What is a woman worth? It is a question that every culture has wrestled with since the beginning of time. The way women are used, abused, exploited and oppressed for the personal profit and sexual gratification by men in our world today provides a seemingly terrifying answer.
To consider how God views women we should start with the creation account in Genesis. The Father creates male and female in His image. This is referred to as the Imago Dei, the acknowledgement that all humans, male and female, are image bearers of the God of the universe. We all bear the mark of our creator. Men simply have no claim here of superiority to women.
Women have often been devalued because of the way the Bible describes their role as helper (Gen. 2: 18), their call to be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5: 22), and refers to them as the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3: 7). These verses taken out of context and/or interpreted the wrong way can produce a severely distorted view of women. To rightly understand these verses we have to understand context and the original languages. The word “helper” used in Gen 2:18 is “ezer” in Hebrew. What is interesting about this word is that it is used most often to refer to the way that God engages with man (Exodus 18:4, Deuteronomy 33:7, Psalm 33:20). He is our helper. So helper ascribed to the role of a woman cannot carry any sense of inferiority.
Secondly, submission has become a dirty word in our culture. However, the picture of submission is beautifully portrayed in the relationship of the Trinity. The Son is submissive to the Father (John 14:28, John 6:38, 1 Corinthians 15:28), but is equal in dignity and worth (John 1:1-14). The Bible beckons married women to submit to the Christ-like leadership of the husband. If a man is being everything the Bible has called him to be as a husband; sacrificial provider and protector, then submission would not be an issue. It is when a man abuses and exploits his leadership role that tension, confusion, anger, and ultimately pain result.
Lastly, some believe the Bible communicates woman as inferior according to 1 Peter 3:7: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered”. I suggest that weaker is not a codeword for less valuable.
In a first century Greco-Roman society women certainly did have a weaker position in society. The word for weaker in 1 Peter 3:17 is translated from a cognate of the Greek word “asthenei,” which can refer to a prisoner or someone who has been deprived of their freedom or opportunity. Peter is insisting that men in this culture must reject the rules of the culture. He is encouraging them to honor woman even though they are living in a pagan culture that demoralizes and undervalues them. This perspective completely denies the view of female subservience.
The Bible is unchanging in how it calls us to treat others in an ever changing environment. This is especially true of how we treat, think of, speak of, and interact with all women. Women are not objects for our satisfaction as porn would flaunt them but are image bearers of God. Women are not meant to be exploited and used as toys for our personal gratification but deeply honored and respected. Women are not inferior in any way, shape or form in a marriage but meant to be loved as Christ loved the church. So I ask again, what do you think a woman is worth? Our heart and mind must align with God on this matter. His valuation is lofty one. They are his beautiful creation that must be cherished, protected and treasured. As men we must fight and sacrifice to demand that our culture give them their rightful place. I will stand up for her. Will you?