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The Image of a Woman

In Articles, Culture, Family, Husband, Life Issues, Masculinity, Social Issues by Rick Reed

Honouring the Beauty of God’s Creation

Walk through any Canadian mall and you will see full-colour, larger-than-life images of women. Stunning images. Suggestive images. Advertisers know the image of a woman turns heads, especially if she’s stylishly dressed. Or provocatively undressed.

If you want to keep your mind in the right place as you walk past Victoria’s Secret, you have to follow the wisdom of Proverbs 4:25 and “let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”

But did you know God designed women to turn heads? He intentionally made them to have just the right image.

And the image He created them to have was His own. The opening chapter of the Bible makes that clear: “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).

When these words were first written by Moses, men were already large and in charge. It was a man’s world. So these words about women sharing equally in God’s image were a much-needed corrective to current thinking about women. God was reminding everyone that He created both men and women in His image.

Men, let me ask you: when was the last time you stopped to consider the implications of women being made equally in God’s image?

If you have to admit you’ve not thought much about it, this article is for you! If we don’t learn to view women as created in God’s image, we will see them the wrong way. And we may wind up undervaluing or overpowering the women in our lives.

So here’s what I’d like to do: Let’s look into God’s Word to understand this idea of the image of God. Then we will consider three ways we can put this truth into practice in relationship with the women around us.


On a basic level, an image is a representation of something else. For example, your wife’s picture is an image of her—it is a physical representation and reminder of who she is.

When God created humans in His image, He intended us to be representations of Himself. While we are not God, we do represent Him to the rest of creation. Since God is a spirit (John 4:24), we don’t represent Him physically. Instead, we represent Him spiritually and relationally—in the way we create, communicate and relate. We were made to bring Him glory by showcasing something of His splendor.

Now you may be asking, “How does all that affect the way I relate to my wife and other women?” There are many implications, but let’s focus on three key areas.


Violence against those made in God’s image brings severe judgment. We know that from what God told Noah right after the great flood: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).

Notice the reason God gives for the lethal judgment inflicted on murderers. Killing a human (the Hebrew word for “man” in this verse refers to “mankind”—men and women) is an assault on the image of God. God takes human violence personally!

Theologian Mark Cortez illustrates this by asking you to imagine he took a picture of you, hung it on his wall, and then plunged a knife into your picture—right between the eyes. “Are you upset?” he asks, “Why? It’s just a picture, right? Just a piece of paper and some ink. Ah, but it’s not, is it? That picture represents you, and you know it. By assaulting the picture, I’m attacking you. That’s because it’s far more than just a pretty piece of paper. It’s an image.

God evidently feels similar when we attack or assault one of his image bearers. You can probably tell where I’m going with this. It’s well known that women routinely experience horrific acts of violence at the hands of men. The statistics I’ve read about the percentage of women who have been abused physically or sexually are simply staggering.

So the first, baseline implication is that we must never act in a vicious, damaging way towards a girl or a woman. Zero tolerance for violence against women is the biblical standard.

Brothers, if you are out of control in this area (or have a friend who is), you must get help. Violence against women is not only a violation of social justice, it is also an assault against God. And God doesn’t take that lightly. As Romans 12:19 warns, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.


A second implication relates to how we look at women. God made women in His image to reflect His glory. So when we see a woman, we are to be prompted to remember God’s beauty, greatness and goodness.

Does this mean we don’t notice the beauty God has created in women? No, after all, images are made to be seen. But it does mean we look at women with consecrated eyes—eyes that look to please Him.

It’s no secret that lustfully looking at women is a pervasive sin for many men. Pornography, even among professing believers, is commonplace. While there are many good reasons for fighting for mental purity, here’s one that is often overlooked: lusting after a woman denigrates God’s image and robs Him of His rightful glory.

On the other hand, enjoying the physical beauty of your wife can be an act of worship, as you honour the One in whose image she is created. G.K. Chesterton had it right when he wrote, “I could never mix in the common murmur of that rising generation against monogamy, because no restriction on sex seemed so odd and unexpected as sex itself . . . Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman.”

Seeing women in God’s image means we look at every woman from God’s point of view—with consecrated eyes.


When Linda and I were first married, I came across a verse that—more than any other verse—convicted and directed me as a husband: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour 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” (1 Peter 3:7).

In this verse, God emphasizes both a wife’s vulnerability and her value. She has weaknesses (as we all do); but she is of great worth. She is equally an heir of the “grace of life”. As I reflected on this truth, I was reminded that God had graciously given both of us physical life, creating us in His image. On top of that, when we had trusted Christ for salvation, He had also graciously given us eternal life. He was recreating us in the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

God clearly values my wife and calls me to do the same. I am to protect her vulnerabilities and promote her value. And if I don’t, He won’t answer my prayers! How’s that for hard evidence that God is serious about my obedience when it comes to how I treat my wife?

For the past thirty-three years, I’ve been learning how to “show honour” to my wife in a God-honouring way. Here are a few valuable lessons I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) about how a husband can practically demonstrate his wife’s great value:

  • Listen carefully to her perspective; don’t quickly dismiss her viewpoint, especially when she sees life differently or is providing counsel. This shows you value her viewpoint, even when it’s different than your own.
  • Make time to spend with her and give her your undistracted, full attention. Put the cell phone away to show you value her more than staying connected to work.
  • Take initiative to plan regular outings or date nights. Putting energy into these times evidences the value you place on your relationship.
  • Take the lead in reading Scripture and praying with her. Even if this is a stretch for you, ask God to give you the courage to do it. It communicates you value her as a spiritual partner in life.


We live in a culture that puts great emphasis on a woman’s image—how she looks to others. The Bible starts from a different place. It tells us women already have a great image—they bear the image of God.

When we as men miss this truth, we are prone to mistreat women. But when we get it right, women tend to get treated right. It begins with basic issues of social justice, but goes much further. Viewing women as equal image-bearers will move us to honour them in a way that pleases God and brings them great joy. Imagine the difference that would make!

Rick Reed
Rick Reed serves as the president of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, and was previously the lead pastor at Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa.
Rick Reed
Rick Reed serves as the president of Heritage College and Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, and was previously the lead pastor at Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa.