Written By Lindsay Harold with some revisions and additions by my husband, Ken.
Women are definitely made in the image of God even though we generally do not have the masculine traits with which God has revealed himself to us. We have a spirit that communes with God and the ability to reason and moral accountability – all of these are aspects of the image of God and separate mankind from the animals. If women were not made in the image of God, then we could not be saved and we would be mere animals. It is our spirit, our intellect, our ability to love and be love; the list is long in what makes us in the image of God.
Both men and women are made in the image of God, but men reflect the glory of God in a different way than women because men have a similar role to God’s role, which is protector, provider, and leader. Women where designed by God to have a role of mother, nurturer and care giver. Although the roles of men and women do overlap, it is clear from God’s design that men and women are quite different, yet both show aspects of who God is and what He desires from the family of God. God is going about the business of taking one man and one woman and joining them together with all their differences in marriage to most fully reflect His image and glory.
The Bible at times uses the term “man” to mean mankind as a whole – both male and female as “Adam” (Man) stands as the type for all men and women. There are several verses which show us that women are made in God’s image.
Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created THEM.
Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
Here, the word “man” means all of mankind. This verse would indicate that it is only wrong to kill men and not women if women are not created in the image of God also. It is the image of God that sets mankind apart from the animals and makes it a capital offense to kill a human, whether male or female.
Thus, when you have a verse like this one:
Exodus 21:29 “If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.”
This is evidence that killing a woman (through negligence, in this case) bears the same penalty of death as killing a man because both men and women bear the image of God.
1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
This verse is where the error occurred in thinking women do not bear the image of God. But it does not say here that woman is not made in the image of God. Rather it says that man is both in God’s image and designed to bring glory to God. Women are in God’s image, but designed to bring glory to man (especially their husbands). It is pointing out the one major way women differ from men, and it is not in lacking the image of God, but rather in what they bring glory to.
Romans 8:29-30 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Here we see that salvation is about being conformed to the image of Christ. This is drawing on the language of mankind’s creation in the image of God to say that we were created in God’s image, but the image was corrupted through sin, and now we must become conformed to the image of Christ to restore what we were meant to be. If women were not created in the image of God, then women cannot be saved because how can they become the image of Christ if they were never in the image of God?
I Corinthians 15 uses the analogy of Adam being the first man, created in the image of God, and Christ as the second Adam who came to redeem us. In verse 49, it tells us why this is important. “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Again, if women do not bear the image of God, then salvation does not apply to them. We must bear the image of God in the earthly sense, being human beings, before we can bear the heavenly image of Christ through salvation.
Even Jesus’ words make this case.
Matthew 22:19-21 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
Jesus’ point here is that while the coins of Rome bear the image of Caesar and should be given to Caesar when they are due, humans bear the image of God and thus belong to God. We should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to Him – i.e. that which bears His image, which is ourselves. Again, if women do not bear the image of God, then they cannot be saved.
Good theology is important, and while there are those who wrongly claim men and women are the same and have the same roles, it is also wrong to claim that women are not created in the image of God. We must distinguish between the image of God, which separates mankind from the animals and which makes women a suitable helper for their husbands because they share the same nature, and the different roles which God has ordained for men and women. Men have a role that is more similar to God’s role toward mankind and thus bring glory to God more directly while women have a role that is designed to bring glory to God more indirectly through bringing glory to their husbands. But both men and women share the image of God and are equally capable of bearing the image of Christ through salvation.
HERE is a good article by John Piper on this topic for further study!