IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
John M. Frame
- Are men and women equally in the image of God?
- Some have answered in the negative because of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:7, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”
I agree with C. K. Barrett that “in this context Paul values the term image only as leading to the term glory.” The reference to “image” is incidental to Paul’s purpose, and therefore not mentioned with respect to woman; but it notifies his readers of the Old Testament basis for saying that man is the glory of God, “glory” and “image” being roughly, but not entirely, synonymous.
“Glory” in this context is the honor that one person brings to another. Man, Paul says, was made to honor God. Of course, woman was also made to honor God; but in addition, she is also made for a second purpose: to honor man. God made her specifically to be a helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18, 20; cf. Proverbs 12:4; Ephesians 5:25-29). Man honors or glorifies God by uncovering his head, for covering the head connoted subservience to another creature.Such subservience to men is especially inappropriate for a male prophet, whose whole function is to speak for God, or for one leading in public prayer, whose whole function is to lead the people to God’s own throne. Woman, however, even when prophesying or praying in public, must not only honor God, but also honor man. Indeed, she honors God when she honors the specific task of “helper” for which God made her. Unlike the man, then, she honors God best by displaying a symbol by which she honors her fellow-creature. (page 230)
Will We Be Male and Female in Heaven?
Scripture doesn’t explicitly address this question, so we should not be dogmatic in trying to answer it. But some broad Biblical principles may lead us in one direction or another.
We might be inclined to answer “no” to this question because of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:30 that resurrected saints will neither marry nor give in marriage. In the resurrection, earthly families will be overshadowed by the great family of God (cf. Luke 20:36). I am, however, inclined toward an affirmative answer:
(1) Those who appear after death in Scripture always appear similar to their earthly forms (1 Samuel 28:11-15; Matthew 17:1-13; 27:52ff.; Revelation 11:1-12). I would assume that the men continued to appear as bearded (if they wore beards on earth), speaking with masculine voices. This fact seems to yield some presumption, at least, that we retain our sexual characteristics after death.
(2) Even angels (whom Jesus says we will resemble in the resurrection) tend to appear in Scripture as men, rather than as women or as asexual beings (Genesis 18:2, 16, 22; Joshua 5:13; Hebrews 13:2).
(3) Jesus’ resurrection body also resembled the form He bore on earth, even down to the wounds in His hands and side (John 20:25, 27), although His new existence is mysterious in many ways. At the resurrection appearances, I have no doubt that the disciples saw a male figure.
(4) Sexuality, as we have seen, is part of the image of God, part of what it now means to be human. It is possible that this resemblance might in the next life be replaced with other kinds of resemblance. (“Image of God,” we will recall, covers much territory.) But if we lose our sexuality, why should we not also lose our arms, eyes, and brains?
(5) Our sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics have functions other than procreation. They also image different attributes of God and express the variety of human personality. Sex, after all, is not just reproductive capacity. Stereotypes aside, men and women do differ in personality and in the distribution of their spiritual gifts. The body of a godly woman often serves as an appropriate accompaniment to her personality, reinforcing our impression of her inner meekness and quiet strength. Similarly for men, mutatis mutandis. We would, I think, sense something odd if Mother Teresa’s personality were found in the body of, say, Sylvester Stallone, or vice versa.
So here’s a weak vote in favor of the affirmative: I rather suspect that we will still be male and female in the resurrection.