In the beginning God created all things, but according to Genesis 1, the climax of God’s creation was humanity. God literally ‘saved the best for last.’ He made them alike, male and female, in his image, after his likeness. He created them with distinct beauty and inherent value and dignity. They were (and are) equal, but different.
Does the Bible Attribute Less Value to Women?
Sometimes skeptics try to make the case that the Bible runs women down of makes little of women. In my study last week, however, I was reminded of just the opposite. Here, in point form, are some of the evidences from the creation account of how highly Scripture views women.
- Other Ancient Near Eastern creation accounts include no narrative on the creation of women at all. By way of contrast, Moses goes out of his way to describe the creation of Eve in detail.
- In fact, in chapter 2 there is 1 verse for the creation of man, 6 for the creation of woman
- She is viewed the final and climactic work of creation that completes God’s creative work (just as humanity was placed last in the creation account of Genesis 1 because humans are the climax, so here creation is not complete until the woman is brought to the Garden)
- In contrast to other contemporary documents, women are viewed as just as much the image-bearers of God as men are
- We are specifically told, in emphatic terminology, that it is ‘devoid of goodness’ / ‘not good’ for man to exist without woman — and that is before there is sin in the world. Even a perfect world is not perfect without woman.
- She is described as being ‘fit’ for him; that is, she is ‘equal and adequate’; both equal in standing and value before God (co-heirs of the gift of life as Peter would put it; or as Paul would say, with regards to justification, there is ‘neither male nor female’)
But Isn’t She Only His ‘Helper’?
Some have argued that the creation of man first before woman and the description of woman as his helper demeans women. Here is what Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke writes:
The man is created first, with the woman to help the man, not vice versa; however, this does not mean ontological superiority or inferiority. The word helper, used for God sixteen of the nineteen times it appears in the OT, signifies the woman’s essential contribution, not inadequacy.
Here are a couple of quotes indicating the beauty of the creation of woman from man’s side:
The woman is not made out of his head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. – Matthew Henry
Just as the rib is found at the side of the man and is attached to him, even so the good wife, the rib of her husband, stands at his side to be his helper-counterpart, and her soul is bound up with his. – Umberto Cassuto
Why Did God Wait So Long to Make Eve?
The structure of the narrative also heightens the value that is placed on women. In Genesis 1, every time God deliberates about what he is going to do next, it happens immediately. But when God deliberates with himself to the end that he will make a helper for Adam, he doesn’t make her right away. Instead he makes animals and forces Adam to name them for a while. A good question to ask is, ‘Why did God do it that way?’ Why would he make it so clear that ‘no suitable helper was found’ for Adam?
Though God realizes it is not good for man to be alone, Adam doesn’t realize it yet. God is awakening desire in man of his need for his bride; he is also highlighting this need in the mind of the reader. As one Rabbi comments: “We are to picture the animals passing by in pairs and man commenting, ‘Everything has its partner but I have no partner.’”
Here is why God makes Adam wait for his Eve:
Rather than squandering his most precious gift on one who is unappreciative, God waits until Adam is prepared to appreciate the gift of woman. – Bruce Waltke
Tell Them the Truth!
So when someone asks you what the Bible says about women, tell them the truth. Man was created first, and then woman. Man was not created for woman, but woman for man — because man couldn’t live without woman, and God desired both to be his image-bearers.