Chaplain’s Reflection

Deborah Chapman (2)

October 2017
All Nations and Gender Equality
‘Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness….” So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them….’ .’ Genesis 1.26-28

Continuing last month’s theme of all nations, in Rose Wright’s letter of 28 September 2017, she reminds us that ‘Mothers’ Union has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and we endeavour to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March each year, in order to represent the voice of Mothers’ Union across the world, and to advocate on behalf of women everywhere, by influencing various government delegations, and the overall agreed conclusions of the Commission.’

This is very important work, and we should pray for the Mothers’ Union delegates to the United Nations in 2018. They may not be able to open their Bibles and pursue a theological argument based on scripture with others at the United Nations, but their whole demeanour – their thinking and being – should be formed by their own perusal of what it means to be a Christian human being living in a world that is not what God intended it to be but which He nevertheless wants us to work with Him in transforming to what it should be. Unity among nations is a start, but equality of gender in many of those same nations, and the unity of purpose that is its ideal is something that too often eludes us all.

Genesis, the ‘beginnings’, the first book in the Bible, tells us that both men and women were created in the image of God, though different. And God calls all that He has made ‘good’ (Genesis 1.4, 10, 12, 18, 21 and 25) or ‘VERY good,’ in the case of human beings (v.31).

In the same way that Christians believe in God 3-in-one, the Trinity that yet remains the one God, so we human beings don’t reveal the true image of God if we are not united as men and women. Fully expressed in the union of a man and a woman in marriage (Genesis 2.23-4), the mystery of the essence of God expressed in the relationship in the Trinity is imaged in men and women made in God’s image united as one – this is the mystery of the image of God in us!

Unfortunately, a great part of the teaching about men and women in the church’s history has not come from the certainty that Christians have of being a new creation ‘in Christ’ (see 2 Corinthians 5.16-21), as both men and women permit the Holy Spirit to transform them, but rather from what has come to be known as the ‘Fall’ (Genesis 3). God’s penchant for re-creation has not been properly recognised and applied to how God desires us to express ourselves, male and female, in union with Him, through our God-given gifts. Instead, much of Christian theology, beginning with some of the ‘Fathers’ of the Church, has focussed on the continuation of the blame game that is described in the account of Adam and Eve’s encounter with the ‘serpent’. The result is an often vocal undervaluing of each other and a resultant lack of unity.

Thankfully, even in Genesis, that encounter and the resultant ‘Fall’ from grace was, and is, not the end of the story. There is hope. Adam decides to call his wife ‘Eve’ – taken from the Hebrew root meaning ‘life’, ‘because she would become the mother of all the living.’ (Genesis 3.20) Eve decides to trust in God, depending on Him when Cain is born. “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man!” (Genesis 4.1). We also have a decision to make: between living in the light of the ‘Fall’ and its consequences, or living in the light of God’s redemption in Christ Jesus. Do we believe that God is capable of re-creating, without robbing us of the freedom that He himself gives us to opt for trusting in Him or not? When we opt for following Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, do we recognise that in Him we are ‘…a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Corinthians 5.17b)? As Christians we are called to live – and that is life in all its fullness (John 10.10) freely received because of Jesus’ death and resurrection…refusing to be bound by the consequences of the ‘Fall’. Such life will affect our thinking about the relationship between men and women. It will affirm the co-equal value of human beings – male and female – created in the image of God.




earlier posts.





  • About Myself

    The Rev Dr Deborah Chapman

    Born in a small town in Massachusetts, the first of 5 children, my parents took me to Argentina when I was a year old. This is how I grew up bilingual, with Spanish as my first spoken language. I feel very much ‘at home’ with the grand mix that is the Mothers’ Union throughout the world. ‘Home’ is not a feeling that is usual with me, having lived in five different countries in Latin America, as well as various places in the U.S., U.K., Spain, France, Papua New Guinea and most recently, in Sharjah (UAE). I am now a cleric with Permission to Officiate in the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar, accompanying my husband John who is the Chaplain at St George’s Barcelona.

    John, from Scotland, and I met in 1977, at the London Bible College, after I had moved to London in 1976 to study linguistics and then theology, having been accepted as a Bible translator with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We married in 1980, and thereafter worked together in Christian mission with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (1979-1991), and Latin Link (1991-2002) before both of us became ordained Anglican Deacons then Priests. I have been a Mothers’ Union member since serving my curacy at St Mellitus Hanwell (2005-2008), and served as the Mothers’ Union Chaplain for the Willesden Area of the London Diocese for just one year (2012-2013) before John accepted the calling to be Chaplain of St Martin’s Sharjah, UAE. There was no Mothers’ Union there, but I was very involved with the Women’s Fellowship, and through them with the Vacation Bible School for the children. It is a great joy to be invited to serve as Chaplain for the Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Europe!

    I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour one night when staying in a hotel in Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia – my apologies if you need an atlas to work out where that is! I was 16 at the time. Nothing has brought me more satisfaction in life than allowing my Lord to guide me into that fullness of life that He promises in John 10.10. My husband John and our two married children and their spouses - Matthew (and Belinda) and Kirstin (and Elliot) are a huge part of the full life He has given me, as is the pleasure of serving Him as an ordained minister. I also enjoy walking, swimming, reading, writing, painting, cooking and being an occasional academic.