How can we know what our God ordained roles and responsibilities ought to be? Before we answer that we need to look at few key issues.
The 1st Key Issue that we need to get is: Men and Women are equal in Value, Dignity & Personhood.
That is an absolutely foundational statement. I believe it is an important statement primarily because it accurately reflects the Word of God. The first book of Moses and the first book of the Bible is Genesis. Genesis 1:27-28 records, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. Who was created in the image of God? Was it just man? No, it was man and woman. What does it mean then to bear God’s image? At the very least it means we humans are relational, we have a spirit (eternal soul), we experience emotions, we have a moral conscience, we know and can worship God. Mankind was created with a will, with a soul, and with an intellect. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we are different from all the other created things. Men and women are unique and special in God’s sight. Redemptive history proves this is so. Did you know that in some ways humans represent God? The fall, has of course, tainted many of the aspects mentioned above. Because men and women are created in the image of God we believe we’re equal in value, dignity, and personhood. The world would be a lot better place if people believed this.
So who did God bless in Genesis 1:28? He blessed both Adam and Eve and commissioned them to serve Him as co-regents of the garden. Man was to have dominion over the other created things. Technically speaking though it’s not a man’s world or a woman’s world, it is God’s world.
Male dominance and male superiority is a direct result of sin (not part of God’s divine plan). Some countries abort females as lesser creations (like in China). According to one recent Fox News report, infanticide (and abortion) is responsible for 60 million girls missing in Asia alone. Wanda Franz said, “Abortion is claimed to help women; obviously in these cases, females are the direct victims, because women in these cultures are not valued.” Unbiblical thinking normally leads to unbiblical behavior. Male dominance has lead to many unbiblical decisions such as men justifying rape or polygamy; husbands acting as little dictators; women being told they can’t go to school or vote because their an inferior gender.
The secular feminist movement is a result of sin as well. Unbiblical reactions to unbiblical behavior is still sin in the eyes of our Creator. The radical feminist movement has actually tried to abolish the family (as we know it) and has promoted among many things, lesbianism. These women believe the institution of marriage holds women in bondage. The evangelical feminist movement has tried to abolish any role differences between men and women in the home and in the church. We’ll talk more about this issue later on in our study. As complementarians we must be careful that we do not counter-react to all this folly with additional folly (and thus overreact and possibly sin).
One of the implications of Gen. 1:27 is that men and women are equally important & valuable to God. Our God-designed differences never imply that men are superior to women (or vice versa). We’re equals! Galatians 3:28-29 says, 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. This verse is often misapplied but it does confirm our first Key: men and women are equal in value and dignity. God choose to create both males and females. He choose to redeem both men and women; He gives spiritual gifts to both men and women; He gives unique talents to both men and women; He loves both men and women. The starting point is not to discuss all of our differences as men and women but to express our equality in the image of God (the same is true with race issues by the way).
One Para church organization provided a short explanation as to how this understanding should flesh itself out in our marriages: “In a marriage lived according to these truths, the love between husband and wife will show itself in listening to each other’s viewpoints, valuing each other’s gifts, wisdom and desires, honoring one another in public and in private, and always seeking to bring benefit, not harm, to one another.” Let us never forget that men and women are equal in value, dignity, and personhood.
This leads us into the 2nd Chapter of Genesis quite well. One author has rightly commented, “We cannot understand the gender debate among Bible-believing Christians without grasping this chapter’s significance.” Gen 2:18-25 is the counterpart of Gen 1:27-28. When one accurately interprets Genesis 2 a second key observation can be made: #2 Men and Women have different roles as part of the creative order. (to be continued)