This question is not made to defame Biblical doctrines or teachings, just a genuine curiosity that no one I talk to has an answer for.

Genesis 1:27 states "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him male and female created he them."

So when 'man' in the singular is mentioned, I saw that it was the historical use of 'mankind' or 'human' and the Bible referred to both man and woman collectively in the singular (conf. Genesis 5:2). But this explanation became confusing considering 1 Corinthians 11:4-13. I don't even understand what the image of God really means nevertheless. While it seems obvious that women are held in much higher respect in both the real world and the Bible than, say, animals and plants, there is also plenty of Bible to justify a subordination.

And when proponents for the view 'woman are not made in God's image' are brought up, they bring up passages like 1 Corinthians 11:4-13 and 14:34, as well as the fact that every church traditionally forbade women from ordination. Ultimately, I'd like to know what the Biblical basis is for the belief that women are made in God's image, in light of the restrictions set upon them.

Again, this is a real question not meant to defame anyone or belief and I am not advocating for any reform or anti-church political agenda. I am a God-fearing, albeit doctrinally-ignorant and confused, Christian.

  • I wonder if the question needs slightly more scoping. The Catholic and Orthodox answer is likely to be different that the Evangelical. Likewise, I can also see the answers depending on whether one accepts the Eternal Subordination of the Son. Then again, maybe all these could be included in an omnibus answer.
    – bradimus
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 18:18
  • I see your point; I did want an omnibus (at least, I think I'm using that word correctly) answer as well because I've noticed how female exclusion from ordination to be present in practically every denomination (except maybe Quakers?) and that all Bible versions have these verses.
    – Judicaël
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 18:23
  • In the USA, the ordination of women is a common feature of mainline Protestantism. The UMC, ELCA, PCUSA, ABC, UCC, CC/DC, and ECUSA all ordain women. There are others as well.
    – bradimus
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 18:37
  • 1
    Biblical basis questions normally don't require denominational scoping. The assumed scoping is "denominations that hold to the view or belief whose biblical basis is being asked for." Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 19:59
  • 2
    I have never met a Christian who does not believe that women were made in God's image. Who are the people you are talking to that believe this? Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 23:25

1 Answer 1


Genesis 1:27:

וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים אֶתהָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֣א אֹתָֽם׃

καὶ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον κατ’ εἰκόνα θεοῦ ἐποίησεν αὐτόν ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς

et creavit Deus hominem ad imaginem suam ad imaginem Dei creavit illum masculum et feminam creavit eos

So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The word used in the original Hebrew (the first line) is transliterated ha-adam, men (as opposed to animals). Though it is grammatically masculine, it refers to the whole race, "male and female" ("zakar uneqebah"), as the verse explains.

You can see the translations to Greek, Latin and English (KJV), which all translate הָֽאָדָם֙ to words which mean "human" as opposed to "man": ἄνθρωπον and hominem. If a specifically male man were meant, the Sacred Authors would have used אּישׁ instead (as they do a few verses thence) and the translators would have used ἄνδρα and virum, respectively.

Regarding the ordination of women, the Holy Father St. John Paul II said that "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." The reason given is that "the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his Church." The Orthodox hold to the same position for essentially the same reasons; Protestants who do exclude women from ordination would typically hold the same position, though they might quote a few NT verses to give it foundation: usually I Cor 14:33–35, I Tim 2:11–12, I Cor 11:13 and Eph 5:22–23.

In any event, it has nothing to do with whether woman was created in God's image or not, but rather Christ's example which has been followed from the Apostolic age.

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