Feminism. Maybe the word conjures images of angry women, fighting for things you find unbiblical, or maybe it reminds you of efforts to emasculate men. And over the decades, those things have certainly been true, in varying degrees at various times.

But for many of today’s Christian Millennials, the word “feminism” represents something much more: It’s about viewing God’s design and intent for women, expressed through the loving actions of Jesus on earth.

God’s design for women is to be valued, respected, and celebrated—having a role that is different from but complimentary to men’s. For our generation, many recognize Jesus as an advocate for women in society, living out His Father’s design for females who are made in His image.

It’s a Genesis 1:27 truth: God made man and woman both bearing His image and likeness.

A Helper Like No Other

It took both male and female to accurately and fully represent the nature of God. How beautiful is that? He said they would rule and subdue the earth. God said, “Let Us create them in Our image.” Women have never had to be the same as men, because God gave them equal value within their distinctive uniqueness.

Even the Hebrew word used to describe the woman’s role as a “helper” (Genesis 2:18) consists of two words: Ezer (“help”—used 16 times in the Bible to describe God) and neged (“before, in front of, opposite, beyond”).

In context, it’s the type of help you need when your life depends on it. It is used in tandem often with the words “protector” and “shield” in life-and-death scenarios. It’s used in circumstances where only the help God gives will be enough to get you through the situation you’re facing. Partner that with its latter, neged, and we get a clear picture of the way the Hebrew language reinforces what God created women to do.

God’s Affirmation of Women

It’s interesting to note that God chose to reveal two of the most powerful messages of the Bible to women— both to accomplish the goal and to spread the news about it afterward: “A Savior is born” and “He is risen.” Everything in our faith system hinges on these truths. Women were God’s chosen messengers, which clearly demonstrates the high value they hold in the Kingdom, even if the society they lived in at that time didn’t recognize it.

Jesus extended this high view of women in His earthly ministry, including when he welcomed conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well who’d had five husbands. Her culture had no value for her as either a woman or an individual, but He did. And that brief encounter with Him turned her into an effective evangelist for the whole town where she lived.

He was intentional about affirming the value of women made in the image of God.

Millennials resonate with this view of what we might call “feminism”: We see it as a way to walk hand in hand with Jesus as we do the same things He did.

Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Citizen magazine.