Image of God

Be a woman: The best of you

Every once a year, we celebrate International Women’s Day, I pondered what is the state of women today worth celebrating? Most assuredly for one, it is women’s empowerment. Not totally new, but it has gained much momentum as seen in recent political scenes where women picked up many seats in the US congressional election. Similar increase of female presence is happening in other countries. What does this trend mean? Is it to be an indicator of women’s worth?

If it is about women’s worth, we need to look no farther than the first few chapters of Genesis. In one of the most empowering acts of God, woman is held up as the helper of man.* That is a role that applies to any woman in any nation, a stewardship of trust marked out for women. This role comes with the responsibility and the right to execute that role. It encompasses motherhood, the feminine expression of womanhood, and the unique partnership with man in stewardship or governance.

To fully appreciate this role, let us examine the Hebrew word for helper -“Ezer.” It means assistance, aid, support to fulfill a need, especially in distressful times and the person cannot do it for himself or herself. God is addressed as Jehovah Ezer in Psalm 33:20. It means God our help. In Hebrews 13:6, it says “the Lord is my helper (boethos). This Greek word describes one who runs to give aid on hearing a cry for help. The Holy Spirit is called the helper or enabler in John 15:26. In other words, the woman’s role reflects God’s as the helper. It operates from a position of strength, not inferiority.

It is tempting not to quantify one’s worth as in equal pay and equal opportunity. After all, we get what we pay for is a fair trade. But wisdom tells us that is not the real measure. Women could dream, plan and pursue not according to rights they are given or strive for, but for the full realization of their endowed role. Persistently reclaim the role of a woman regardless of region, religion or race, to emphasize God’s essential plan from creation for all womankind.

The Bible shows that there are ways to empower women without sacrificing their natural endowment. Such as to love freely without violating their conscience because they do not have to choose between giving life or taking it away. To speak clearly because they have the mind of Christ. To stand courageously because they have the support of millions of likeminded women. To stay in control of the gift of femininity because they are made in God’s image.

Paul’s teaching on interdependence of man and women is one often overlooked in his instruction on the role of male and female.** This mutual dependence reflects the relationship of the Godhead, in whose image human is created. Competition between the sexes is never the intended image. Moreover, man without woman cannot compete well in life. In the God given role of helper, she is not to lag behind men, compete with men, hate men or kick men out. Rather she is to be working closely, competently, harmoniously, and uniquely contributing to help what is lacking in man. In other words, they work hand in hand to help one another to build and govern.

To build or achieve anything, how do we say we need one another? Is it to take pride over outperforming man especially in traditionally man task? Is it to see reversal of role so man is in servitude to woman? Is it to obstruct the progress of the other sex in a bid for equality, freedom, strength or superiority? To step on others to lift up ourselves makes us true warriors? Instead, is it not to bless the expression of one’s given role? To instill life in the name of Eve – “the mother of all the living” and not of the dead? Is it not to preserve our God given freedom with uprightness, like the heroic feat of Queen Esther? And to spread the truth and true love like the Samaritan woman by the well, to whom Jesus exemplified compassion without compromise?

*Gen 2:18; **I Cor 11:11-12