The issue of the role of women in society is as old as the Biblical story of humankind itself. So, let’s revisit the creation account for a good starting point in our discussion. It contains some intriguing insights.
Unfortunately, most translations of the account of creation and the fall will not give you a faithful representation of the full meaning of what was being said, due to different translations of the same words, and haphazard capitalization of the noun “adam”. The word “adam” may be translated as “Adam” in one place, “man” in another, or “mankind” in the third, according to translators’ biases.
So, I will take NKJV for a starting point, and give you an straight translation from the original language in square brackets. Please feel free to verify this with your favorite interlinear or original language Scripture text.
27 So God created man [adam] in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
The word “adam” derives from the word “adamah”, or earth. Literally, it means “that which is made of earth”, or “earthly human”. Hebrew lacked capitalization and punctuation the way English language has it today. So, let me simplify this:
27 So God created the earthly human in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
You see that the account is not describing Adam the man. Rather, it’s describing male and female collectively. Therefore, the masculine pronoun “him” is not a reference to the man, per se. Rather, it’s a reference to the unity of male and female.
The word “image” (“tselem” in Hebrew, “eikon” in Greek) is something that is meant to faithfully represent the original. An example would be an icon, or a photograph. So, both male and female collectively have a God-appointed function to be a divine image-bearer in the world. Any deviation from that is bound to skew God’s reflected image, so it’s very important for us to uncover and be mindful of that original blueprint.