My concise overview of womanhood starts where God starts in Genesis 1, where he says that God created man male and female in the image of God — not just the man, but the woman also. And so I would start with the massive — and I mean immeasurably massive — truth that women are created in the image of the creator of the universe. This is simply stunning.
Piper: “Every woman you pass on the street is a potential queen of heaven, because she is created in the Imago Dei.”
It means that every woman you pass on the street or every woman you relate to in any way is a potential queen of heaven because she is created in the Imago Dei. She is in the image of God in the same way that the man is in the image of God, having a human nature which mirrors the very nature of God. That is where I would start.
Secondly, I would draw attention to the fact that her worth, therefore, when you talk in terms of dignity or worth, is the same as man’s. In fact, I would say both male and female are essential to the full revelation of God’s glory. He didn’t just create man.
When you get to the second part of the story where man is created first — which I think is significant — and then woman is created, it says it wasn’t good. It just wasn’t finished. It wasn’t good until this woman came from his side. No animal would do to complete man, because no animal was created in the image of God. She must be of man’s nature and thus, of the nature of God. So she is of equal worth, and both together, then, are the fuller revelation of God’s glory.
“Women are necessary for the full revelation of God’s glory.”
And then I would say that she has unique, special capacities both physically, mentally, and emotionally that are different from men. And we should celebrate the differences between manhood and womanhood and stress that those differences mean that when we are together — and I would include singles here, because there are cultural dynamics for people who are not married, and there are cultural dynamics for people who are married — when we are together, more of God’s glory shows than if we were all in our little silos of individuality.
And the last thing I would do is draw attention to is what we mean by “complementarity.” One of the unique things about women is that they are called by God to receive from man and honor man and support the leadership and the protection and the provision of godly men appropriately according to their different roles.
And the reason I say that last little phrase is that as a woman navigates her life, if she is married she has got a husband. She has got a pastor. She has got male friends who are the husbands of her female friends. She has got maybe colleagues at work. She has got the mailman who comes to the front door perhaps. She has the mechanic at the auto shop, and so on.
When men and women are together, more of God’s glory shows than if we were all in little silos of individuality.
All these males fulfill very different roles in her life, and I don’t mean that she receives and honors and supports leadership, protection and provision from all of them in the same way. The dynamic and the dance of gender relations are different for every relationship, but there is something that God has put into men to be leaders and protectors and providers and something that God has put into women to love that, delight in that, honor that, come alongside that, use all their manifold gifts to advance the cause of Christ through that, so that when they are together they are complementing each other, and the beauty of God is displayed more fully.
Gender Complementarity in Heaven
Do you suspect that gender role differences will carry over into eternity?
Yes. Yes, because I think even though the Bible says there will be no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven, I think that our personhood is so wrapped up in our gender, or you could say our gender is wrapped around our personhood, that if we were stripped of our maleness or femaleness, we would be unrecognizable.
I think Jesus is a man today in heaven. He is Jesus Christ, the same as he was here but now glorified. I don’t think we should think of him in some androgynous way up there or ourselves entering into a kind of existence that has no correlation to the male and female existence that we have here. And it is going to be utterly beautiful there. All the sinful dimensions of manhood and womanhood will be taken away.