,” adding the creation of them (plural) as male and female as a distinct thought.

So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Tom Shipley points out that, while mankind may be collectively referred to as Adam, only the first man is ever called Adam as an individual.1 Throughout Genesis 1 and 2, when Moses referred to the individual characters, he referred to the man as Adam and to the woman as Ishshaw.

While all of mankind bears the image of God, woman is the image of man in the same way that a child is the image of his parents. Together, in their procreative capacity they image the creative nature of God. Separately, in their spiritual and familial roles they image other aspects of God. In 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 Paul told us that, although God is the source of us all and that mankind as a whole bears the image of God, men more specifically are that image:

“…he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

The Hebrew words used for male and female in v27 are somewhat illustrative. According to Strong’s, zakar, the Hebrew for male, means “remembered,” which one could suppose might refer to Adam being reminiscent of God. Nekebah, the Hebrew for female, is derived from nekeb or nakab, and is a more functionally oriented word and describes more of who the woman is rather than who she resembles.

God has no physical gender other than that of the Messiah’s human form, but his superior authority requires that he almost always be referred to in the masculine. He promised the Messiah and he gave the Torah. He died and he rose again. He guides us and he comforts us. God is neither female nor feminine, yet he still has something of the feminine within him; else how could Eve have been created from Adam, who was created in the image of God? While he has no sex and it is certainly incorrect to refer to him as “she,” the roles of wife and mother can be discerned in certain aspects of God. When the first part of the substance of Eve was extracted from Adam, most of the feminine and something of the masculine, both of which he had inherited from God, were put into Eve. Both men and women have masculine and feminine attributes, and in this they both bear God’s image, but men more directly.

This is not a statement of the intrinsic worth of men over women or of women over men.2 They both bear the image of God, and they are both essential to God’s plan. Would it make any sense to ask whether the sergeant or the lieutenant is more important to the plans of the general? Of course not. One has authority over the other, but they are both essential to victory. The lieutenant who believes he can effectively perform the sergeant’s duties in addition to his own is a fool, and so is the sergeant who believes that he can do the same in reverse. The woman is subordinate to the man the way the heart and lungs are subordinate to the head. Without the heart and lungs, the head is of very little use. The subordination of one to the other is of function and not of worth.

<1> Tom Shipley, Man and Woman in Biblical Law (Baltimore, Maryland: Institute for Christian Patriarchy, 2001, 2004.) 19.
<2> Stephen B. Clark points out that subordinates are very often more valuable to the success of a venture than are their superiors. Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ. (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Books, 1980.) 23-24.

Lamech’s Two Wives

There is not a single extraneous character recorded in the Torah (Matthew 5:18). Every word is written for a purpose, and there is nothing wasted. This is one reason why the names of wives are rarely mentioned: not because women were considered unimportant, but because their names were not significant to the point being made. So when the names of Lamech’s wives are given without further information about them in Genesis 5:19, we should immediately ask why.

As a descendant of Cain and a probable murderer, Lamech is often used to argue that God does not approve of polygamy. “See? The first recorded polygamist was also a murderer and of the line of Cain. It must be wrong!” This kind of reasoning is based on the Law of First Mention, which is a theological land mine all on its own (see here), but apart from that, they are ignoring some important details in the story.

Lamech’s wives names can be translated roughly as “ornament” and “shadow.” Ornamentation is a symbol of wealth and shadow is often used in scripture to symbolize a powerful patronage. Could Lamech’s wives symbolize wealth and power as mulitple wives often do? Perhaps one father-in-law brought him great wealth, and the other was a king or warlord. Lamech’s declaration that he would be avenged seventy-seven times was a declaration of independence from God and immunity to the vengeance of men. He believed his access to wealth and power provided him with greater protection than God.

The point of Lamech’s story is not to highlight the evils of polygamy, but rather the evils of pride and the abuse of power.

A Husband and A Leader

Excerpted and adapted from on-line discussions in February and March, 2005. My apologies if it’s a little hard to follow. You’re only getting one side of several conversations.

I coasted through the first ten years of my marriage, pretty much just trying to be my wife’s boyfriend, but God says that I am responsible for the spiritual well-being of my house, and that he will hold me accountable for them. So about five years ago I decided that I was through being a boyfriend, and it was time to become a husband. Things are frequently difficult, uncomfortable, or downright heated–the price I pay for developing habits based on the standards of our hedonistic culture. Now my family is no longer stagnant and spiritually dead. I am learning to lead instead of to drift with the emotional current of the day. My son is growing up in a scripture-based home instead of a feelings-based home..

