Monday, March 9, 2009

Made In God's Image, as a Female Part 4: Vulnerability


In previous blogs, I shared with my readers insights that I have myself learned, regarding how a woman is made in the image of God, uniquely as a female. This entry will be about another aspect women and God share: their vulnerability.

Could a woman's vulnerability reveal God's vulnerability to us? Hmmm....let's look at a few scriptures:

~"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. " (1 Peter 3:7)

A woman is the weaker vessel? What does the word weaker mean? Is that the best word to translate this passage?

The word "weaker" is the Greek word "asthenes"....and that same word is used to describe God Himself!

~"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1:25)

The weakness of God?? Yup, it is the same word used to describe a woman's "weakness": asthenes. A woman has "weakness" just as does the God who made her. But is God weak? What does the word "weak" really mean?

We see it used here again:

~"For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God." (2 Corinthians 13:4)

~"And he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"Theologian Dr. Sarah Sumner notes that 'weakness' or asthenes must mean something other than 'inherent inferiority' since God cannot be inferior. She has translated the Greek word asthenes into a more helpful word: 'vulnerability, or a willingness to be responsive'. See how well it works: The vulnerability of God is stronger than men. Jesus was crucified because of vulnerability. Live with your wives...as the more vulnerable vessel...This word connects God with women." (Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Grace Fincher p. 110)

It is pretty obvious that a woman is physically more vulnerable. She is not as strong as a man. In her book, Jonalyn Fincher raises the question of whether or not the first woman, Eve, was just as strong as Adam before the Fall. Well, this is just my opinion- but I don't think Eve was. I don't think a woman's physical vulnerability is a negative aspect of the Fall. I am of the opnion that God specifically made Eve weaker so that Adam could protect her and sacrifice for her, thereby showing us how God is stronger than us and takes care of and protects us:) I enjoy being physically weaker. I love to see masculine strength in action. I like when men open a door for me, or offer to carry something heavy, etc. It is not that I cannot open my own door, but it is a way to honor me as the "weaker vessel"....a way to show a woman that you intend to be caring and respectful, and not take advantage of her physical vulnerability.

But our physical vulnerability is not how we bear God's image. First off, God does not have a body. Secondly, if He did, He would not by vulnerable in it. Our body symbolizes how our souls are vulnerable though. "German religious philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz did research on the anthropology of the sexes, and found that 'our body is the bearer and expression of something interior....the observation of the body serves as a principle of the female soul and mind." (Ruby Slippers)

So a woman's body is an outward representation of her soul. And it is in her soul where she bears God's image. Two poems just came to my mind, and here are a few words from each:

Angel: And she is much softer. Her body, her hair... God: Aaahhh, the softness is part of the fascination. Angel: Her body dents in and out! God: I call these curves. They are part of the softness. Angel: Can she feel? God: Oh yes! She feels deeply: joy, love, sorrow.
A different poem:

The angel moved closer and touched the woman. "But you have made her so soft Lord." "She is soft", the Lord agreed, "But I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish."
The angel then noticed something, and reaching out, touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak in this model..." "That's not a leak," the Lord corrected, "That's a tear!" "What's the tear for?" the angel asked. The Lord said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her love, her lonliness, her grief and her pride."

These beautiful poems reveal how a woman's outer softness symbolizes her inner softness- her vulnerability.

"God made a woman's body, not out of a clay mold, but out of a piece of living flesh. Woman's original material was more vulnerable than man's; she was made out of living cells. Vulnerability requires that we have places that are tender, places we can be affected, touched..." (Ruby Slippers, p. 112)

"Dr. Jerry Root, a...friend...shared how he saw his wife's tears as an emotional act of vulnerability, no less sexy than her breasts and no less alluring than her invitation to bed." (Ruby Slippers, p. 115)

"The root of 'vulnerable' means 'to wound'...God "made the woman with an open wound in her body"...sex...turns the most vulnerable parts of us into the tools for recreation, delight, pleasure, beginnings. It is a picture of what we want to do with our souls...the way a woman opens herself to a man, proving that her physical vulnerability is also strength...When a woman is vulnerable, she glorifies God in sharing her weaknesses. She marries honesty and transparency in her soul, and in doing so, images God. Vulnerable women are Godlike." (Ruby Slippers)

"Softness is key to a woman. Not weakness-softenss. Tenderness." (Captivating)

"A woman who is full of tender mercy and soft vulnerability is a powerful, lovely woman." (Captivating)

So in our vulnerability we image God. That is powerful. Those tender places, the tears, the openess all were given to us by our Maker as a way to show the world what He is like.

"Offering a tender vulnerability can only be done by an incredibly strong woman, a woman rooted in Christ Jesus who knows whose she is and therefore knows who she is." (Captivating)

Lastly, I want to comment on this scripture: 1 Cor. 12:22-23a

22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor..."

Again, the word weaker in the above scripture is the same word we discussed earlier.

A woman's vulnerability is necessary. God put femininity in this world because it was needed. The world needs a woman's vulnerability. Husbands are told to "dwell with their wives with understanding, giving honor to them as the weaker vessels". God wants men to understand their wives' vulnerability, and not treat them harshly or belittle them for their sensitive souls, but rather honor them as a more vulnerable vessel should be honored, treated tenderly and cared for gently.

"When we feel criticized or hurt, it doesn't help to hear people say, 'Stop being so sensitive.' You might as well tell me to turn off my soul, to deaden part of my natural femininity...To tell a woman to toughen up...is like clipping the wings of a bird. You never get to see the full plummage in her wingspan or watch her soar and plummet in freedom. A woman's sensitivity can be a mark of vulnerable strength." (Ruby Slippers)

God is vulnerable and has therefore put this trait in Woman. She reveals God's softness to the world and that should be honored.

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