The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 3 of 8)

The Need for a Biblical Theology of Womanhood and Discipleship

In order to develop strategies for the intentional equipping of women by the local church, further study is needed to define a biblical theology of womanhood and a biblical theology of discipleship. Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger have made a substantial contribution to a full biblical theology of womanhood in their recent book, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey.[1] This work effectively presents the broad overarching pattern of the distinct roles of men and women from Genesis to Revelation.[2] While this is an excellent start for the area of womanhood, further study such as this is needed to understand and define a biblical theology of discipleship, which would include direction for the intentional discipleship of women. For the purpose of this discussion, the following three passages will be considered to introduce this topic: Genesis 2:15-25, Matthew 28:18-20, and Titus 2:1-6.

In Genesis, God created humanity in two genders. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This account teaches that men and women are equal image bearers of God, were blessed equally, and given equal authority over Creation: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28). Affirming the equality of men and women is a critical starting point when exploring a biblical theology of manhood and womanhood.

Even so, Genesis 2 clearly demonstrated that God created humanity in two genders, each for a distinct purpose and function. While both Adam and Eve were created as equal in value and as image-bearers of God, there are specific roles given to each of them: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” and entrusted him with the single law to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-16). Next, God created woman to be in relationship with the man and to help the man when he spoke, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). The helpmate purpose here cannot be underemphasized. Woman was created to help man as an equal partner over all of Creation, yet the law was entrusted to Adam that he might lead and teach it to his wife. As Adam was to lead and exercise headship over Eve, so she was to help and exercise submission to his authority.

These specific functions for man and woman were given by God before the fall into sin. It is the introduction of sin, and the curses which follow, that have distorted the sovereign Creator’s good design for male and female. As Christians, it is essential that the Word of God is the sufficient and supreme authority on manhood and womanhood and not the surrounding culture. Therefore, discipleship of women must take into account this distortion and implement strategies to teach and equip women to function according to God’s original plan for humanity.

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[1] Andreas Köstenberger and Margaret Köstenberger, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014).

[2] Ibid.

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