A rudder, under the command of a helmsman, serves a ship by controlling its direction. A viceroy, under the command of a king, serves his people by creating and enforcing laws. A sergeant, under the command of an officer, serves his men by instilling purpose and discipline. A husband, under the command of God, serves his family by leading and teaching them….

A leader does what is necessary. He takes action and accepts responsibility. He promotes the well-being of his charges. A follower follows the leader’s lead. In the context of marriage, a wife subjects her own will to her husband’s. She supports his calling–whatever that may be–working to encourage and strengthen him. She may have a separate calling of her own, but that is subordinate to her role as wife and mother….

A leader doesn’t wait around for everyone else to line up behind him before taking action. He just starts moving. His moral justification doesn’t come from behind, but from ahead, because he is also a follower of Christ. God’s created order is for men to be the leaders of their families. If they are not following that order, then they are not following Christ’s example, because he was obedient to the Father above all else….

Shouldn’t all government be after the pattern of Christ and the church? Shouldn’t all kings rule as servant leaders? What is the difference between David ruling over Israel and a father/husband ruling over his family? A king rules in order to serve his people, but he never relinquishes his authority as king. Without that authority and all of the power that comes with it he could not serve his people effectively as a servant leader. Although Yeshua does not usually force us (my apologies to Calvin) to do his will–at least not in the present–but he demands our obedience none-the-less. There are more parallels:

  1. Mankind was created to serve God and the woman was created to serve the man. (Gen 1-3, 1 Cor 11:9)
  2. God (the Word made flesh) gave men laws to order and protect his people, and a man governs his own family to order and protect his house. (Gen-Deut, 1 Tim 3:4-5, 1 Tim 5:8)
  3. Yeshua gave up his own life in order to return the Church to a state of perfection and obedience, and then serves her by ruling over her, and a man serves his family by protecting and guiding them even to the point of giving up his own life for them so that together they can serve God in obedience to their calling, which is firstly his calling. (Rom 1:5, 1 Pet 1:2, Rev 2-3, Gen 1-3, 1 Cor 11-9)

… Never does Yeshua submit himself to the Church. Never. He is a servant to the Church (and all of mankind) as its ruler, provider, and kinsman-redeemer. He grants the petitions of believers only at his own discretion.

It was never my goal to get my wife to submit to my leadership. It was always my goal to become a better leader. It just took me a little while to learn that you can’t force people to act as if you already are a good leader. It is the husband’s job to lead and the wife’s job to follow. If the husband is leading, then it’s not his responsibility if the wife refuses to follow. If the wife is following, then it’s not her responsibility if the husband refuses to lead. They each need to do their part regardless of what the other does.

I told my wife that I’m not drifting anymore. This is where I am going, and if you want to be a part of my family, you’ll have to go with me. Of course, there are many things on which my wife and I have come to disagree, but I don’t think that level of detail is necessary here. We discussed our respective roles before we married and were in basic agreement at that time. Our current differences are the result of allowing my family to drift instead of taking an active role at the helm from the very beginning. My values have changed, and my wife’s values have changed. Unfortunately, they have drifted in opposite directions…

I quit accepting my wife’s feelings and opinions as equally authoritative as my own. Not because my opinions are any better than hers, but because I have to make the final decisions. I will consult my wife and I will value her feelings and opinions, but God put authority over the wife onto the husband, and not the other way around. He created us. He knows how we will best live. I decided that I will set the tone and direction of our activities and the moral standards of my house. I quit being afraid of making a wrong decision when I realized that making no decision was even worse. I do not like the prospect of facing God having made wrong decisions for my family, but I am terrified of facing him after having given up my family to whimsy and deception. I will not be the worthless servant who buried his master’s gold in the ground.

You can’t change your spouse; you can only change yourself. As I wrote earlier, my job is to love and to lead my family, and my wife’s job is to support me. I can’t force her to do that, and I wouldn’t even want her “support” if it had to be forced…. Whatever the outcome, I know that through the exercise of love, patience, and faith, I will be a better man on the other side.