The glory of a woman is her beauty, and but real Biblical beauty is not mere externals but something far deeper and richer and incorruptible that cultivates and glorifies life. Man is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man, and this means that she is the glory of the glory. She makes the human race shine. The center of this glory is the wisdom of motherhood, through building and making homes where life is conceived, blessed, enriched, and loved.
“And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” (Gen. 2:23).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
The poetry that Adam is using here is a Hebrew superlative: “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” This is like Holy of Holies which is the Most Holy Place or the Song of Songs: The Greatest Song. Adam is saying that this person is like him only better, only more beautiful, more glorious. This is why Paul says that the woman is the “glory of man” (1 Cor. 11). The woman is man glorified, humanity 2.0.
All the way through the creation narrative, the word for “man” is the word “adam.” He was named this because he was taken out of the ground, the “adamah” (Gen. 2:7, 3:19). We might call that name: “earth man.” Our English translations go back and forth between translating the word as “man” and “Adam.” And it really does mean both things. But in Gen. 2:23, at the very moment where Adam names his bride “Woman,” he gives himself a new name.
The word for “woman” is “eeshah,” and it seems to be related in some way to the word for “fire” (“eysh”). Right at the moment when the woman is presented to Adam, he says she is his glory, man-glorified (“bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh”), he names her “glory” (or “fire”), and he says that it is because she was taken from – and here, he gives himself a new name: “eesh.” He names his wife “eeshah” because she was taken out of “eesh” (“glory-man”).
The point is that Adam is saying that in the gift of the woman, in the gift of his wife, he has been changed. He is a new man now. She has made him new. In the very act of naming and blessing his wife, he says the blessing has come upon him. He has become a new man because of her glory. She shines, and she shines so brightly, that it lights him up: his face shines with her glory.
WISDOM BUILDS A HOUSE
In Proverbs, wisdom is a woman, and wisdom always builds. The question is what kind of house are you building? “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Prov. 14:1). Quite literally, a woman is someone who has a “home” inside of her. The first home everyone ever lived in was the home of their mother’s womb. A woman simply is a homemaker. But this is also sign to her and the world about what she is for. A woman’s calling is to make people by making home for them (Tit. 2:5). And here, we need to expand what we mean by motherhood. This certainly includes conception and childbearing, but the calling of motherhood and “making people” hardly stops at birth. And so it is that motherhood and homemaking are the calling of all women. Deborah was a mother of Israel (Judg. 5:7), the mother of Rufus was a mother to Paul (Rom. 16:13), and the Christian Church is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:26). People are being made all day long through rest, food, care, friendship, clothing, food, games, discipline, reading, and food. And we really must not underestimate the potency of all of this. People are made in the image of God, and people will live forever.
C.S. Lewis: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” (The Weight of Glory, 18-19)
TEMPTATIONS OF WOMEN
In 1 Peter 3, the apostle addresses the relative weakness of women and three common temptations that arise with that: words, beauty, and fear. Women are often tempted to use their words to manipulate, get attention, correct, nag, but they need to remember that their words are not their power. Their words can be life or death (Prov. 18:21, 27:15). Women are also tempted to use their beauty to manipulate, get attention, to influence, but you need to remember that your physical beauty is not your power either. And while your fleshly fear and anxiety can sometimes get people to do things, it isn’t your power either. Your true feminine power is your beautiful submission to God, your meek and quiet spirit, obedience to your own husband, and not being afraid of anything that is terrifying (1 Pet. 3:4-6, Prov. 31:30). This is the fear of the Lord in the heart of a woman who knows she belongs to her Savior. He died for all her sins, and therefore she isn’t afraid of anything or anyone and it drives a godly woman’s conduct (1 Pet. 3:2).
You can tell what our world respects by where it assumes submission and obedience, and you can tell what our world does not respect by where it immediately runs to all the exceptions. Generally, our world assumes submission and obedience to civil magistrates, the state, and big business, but it constantly warns about church and family governments being oppressive. And these assumptions are driven by where we believe the most important things are happening. But the magistrate is not the glory of man, woman is the glory of man, as she cultivates the beauty of motherhood and homemaking. This glory shines everywhere and impacts everything, but it flows from a gentle and quiet spirit. It flows from a heart that rests secure in Christ.