Let me first whet your appetite with a favorite passage from the book, one that encapsulates Hannah's thesis (and one of many that had me shouting, "Ohmygoodness YES!"):
“In recent decades, there has been strident debate about the roles of men and women in society and the church. Some argue that because gender is a significant, but not primary, part of identity, women should find their place through their gifting rather than their womanhood. Others volley back that gender should lead where a woman’s gifts are utilized and that they find fullest expression as nurturers.
But the problem with the whole conversation is that it tends to separate a woman into parts and pit them against each other. And unintentionally, women are forced to choose between two very essential truths about themselves. The fact that I am a woman demands that in some ways my identity and roles will be different from a man’s. Despite being equal image bearers, we are not the same. God even chooses to reveal aspects of His nature through my womanhood that could not be understood otherwise. So in this sense, gender itself is as much a gift—a grace—as intellect or personality could ever be.AMEN. I so love Hannah's determination to strip away all the baggage various branches of the church have brought to the "gender roles" conversation and establish a common-ground foundation: Women's primary identity as image-bearers of the eternal God, created to reflect Jesus Christ.
Conversely, my imago dei identity cannot be summed up by my womanhood alone. While being a woman is essential to my identity, I am not ‘simply’ a woman. There is a part of me that transcends my gender, so in the end, regardless of how conservative we may be, we must all agree that a woman has more in common with a man than she does with a female cat!
The paradox of identity is that I am both a woman who is a person and a person who is a woman. And this will never make sense until both my womanhood and my personhood are united in Jesus Christ."
Chapters 8 and 9 (“Queens in Narnia: Embracing Your Destiny to Reign” and “Toward Perfect Union: Living Holistically in a Fractured World”) are worth the price of the book. I only wish chapter 9 had been written about a decade ago! How I remember the painful wrestling with my identity and calling as I was graduating from college and preparing for marriage. I absolutely loved Hannah’s metaphor of identity as a multifaceted diamond—it resonated so deeply with my journey and my struggle to reconcile opposing parts of who God has made me to be.
I still feel like there are plenty of unanswered questions as we attempt to move from vision-casting and lofty theology to concrete, practical choices--but I love how Hannah has reframed the discussion and am thrilled to promote ongoing conversation about this both online and in the local church.
With that, I'll leave you with a couple of follow-up questions and answers from Hannah:
In chapter 7, you talk about the dangers of identifying first and foremost as women, therefore making womanhood our central focus instead of Christ. You shared at Ungrind about why you think women’s ministry has so often been restricted to the “pink passages.” As a follow-up to that, how can the church “make room for feminine voices that can speak and write about doctrine and theology,” as you suggest?
At one point in the book, you acknowledge that “pursuing imago dei simplicity is anything but simple”…but then somehow “when you look to Jesus,” it will all magically fall into place. HOW, specifically, can we fight for wholeness and an imago dei focus in our own lives and in our sisters?
HA: For me, the struggle for simplicity is a process of constant re-evaluation, of learning to align my priorities with God’s priorities. When we hear the word “simple,” we often think “easy”—but that’s not the case at all. Simplicity means that the different planes of your identity are working together and you exist in God’s shalom even in the midst of busy, chaotic times.
For example, part of submitting to Christ means acknowledging my own limitations, acknowledging that HE is the Messiah, not me. So when I’m going through a period of stress, when it feels like I can’t meet all the competing demands of work and family and church, it’s really important for me to learn to let go of some things. But my ability to do this is directly related to my understanding that He is in ultimate control. I can let go because Jesus doesn’t. And when I come back to this place—when He is the center of it all—I experience His peace. Even if the dishes didn’t get done and I forgot to sign the field trip form. (Again.)
Hannah, it has been a delight to interact with you about this book and its ideas. Thanks so much for your time and for your winsome efforts to refocus women's identity around imago dei!
Grab a copy of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God's Image at Amazon...or enter below to win! And to read more from Hannah Anderson, check out her blog, Sometimes a Light, or follow her on Twitter for frequent links to her articles around the web.
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