“Genesis 9:6 says it is wrong to shed man’s blood because God made man in his image. But 1 Corinthians 11:7 says only males are the image of God. Does that mean the Bible is saying it is ok to murder women?”. This was a question I recently received from a reader calling himself Jacob.
Below is Jacobs’s complete email.
I have read what I think are all of your writings on the image of God in man. I was hoping you could help clarify some things the Bible says about the image of God.
I was always taught growing up in church that Genesis 9:6 teaches us the very foundation for the value of all human life (both men and women) comes from the fact that they are made in the image of God.
Genesis 9:6 says it is wrong to shed man’s blood because God made man in his image. But 1 Corinthians 11:7 says only males are the image of God. Does that mean the Bible is saying it is ok to murder women? Please do not misunderstand me. This is not a trick question. I do not believe it is ok to kill women but I am very confused by what seems to be a contradiction between Genesis 9:6 and 1 Corinthians 11:7.
James 3:9 has a similar statement to Genesis 9:6 but instead of it talking about murder, it talks about not cursing men because they are made after the “similitude of God”. So, the same rhetorical question would apply, since only men are made in the image of God is ok to curse women?
What about when it says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 “Christ who is the image of God” and in Hebrews 1:3 that Christ is “the express image of his person”? What is the difference between Christ being the image of God and the express image of his person and man being the image of God?
Thank you for your time.
I am actually very grateful for Jacob’s email because I have been meaning to write on Genesis 9:6 and how it harmonizes with I Corinthians 11:7 and this pushed me to finally write on this subject.
What is God teaching us in Genesis 9:6?
Genesis 9:6 teaches us that mankind, both male and female, were made in the image of God. This is where the value of human life begins and why God commanded the death penalty for those who shed man’s blood.
Some of my readers may be confused that I have just stated that men and women were both made in the image of God because I have previously stated in many of my articles that Genesis 1:27 does NOT show that both men and women were made in the image of God. And I still stand by that interpretation.
“So God created man [Hebrew “adam”] in his own image, in the image of God created he him [Hebrew eth haa-‘adam”]; male and female created he them.”
Genesis 1:27 (KJV)
The Hebrew word “adam” can mean “man”, “mankind”, “men” or it can particularly refer to a certain man and sometimes Adam, the first man. To understand the correct meaning of adam we must always look to the surrounding context in which it is used.
In the case of Genesis 1:27, when it says “God created adam in his image” this could have meant “mankind” if there were no qualifiers in the verse to indicate otherwise. But there is a qualifier which is “eth haa-‘adam” which literally means “this same man” and is translated by the KJV as “he him”. This means God was talking specifically about Adam.
The most literal rendering of Genesis 1:27 is as follows:
“So God created Adam in his own image, in the image of God created he this same man; male and female created he them.”
The phrase that follows “male and female created he them” does not indicate that woman was created in the image of God, it simply states that just as man was created by God, so too woman was created by God.
However, Genesis 9:6 is different than Genesis 1:27. Genesis 9:6 is speaking of something which applies to all human beings and that subject is murder. And it uses no qualifiers for handling the murder of women differently than that of men. So, when Genesis 9:6 tells us the reason murder is wrong is because man was created in the image of God, we can rightly understand that “adam” in the Hebrew in this context is referring to “mankind” which includes both men and women.
And on the subject of killing, Genesis 9:6 is not talking about any killing of man by man, because God actually commands men to kill men at certain times as is seen in this very passage. It is talking about unjustified killing.
And who determines if the taking of a human being’s life is justified or not? It is God.
The Bible shows us three major categories of justified killing where the person who does the killing is not considered sinning in the sight of God. Exodus 22:2 shows us the God given right of self-defense. Psalms 144:1 shows us that God teaches men how to fight and wage war in defense of their nations which is another God given right. Numbers 35:27 teaches us that those who have the authority to execute the death penalty for various moral crimes God deems worthy of death are not held guilty for the blood they shed.
This is why abortion is considered an unjustified killing from a Biblical perspective but execution of a murderer on death row is considered a justified and righteous act. The doctor who sheds the blood of the innocent child within the womb is held guilty by God because God does not allow the killing of someone simply because their life presents an inconvenience to their mother. However, the executioner who pulls the switch to kill the murderer is held righteous before God because God ordains this as part of his justice.
Understanding the Image of God in Christ, Man and Woman
Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time will know that I heavily teach on the forgotten and unpopular Bible doctrine that man was created to be the image bearer of God and woman was not. But some misunderstand this to mean that I am saying the Bible says women are not human or are less human than men. And nothing could be further from the truth. My prayer is that after reading what I show here from the Scriptures that you will understand that the life of a woman has equal value in the sight of God with that of a man. All human life has equal value to God.
