The Image of God (1)
The truth of Genesis 1:26-27 is rich and complex. We should not only be careful that we don’t include what is erroneous we should also be careful not to exclude any truth that might be in the phrase.
One of our temptations when dealing with a rich and complex subject is to stress the truth of one aspect of it and conclude that anything that doesn’t sit easily beside that truth must be false. In some cases we jump to conclusions and what we need is a bit more patience and work.
For example, in Romans 7 Paul speaks of the Jewish Torah saying that it is holy and righteous and spiritual and then goes on to speak of it as a Torah of sin and death. How can he say both? If it’s one then it can’t be the other! Or can it? I’m certain it can be and that it’s Paul looking at the same reality from different perspectives.
The same, I judge, is true about the phrase "in the image of God." It’s clear from Genesis 1:26-27 that both male and female are made in the image of God and yet 1 Corinthians 7:11 speaks of the male as the image and glory of God "but" the female as the glory of man. Clearly there’s something true here about the male that is not true of the female. If we allow that Paul is dealing with a specific issue (human headship in light of the divine order or the divine order as reflected in human headship) rather than all that "in the image of God" involves we need not have a problem.
If we conclude that Paul is isolating one truth out of a complex of truths about human creation "in the image of God," then we need not think that he’s denying that women are made in the image of God. If he is making the point that the male is the head over the female (in the purpose of God) then he can speak of the female as the glory of the male without denying the female’s being in the image of God. 1 Corinthians 11:7 speaks of the relation of the male to the female in the matter of headship and not of both in relation to God in the matter of their creation. Both were equally created in the image of God but in their being created in the image of God there was involved a relational matter between the male and the female. That specific truth is what Paul is after in 1 Corinthians 11.
In addressing Christians (as Calvin observed), you can be sure that Paul included females when he called them to be re-created in the image of God through Jesus Christ. See, for example, Colossians 3:10.
So Paul can believe that both male and female is "mankind" and made in the image of God (see Genesis 5:1-2). At the same time he can argue functional subjection (not inferiority) of the female to the male from creation "in the image of God." This warns us that there’s more than one facet to that creation truth.