So here is an attempt to list some of the characteristics and responsibilities of women described in the Bible. Some of these are shared with men to whilst some are distinct which I think reflects the Genesis 2 sense of “like/opposite to” Get in touch if you would like to add to the list or comment on any of the suggestions here.
1. Women are image bearers of God just as men are (Genesis 1:26-28)
2. Woman is a helper – this is in the context of man being Alone – which is again in the conext of work – tilling the land and worship marked by obedience to God’s command. The role of helper is significant. There is a sense of Eve coming alongside Adam, an encourager, companion and co-worker. This reminds me of the way the Holy Spirit comes alongside, he is another counsellor/comforter/helper (note I am comparing the use of language to describe role here. I am not advocating use of female pronouns with regards to any person of the Trinity)
3. Eve is the mother of all the living hence her name. Paul picks up on this in 1 Corinthians 11, man and woman are interconnected and interdependent not independent because whilst woman is from man, man is also (born) from woman. Motherhood and nurturing are God given, God honouring roles. When society thinks only in economic and especially industrial terms, this role is seen as inconvenient and lesser because it is seen as a disruption and distraction from fruitful activity. When we go back to Genesis 1, the original creation commission is to be fruitful, multiply, fill and subdue the earth, motherhood is therefore central and essential to the original cultural mandate.
4. Women are involved in art, culture and music as part of the corporate worship life of God’s people in the Old Testament. See for example Miriam and the dancers following the parting of the Red Sea.
5. Women bring wisdom, softening and turning away wrath (e.g Abigail). Wisdom itself is portrayed as a woman in the book of Proverbs.
6. Women are home makers and home managers. This seems to link to the mothering and nurturing role. It is a role that carries signiicant responsibility. They are to manage the household. Again, as I point out in Marriage and work, the home is often see as a secondary sphere of influence in modern life where work takes place in factories and offices away from the home but in the past much economic activity centred upon the home.
7. Women in the Bible are business women engaging in trade and commerce. They lead and direct others (See Proverbs 31).
8. Women as wives reflect something of the way that the church relates to Christ as his bride (Ephesians 5) which is itself the fulfilment of how Scripture portrays God’s relationship to his people through Scripture.
9. 1 Peter 3:7 seems to focus on physical differences between men and women. It is probably worth picking up on a general truth that men tend to be taller/heavier. This helps us to think about how we can describe things as generally true whilst allowing for exceptions and overlaps. So for example a general comparison between men and women physically does not take away from the point that Serena Williams is physically fitter and stronger than the average man reading this article.
10. Women act as prophets in both the Old Testament (Deborah) and the New (the daughters of Philip)