But we must teach another truth at the same. While all human life, both males and females, has equal value to God this does not mean men and women were made for the same purpose. In this article I will demonstrate that these two truths stand side by side and they do not contradict.
Below is a table which will help to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between what the Bible says about the image of God in Christ, man and woman.
|Male & Female Human Beings
||Male Human Beings
|Genesis 9:6 (KJV)
||I Corinthians 11:7 (KJV)
||Hebrews 1:3 (KJV)
|“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: FOR IN THE IMAGE OF GOD MADE HE MAN.”
||“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as HE IS THE IMAGE AND GLORY OF GOD: but the woman is the glory of the man.”
||“Who being the brightness of his glory, and THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS PERSON, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”
As we mentioned previously, Genesis 9:6 shows us that the value of human life begins with the fact that all human beings, both men and women, were made in the image of God. But then we read in 1 Corinthians 11:7 that the man (literally “the male” in the original Greek) is the image and glory of God but the woman is the glory of the man. Finally, we read in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus Christ in relation to God is “the express image of his person”.
So how do these three passages in the table above harmonize? To answer this, I want to show you another illustration below:
In the table above are a list of characteristics. Some align with God, while others align with man and still others align with women. There is a highlighted characteristic type that intersects God, man and woman. These characteristics of self-awareness, speech, creativity, morality and emotions are what separate man and woman from the animals and they reflect God’s image in all of us. These common characteristics that are common to both God, man and woman are rightly called “Human”.
It is in this way that all human beings are equal in their humanity and all human beings bear the image of God. It is because of these characteristics of God in all of us that all human life has value and it is why murder is wrong.
There are many Christians who would take offense at the table above and they teach and believe that God’s nature is only seen in the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. Still others will maintain that some women can be aggressive, competitive and strong while some men can be cooperative and weak.
But this is why I very carefully used the word “characteristic” in the illustration above. The word “characteristic” can be used as both a noun and an adjective. When used as a noun a “characteristic” describes something that is a distinguishing trait or something that is an integral part of something or someone. When used as adjective it refers to something that is typical of something or someone.
I am using “characteristic” in both senses of the word in the illustration above. While there are times that God can act in feminine ways this is not typical or characteristic of God’s behavior. God’s behavior throughout the Scriptures is more typified by the masculine characteristics shown above and it is why God is always referred to in his person in the masculine sense throughout the Scriptures.
But now let’s go back to another question this raises. How are man and woman both made in the image of God, yet man is the image bearer of God in a way woman is not?
To answer this question let’s look at Christ. As we showed in the above table, the Scriptures tell us of Christ regarding his relation to God that he is “the express image of his person”. And in Colossians 2:9 we read of Christ “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”. These passages are teaching us that Christ is the image of God in that he has all the characteristics of God because he is God.
Now let’s compare the image of God in Christ to the image of God in man. Does man have the image of God in him to the same degree that Christ does? The answer is no. Man does not have any of God’s deity characteristics.
And now we can answer the central question of this article. Does woman have the image of God in her to the same degree that man does? The answer according the Scriptures is no. And this is why we read in the Scriptures that both men and women are MADE IN the image of God, yet it is only of men and Christ that we read that they are THE image of God.
Why Did God Make Woman Different Than Himself and Man?
As we can see while women share their common human characteristics with both God and men, they also have characteristics that are not typical of God or man. Why did not God make women with these traits that are uncharacteristic of himself or man?
This all comes down to God’s purpose in creation. Why did God give us the characteristics of our common humanity? The reason is different for men than for women. God gave men their human characteristics along with their masculine characteristics for the purpose of imaging God and bringing him glory. God wanted to create a being that would be like him in every way except for his deity characteristics so that he could watch that being demonstrate his characteristics and thereby bring him glory.
But in order for that being, man, to fulfill his created purpose God needed to create another being. He needed to create a being of a similar nature which could provide companionship. But this being would also have to be created in a way that they would need the leadership, provision and protection of man. So, God created woman as “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7) for man so that he could fulfill his created purpose to image God.
Here is the summary of what the Scriptures teach about the image of God in man and woman and the differences between the two.
While male human beings do not have all the characteristics of God in that they lack God’s deity characteristics there is nothing that is characteristic of male human beings that is not also characteristic of God. The same cannot be said for female human beings. There are many traits that are characteristic of female human beings that are not characteristic of God.
And this is why we can rightly say based upon the Scriptures that our value as human beings, both men and woman, comes from the fact that we were both made in the image of God in our shared human characteristics yet men in their masculine characteristics are the image of God in a way that women are not.