A Compelling Reason to Cherish Women and Girls
Cheers to my sisters around the world! Tomorrow is International Women’s Day (IWD). If your social media feed is like mine, it’s full of pithy encouragements about being strong women, having girl power, and growing pride in our gender.
IWD has interesting, if not unexpected, roots in socialism from over a hundred years ago. The first IWD was held by the Socialist Party of America to promote women’s suffrage. In the decades since then, socialist and even communist countries have more heavily celebrated the holiday, calling attention to the contribution of the female labor force. Even the United Nations jumped on board in 1975 during what was known as the International Year of the Woman. Though we might have differences with the worldview that established this day, we can all tip our hats to its good root desire: honoring and elevating women.
Tomorrow as the world takes a moment to applaud women and girls in various ways—everything from social media memes to marches down Main Street—may we Christians be the biggest champions, the loudest cheerers, and the most proactive supporters of women. Christianity, after all, is deeply pro-woman. The Bible and the Christian worldview provide the most compelling reasons to cherish women and girls across the world.
What Does the Bible Have to Say about Women on Women’s Day?
Women are made in God’s image. That may sound ho-hum if you’ve been in church awhile, but it’s a breathtaking truth. Our God who hung the planets in place, spoke DNA into existence, designs each and every snowflake, and keeps lava boiling inside our earth’s core made us female on purpose to reflect him to a watching world.
We know from Genesis 1 that God made Adam first. While that was indeed good, it wasn’t complete. It wasn’t good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Adam was not a full reflection of his Creator’s image. And so God made Eve, that she might complete his image in humans. Both men and women have a powerful role and unique calling that no other creature has: looking like God, behaving like God, and reflecting God’s image to each other and to his creation. We will never be just like God—only God is God—but, by his design, we reflect his communicable attributes to the world.
The creation of Eve tells us there is something about womanhood that is necessary to fully express God’s image. Genesis 2 says Eve was made to be a helper, or an ezer in the original Hebrew language. Ezer shows up 21 times in the Old Testament, including 16 times as a description of God himself. Those references are strong and kind—they are in relation to war, overcoming oppression, and defending and rescuing God’s people.
Sisters, this is cause for rejoicing and awe and delight! As ezers, we women reflect God’s image in a fundamental way. This is by far the most compelling reason to celebrate IWD—women are made in God’s image and therefore each and every girl has immeasurable worth.
Beyond the creation narrative, we see women prized and treasured by Jesus throughout the gospels. We see women esteemed for their faith and contributions in the early church. In historical contexts like first century Rome, when girls and women were often mistreated and devalued, myriad Biblical accounts stand in stark, counter-cultural contrast. From creation to restoration, from Genesis to Revelation, women are honored in the Bible because women are created by God and in his image.
How Might Christians Commemorate IWD?
Because our good and kind God in heaven imparted immeasurable worth to each and every little girl, we must protect and uphold that worth in each and every context. In our fallen world, many seek to oppress, abuse, and denigrate women. The goals of IWD to elevate women are good and right, but it’s in the pages of Scripture that we find a rock solid foundation and motivation for truly upholding women—namely, that we have been created by God, in his image, and therefore every woman has immeasurable value.
We Christians ought to be the most pro-women people in the world. On this IWD, may we be known for our care and delight in all women and our desire to cherish and protect all women.
We Christians ought to be the most pro-women people in the world.
This IWD, let’s do as Romans 12:10 instructs, “outdo one another with honor.” Let’s spur one another on (Heb. 10:24) to encourage and advocate for women both near and far. In our own homes we can speak words of life to our girls and point out the good ways God made them. We can pay attention to their unique gifts, endowed by God, and pursue their growth and flourishing.
In our communities, we can applaud the women in our midst who are serving their families, their businesses, their nonprofits, their friends, and their churches for the good of their communities and to the glory of God. We can reach out with a word of appreciation or public proclamation of the grace of God through our moms, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, daughters, female teachers, doctors, businesswomen, volunteers, athletes, whoever—women are diverse because God is creative. Across the nation and around the world we can recognize and emulate the daughters of God in our midst who are “like corner pillars” in their communities (Ps. 144:12).
And finally, we can look for ways to serve women who are oppressed and hurting, denied the opportunity to thrive. We can pray, give, and even go to marginalized women in Jesus’s name. A brief glance at global headlines reveals a bleak picture for girls in many places. In many countries there is a preference for sons, limited access for girls to education and healthcare, physical and sexual violence against women, human trafficking, the exclusion of women in civics and politics, and various cultural practices that put women and girls at risk.
There is work yet to be done on behalf of millions of our sisters around the world. Seeking their protection and honor is a worthy and biblical endeavor. Girls and women are created in God’s image, they are precious to our Savior, and their well-being is vital to the well-being of all people everywhere.
So tomorrow, let’s celebrate IWD not just because and not because it’s a catchy social trend, but because we have the best reason to celebrate. We, the people of God, know better than anyone else the value of females made in God’s image. This IWD, let’s honor the Creator of the world by honoring his daughters around the world.
Jen Oshman is the author of Enough about Me: Finding Lasting Joy in the Age of Self.
What does it look like to pursue real fulfillment in God, rather than in ourselves? And what's wrong with the self-obsessed, individualistic culture that dominates our world today?
Christ not only valued women very highly, but also demonstrated a clear role distinction between men and women.
Often without warning or intention, the drive to know ourselves becomes all-consuming. It’s impossible to not be affected by the age of self in which we currently live.